Frequently asked Questions
Who are your customers?
My customers are individuals who aim to improve their language skills or seek assistance with intercultural issues. They belong to the fields of academia, government, diplomacy, as well as the corporate world; some clients wish to enrich their knowledge of English or Italian for personal reasons, such as travel or a special interest, such as opera, literature, or cuisine.
Do you work with children?
After teaching children ages 3 to 14 for many years, I decided to devote my attention to adult education. I occasionally take on highly-motivated students aged 16 and above.
Where do your workshops and courses take place?
Individuals and small groups may choose to meet either at their workplace or at my home. For larger groups, I rent suitable, easy-to-reach facilities.
I’m going abroad and worry that my English is not good enough; how can I improve it?
Well, if you have a bit of time, make sure you take every opportunity to practice: listen to songs and podcasts, watch movies, speak to colleagues and friends in English… and let me know if I can help get you fit for your trip!
Life will test you, but remember this: when you walk up a mountain, your legs get stronger.
How can I improve my fluency and pronunciation in English?
Fluency is the ability to speak a foreign language with a flowing, natural rhythm and intonation: it’s what you sound like in your native language. Achieving this in a foreign language is possible, but it requires a serious commitment and lots of concentration. My advice is to speak as much as possible, without worrying about grammar and vocabulary mistakes. When you listen to native speakers, allow yourself to be drawn into the melody of the language and then try to imitate it, without worrying about grammar and vocabulary mistakes. Good grammar will follow in good time.
How can I improve my vocabulary? How should I record vocabulary so I can remember it easily?
The simple answer to this question is: read! Studies show that children who read a lot in their native language have a far wider and better-developed vocabulary than children who don’t like to read. This is also true in a foreign language. So be brave and start reading in English on a regular basis. You don’t have to start with a lengthy novel: an article, a blog post, a comic book, or anything you find interesting works just as well. Also, don’t look up every unfamiliar word, or you’ll get discouraged and quit. Just look up a word if it appears over and over and stops you from understanding the overall sense of the text.
And what about recording vocabulary so you can reference it and remember it easily? Well, don’t rely on one of those vocabulary notebooks which list words in alphabetical order! It’s much easier to remember “word families” than unrelated words, so record any new words on flash cards or in your notebook, close to words which belong to the same category, and don’t forget phrasal verbs, collocations, and expressions which also go with the words. So, for instance, if your category is “fruit”, you should list the names of different kinds of fruit, such as “apple”, “orange”, “grapes”, as well as expressions such as “I’m allergic to strawberries”, or “As a child, we always ended our meal with a helping of fruit”.
How can I improve my grammar skills?
Unfortunately, many adult students of a foreign language feel that they have to have a perfect grasp of grammar before they are permitted to open their mouths and speak. Now, although it may be useful and comforting to understand the structure of the target language and compare it with one’s own, it is also true that if you wait for perfection, you’ll never start talking. On a practical note, try to learn grammar structures by “experiencing” them. Use new things you’ve learned, dare to experiment with them and if you must memorise, then think of sentences which contain the structure you are learning and which are true for you and memorise in context.
How can I improve my writing skills?
Reading can greatly help develop writing skills, as you can observe and learn from other, more experienced authors. Practice is also key: as with any creative endeavour, trial and error, as well as the support of more experienced writers, can help you to gain confidence in your writing. Dare to experiment with new styles and structures and broaden your horizons.
I’m moving to a new country and I’m nervous about making friends and settling in: is there any way to make the transition easier?
Leaving behind our familiar life and stepping into the unknown can be one of the most stressful situations experienced by people everywhere. If there are other family members involved, the stress factor is multiplied. So how do we cope? How do we overcome culture shock, settle into our new surroundings, and ultimately thrive in the new culture and environment?
The answers to these questions are different for everyone and far from obvious! It helps to combine a good support system of friends, colleagues, and professionals with an attitude of openness towards the unfamiliar. Making a serious attempt to learn the language and immerse oneself in the culture, finding ways of meeting the locals instead of limiting oneself to expat events, and enjoying all the new city or country has to offer, can all be ways to ease the transition from the familiar to the foreign.
And, lastly, be patient: adapting to a new reality doesn’t happen overnight and there will necessarily be setbacks among the successes.