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Italy To Teach School Subjects In English

Discussion in 'Health and Education' started by Regina Juno, Feb 1, 2015.

  1. Apparently, pupils at Italian primary schools will soon be able to learn subjects in English. This move is in an effort to improve Italian's language skills.

    In some countries English is an extra mandatory language and there is an option to attend a school that teaches in English or in the home language. I was not aware that Italy does not currently have such options.
  2. Well, they didn't, until now :) I think it's a good thing!
    Italians only had this option for Universities. There are certain universities that offer you the possibility to learn in Italy, but learn in English. My guess is, this was a programme designed for foreigners, because Italians don't really learn a lot of English in school (as pupils).

    Like you said, in some countries, English is "a must", it's mandatory. I literally studied English (in school) from kindergarten (I was 3 when I learned the first words in English) and continued for 12 years of school and then in college. So, that's almost 20 years :p Italians don't have this, there are only a few people who choose to learn a second language (or choose to teach their children).
  3. I didn't know this, so that's why teaching English is popular there. I do feel it is important to learn English as it is the lingua franca of the world and fortunately it is my native tongue. In the UK French is usually taught for a few years and German, though it may vary from regions and schools now, but languages are taught and later on are optional.

    I studied at a language school and now understand why they are a thriving business and they always wanted to practice English with all the other students.
  4. I actually think this is very sad, and somewhat unfair. I think it's like saying the English language is of more importance than the Italian languages and other languages as well. I live near Boston, Massachusetts and in some areas, the majority of people here speak Spanish. However, in school, we aren't obligated to take Spanish as a second language. I think that just because English is a dominant language in today's culture, it shouldn't mean that it should take over all subjects, or even that students should be forced into learning it at all. I hope it doesn't end up eradicating languages as a whole so that they diminish like Gaelic. I think that would be very sad.
  5. I think it's an advantage to learn English at an early age. As an ex-English I found many of my students needed English to go to University and to get a good job in case they were placed overseas. Many wished they had been taught at school and had to pay to go to a language school to get that extra rung on the ladder to achieve their goals.

    In the case of Spanish in many US cities, that is because of the mass immigration, it is not the official language of the country and even though many things are written in Spanish, it is mainly to help out the immigrants (I used to live on the North Shore). Just because a new population speaks a language doesn't make it obligatory to be learned.

    English is used in all United Nations documents and Heads of State use it to communicate as well as having translators. It is more of a business language than anything else and even in college most textbooks will have been written in English, so it does help having that knowledge.
  6. As Gabe said, English is the lingua franca, though it does not mean that it is a "better" language or that it's really "more important", it just means that's the language other countries turn to to interact with people of different origins/languages. And it is useful to learn it as such, it connects people to the world and to a lot of knowledge.

    I would not really consider having English as a native language such an advantage though, considering how easy it is to learn it. I mean, my native language is French and I learned English early on, and I think I'm doing much better than the US kids who learn French -- English is easy to learn, other languages have a few more challenges.

    I'm not sure that to have subjects taught in English to non-fluent kids is the best solution. If they don't already have a strong base in English or a strong base in the subject, it could just turn them away from both when they realize how difficult the combined challenge is. But I guess we'll see.
  7. Well, it will certainly help. I believe it should be an option - have a school or two that teach in English and the rest in Italian. That way everyone can choose where to go.

    It's really important to "encounter" English in the classroom for students who are not native speakers - it's different when you have to listen to the lectures in English, write down notes, learn and write exams, and definitely more difficult than learning in your mother tongue, but you get used to it. It doesn't take awhile, a month or so, perhaps two.

    Also, a lot of reference books are in English - psychology, philosophy, languages... sometimes you will have to read in English and for someone who hadn't done so before, it can become exhausting and unproductive. Practice makes perfect, correct? I wish my high school classes were in English, especially history.

    Still, maybe it wouldn't be best to teach sciences in a foreign language. These subjects are usually difficult for the students to understand so this would only be the excuse as to why they don't understand something - it would be a nightmare, for both the students and the teachers.
  8. I think it's a great new development in the right direction. I would even suggest that learning English should be part of the curriculum in every school, as those who don't get taught English will miss out on many opportunities. Being able to communicate in English will open many doors, as it is the language of choice in international business affairs and in many other sectors of importance.
  9. I feel like this move is definitely lucrative for the upcoming Italian youth. It seems that more and more countries are teaching their children English from an early age. However, I feel like it should not be mandatory for kids to learn every subject in English. I would say the literature classes would be where a child should learn a secondary language.
  10. Does anyone else think that this sounds really difficult, especially for primary school-age children? Not only do they have to learn things, they have to learn it in a different language! Although that said it probably is a really good way for them to practice and improve their English. English is so widely used on an international level that this will probably really help the kids to get ahead.
  11. Yes and no. I think they should be teaching the course in high schools not primary schools. English is widely used and would be a great addition to what's currently being offered. I always though that English was taught everywhere these days, but I guess not.
  12. #12 Pessel, Mar 15, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2015
    My idea of English in school is not dependent on whether or not it is ethical to use the language as a first language in delivering "staple courses" to Italian speaking students. For me, the reason provided to me over why people all over the world needs to know English well is because the language is the internationally acknowledged language for business practices. I don't think children will learn Math or Arts better if these subjects were presented or delivered in English to them.

    They might understand more of the world they live in and be able to articulate their thoughts in English if they were to come across thoughts and ideas on Math they are already familiar with. English is interesting as a language because it's used in business. There are many other languages used in Business internationally and I think we should try to learn and use them, as much as we can and want.

    What I have come to learn also throughout the years is that people all over the world seems to agree that English is a difficult language to learn. That's also why many are trying to make it easier, simplifying English by all means possible to help people learn the language. Jean-Paul Nerrière thought of Globish or simplified English. Simplified English and Simplified Technical English have been created to help engineers and certain industries make use of them in their guides and manuals.

    I think the key is not in the use of English as a delivery method, but in the way their translation is handled. Just like companies that went "successfully global". They don't usually become successful for using the "right" type of English, but for handling the translation well. With schools, the business is education.
  13. I think this is a step forward. Although many Italians would disagree with me, I believe being taught lessons in languages other than your vernacular is nothing but beneficial. This way, many children could become bi-lingual which would eventually bear fruit when they're older. The power of knowing a second language shouldn't be underestimated. Then again, they could also take up a third language lessons, and so on and so forth. Suddenly all these doors open up, and that's a great thing.
  14. I'm actually in a program at university that teaches all subjects in English, and in all honesty, I prefer it to learning in my native language. Now, it may be a little different in high school though, because you're not learning advanced material. It all really depends on the teachers though.
  15. I think this is an argument that could run for a while, both sides having good points.

    While it might benefit primary children in learning in English, its also important to be able to master your own language first. People might see it like the italianm language is less important that than the English language and that shouldn't be the case at all.

    Its important for people to be proud of their country and history and if Italians can speak better English than Italian then I think something is wrong in that. While its good to learn both, and other languages, the priority at that young age should be Italian in my opinion.
  16. Wait, Italian children aren't taught English in primary school?! I think Italy is in the minority here. English is mandatory in almost all European schools.
  17. That's just ridiculous. Language is an asset.
    I've studied English since third grade and French since sixth. And guess what? I'm still fluent in my native language because I speak it everyday. Just as anyone living in a country that isn't an English speaking country. English will not take over Italy.
  18. Language is an asset. When your old enough to learn it.

    For me it's important to learn your native language first, other languages should be learned later on in school life.

    Learning a language at a young age can be a bit daunting for some and I think Italian should be the priority.
  19. So you honestly think learning English in third grade will somehow decrease Italian children's Italian proficiency? English is taught in almost all European countries from a young age and I've never met someone whose had the opinion that English takes priority over their native language. In fact, I think it would be great if Italian children were taught English. English proficiency is very bad in Italy.
  20. I think as many languages as possible should be taught to as many children who want to learn it. But only after their native language is taught first.

    Here in the UK the early school years, primary school is all about learning the english language and making sure that children are able to read and write and understand the vocabulary and structure of the english language. Reading, writing, story telling and the art of conversing in english is the most important part of early education. As they get older, into secondary school, languages are part of the curriculum with options of French, German and Spanish are taught as part and parcel of the school time table.

    Just my opinion but like I said, I think its important to learn your own language before you start to learn others. If you can do both at the same time then that's fine but not every child will be able to and in this case the priority should be Italian.

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