If your goal is to improve your Italian, whatever your grade: beginner, intermediate or advanced, a homestay course with Sira Gheller will definitely move you to the next level Living with your teacher is to fully immerse yourself in the language; it’s wasn’t just the 20 hours of formal lessons per week that I undertook, but the fact that even when not in the ‘classroom’ I was still learning – over breakfast, over dinner or when we were travelling to a destination, as Sira continued to actively engage me in conversation – all in Italian, of course! Sira offers a learning by doing method of learning Italian – I was not only introduced to all her friends, but we spent time together over lunch or over dinner, thus exposing me to native Italian speakers who may not be quite so clear in their pronunciation! We went for coffee and read the papers together, went to local markets and went hiking in a group, as well going on excursions to places such as the marble quarries of Carrara and to some of the mediaeval hilltop hamlets in the area. Time off was arranged during the week so that you could visit local towns and other places of interest (there is a very good train service along the coast) or so that you could spend time consolidating your learnings.
Sira is an excellent teacher – very patient (despite repeatedly making the same mistake she corrected me gently until I started to self-correct and finally got it right!) and very good at explaining grammatical points as well as words that I didn’t already know the meaning of. By the end of a fortnight, we were watching the telegiornale (TV news) together with Sira asking me questions about what was going on in the world and me summarising events in Italian!
Be aware that Sira is an early riser, and therefore goes to bed early, so don’t expect any evening entertainment; there is no television in her apartment, but the wifi is excellent so you can watch programmes on your iPad or laptop, if you take one. I took advantage of being here to catch up on some much needed sleep!