Questions and Answers with Avril

I have been working with Avril for about ten years and it has been very rewarding to support her in the process. We  still work together online and it seems to work very well. She was very kind to reply to some questions and leave some feedback.

1) When did your journey start? What was the reason for learning Italian at the time? Is it the same reason now? Has it changed? Why are you learning Italian? What is your ultimate goal?

When I retired from teaching I set myself the goal of learning a new language – Italian. I’m interested in foreign languages, and besides we’d started to explore Italy so what better excuse? As I have progressed. I’ve realised that language has opened many more doors to me to the things I love, like, art, literature, cinema, Italian culture, history and music. I find the language fascinating and challenging. Learning helps keeps my brain and memory agile.

We really loved Rome, and Venice and have explored most of Umbria where we go every summer. Of course, it helps to have the language at your fingertips, and the Italians are so encouraging when you use their language.

2) How are you finding the process?

The process is very enjoyable, especially now that I can branch off and follow my own interests. I have to study regularly to build on the knowledge I already have. I don’t want to lose the gains I have already made.  I try not to have a break in my studies, but if I do, it just takes a little while to get back in gear.

3) How do you keep motivated?

I do weekly lessons at City Lit in term time and aim to have a focussed conversation lesson with Paola every two weeks. I try not to have a break in my studies, but if I do, it just takes a little while to get back in gear.

4) We have been working together for ten years (or more) Well done on your amazing progress. What is the most enjoyable part of working with me?

Conversation lessons with Paola are relaxed. There is no pressure and she is very unjudgmental.  She works with me to find interesting springboards for our work. She’s a great guide to have on my Italian journey. We have formed a good working relationship, which is empowering.  I still study more formally at an adult education institute, and have regular conversation lessons. There are plenty of films, and TV programmes to watch in Italian too.   

5) In what way Neurolanguage Coaching® is different?

I think Neurolanguage Coaching® helps Paola to analyse the way that the student learns, and she then gears her approach to suit the individual. She is good at engaging my thoughts and feelings. I am full of admiration of her knowledge about how the brain operates.

6) What tips would you give to someone studying the language?

That’s tricky. For me it was important to have a good base of Italian grammar – but then I’m a bit “old school” Above all – enjoy it, have fun and don’t stress.  

For me, grammar is a “comfort blanket” I can fall back on.   Having said that she’s very quick to tell me a better way to express an idea and to correct my grammar. I know this isn’t key for everyone, and I certainly wouldn’t say that you should have a good grasp of grammar before attempting conversation. Rather the two should run alongside and feed into each other.  I think you get more out of a session if you are enjoying yourself, and probably retain more.

7) Would you like to share some successful moments in the learning process?

I’m happy when I’ve had a successful conversation lesson with Paola. It boosts my confidence, so that I can go on to use the language in other contexts -like a local Italian book club, or chatting with Italian friends in London, or in the past, communicating on holiday.

8) Have you ever thought about giving up? What motivated you to carry on?

Sometimes when I struggle, especially with the spoken sessions  … like when I can’t retrieve a word or the sentences just don’t flow. I can get a bit disheartened but Paola is understanding and encouraging. We will think why that should have been the case, and understand that sometimes that things that are going on might impact on my state of mind and therefore my work.

9) What would you advise to someone visiting my website? Why would they choose to work with me?

I can say that I’ve worked with Paola for ten years. She is an excellent, reliable teacher, kind and knowledgeable. She’s good with technology and can tap into all sorts of resource material. There are so many articles and film clips online one can access. Paola recommended programmes on the Rai TV website, which are excellent and I’ve found them very useful.  As I was a primary school teacher for many years, I particularly enjoyed the programme “Le maestre”. There was another about Mussolini’s relationship with his mistress, Claretta.

10) Any particular resources you would like to share that you found useful? What is your learning preference?  Are you more visual or auditory? A mix?

I think my learning style is a mixture of visual and auditory, for language learning. You do have to listen attentively and radio programmes and film clips bring a subject to life. I like reading a text too. I think, for me, a mixture of both is ideal, though nothing beats face to face  (now online) conversation!

“Paola has been my 1:1 teacher for over 5 years. She has supported my language learning with well prepared and thorough lessons but I think her skills have further enhanced. through the training she has undergone on Neurolanguage Coaching®
Now the sessions are based on my interests and my needs as I see them which makes me feel a much more active participant in my learning. Paola assumes a role of a guide rather than an instructor to support me on my language learning.
Coming from a background in education I appreciate this holistic approach.
Paola’s support and encouragement make me feel courageous in my language learning”.

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