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Siena Language Study

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ILS Italian language school Siena Italy - Maria Stella Palazzolo

ABOVE: Maria Stella Palazzolo addresses her class in Italian.

My teachers and classes

Each morning, my school day began at 9 o'clock with two hours of instruction by Maria Stella Palazzolo ("Stella" to her students), a teacher whose academic knowledge was matched by her personal warmth. She spoke almost exclusively in Italian, using a whiteboard and an illustrated textbook to supplement conversational learning. She also assigned workbook excercises as daily homework.

After a twenty-minute coffee and bathroom break at 11 a.m., we returned to the classroom for another hour. Another 10-minute break came at 12:20, to be followed by an  hour with Michela: a young, vivacious teacher with the demeanor of a hyperactive camp counselor. Michela reinforced what we'd learned from Stella through vocabulary and grammar games, using sheer force of personality to overcome any Nordic reserve or middle-aged skepticism.

The day's classes ended at 1:30 p.m. If I'd been enrolled in the intensive course, as opposed to the standard course, I would have had several afternoon classes per week. As it was, the school offered a number of free classes, lectures, and activities to help students practice and refine their Italian. See page 3 for examples.

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