Internship in Italy Fosters New Ways to Communicate & Learn

July 29 2016
Category: Academics

Summer is in full swing and for many Elmira College students that means internships. We are highlighting some of the internships our students are experiencing, including Laura Butts ’18. Laura recently completed an internship in Italy as an English language tutor through The London School Rovereto. 

Here’s what Laura shared about her experience…

In June, after a semester spent studying in France, I headed to Italy to begin my job as an English tutor. Out of more than 300 applicants, I was one of 41 tutors hired by The London School Rovereto. This company hires qualified, English speakers to teach children 6 to14 years old in dozens of cities throughout Italy. Italian schools begin teaching English at age six, but the curriculum focuses mainly on the written word. Therefore, many parents send their children to English camps in order to improve the children’s verbal skills and conversational English.

As an International Studies and Political Science double major, I could not wait to delve into a new country and its extensive culture. I lived with three different host families, and I could not have asked for a better experience. They taught me some Italian phrases and we discussed differences and similarities between our countries. Each family left me with wonderful memories and gifts. I had host sisters making me bracelets and even a host brother who selected and presented to me a Pandora charm for a bracelet in the shape of an Italian flag. I exchanged phone numbers with these families and we still communicate!

Laure Butts Italy

Though I went to Italy to teach, I often felt like the student when it came to the Italian language and the history of the cities I visited. I had the pleasure of working in Legnago and Mestre (Venice) as well as visiting Moselice, Bergamo, Milan, and Verona. In Legnago and Mestre, I worked Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Depending on the week, I worked with one to five other tutors. Each tutor was in charge of a class of approximately 10 to 17 children. Most of the time, I had younger groups of children, usually 6- or 7-year-olds. Since the English level was extremely low in this group, it was often difficult to communicate. Nevertheless, we managed by using helpers to translate or by playing extensive games of charades.

We began the mornings with warm-up activities, and then we broke the days into sections of playing games, working in the activity book, and practicing for the big performance of Friday. At the end of each week, every camp had to put on a final “spettacolo,” where friends and family gather inside the gym to watch the students perform songs, dances, plays, etc. Teaching choreography, lyrics, and lines all in English was difficult, but the children were up to the challenge. It was an especially impressive feat considering the fact that I do not think I could    perform something entirely in Italian after just a week of practice.

There were definitely those overly hot, stressful days when the children did not even want to listen to Italian, let alone English. However, I found new ways to communicate and make learning fun. Living and working in Italy for a month, I discovered that although the education system, culture, and language differ from what I am accustomed to, it is still possible to converse, teach, connect and learn. 

Laura Butts Italy