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Guest Post: Hear from an Italian Language Assistant

Italian Guest Post

Masters Student Alessia Binetti took up the opportunity to be a Language Assistant in Italian Discovery Theme modules in 2015-17.

Patrizia Lavizani, Italian language Co-ordinator and Teaching Fellow in Languages for All (LfA) in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies explains more about the Language Assistant scheme:

In LfA we offer a variety of credit bearing modules in a range of languages as Discovery Theme modules. Students across the University can take a language module with us, and they do not need to have a foreign language knowledge background.

Over the past ten years, I have been fortunate to work closely with Italian-speaking students and was keen to offer them the opportunity to participate and collaborate with me in delivering part of my lessons.

Our LfA students benefit greatly from this experience. Their learning is enhanced by the real life experience of speaking with young native speakers while learning and sharing information about each other’s countries and traditions. The connections they make in class also give them the opportunity to socialise with the Italian students outside class and to widen their network of native speakers. The language assistants have the chance to gain useful teaching experience, enhance their employability prospects and develop transferable skills while gaining and promoting intercultural awareness.

Alessia Binetti, a Master’s student enrolled on the MAPLIS (Master’s in Professional Language and Intercultural Studies) programme, took up this opportunity during her studies in 2015-17.

Interview with Alessia

How important is it to have a Language Assistant in class?

“Firstly, coming from the South of Italy, my accent is quite different from Mrs Lavizani, the Language Co-ordinator. Furthermore, being a younger person, I often use expressions to which students can relate more easily than a teacher. In fact, sometimes we meet outside of class to do language exchange or simply to socialise. Also, I was happy to hear from Mrs Lavizani that my contribution was appreciated and mentioned in the Student-Staff Forum.”

What did you bring to the classroom?

“I like to think that I brought enthusiasm. Students said my presentations were engaging and they enjoyed my grammar lessons too. I did my best to include basic and concrete knowledge which could be applied to a real life context.”

What have you learnt through this experience?

“So many things! I’ve found it really empowering. I have learned to organise and develop parts of a lesson, and prepared and delivered presentations about Italian language and culture… I am quite shy, but this experience has boosted my self-confidence and belief in my own abilities. I’ve become adept at research, public speaking, Power-Point presentations and even my interpersonal skills have improved, to the point where I feel at ease with people from all walks of life. What’s more, I developed some teaching skills which will be valuable for my future career.”

What’s most surprising about being a Language Assistant?

“Well, doing research on various topics to deliver presentations in class, I’ve learnt some facts about Italian traditions and history which I wasn’t aware of before then. Furthermore, being an Intercultural Studies student, I found this experience extremely enriching. Through debates and conversations in class with both local and international students, I’ve gained a greater insight not only into the English culture, but also into many others.”

What would you say to someone who is planning to become a Language Assistant?

“Go for it! I have no regrets whatsoever. It’s such an enriching experience. I’ve grown both personally and professionally and I can’t thank Mrs Lavizani enough for giving me the opportunity to collaborate with her in the past two academic years.”

For further information about Italian modules visit www.leeds.ac.uk/languagesforall, or if you are an Italian-speaking student who would like to volunteer to be a Language Assistant in Leeds, contact Patrizia Lavizani at p.lavizani@leeds.ac.uk.

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