Languages have never been my forte with some pretty awful attendance rates at school and even worse grades in French and German. But with age and a little time I thought I’d give it another go in Siena.
I’ve always liked the sound of the Italian language so when our plans fell into place for our two month Italian adventure, it seemed like the stars were aligned and we started looking at language schools.
We chose Siena to base ourselves and attend Leonardo di Vinci Language school as I’ve love this historic town in the heart of Tuscany. It’s not too big with about 300,000 residents, but the numbers do swell with the daily influx of tourists. They flock to see the medieval cityscape which is now a designated UNESCO site. It’s also famous for its cuisine, art, museums, iconic Piazza, the cathedral and Palio horse races over the summer.
In preparation for the holiday, I thought I’d get ahead of the game and start learning some Italian before we got there. With so many ‘teach yourself’ language products available I settled on two – Babbel.com and downloaded to my computer and Michel Thomas audiobooks, downloaded to my phone. I’m a visual learner and Babbel was great as I could see the words and phrases while Michel Thomas’s lessons were good to listen to and repeat when out walking.
Arriving at school on our first day we were greeted in Italian and even before I had finished the enrolment procedure, I was already flustered and desperate to have someone answer my questions in English, but alas there was no way I was going to hear that language within these four walls.
There were initially seven of us in the small and comfortable classrooms, but by the second day we were down to four as some ‘smarty pants’ knew more than they had let on!
The first morning was traumatizing, but I eventually I got into the swing of it. With homework each afternoon I tried to over achieve, but it wasn’t possible. But I do know to succeed you need to practice so I’m looking for an Italian tutor in Auckland, should you know of one.
I would highly recommend Leonardo di Vinci Language School. As well as Siena, they have schools in Florence and Rome so next time we’ll explore a different city.