Cafetalk Featured Tutor Interview

Giorgia Speranza

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Italian

Giorgia Speranza Tutor Interview

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Q. Hi Giorgia! Would you kindly give a brief self-introduction to the Cafetalk community?

A. Sure! I'm Giorgia and I was born and raised in Rome, Italy. I've just turned 26 and I currently live, study and work between England and Italy. I am a linguistics enthusiast and a language teacher!

Q. Tell us a bit about where you’re from. It seems like you are from the beautiful city of Rome! Can you tell us a bit about it from the viewpoint of a local?

A. It took a while for me to realise that I was living in one of the best cities in the world! I remember passing by the Colosseum  when I was younger thinking it was completely normal to have it there in front of me! But that's probably the biggest locals' issue, all around the world: you tend to underestimate the place you live in. Rome is a magical city, it's an open air museum, full of history everywhere you turn. Rome is a life-changing experience and I can tell this because I felt it going back home after my studies in the UK. I'm now in awe whenever I go to the city centre and I love my evening walks, at sunset, in the parks or near the Tiber. Yes, as a local, I can state that the city has its ups and downs, and the downs are at times very frustrating, but I'm very lucky to be able to call Rome home.

Q. What are you usually up to when you’re not teaching on Cafetalk? What are your hobbies and interests?

A. I started teaching on Cafetalk seven months ago, after the completion of my MA in Applied Linguistics so I'm not currently studying (although I'm about to start a new master in linguistics soon). Usually, when I'm not teaching, I'm either preparing my lessons and writing feedbacks. You can also find me on the couch reading a book (usually about languages and linguistics - but also novels), or watching movies, TV series and documentaries and I have a weird obsession for crime stories - no wonder my favourite TV channel is 'Crime Investigation'! I enjoy travelling a lot and I have visited many countries around Italy, Europe and the world. I like taking pictures always posing in the same way, ha! I like ballet, art history and cinema, but most of all, I love eating and sleeping - I was probably a koala in a previous life!

Q. Can you tell us a little bit more about your professional background? What got you into teaching, and what motivated you to keep pursuing this career?

A. After high school, I was one of those kids who had no clue what to do next but I really loved literature in school so I went and studied Italian Literature and Linguistics at university. During my studies I started teaching Italian, English, Latin and Ancient Greek to save some money but I eventually fell in love with it. I then taught Italian in England in private schools and at university and I'm now teaching it online. I also keep giving private lessons of Latin and English to high school students from time to time. I enjoy everything about it: from preparing the lesson to giving the lesson and helping students achieve their goals. I am also very passionate about Italian language and culture and it's an honour for me to be able to share it with my students. After my BA in Italian Literature and Linguistics, I got an MA in Applied Linguistics focusing on Second Language Acquisition. I also got the DITALS certification to teach Italian as a Foreign Language. Hopefully, with my new Master in General Linguistics and Comparative Philology at Oxford University I will be able to progress in my career and help many more people learn about the language and the country.

Q. As for learning Italian, do you employ or recommend any specific study method?

A. I personally adopt a communicative and inductive approach which means that I show the language in use and then from there I filter the grammatical notions the student needs to learn. I like to present a small, simple text from the very first lesson to show my students that reading Italian is quite easy and they can do it with no major issues! I find that reading and listening help students replicate the language. I use texts, dialogues and audios in my lessons and I try to combine them with writtent activities, games and of course a few grammar exercises as well. As a linguist myself, I am a huge believer in the importance of grammar and I like to use it and teach it but it's not the main focus of my lessons. I use PowerPoint presentations, videos and songs and I generally try to make the lesson as interactive as possible.

Q. A lot of students are probably curious about the atmosphere in your lessons. What can a student imagine a lesson with you to be like? What’s your “lesson style”?

A. It's safe to say that the atmosphere in my lessons is rather relaxed. I like to chichat and I always start by asking the students how they're doing and what they have been up to! My main goal is that they feel comfortable during the lesson in order to learn the language more easily and effectively. I always remind them that I am and have been a language student myself so I know what it means to be a student and they don't have to feel embarassed if they make mistakes or they're stuck, it's totally normal and I'm just there to help! I like to break the lesson with some fun stories and anectodes from time to time. I am a friendly teacher and my students will never not see me smile!

Q. Since you don’t speak Japanese, do you still recommend your lessons for beginners? 

A. Unfortunately I don't speak Japanese and I'm very clear about it when beginners approach me. Generally, if they can speak English there's no problem at all, when they don't we help each other with an online vocabulary, pictures and photos! I'd say it depends on the student, some are fine with me just speaking Italian and other prefer to have the grammar explained in Japanese so they choose other tutors. The best way to know it, is to try out a lesson and see if you're comfortable with the method.

Q. Since you offer a variety of lessons, is there any lesson you can recommend in particular? Or can you give a quick overview which lesson might be good for which type of student?

A. I offer both a more 'traditional' course and conversational classes. The course is divided by level (A1 to C1) and includes all the materials - I use PowerPoint presentations where I combine activities from books, original materials, videos and songs, all you need to learn - I like to make  these lessons as fun and diverse as possible and they are a perfect start for beginners. During converstaional classes instead I solely focus on conversation, usually with intermediate and advanced students. We can either talk freely about whatever cross our minds, have a topic, start from a quote or by describing a picture. As I said, I like to keep the lessons as diversified as I can. I also have a very fun lesson which is the 30 questions in 30 minutes challenge in which students answer to 30 random questions that can cover anything and be very silly or slightly more deep - it's a great way to know the student better and to practice a lot of vocabulary and verb tenses in a restricted amount of time.

Q. Finally, would you like to leave a message for your current and future students?

A. The main thing I feel my current and prospective students should know is I GOT YOUR BACK! All I do, I do it for you and to facilitate your language learning journey. All the activities and lessons I design I make them keeping your linguistic goals in mind! I take my job very humbly and selflessly and I never take my students' time and feedback for granted.

Finally, learning a language, especially Italian, may feel quite intimidating at first but you don't have to worry. Don't expect to know everything in one month. Learning a language is like making a puzzle, you will eventually put all the pieces together but it takes time - in the meantime, just enjoy the process! 

I hope to see you all soon :)

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Giorgia Speranza


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