Corso homestay di lingua e cultura italiana da Claudia a PalermoDave and I are a South African couple in our sixties. We have been studying Italian for 2 years at Società Dante Alighieri in Johannesburg, South Africa. I would rate us as level A2. We chose the Homestay option because we did not wish to be thrown into a classroom situation with our heads in a book while on holiday. Our logic was we could stay in South Africa if we wanted to keep our heads in a book. We chose Palermo because we have in the past visited some of the larger Italian cities in the North and also some smaller ski resorts in the Dolomites and Alps.
Despite the informative website of Reggio Lingua booking a Homestay in Palermo was a giant leap of faith for us.
The only way I can review our experience is to explain what the internet cannot describe.
A 300m walk down from Claudia's house takes one through the historical gates into the pedestrianized City Centre. Google maps cannot explain that in two weeks one can visit a different spot every afternoon - historical sites, the yacht basin, the elegant shops, the station, the market, or simply the ice cream shop. The bus stop is outside the front door and trips can be taken to places on the outskirts of Palermo such as Monreale or the beach at Mondello. Having said that Claudia and Pepe also took Dave and I on some excursions in their car on the weekend.
Internet pictures can show you a modern room and bathroom but they cannot show you that the apartment has been completely rebuilt. Even though being on the 6th floor we had our own separate entrance, we had in addition a balcony and a view of the mountains through the large glass doors. We were made to feel welcome in the main section of the apartment at any time of day or night. Claudia did all our clothes washing, cooked and cared for us.
A number of people warned us that we would not understand a thing with the local accent and it would be counter productive. How wrong can you be. Claudia refused to talk English, instead gave herself the difficult task, where necessary, of speaking slowly enough so that we could understand. She also has a wonderful ability of describing the Italian words and phrases which we could not understand in a more understandable way in Italian. We were at all times given an opportunity to express ourselves using our own level of speech.
I learnt from Pepe's Dad that it is said the people of the South are like their pronunciation of the vowels - more open. It is oh so true. The internet cannot describe the warm family welcome we received from Claudia and Pepe's family. A highlight was family dinner with Pepe's parents followed by a selection of Palermo deserts.
This is one area where predictions came true. Claudia and Pepe take their cooking very seriously and mealtimes were a real treat both for the food and the conversation.
Yes we did do lessons. And Yes they were enjoyable. Claudia took about 10 minutes to realize that Dave and I have no real problem with a written test at our level but speaking is the weak link. As a result most of her pre planned lessons were thrown away and new ones were created to address our needs. We arrived back home ready to show off our "Palermitano" accents, and we have been told by classmates and staff here in Johannesburg that our Italian has moved up a level.
Clare and Dave D.