Italian, one of the best loved languages in the world is usually not studied out of necessity or “duty” but simply for the joy of learning what is widely considered to be the one of best ways to express one’s passion for food, art, music, culture and beauty. This is a language which instantly strikes an emotional chord and captivates anyone who hears it, because its very word seems to express a Mediterranean sense of fun and delight in la bella vita.
It is on this feeling of a language that needs to be fully experienced in order to be fully appreciated that the ASILS
(the School Association of Italian as a Second Language) is based, in its role as an organization that promotes Italian
all over the world. It welcomes more than 28,000 students per year in its association of 44 private institutions active
in 10 Italian regions, each one of which constantly focuses its activities on proposals with a high value. So as to ensure the excellent quality of their courses for learners the ASILS schools must satisfy a number of specific
requirements, and the officially employed teaching as well as administrative staff all have an appropriate training.
The teachers must have a university degree for teaching Italian as a second language (L2) and they must have had previous experience in teaching Italian as a foreign language. The teaching plan is internationally recognized: at the very beginning, a test is carried out so as to assign each student to a class with an appropriate level while making sure that the number of students per class does not exceed that which is specified by the school in its.
Over 900 teachers and administrative staff work in the various schools of the ASILS association, which always maintains high standards based on the abovementioned professional practices. In addition the ASILS schools support those students who need assistance in finding a place to stay, by providing carefully monitored and selected accommodation before they arrive in Italy, so that every student can enjoy their experience of living in the country in total serenity.
ITALIAN KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES
The students who attend the ASILS schools come from all over the world, and the United States of America ranks among the top ten countries, with a majority of female students coming from this nation. American interest in the Italian language is partly due to those American universities that have started to conduct special academic programs in Italy. The ASILS was recently integrated into the US website “Speaks Italian” (www.usspeaksitalian.org), which is managed directly by the Italian Embassy in Washington and is dedicated to studying, teaching and promoting the Italian language in the United States.
Most of the non-Italian foreigners who choose to study at the ASILS schools are young people who at the time of their enrollment have a very basic level of knowledge of Italian and are often absolute beginners.
The largest age categories are those of 18 to 25 and 26 to 35 years old, but the number of people studying Italian over
the age of 50 is also increasing. The ASILS schools carry out over 340,000 hours of teaching a year with an average
stay of 4 to 5 weeks for each student, whose weekly average spending, including the total cost of the course and lodging, amounts to 407 euros. Each and every school has an active marketing approach, with substantial investments in promotion and marketing as well as budgets allocated for promotional travel, participation in fairs and scholarships for students. One special feature of the ASILS schools is that, in addition to their usual teaching courses, they also make a particular effort to offer numerous recreational activities, so as to stimulate socialization and promote the many wonderful attractions that Italy has to offer, ranging from its artistic and naturalistic heritage to food and wine, with the possibility of many participating in highly fulfilling visits, events and activities.