University Students bring Italian to Primary Schools with Fun and Games

Monday, 26 March 2007

Monday, 26 March, 2007: Ninety-seven primary school children who have taken introductory Italian language classes taught by NUI Galway students will receive certificates at a special 'Italian Day' at the University on Thursday, 29 March, 2007.

The eight-week Italian course was delivered in schools throughout Galway city and county by a group of 20 students as part of a pilot 'service-learning' programme under the umbrella of the University's Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI). A range of service-learning modules are available across faculties at the University and aim to enhance partnership with the wider community by allowing students practical learning opportunities of benefit to the community.

The primary schools involved in the programme were Scoil Bhríde Shantalla, Belmont NS Tuam, Scoil Chroí Íosa Newcastle, St. Nicholas NS Claddagh and Galway Educate Together NS Newcastle. None of the children had any previous knowledge of Italian and for most it was their first experience learning a continental European language, so the aim was on language teaching through fun and games.

'Italian Day' will feature Italian food and culture across the campus and the event aims to further enhance the link between the University and the community while at the same time valuing the achievements of the children.

Dr. Anne O'Connor of the Italian Department at NUI Galway, who coordinated the project, commented on the success of the new service-learning programme, "This is an innovative way of providing exposure to language in primary schools at no extra cost to the school involved with benefits for all parties. The University students benefit by getting involved in community and gaining practical teaching experience. Primary school children benefit from increased exposure to modern languages so that when they progress to second level, they will not be daunted by the prospect of learning a new language. The primary schools also benefit from the University's support in developing and maintaining a foreign language curriculum."

The service-learning programme will become an accredited course option for those students pursuing Italian Studies as part of their degree for the academic year 2007-2008. In the future, it is hoped to introduce this project to other language departments in NUI Galway which would involve recruiting more schools and expanding the languages available.

ENDS

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