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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Social Equity Views

Social Equity
October 22, 2012
            I have now been in Italy for exactly a month and one week.  The first two weeks we spent in Florence, which was not as big of an adjustment as I thought it would be due to the fact that it is a very touristy city where almost everyone spoke or knew a decent amount of English.  However, that environment changed drastically when we arrived in Parma, a very small city in northern Italy where few people actually speak English.  I have never taken an Italian class before arriving in Italy, all my classes are taught in English and my current Italian consists of ciao and grazie (hello and thank you).  Needless to say, I was nervous to go to the school for the first time because of the language barrier. 
Maria Lugia is a regular Italian school; the students are native Italian speakers and take all their classes in Italian.  They do take English and French classes, so I was paired up with two of the English teachers.  I will travel around with the English teachers to their English classes in the grades that are equivalent to our sixth-eighth grades.  Last week I went in to meet the teachers and the principal.  This was one of those times that, although I was aware of the cultural differences between Italy and the US, I was not expecting to see them in the school.  When people in Italy greet each other, they kiss once on each cheek.  I had encountered that many of the people I met did this even the first time they met you.  This was the case when I met the principal.  This is when I realized that things in the school would probably be much different than what I have experienced in pre pracs in the US.
So, today was my first day actually going to the classes with one of the English teachers. 
Even though it was English class, the students talked to each other mostly in Italian and would ask the teacher questions in Italian.  Then, in English, she would ask them to repeat the question to her in English.  I quickly realized what it might feel like to be an ELL student in the US, to be thrown into a class where I could not understand what was going on.  While it did get better as the students settled into class and were speaking more English than Italian, this feeling stuck with me and I don’t think I will forget how confused and overwhelmed I was within those first few minutes.  It has made me more aware of how important it is when approaching ELL students in our classrooms in the US. 

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