Grantham Journal Big Interview: Language school ‘could be a big boost to tourism in our county’
Grantham businesswoman Rosemarie Cornacchione is hoping that her language business will help boost tourism in Lincolnshire. Rosemarie runs inavanti Learning Solutions which provides Italian and English language courses. Clients will also have the opportunity to travel to Italy where they can make practical use of their language skills.
What made you decide to offer Italian and English language courses?
I decided to take my work in a different direction after having done administration based jobs in my early career. I settled on tutoring, after being approached by co-workers, friends, and friends of friends over the years to help them with English and/or study skills. I was born into a multi-lingual household. Both my parents were fluent in a couple of languages. My father was Italian and spoke fluent English and some French and my mother speaks fluent Italian and Irish Gaelic also. I was exposed to other languages when I learned French and German at secondary school. All these languages had an impact on how I viewed languages and language learning. I started noticing similarities between all the languages and how there appeared to be a wide ranging common basis, generally speaking, between all of them; but I was particularly drawn to English and Italian due to my heritage.
After having lived in Italy for a while as a child, I enjoyed being able to speak Italian along with my native English and I think after a lot of reflection, this was the deciding factor as to which languages I wanted to offer. I teach English up to university level but Italian is at beginner’s level.
How do you think it will help boost tourism in Lincolnshire and why do you think that is important?
English is used greatly all over the world. It could almost be described as a universal language, if I may be so bold as to say that. In many countries it is a mandatory subject. With English, I make a point of telling students about dialects and pronunciations. For example, the word ‘bath’ in what could be considered ‘standard English’, varies in pronunciation depending upon the area of the UK a person is in, including Lincolnshire. These are interesting little facts that are useful for people who want to come to Lincolnshire. I feel there is an outdated and all-encompassing perception of what British people are like and how they present themselves. I’m forever telling people that not everyone in the whole of the UK is a ‘cockney’ or has a London accent. It is not always foggy in London or constantly raining in the UK. I get the impression that people have watched too many vintage films and everything always seems to be presented as dreary or the complete opposite ‘tally-ho’ scenario. I want to demonstrate the variety in the UK but most particularly Lincolnshire, as it is a diverse, vibrant, welcoming and beautiful county. Therefore, when I teach English, I use Lincolnshire as my focus. We have everything here – beautiful cities, market towns and villages with magnificent buildings and history; modern melting with the traditional. Little gems if you look closely. You’ve only got to look at Lincoln to see that it could be viewed as a microcosm of London which offers all of the above bar one other important thing – varied and natural rural beauty; everything from rolling hills to sandy beaches and virtually everything in between.
Can you explain a bit about what is involved in the course?
After having researched many home language learning and community courses, I eventually developed my own approach to language learning. I found that each other method I researched had both positive and negative aspects to learning a language. My method aims to tie the positive aspects of those courses together and eradicate as far as possible the negative aspects. I found it fascinating once I had my own sons as to how children learn to speak, read and write and armed with my research, I based my three-step approach on all of those elements put together. With Italian I made the decision to specialise in beginner’s levels only (I currently offer Beginning Italian Level 1 and Beginning Italian Level 2). The reason for this is that my approach is designed to get people communicating confidently without worrying too much about grammar at beginner’s stage; so grammar is kept to the absolute essential, sentence structure, pronunciation and every day usage being the priority. I do not offer a quick fix. To really learn a language it takes time and a certain amount of effort. It is an investment. Previous students who persevered with my approach (as opposed to changing to traditional methods halfway through) have reaped the rewards of confidently communicating the basics. This then leaves them the choice to go on to a higher level of learning if they wish, where learning grammar is the priority. They can enter this stage knowing that they can already pronounce, read and write coherently and, more importantly, are less shy about speaking up at the next stage of their language learning journey – because that’s what it is when they take things further. I give them a ‘leg up’ so to speak. It removes the feelings of nervousness and stress, which in the words of the famous linguist Michel Thomas, are ‘tension producing … [and] inhibits true and effective learning’.
How do the proposed visits to Italy fit in with your language courses?
The idea to offer the chance to practice what they have learned in Italy came about shortly after my father died and I needed to deal with a lot of Italian red tape. I realised that even with the basics, you can communicate effectively. If you take your new beginners’ language skills, you can successfully function on a daily basis in Italy. This idea fitted in nicely with my specialism in beginner’s level only. The optional stay in Italy is only available to learners who commit to an inavanti course lasting 16 weeks or more. It is not available to private pay per lesson or Muzzy [interactive animated language learning program] students. If a learner decides to take the optional stay in Italy to practice what they have learned, then that truly benefits them, increasing their confidence and understanding of Italian culture further, as they can fully immerse themselves. The option to stay for either a long weekend or a week will see the learner stay in a family run ‘agriturismo’, the English equivalent roughly being a family run rural/semi rural B&B or farm guest house. Only Italian at functional beginner level would be spoken between all those present. Relaxed lessons would continue in the evening and the opportunity to talk about the events of the day would be the focus of these. The establishment that I propose to work with in Italy is called the Fontefredda and consists of a variety of facilities including a swimming pool, vineyard, olive grove; outdoor terraces and all food is organically grown and sourced locally. We are hoping to launch our collaboration next year. I have the same plans for staying in Lincolnshire for learners of English.
Do you have any other plans for the future?
I am currently creating a home learning course which when completed will be available for purchase world wide. Again, life in Lincolnshire is my model and the aim is that it will encourage people learning English to come to Lincolnshire when they finish the course which goes from beginners to advanced levels. There is an Italian version but it is only a beginners’ course – I may possibly follow up with a post beginner course but am focussing on the English course first.
n For more information about inavanti, contact Rosemarie on 07581 085198, email firstname.lastname@example.org or search for ‘inavanti’ on Facebook or follow @inavantil on Twitter.