Bilingualism #6. Great Britain: the experience of SIAL.school – Italian

Curated by Annarita Guidi

At the SIAL school in London, Italian peer school which is part of the Italian training system in the world is education bilingual, bicultural and bilingual.

We talked about it with Principal Ines Saltalamacchia, involved in the project since 2006. The principal has worked as a researcher between the University of Milan and King’s College London and has been a member of the Salusbury Primary School Steering Committee for many years. Today she is involved in the Our Global School project, a charity founded to create exchanges between primary and secondary schools in London and The Gambia.

How do you work for the integration between the two education systems?

“SIAL.school is the only bilingual school in London in which all subjects are taught in Italian and English, from nursery to Y6 (last year in primary school). To achieve this, we have created a fully bilingual education program in which standard provided by the Italian Ministry of Education is integrated and complemented by the EYFS Framework and the National British Curriculum. This approach allows us to deliver the best of both school systems in terms of content, teaching approaches and skills acquired by children that they are capable of move easily from the Italian to the English school system (and vice versa) or continue your studies at an international school. The teaching course is divided equally between the two languages. Italian and English native language teachers work on joint and common bilingual curriculum; in this way Goal forming taught in Italian they come so reinforced in English and vice versa”.

At SIAL.school, bilingualism is introduced and used in a natural and spontaneous way and in different situations. How?

“Italian and English native language teachers and assistants work in parallel with groups of children on a common curriculum covering educational objectives for both Italian and English teaching programs. Each teacher has an assigned classroom and children they move from one environment to another, learn to recognize that in a given classroom only Italian is spoken and in the other only English. The physical separation of the spaces assigned to a specific language helps and speeds it up bilingual vocabulary developmentin total natural. Even the insertion of artistic subjects in our bilingual curriculum aims to promote spontaneity in language learning: children participate in art, music and drama classes in both languages ​​since kindergarten, with native language teachers. Art is a very powerful toolbecause they activate everyone sensory channels necessary for the development of the processes rote learning and off cognitive spherestimulating and involving the emotional sphere at the same time”.

Soft skills, such as social and emotional, play an important role in learning…

“We have always been committed to ensuring that our school is a safe and trusting environment where children are constantly encouraged and inspired to become resilient and contented individuals. Weekday we monitor their well-being: In dedicated moments with their teacher, the children all sit together to talk about how they feel and learn to recognize and express their feelings in both languages. We firmly believe that feeling happy, supported and respected at school is essential to living the school years peacefully and successfully.”

The SIAL school is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, where the child can influence the learning process …

“We regard the kindergarten as the basic starting point in the child’s education. Our training program is designed to be continuous equilibrium between the activities led by the teacher and those suggested by each child’s interests. The teaching is individualized and divided into moments of face-to-face interaction, in small groups or with the whole class involved in the same activity, always starting fromlisten to the individual child, its interests and needs. Even in language learning we follow motivation boost of the child, plan and propose educational activities in accordance with the individual’s interests and level. That way, every student has the opportunity to do so progress at your own pace“.

How do you promote multiculturalism?

“Ours is not just a bilingual school where the focus is exclusively on language learning. It is a bicultural school where children are immersed in both cultures, Italian and English. The objective is prepare our students to enter the world with an open mind and curiosityimprove nuances And differences that characterize theirs identity. For example, the lessons in PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) in our curriculum involve the study of the various. cultures and communitieswhich emphasizes the importance of to know, understand and accept diversity. In the same way, we study everyone’s history religionsinsert hints of philosophy for children. In the daily life of the school, cultures are breathed, in the celebration of parties and anniversariesfrom Christmas to Diwali (one of the most important Indian holidays) to Eid (Islamic holiday marking the end of Ramadan), and in the initiatives to support equality and inclusion achieved by our school in 2021 Gold Equalities Award promoted by EqualiTeach”.

The charity that manages your school also offers extra-curricular courses in the Italian language: what are the user profiles and language teaching methods?

“It is a separate project from the bilingual primary school and is actually presented under the name SIAL courses. The extra-curricular courses in Italian language and culture are offered in collaboration with Consulate General of Italy in London and support from MAECI since 2018, in London and in the south of England. These courses take place in over 40 different locations, outside school hours, and aims to encourage users to develop and maintain their mother tongue. They are offered that children and boys who go to elementary schools and upper secondary schools, regardless of starting level. The main objectives are the recovery, teaching and appreciation of the Italian language and culture through an approach that stimulates attentioninterest and sense of belonging. The method is communicative-situational, with attention to grammatical structures and to written and reading activities. In addition to gaining confidence and improving expressive and communicative skills, students are addressed culture Italian, traditions, history, geography and literature”.

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