Koinè: a few words about the school
Koinè is a special kind of school. In fact it was set up in 1980 as an association of teachers, all with personal and professional experiences in the area of teaching Italian as a foreign language. Since these teachers were dissatisfied with their experience, they decided to create a new structure which would differ from other private schools in its style of working and its teaching methods.
Two goals were identified from the outset:
- teaching the language to foreign mother tongue speakers requires a specific approach and therefore professional training for the teachers.
- Italian is regarded and studied as a language of culture by people with tourist and cultural motivations and therefore learning must be linked to the contemporary presentation of artistic and cultural production representing the history of the Italian people.
Koinè, a Greek word meaning “common language”, but also with a broader cultural sense “everything that is common”, was considered to be the ideal name to represent our project. Today Koinè offers: its own didactic methods, its own text books, cassettes and videos, teachers specifically trained in these methods, lessons which are not limited purely to the teaching of the language, but completed by a series of introductory courses and guided visits to show our country’s hallmarks. Koinè has broadened its organization over time by adding to the main school in Florence others in Lucca, Cortona, Bologna and on the Island of Elba, all employing teachers trained professionally in the Florence centre, with the intention of improving not only the quality but also the quantity and variety of what it has to offer. Our school was recognised by the Italian Ministry of Education in March 2002.
Teaching Methods: The program and the didactic method have been developed over the years through intense research and testing by the teaching group of Centro Koinè. As a result of this work, the center has produced materials (books, audiovisual tools) and organised seminars as well as orientation courses for teachers.
The Program: Our courses represent a communicative program, the content of which comes from the reality of everyday life in Italy, and includes the main aspects of its social and cultural environment. After lengthy research and experimentation, we have established a program which, through the selection of specific reading materials, aids the foreign student to experience Italian society in an individual, personal way and not merely through the eyes of a tourist.
The Method: The program is implemented using a method which takes into account different teaching methods, but is based principally on activities requiring the use of creativity and induction. These kinds of activities are aimed at developing the autonomy of the student who is supposed to participate actively in classes. In this way, the students become the protagonists and the teacher becomes a discussion leader. According to the most qualified scientific research, learning should involve not only the rational part of the memory but also the unconscious in order to be truly effective. The goal is to gain concrete skills: first, talking and speaking and then reading and writing, to avoid learning being blocked by the inability to communicate effectively. On the first day, all the participants take a language test to determine their level and to enable us to create homogeneous classes.
There are five levels divided into two cycles. Each level takes a month to complete; therefore, it is possible to attend for a minimum of one month and a maximum of 5 months to complete the entire cycle.
Basic Cycle - The attainment by passing three proficiency levels, of the “threshold level” (B1); that is, the level of communicative ability recognized by the Common European Framework for Languages as permitting participation in an Italian language environment.
Elementary Level - Supplies the means for coping with most daily situations, satisfying basic needs and understanding relatively simple information.
Intermediate Level - Supplies the means for coping with most daily situations, expressing one’s point of view and explaining, describing and recounting in a sufficiently precise manner.
Advanced Level - This enables one to reach the threshold level, that is, to obtain those linguistic instruments of communication needed to move around easily within the reality of the country and in contact with Italians themselves. The entire cycle lays emphasis on the spoken language.
Specialization Cycle - At two teaching levels: the rationalization through the systematic procedures of knowledge of the language, of correctness of expression of the richer aspects of the spoken and written language.
Upper Level 1 - Morphology and syntax 1st part. Analysis and in-depth study of various tone levels in the spoken language.
Upper Level 2 - Morphology and syntax, 2nd part. Analysis and in-depth study of the various tone levels in written language. Introduction to dialects.
We have always thought that social and cultural information plays an important role in language learning, particularly for Italian. The desire to learn about the society and culture of a country is a strong motivation to learn the language. This is particularly true for Italian which is commonly defined as a language of culture. For this reason, all the Koinè centers simultaneously present morning language classes and an intense program of cultural activities in the afternoon. The afternoon program
is specifically designed for each city based on the subjects and characteristics that make it unique.
The Courses (go to the page)