Learning Italian in an Art Museum – Languages at Dartmouth!
I want to begin this blog with a sincerely honest statement: I HATE learning languages! I don't mean I hate the idea of it, or that I don't want to learn them, but the second my brain starts thinking about grammatical structures or vocab *snore*... You get the point! Because of this, I was absolutely terrified of the Dartmouth language requirement. Here at the College on the Hill, learning a language is required (we must complete three courses in any language) unless you arrive already bilingual or multilingual. Because I was from the UK and slept through my German classes for five years, this was not the case for me.
This term I began my first language course here: Italian 1. I decided on this course not only because Italian is such a cool language, but also because Dartmouth runs an economics study abroad program at Bocconi University in Milan! (More blogs on study abroads incoming). I must admit, I was terrified. You'd think at such an immensely academic college, people wouldn't be intimidated by learning new things, but trust me – it's scary! What I have found so far, however, is that languages at Dartmouth are actually super fun! We are typically in smaller classes, first of all, of about 15-20 students. This allows for the language to be taught in a more discussional manner, and with the supplement of practicing before class, you pick up more in ten weeks than you would think.
We also have a really unique way of learning languages outside of the classroom – drill!! Drill is mandatory and 2-3 times per week meaning you for sure will practice, and it is set up as a session where you repeat and recall phrases and word conjugations, etc. This quick-fire small-group setup allows you to more deeply engage with the language, and do so more naturally and conversationally. Finally, my Italian class goes far beyond just teaching us sentence structures and verb conjugation; my awesome professor also teaches us all about Italian culture. We learn about the different regions of Italy and their typical foods, and we even had a visit to Dartmouth's own Hood Museum! It was there that we learned more about Italian art and culture, and used our knowledge of the language to describe what we saw.
Overall, languages at Dartmouth are fun. If you're like me and you're not wired to learn languages, don't worry! You'll be given all of the support you need here to succeed, and the professors are amazing! Here at Dartmouth, I have been able to finally break one of my biggest academic fears: learning a language
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