If you stand outside classroom 104 at the Yorktown Community Cultural Center on a Friday afternoon, you might believe you were transported to a different countryone where Italian is the only spoken language, and the students are as excited to learn as the teacher is to teach.
This is Carolina Gengo Di Domenicos Italian class, part of her La Piazza di Carolina business where she teaches children how to speak Italian and about Italian culture through her classes and summer camp. Her love for teaching Italian stems from her strong Italian heritage that compelled her to learn the language herself.
All of my grandparents were from Italy and we were very culturally rich in the culture of Italy. We practiced a lot of the traditions and there was just a lot of Italian sense, you could just feel itbut there was no language, she said. So it just always stuck with me-- something I always wanted to do was learn the language because it was the piece that was missing.
Di Domenico graduated from the University of Denver with degrees in public relations and Italian, which she said was the first time she was really taught the language.
I spent most of my 20s going over to Italy just as much as I could, she said. After graduation and her trips to and from Italy, Di Domenico enrolled in Middlebury College in Florence, where she received her masters degree in Italian Studies.
In the classroom, Di Domenico speaks and interacts with her students at such an excited rate, her passion and excitement for teaching is contagious to her students. The class is spoken in Italian from start to finish, and combines lessons on the Italian alphabet, music and vocabulary. Italian songs stream from the stereo she brings and the students watch her dance and sing the words with concentration, and then mimic her every move, sound and word--- impressive for students who are preschool age.
She doesnt only teach young children how to speak Italian howeverin fact, she has taught nearly every age group from infant to senior citizen how to speak the language.
Prior to opening her own business, La Piazza di Carolina, Di Domenico was an Italian instructor in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, adult education classes and senior citizen classes. She found her love for teaching younger children to speak the language after the birth of her own children, Giuliana and Gabriella, who are now 11 and eight respectively.
I was seeing the results of teaching my own and once I started teaching to elementary school children I really loved teaching the younger ones--it was a lot of fun.
Di Domenico supposes her love for the methodology she uses to teach children is because she learns in the same way.
They love to learn through the arts, and I grew up with an artistic background so all of that came natural to me, she said. I just put the two together and the results were great, because the children really took it and it was very joyful and very rewarding.
For more information about La Piazza di Carolina, Italian classes and summer camp, visit www.lapiazzadicarolina.com
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