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4 Sep 2019

FAQ 2019

You may have read an older post from 2016 with a similar title (An anticipated FAQ). Three years (a baby and an international move) later, we revisit our FAQ section to share the things that have often come up since our centre’s move to Montreal last August.

Can’t find an answer to the question you have in mind here? Send us an e-mail. We’ll be happy to reply to you personally.

About our Study Abroad Programs

Q: You mention “agriturismo” and “ecotourism” in your study abroad program in Monte Argentario. What do those terms mean?
A: “Agriturismo” and “ecotourism” literally refer to a type of environmentally-conscious tourism that seeks to reduce the tourist’s ecological footprint on their host environment. It is a style of travel rather than a type of accommodation and encourages staying at farmsteads, eating food grown/raised on the premises (a Km0), using eco-friendly methods of transit (eg, bikes, low-exhaust scooters, walking when reasonable), and celebrating sources of vitality to the local economy. It is a way of life in Monte Argentario, and we like to replicate it to give our travellers the most authentic experience of an Italian summer they can have.

Q: Are your summer study abroad courses accredited with any major universities or CEGEPs?
A: Not yet. We are still working on it. If you are a university/ CEGEP administrator, please be in touch with us. Our course design is based on 10+ years teaching experience, and formal specialization in Italian culture and foreign language acquisition. For now, students have used our courses either to deepen their understanding of Italian language or culture, or to prepare for placement tests, structured language courses, or Masters’ and Ph.D. programs at other institutions.

Q: What happens if I only buy the “Homeroom” package offered on your travel site? Will I be excluded from the rest of the programming and the weekend field trips? How will I spend my time?
A: Buying the Homeroom package just means that you purchase your course, extracurricular activities, and accommodations from us and are reliant on yourself for all other expenses. It does not exclude you from our planned events or trips. You can opt into those at any time, choosing the ones that most interest you, when they are associated with a cost. Buying the homeroom package won’t really affect you during the week. It will require more financial management from you, as you will have to purchase your own meals (eating with the group when we are all together or on your own or in small groups when meal-time coincides with free time) and travel to, from, and within Italy. But all of the options being offered to the group will be offered to you, as well. You will need to decide which to capitalize on and which to skip. On weekends, you will need to decide whether to join the group on a field trip, hang back, or, if older than 18, venture out on your own. Either way, there will always be a reference person at the program location for you.

Q: Do you have a work-study program or a volunteer-study program?
A: Not yet. We are working on that, too. In the future, one might be possible for university students (older than 18) but unlikely for CEGEP or high school.

Q: Are students in your summer programs all at the same level?
A: Our selection of students depends on a number of criteria. In general, all our students tend to be at similar levels, but when they aren’t, we break down the group into smaller sections so that the more advanced learners don’t get bored and the ones just starting out don’t get overwhelmed.

Q: What do you mean by “experiential learning”?
A: Experiential learning has become a buzzword in the field of education. So much so that it’s lost some of its meaning. In essence, it refers to applied learning — situations in which “book learning” or a more theoretical approach to understanding a problem and/or its solution — are bolstered by the application of that knowledge to an actual lived situation – an experience. Experiential learning just means that rather than learning Italian in a classroom with a book in your lap or behind a computer screen, with 3E you learn Italian in context and in situations where you are required, at a communicative level, to put it to use (like doing the groceries, ordering at the bar, making a phone call, making a reservation, asking for advice about books, movies, music, learning how to follow a recipe, etc.) Once a concept has passed not only through your brain, but through your lived experience, you are more likely to consolidate that knowledge (remember it).

Q: Do you offer family trips, or trips for adult learners (beyond 23 years old) as well?
A: Not directly. But we do offer customized programming for private groups. What that means is that you give us certain parameters to work within, and we build a program for you based on the number and age range of your participants, the kinds of activities you enjoy doing together, the kinds of lessons you’d like to learn, how long you’d like to stay, your budgetary and dietary needs, and, if you feel strongly about it, where you’d like to stay. Our network extends beyond Tuscany and we are happy to branch out for your private group.

Q: It’s so easy to book a trip and all associated activities and accommodations online these days. Why should anyone book with you?
A: That’s easy. Traveling on your own, though it affords the ultimate spontaneity, often means overlooking details or dealing with incomplete information and huge cultural gaps. Traveling with an organized group means you have the luxury of having every detail ironed out for you, but also having to adhere to a strict schedule on the classic tour route with little flexibility or opportunity for you to truly invest in your interests. Traveling with 3E is like visiting a new place with an old friend who has lived there for a while, knows the ins and outs, knows the shortcuts and roadblocks, and knows their way around them. Someone who can take you to all the places you keep seeing online and in travel guides, but can also take you to a number you don’t, but won’t ever forget once you’ve been there. We have created customized travel guides for dozens of friends, families, solo and small group travellers passing through different parts of Italy, and have accompanied a number of them on steps of their journey. Each and every person we have helped in this way has communicated a profound satisfaction and deep gratitude for our knowledge, insight, flexibility, preparation, and sensitivity to their personal needs and cultural reference points. That’s not to brag. But it is an indication that our programming works for the people it serves, and it can work for you, too.

About our Cultural Events

Q: Are your events hosted in English or in Italian?
A: Most of our students are bi/trilingual, which means there’s a lot of code-switching happening at our events. In general, the lingua franca is Italian. But when it won’t suffice to get a point across (we’ve all been there!), our students switch easily to English or French, then go right back to Italian. We appreciate that language learning is a variable process. Communication, not correctness, is our priority.

Q: Can I come to your events even if I am only a beginner?
A: Yes. Always. Our events are open to everyone. In fact, we encourage beginners to come and learn from more experienced students whenever they can.

Q: Do I have to pay to attend your events?
A: Sometimes. As of September 2019, we’ll be offering one event per week, every month. Some are always free (Book Club, Linguistic Tandems, Writers’ Meets), while some do require ticketed admission (First Friday screenings, Cooking Nights). All ticketed events include food and one beverage, as do our Book Club meetings and events for writers. Our linguistic tandems take place outside our centre. They are free to access, and snacks can be purchased individually on the premises.

Q: Do young people come to your events? I wouldn’t like to be in a room with many people significantly older or younger than I am.
A: Our events are open to everyone. Usually, participants range in age from 21 – 40 years old, depending on the offered event. Typically, certain events tend to attract people from similar age groups, so there has never been a huge age discrepancy in our hosted groups.

About our Courses

Q: Do you have online courses for kids?
A: Yes! We offer a virtual version of our A1a for Little Learners course on our new platform online. You can buy it or subscribe to our centre for one, three, six, or twelve months to have access to it. It consists of eight video lessons covering 6 units of material (and a pre-unit module), corresponding digital course packs and flashcards, online exercises, and YouTube playlists. We’ll be releasing its companion course (A1b for Little Learners) soon.

Q: There are so many resources online. Can’t I just learn Italian through another institution’s website?
A: Yes and No. Emerging studies in pedagogy (like, proofed-reviewed-but-not-yet-published emerging) show that technology has contributed negatively, in many ways, to foreign language acquisition. For starters, students become reliant on tools like Google Translate or online dictionaries to communicate their meaning rather than absorbing vocabulary or grammar structures in a more organic way. Plus, online learning gives them little to no opportunity to master their pronunciation or even put it to the test. Of course, online tools have their merits (otherwise, we wouldn’t have our own) like convenience, time-flexibility, universal accessibility, respect for the user’s rhythm of learning (just to name a few). What we recommend is an integrated approach: in-person (or individual, remote) language classes complemented by multi-media aids and online tools.

Q: Do you offer your courses anywhere other than your centre?
A: We do. For a minimum group of six students, we come out to you (in the greater Montreal area) with our course materials and trademark pedagogical approach. We do, however, adjust our costs to reflect transit time and/or group size (students in a larger group pay less per enrolment).

Q: Do you know of any places where Italian courses are offered?
A: Well, strangely enough, we do: here! There are plenty of places to take Italian courses in Montreal. None that we have come across offer the customizability, flexibility, and media and technology-balanced approach to learning that we do. We offer remote learning, personalized study plans and materials, and discussion of both classic and contemporary Italian culture. That means with 3E, you get the Fellini with the Mainetti, the Dante alongside the Camilleri, the Fausto Leali together with the Subsonica. You get a well-rounded view of Italy and its evolution over time and through a series of revolutionary events.