Plymouth/Pisa: Italians see English as Europe’s No1 language


By WILLIAM TELFORD, Business Editor/Herald


TEACHER: Rossella Pichichero, co-director of British School Pisa

TEACHER: Rossella Pichichero, co-director of British School Pisa

ITALIAN parents are sending their children to additional out-of-school English lessons because they see it as the language of businesses and key to helping them get good jobs.They are prepared to pay for private lessons, given by British teachers, because they want their children to become fluent in what they see as the continent’s dominant tongue.

“English is becoming Europe’s first language, if not the world’s,” said Rossella Pichichero, co-director of British School Pisa, a business founded and still mainly run by Brits, which has been teaching English to Italians in the Tuscan city since 1973.

“Parents are prepared to pay for lessons because they trust us and at the end of the course their children get a qualification. It’s for their future, whether for future study or for their career.”People in Italy are aware of the importance of English, that’s why parents are investing a lot in their children’s education.”

British School Pisa teaches about 1,000 students a year, who sit about 1,500 exams, for the respected Cambridge ESOL qualifications. About half of those students are children or teenagers.

British School Pisa is owned by an Englishman, John Ayres, and has a Scot, Charles Macdonald, as managing director.

The school’s 20 teachers are native English speakers – from the UK, Ireland, USA and other English speaking nations – because it sees it as the best way for students to learn.

“And because we have native speakers it’s different from what the children learn in school,” Mrs Pichichero said. “That’s so important.

Mrs Pichichero first came to the school as a student in 1993, became an employee in 1997 and joined the board in 2005.

The school has become well known in the region and has grown, opening an off-shoot in Pontedera, the town near Pisa famous for housing the huge Piaggio motor scooter company.

In addition to its teachers it employs about 20 admin staff.

On top of regular learning, the school runs activities for youngsters, such as movie evenings, story telling and other social events. It also arranges trips and holidays to the UK, because it also teaches students about British culture – and that includes Plymouth.

“Italians see Britain as a stable country, where everything is efficient, in comparison to Italy,” said Mrs Pichichero. “Young people especially want to spend time in London. It’s easier to find a job there, perhaps in a restaurant, than in Italy.

“So, they can get work and improve their English.”

But she stressed young Italians also like to visit the South West, particularly Cornwall and Plymouth, because they want to experience English culture and see the capital as too cosmopolitan.

“We’ve sent a few students to Plymouth,” she said. “They love the Barbican and the old part of the city and the beauty of the coast.

“I’ve been to Plymouth four times, and I love it, and the people are very welcoming.”

British School Pisa also teaches non-Italian international students who want to improve their English or their Italian, for instance if they want to attend one of Pisa’s three universities.

“We can also offer courses in Italian culture in English,” said Mrs Pichichero. “On top of their course we can organise a social programme full of activities by the sea or in town.”

Read more: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Plymouth-Pisa-Italians-English-Europe-s-No1/story-26709518-detail/story.html#ixzz3djP5JtCW
(Publicity generated by Dorcas Media).


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