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Comenius Assistantship: Ms Alessandra Perilonghi

Alessandra Perilonghi was an assistant in a school specialised in the humanities in Bulgaria. In addition to its traditional subjects, the school, Liceo “Vassil Levski”, also off ered Italian. This gave Alessandra the opportunity to teach her native language while learning one she did not yet speak. Alessandra’s main task was to teach Italian language and culture. The expertise of the school’s Italian teachers proved useful to her in this task and she learned a lot from them as their assistant. However, she was also able to teach the students about Italian geography and particular aspects of Italian life. This sparked a fruitful dialogue about Europe. She mainly assisted with students who had music as their main subject. She helped the Bulgarian teachers with grammar exercises, information and communication technology lessons, reading activities and communication games. To engage the students on their own level, she often played songs by young Italian singers, which the students enjoyed learning and singing. In addition, she organised specifi c lessons about the history of the European Union (EU) and established a constructive dialogue with Bulgarian pupils. Although she and the students were all EU citizens, she was the only one who was born as one. She also off ered weekly Italian language lessons to teachers and parents. Last but not least, she tried to attend other lessons to motivate the students to learn and speak foreign languages while increasing their familiarity with other countries. Particularly, she attended foreign-language classes but also visited music and art classes, and even taught English and French together with the school’s teachers. Alessandra was impressed by the kindness of the Bulgarian people. Her tutor, in particular, took care of many practicalities for her. She also garnered valuable experience during her assistantship. She learned to listen carefully and be patient with herself as well as others – a valuable asset when coping with life in a foreign culture. Learning a Slavic language also proved to be quite a challenge. The experiences and lessons provided by the exchange will prove invaluable to a language teacher – or any citizen in a multicultural and multilingual Europe.
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