Playfully and with empathy

Work placement at a language school in Rome

As part of the project “KOSMO_POLIS: socio-political education in the district“, Alisa, one of our volunteers, had the opportunity to do a job shadowing in Rome/Italy at the “Associazione di promozione sociale Asinitas Aps” from 11 April to 16 May 2023. The work of the organisation is aimed at migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who want to learn the Italian language.

Using a holistic approach, the learners are introduced to the new language in a playful and empathetic way. The teachers try to respond to the participants’ life and migration experiences and to include them in the learning process. For example, not only is vocabulary expanded around the topic of “friends and family”, but the stories of each individual are compiled, written down and artistically presented. Objects from the old home country can also play an important role in the lessons, for example when the participants in the women’s class are asked to remember something that was particularly dear to them. In the process, the relevant terms are learned and repeated almost casually, and the learners’ manual skills are used at the same time: Between memories and vocabulary, they recreate the things in clay to present them later to the whole group. While their children are being looked after in the next room, the women can concentrate entirely on themselves and their development in this safe space.

Even though “Asinitas” is primarily a language school, it is much more than just a place to learn a new language. It is a meeting place for people from completely different cultural backgrounds (Bangladesh, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Albania, Ghana, etc.), where they and their experiences are taken seriously and are met with a lot of respect and at eye level, regardless of their level of education or where they come from. It is also a place for exchange and joint discovery, for example during the weekly theatre workshop in which learners as well as native Italian speakers from the neighbourhood participate. Together they are an ensemble that goes in search of the inner voice – in all the languages of the participants.

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