The language classes at Babilonia overall are very well done. The teachers are educated and experienced in teaching Italian as a foreign language. The classes primarily focus on communicative activities, that is, getting the students to use the language in a variety of activities. My disappointment here is that few of the activities have much relevance to real world language usage. I need Italian to get things done in my travels through Italy, not debate someone about global warming. Although they have a more grammar specific class in the morning, the focus is still language practice. Grammar is reviewed and practiced rather than overwhelming you with more and more grammar structures and verb tenses. I would, however, like to see more references to how grammar structures are used in everyday situations and not just the obvious examples, such as a fortune teller predicting the future.
Lunch and Excursions
The school serves lunch, offers afternoon activities (such as films) and weekend excursions. The lunch offered is a choice of a sandwich, salad or pasta of the day, all well done and very reasonably priced. Lunchtime at the school is also a great opportunity to practice Italian with other students in the lovely garden. I did not attend any of the afternoon activities. I already had too much to do and was getting a lot of Italian practice. I did go on one excursion to Mt. Etna and thought it was very well done. Click on Etna for more information.
The homestay situation was one of the best I have ever had, with the house just three minutes from the school and the Ferrari family offering good food and friendly conversation. The after dinner conversation with Angela and the other students was not only fun but another great opportunity to practice Italian. Most of the other students I talked to were also happy with their families, although a few complained that the house was quite far from the school, which in Taormina could mean a long walk uphill. I really enjoyed meeting the other students at Babilonia as well. Many of them were older, over 30, rather than the young university aged students you find at other schools. I don’t know if this mix of students is the same year round. The school, however, does offer a 50+ program both in the fall and spring.
While I thought the classes were reasonably well done, interesting and fun, I don’t think they are worth the cost of €200 for three evenings of classes and eating with the family. The dinners with my homestay family was just as good with as much, if not more, Italian speaking practice. The food was really of the same caliber, good but without fancy or expensive ingredients. I’d only recommend the classes for someone who is particularly interested in learning to cook Sicilian dishes. To experience the food and practice Italian I highly recommend staying with a family. For more information on what was done in the classes see the postings: day 1, day 2, day 3.
For links to all the posts in this series see the Taormina, Sicily page.