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Speak English Please ! The “LICEO DE GIORGI” meets the “RIDGEWAY SCHOOL” Wroughton U.K.

prof. Nicolette James

Tutor Prof. M. Campobasso

Tutor Prof. P Sanguedolce

Dirigente Scolastico

Prof. Giovanna Caretto

Unione Europea Fondo Sociale Europeo Con l’Europa investiamo nel vostro futuro! PON 2007-2013 Asse FSE: “Competenze per lo sviluppo” Azione C1 “Interventi formativi per lo sviluppo delle competenze chiave” Comunicazione nelle lingue straniere-stage all’estero

Bando 3760 Annualità 2010

LICEO SCIENTIFICO “C. DE GIORGI”


LICEO SCIENTIFICO “COSIMO DE GIORGI” LECCE

SPEAK ENGLISH PLEASE! AOODGAI 3760 2010 C-1-FSE-2010-717

photo by Thomas Katan


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FOREWORD When Marcella Campobasso and I were put in charge of tutoring Speak English Please!, we did not know very well how we would organize the students’ project abroad, but we had a clear idea of what we were not going to do: we did not want to simply pick up a ready-made summer course offered by one of the too many language schools in the UK. We wanted our students to experience life in a real English school. This is why I asked The Ridgeway School of Wroughton, which was already cooperating with us in ELvis1, to be our partner in the project. Without their help, and above all without Eddie Sims’s generous effort, all this would not have been possible. This booklet is meant to disseminate the results of this experience through the voices of the twenty-one students who participated in it. It is dedicated to all those who facilitated our work and to those who did not. !

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Patrizia Sanguedolce

Quello che leggerete in queste pagine vi sembrerà un buon risultato per un progetto scolastico. L’occasione culturale che questi ragazzi hanno avuto è di indubbio valore per la loro formazione. Tutto questo sarebbe stato, per me, sufficiente per essere soddisfatta del lavoro svolto. Tuttavia ciò che mi ha veramente arricchita e che non dimenticherò è l’esperienza umana. Essa è stata possibile per le notevoli doti personali di Patrizia e Nicky, per la disponibilità e le capacità dei ragazzi, per l’accoglienza della scuola inglese e per l’entusiasmo di Eddie. A tutti un grazie di cuore. !!

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Comenius school partnership “Speak English Please!” 1

Marcella Campobasso


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LOGBOOK OF OUR ENGLISH EXPERIENCE Thursday 23rd June 2011 Ettore Alemanno and Aldo Cingolani

The day of departure finally arrived: we all met in the airport of Brindisi “Papola-Casale” at half past eleven in the morning. As our teacher told us to, we were all wearing the red t-shirts which they had given us at the end of the 100 hour-course we had done at school. According to the timetable, the boarding time was at 12.55, which was half an hour later than the effective boarding time, so we moved through the airport in a hurry, but we managed to do everything in time, even with the luxury of a coffee.

photo by Thomas Katan

Many of us were flying (by plane) for the first time in our lives, but no one had any kind of problem and – at least apparently – everybody seemed to be feeling quite at ease. After an eighty-minute flight, we landed in Milan Linate, where we had the chance to relax for a while. Therefore we bought a couple of sandwiches and a beverage. Afterwards we reached the gate and we boarded at 15.05. The airplane left with twenty minutes’ delay, but it caught up while flying, so we landed on time at 16.40. After less than a quarter of an hour, we collected our heavy luggage. Then we had to wait for the bus that had to take us to Wroughton for a long and tiring time. It “Speak English Please!” 2


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arrived after a while, and we reached Swindon and then Wroughton in two hours. We finally arrived at the Ridgeway School, where we were to be based for the next few days. At that moment of the day we were already tired, and everybody looked forward to having a place where to take some rest. Fortunately the students who had to go to families met their English mates just in front of the school and they moved together towards their own houses. The others, instead, continued their trip to reach the hostel.

Friday 24th June 2011- First day at school! Marta Cinotti

After the tiring day of Thursday, I woke up at seven in my new bed, in my new room in my new house in England. I wished I could sleep more, but today was a busy school day and we had to hurry. And also, after school we would immediately leave for Cornwall, so I had to pack photo by Thomas Katan my luggage for it. I’m staying in a family for these days, so I had a very nice breakfast with my host. However, after that, I had to come to school by bus, a typical English school bus which is completely different from ours. They are yellow and with two decks, and they only bring students to school and no other people anywhere else. We all met up at school for a tour of the buildings. For this aspect too, the differences with Italy are amazing. The Ridgeway is a huge “Speak English Please!” 3


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school, it’s a bit old actually but everything here works perfectly. They have lots and lots of classrooms and all sorts of laboratories; we’re not used to seeing cooking or design classes in a school! And then there are also two gyms, a swimming pool, and a huge open field for other sports, a canteen, a theatre and all these things that are all new to us. After the tour we had a talk about English university in the philosophy room. We learnt something about how it works and how to get in. Then there was the lunch at the canteen and at that moment I realised that actually it is not so bad to have lunch at home every day, like we do in Italy! Yes, the food at the canteen is not so good. The only good aspect was that it’s free because the school is so kind as to pay for us. Then we worked on the computer for our projects and about 3:00 pm we left for Cornwall! We travelled by bus and the journey was very very very long! It took more than five hours to get to the hostel. When we finally arrived we all were exhausted. Fortunately the place was clean and nice. As I got into my room I just made up the bed and fell asleep! I don’t know what the others did but I thought that the next day would be tiring, and so it was.

Saturday 25th June 2011 Davide Corciulo and Giulia D’Alfonso

Today the alarm clock rang at seven o’clock in order to let us be ready for breakfast at 8 o’ clock. The meal was very good: besides the usual food we also enjoyed a real English cooked breakfast.

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An hour later we were already on the way to the north of Cornwall, divided into two buses. We arrived there in a bit less than two hours, and we started walking through St. Ives, aiming for the Tate gallery museum. We visited it for about an hour and we sophoto by Patrizia Sanguedolce mething about interesting artists, (even if not so well-known to us) such as the Italian Lucio Fontana, the Russian Naum Gabo and the British Margaret Mellis. Afterwards our teachers left us free for almost four hours (till three o’ clock pm), during which we had a fantastic lunch and a ‘cold’ walk on the beach. We stopped a few minutes at a super-market where we bought some meat and drinks for the dinner. At four o’ clock we moved towards the hostel: in two hours we were there. Having reached the hostel, we had a fast shower and then we met in the hall all together to start preparing the dinner. We had a barbecue with good meat and bread. We enjoyed ourselves with some tablegames and then we went to bed at ten o’clock.

Sunday 26th June 2011 Giorgia Dell’Atti and Enrico De Luca

As soon as we got up, we tasted eggs, bacon, hash browns and tomatoes, as in a typical English breakfast, before finally leaving our hostel in order to reach Mevagissey.

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Unfortunately, we had to change our plan because of the bad foggy weather, so we decided to go to Newquay where all of us had the opportunity of hiring surfboards for an hour at Fistral Beach, one of the most photo by Thomas Katan famous Cornish beaches for surfers. Everybody greatly enjoyed riding the waves in the Ocean, even if we were all beginners and it could have been quite dangerous. Only two guys preferred staying on the beach to take photos and fly their kite. Afterwards the entire group spent time having a refreshing snack for lunch before heading for Wroughton. Along the road we were attracted by the sight of an awesome hotel, named “Headland Hotel”, located near the beach in the neighbourhood of Newquay, on the North Cornish Coast: near this was a small tower which used to be an observatory for herring fishermen. After getting on the bus, we started our return trip, which lasted about five hours, and made us really bored and stressed out, although we had stopped twice at service stations, just to relax a bit and refresh ourselves. Thus we finally came back to Wroughton, where our own hosting families were all waiting for us opposite the Ridgeway School. So everyone reached their house to have dinner and spend time at home after a tiring but wonderful and impressive trip.

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Monday 27th June 2011 Andrea Gerardi

Mrs Sims planned out a schedule that we had to follow shadowing teachers of year 12. It was fun going around classes and meeting new people but the most interesting of all was participating in the lessons. In fact we had the chance to compare the two different systems (which wasn’t that much fun when we had to write a 1000 words essay on it). At lunch time (12.45) we went to the canteen to eat, surprisingly it was good! However the best thing of that day at school was the common-room with its table football where we played and lost against the sixth form. After school (3.15) everybody went home.

Tuesday 28th June 2011 Gianluca Greco

Today has been quite an interesting day: our original programme was to go to Swindon and, after a visit to a museum, have a football training session with the local team, which unfortunately we didn’t manage to do because of an unexpected problem which came up for the team.

photo by Thomas Katan

So the day began with the visit to Avebury, which is a small village famous for its henge: a megalithic stone circle bigger and older than the better-known Stonehenge. We had a nice tour across that huge piece of land (300 metres diameter) guided by a kind old man who was also able to speak Italian. He explained to us “Speak English Please!” 7


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a lot of things about the henge: from the weight of the stones to curious things which have happened over the years. Once we finished the tour, we moved by school minibuses to a shopping mall in Swindon located in an old railway works and, after we had lunch, we visited the steam museum nearby. The museum is basically a walk through past factory life. In fact we learnt that Swindon’s importance is due to the railway and those particular buildings. This museum is actually a new use of the old railway workshops and it is full of old machines and figures that reproduce workers in their habitual behaviour, actually a really impressive technique that makes visitors feel like they have gone back in time to when the factory worked at full stretch. Afterwards we decided to catch a train to go to Bath, with characteristically Georgian buildings, even if centuries before the Romans had settled there because they had found a source of warm water, which they exploited with thermal baths. We went for a walk out and about, visiting St. John’s Church, the city Abbey and the city centre in general. At the end of the day, we came back home and now I’m so tired that I’m almost falling asleep…

Wednesday 29th June: shadowing teachers Thomas Katan

It starts like every day: get up with a grumpy grunt and a quick nibble of toast or crumpets and then on to the school bus. Once we got to school, Emily, Carlo’s and my hostess, took us to the blue conference room where Mr Sims told us which teachers we could shadow. I chose to follow Mr Willis the technology teacher, “Speak English Please!” 8


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followed by Aldo, Giulia and Lorenzo, and he showed us how to create a 3D lamp, using computer graphic design. Then, after making a key ring, we went back to the conference room, where Mr Sims told us what to take with us for camping. After lunch we started typing the end of our essay. After the bus ride home we stayed with our host families.

Thursday 30th June 2011 Marco Laudisa

Today, as we always did during our stay here, we met at the front of the school ready to get onto our bus that would drive us to the famous University town of Oxford. As we arrived, while waiting photo by Patrizia Sanguedolce for our guides, some of us had breakfast, but the majority, including myself, were blinded by the window of a local shop which sells Oxford t-shirts, sweaters, key rings and other souvenirs. Afterwards, as soon as the two guides arrived, we split into two groups and had a tour around the stunning Oxford buildings. Oxford, as everybody knows, is the oldest university in the United Kingdom and considered the best together with Cambridge. The whole university is organised like a city! Many buildings are spread throughout the wide property of the college: each of these is a faculty and also there is a library; there are also buildings used for the graduation ceremonies and a big library called the Bodleian, which is the largest in Britain. The most interesting building we saw, in my “Speak English Please!” 9


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opinion, is ‘All Souls College’, which is primarily an academic research institution with strong ties to the public domain, and it is restricted to a Warden and to forty fellows, who are between the ages of 18 and 25 and have at least one degree. In the town there are also students’ houses, museums and what’s typical of any town. Besides, we had the chance to observe some curious way of celebrating a successful exam: students go around the streets wearing a gown and a party hat and throw flour, champagne, wine and other stuff at each other. After walking around the town and the college, we visited the interesting History museum which shows the culture, the statues and the documents concerning the ancient Romans, Egyptians and Greeks. Afterwards, we all had some free time to get something to eat or to go shopping. At 5 we arrived back at the school and were given the big rucksacks for the camping weekend on the Black Mountain.

Thursday 30th June 2011 Eric Lucking

Today we jumped on the bus at 9.30 heading toward Oxford, and we arrived there around 10.30. There we hired two guides to show us the most interesting things in the area, and split into two groups. The guide of my group knew his stuff and was interesting: he knew some Italian and at a certain point he impressed us with fluent spoken Greek. The first thing he showed us was Christ Church, then he explained to us how Oxford works: for example, he told us how the complex is divided, what the relationship between the students of the various buildings is, etc. “Speak English Please!” 10


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Then, he took us to the biggest library in the world, which contains more then half a million books. He also took us to various university buildings where the students were studying. The streets were full of students that had just passed an exam: they were going around in party hats, all covered with cake and confetti. The guide also took us to a place where a scene of the film “Harry Potter” had been filmed. At 12.30, we left the guide and went to a history museum, where there was also the lantern that Guy Fawkes had when he was arrested by guards. photo by Patrizia Sanguedolce After the museum, the teachers allowed us to go freely around Oxford until 4 o’clock, then we took the bus and returned to Wroughton.

Friday 1st July 2011 Alessandra Margiotta

Today we met at 8:30 a.m. at The Ridgeway School and it was very funny because everyone wore their rucksacks. This was on account of the fact that, in order not to waste time, we couldn’t go back home in the afternoon to get them. We met at a conference room and we were assigned to some English students who were in Year 8, so as to follow some lessons with them. After the first two lessons, as on the other days, we had a break; then

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another lesson and, finally, two hours in the computer room, one before and one after lunch, since we had to continue writing our essays. At 15:15 we all were in the parking area waiting for Mr Sims to put our rucksacks into the minibuses, and we were excited because of our camping trip over the weekend, but also a bit worried because of the possible cold photo by Thomas Katan nights and some people’s lack of experience. However, we finally set off - our journey on the bus lasted about two hours and it was boring; before arriving at the camp-site, we stopped in a fast food place to have dinner. When we arrived at a small farm, we were soon annoyed by lots and lots of midges, but we had to set up our tents with the help of our guides Eddie, Jason and Cormack because it was the first time for the majority of us. It was very hard, but we succeeded! Then we spent about one hour playing football, and also eating the cakes that we had bought to celebrate Jonathan and Giulio’s birthdays. Finally, we went to the bed because of the huge quantity of midges.

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Saturday 2nd July 2011: second day camping Stefano Pastorelli

That night we slept in twos in the tents that we had put up the previous evening: it was the first time for most of us and we couldn’t imagine how beautiful it would be to look at the stars lying in a field. After a short breakfast we were assigned to different guide-leaders and we started climbing with our group of 5 or 6 people. During the exhausting climb we had the chance to admire the countryside which surrounded us, and listened to what our guides said about plants and insects of the area. At 12:00pm we had a half an hour stop, so as recover and at 3.30 pm, after 8 kms of trekking, we finally arrived at the lake. A lovely lake, near which we had the possibility to stop and eat. For lunch we had one Cornish paphoto by Thomas Katan sty each and, even if the taste wasn’t the best, everyone ate it because of the fatigue and the hunger! After lunch we should have left the lake for another one but, because of a sort of mutiny, we stayed on there and found a flat place where we pitched our tents. We had free time until 7.00 pm when we cooked pasta with tomato sauce in lunchboxes working as a team. During the evening we had to climb the Black Mountain, which has a height of about 29,000 ft (about 803,5m). After about two hours we returned to the camp and we went to sleep. “Speak English Please!” 13


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Sunday 3rd July 2011 – A tiring day Raffaele Pico and Mattia Pellegrino

It was a very nice day because after two hard nights spent in a tent and walking, we finally came back home. We woke up around 7 a.m. to have a quick breakfast and then we were ready to go and finish our camping adventure. We were ready around 9 a.m. and we started to climb a hill. It was very tiring- in fact we stopped many times, but after that we photo by Thomas Katan walked on the hill and then we went down the hill. Finally, around mid-day we got to where we had left the bus and, after a long rest in the camp, we left for Wroughton. When we got to the farm we were happy, very happy. We went to the nearest ‘water-place’ and we washed ourselves, because we were so dirty and bad smelling. Then we washed the dishes we had used and we finally got on the bus, driving towards Wroughton. We stopped along the way, in a small village called Sennybridge, where we had lunch with some excellent sandwiches. When we got to the Ridgeway school we found our hosts waiting for us, and we all came back ‘home’.

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Monday 4th July 2011 Giulio Quarta Colosso

On Monday morning, like every day, we all met together outside the school at half past eight. When everyone had arrived, we went to the bus stop to go to Swindon. There we had to interview local people about the history and the traditions of the town. Even though people were not well informed, we managed to find some useful information. After interviewing people we had some free time to go shopping in the city centre. Some of us went to the new Swindon library to do research about our project. At lunch time we had to be at school, so we took the bus back to Wroughton. We had lunch at the school canteen and then we went into the computer room to carry out our projects. When the bell rang our school day finished and we went back to our families.

Tuesday 5th July 2011: 13th day – 2 days to the end Carlo Cristiano Stabile

The alarm clock rang too early for me, like every day. But when I opened my first eye and realized that I was in a comfortable double bed, still in England, I felt better! After a quick shower and a typical English breakfast (which I loved from my first day in Wroughton), with an egg, a tomato, a piece of toast, some bacon and a cup of tea, Thomas and I were ready to go to the bus stop with Emily, the nice girl whose family hosted us for a fortnight. “Speak English Please!” 15


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Having thanked the nice bus driver, we left the bus but didn’t go into the Ridgeway School. We met our Italian classmates just in front of it, waiting for another minibus which would take us to the primary school in Wroughton. But there was a surprise! Some of my classmates and I, (the only people who had already finished the projects), could have the choice to go and visit Bristol with our teacher. We had no doubts: we immediately reached the bus stop for Swindon and there we caught the first train to Bristol. It is a photo by Thomas Katan nice town; I particularly enjoyed the science museum “@Bristol”, with lots of interactive games, useful to understand many laws of physics. At the same time, my other classmates visited various infant and primary schools. Apparently, the experience was quite boring, probably because of the young age of the pupils. The schools were well equipped, and the teachers very patient. Something that caught the attention of my classmates was the presence of computers in every room, which were used even by very young children. After we had had lunch in the umpteenth fast food, we had a walk in the centre of Bristol, visited the cathedral and then came back home, where we chatted to Kate, Emily’s mum, about our last trip. When Neil came home from school (because he’s a Maths teacher), he decided to take us to the nearest pub, to enjoy the really good taste of English beer and to eat a typical (horrible!) English dish: pork scratchings! “Speak English Please!” 16


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After the pub we went to see “West Side Story”, which is a famous musical acted and organized by the students in the Ridgeway school theatre. The story was dense with feelings and the play was inspired by a Shakespearian tragedy, (Romeo and Juliet) and I felt very surprised and sad for the tragic ending. The cast was very professional, and the scenery too, thanks to the drama courses in the school, where drama teachers prepared the actors in a wonderful way, with the result that all the spectators applauded enthusiastically. When we finally came back home, I had a Backgammon match, which was naturally won by Neil. He really enjoys beating Italian inexpert players! Then I went to bed, very tired as always, but satisfied with my 13th day in England, only a bit sad because my fortnight’s trip was coming to its end.

Wednesday 6th July 2011 Nicolò Stefanelli

When I woke up that cloudy morning I thought that day wouldn’t be so special simply because I had finished my tasks and there were no possibilities to shadow a student during a lesson. I changed my mind as soon as I arrived at school, because I suddenly realized that in that building, in that common room, there were friends; students exactly like me, with the same thoughts and the same desire for a holiday, who were waiting for the bell to ring while they played table soccer. I spent three hours inside room Y11 (a multimedia room) helping my fellows to conclude their tasks and then, after a short briefing about the UK universities and the last lunch at the canteen, we went to the blue block and we had to show our presentations to a class of year 10. “Speak English Please!” 17


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After school I had dinner with my host family and at almost half past seven I went to Charlie’s, with all my friends, to have a sort of farewell party all together. It was so sad when we had to come back home and to say “Good bye”. photo by Patrizia Sanguedolce

Thursday 7th July 2011 Lorenzo Vergari

Unfortunately the day was upon us. We were at the end of our fifteen fully-enjoyed days' holiday and we had to come back to our dear Italy. We woke up quite early in the morning (6 o’clock) in order to finish packing up our baggage and, after we had got ready, we went to school. There we stayed two hours in an ICT room to end off our project work and afterwards we had our final break at the Ridgeway School. Once this ended, we went out of the school and, after having had a photo all together we said goodbye to our English friends and teachers, and the headteacher, and we got onto the bus and set off to get to Heathrow airport in London’s suburbs. The journey to the airport lasts two and a half hours, so we arrived on time to complete our check-in activities and to have a quick lunch in the airport. At half past four we got on the aircraft and we left London. We spent two and a half hours on the plane and finally, twenty minutes late, we reached the Rome Fiumicino airport. As our plane was due to leave in fifteen minutes', we had to run to get to the correct departure zone in the airport and to pass our security controls. In the end, we managed to catch our aircraft and we left “Speak English Please!” 18


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for Brindisi. This flight was shorter than the previous one, so we got to the airport Papola Casale in 50 minutes, disembarked from the plane, claimed our luggage and, after saying goodbye to each other, everyone rejoined their parents and left the airport.

photo by Thomas Katan

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EXPLORING THE  DIFFERENCE

photo by Nicky James

Main Differences between English and Italian Schools Ettore Alemanno

English schools are very different from Italian ones. The main difference is the school system, in fact English students start to go to school at three years old and they finish it, unlike us, at eighteen years old. Full-time education is compulsory for all children aged between 5 and 16. Students may then continue their secondary studies for a further two years (sixth form). English students start primary school in reception, where they usually settle in, play and make friends. In year one and two they usually start to learn to read and write (they learn literacy and numeracy, which is English and Maths), and learn to follow a routine. During the years 3 4 5 and 6 they learn about individual topics which include a range of subjects. At the end of year 6 the students take their SATS, which is a test that covers all subjects, to show their level of “Speak English Please!” 20


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intelligence. Also at the end of year 6 they create a play, which celebrates the end of primary school. When they move up to year 7 (secondary school) they are divided according to their level of intelligence, so that students of a similar ability can work together and learn better. In year seven they are put into mentor groups and three times a week they have mentoring for half of their lunchtime. Their mentors help them with their schoolwork, but do not teach. They are there to give advice on general life and help them through their school years. In Italian schools there is not a person like a mentor, but he would be very important, as he would help the students during hard times of life. Each mentor group is part of a house group, there are four mentor groups in a house group and there are four house groups. The house groups in The Ridgeway School are called Avebury, Salisbury, Kennet and Barbury. The four house groups compete for house points and medals. House points are given for good behaviour or good homework and medals are won by winning sport events or other competitions. This is different from Italian schools because there are not any house groups. I think that it is very amusing because they compete for victory, and also it encourages student performance. Throughout KS3 (year 7, 8 and 9) the students take around 11 different subjects and at the end of each school term they take a test for each subject, and the test result can change their class. At the end of year 9 they choose which subjects they want to take for their GCSE’s (general certificate of secondary education) for year 10 and 11. During year 10 and 11 they take their GCSE exams for each subject, which they need for their future working life. At the end of year 11 compulsory school finishes, and the students can choose either to put an end to studying and find a job, or go on to college or sixth form. “Speak English Please!” 21


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Before they start the sixth form they have to choose 3, 4 or 5 subjects for the last two year before University. English school starts at around 9:00 a.m. When you go to school you must have a uniform that is the same for everyone. When they do P.E. the students usually wear another uniform, consisting of a blue sports shirt and dark shorts, at the end of the lesson they change clothes. The students do not have a fixed room to follow all the lessons, but they move from one room to another according to the subject that must be followed. So every teacher has a classroom of his/her own and the room is painted, or there are posters of the subject carried out in that classroom. In The Ridgeway School students have 6 different lessons in the course of the day and there are 2 breaks. The first break starts at 10:50 and continues until 11:10.The second break starts at 1:10 p.m. It is used for lunch and the students go into the canteen where they can eat and drink, and pay for themselves. Most of them use their fingerprint on a machine to record what they buy and pay at the end of the year, like a cash machine. The lunch break finishes at 2:10 p.m. and the students go into the classroom where they will do the last lesson of the day. The school lessons finish at 3:10 p.m. and the students go home on school buses. In the U.K. students go to school 5 days a week because they do not go on Saturday, unlike Italian school where the students go to school 6 days a week. Another important difference between Italian school and U.K. school is about the holidays. In fact English students start school on the 1st of September, and finish around mid-July. During this period they usually have some weeks of holidays in winter, and a month and a half for summer holiday. In Italy we usually start school around the 15th of September and finish around the 10th of June. The longest ho“Speak English Please!” 22


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liday is in summer, but we also have some weeks at Christmas and Easter. Now I want to talk about the subject that I had chosen. I saw a biology lesson where the students listened to the teacher speaking about the anatomy of the human body, in particular the nervous system. The students usually do not have a personal book, in fact the teacher gives out the books at the start of a lesson and then, when the lesson finishes, the students give back the books. The teacher explains the topic and the students follow in their books. When the teacher finishes the topic, he gives some questions to the students which they have to answer instantly. Sometimes they go to the Biology laboratory and they do some experiments, for example looking at insects under a microscope or studying how a plant grows without light. There are not many differences about how biology is taught between Italian and English schools but in the U.K. there are many computers and interactive whiteboard technology is available to the students. In general, in the U.K. school there are some different subjects like music, design technology that includes sewing and metal or woodwork, coophoto by Nicolò Stefanelli king, and drama, for which at the end of the year they do a theatre performance like a musical. However, I think that the school in England is easier than in Italy, because Italian students usually study from 4 to 8 hours a day since they have more homework, instead English students study only about 1 hour a “Speak English Please!” 23


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week. However in U.K. schools there are many computers and more technology that can improve the learning process.

Italian v. English Education System: a Foregone Match Aldo Cingolani

The English education system is quite different from the Italian one: the LEAs (Local Education Authorities) established that students must go to primary school (divided into Infant, for children aged 5-7, and Junior, for those aged 7-11) up to the age of eleven. Then there is secondary education, which involves pupils aged eleven to sixteen. Finally there is tertiary education that is for students after sixteen, but it is not compulsory. The first year of secondary school is called “seventh year”, and the next years follow on in a chronological order. In the Italian secondary school system, instead, primary school lasts for five years, and begins when children are six years old. The secondary school is divided into first and second levels. The first one is for teenagers from 11 to 14 years old (and it is called Middle School); the second – high school – is five years’ long and is concluded by a final exam. Between the two levels there is a further exam. The subjects taught in England are very similar to the average subjects of all Europe (three hours a week of the main subjects, two of PE, design, history, geography, languages; and only one of music and religion), so, of course, very close also to Italian education; but there is a big difference: when English students reach the eleventh year, they have to make a choice, that is to choose about four main subjects that will be studied in depth. In this way every student has their own timetable and knows the time and the place of the lessons they have to attend. “Speak English Please!” 24


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To sum up, both English and Italian students share the same structure up to the age of 16, after which English people specialize in single subjects (after having passed the GSCE exam), whereas Italians maintain the same way of learning throughout all five years. Also the evaluation system changes: our marks are out of ten points, whereas in England marks are on a scale of six letters, the borderline is C, and the worst mark is E. The best two marks are A and A*. In Italy, instead, the borderline is six, the minimum grade is one, and the best is ten. Let us now focus on the ‘real’ differences: the ones that I can notice myself. Beginning from the external appearance of The Ridgeway high school, it is possible to understand many of them: in fact, taking as a reference point my own school in Lecce as an average Italian school, I have immediately been surprised by the exceptional maintenance of the English building as a whole. Not only does it extend over a surface that covers at least ten times that of my school, but it is also kept better, far better. It has got plenty of internal open spaces in which students can even play football. It has extremely wide grounds of bright-green grass on which students sit and chat, or eat together (when there is not any PE lesson). The corridors are large and both right and left walls are adorned with posters or big notices which provide a colourful and happy look to the internal space. Moreover, a string with plenty of flags which represent all the world’s nations hangs from the top of the walls. There is a big canteen, with a very innovative recognition system: all pupils register their own thumbprint in a machine, so that every time they have to buy something to eat, they leave their fingerprint on a reader that immediately recognizes the profile of the student and regularly sends a bill to their families - something simply unbelievable for us Italian students. Also the food and drinks they sell are

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high quality and students can choose among a wide range of products. As for the classrooms, they are wider than ours and they are really well equipped. I photo by Nicolo’ Stefanelli will now analyze them more in depth: first of all each desk has to be shared by two students and it is about one and a half meters long. There are at least two boards, completely different from the Italian ones, which are just old-fashioned blackboards on which you write using chalks (and there is only one!). In Ridgeway’s classrooms, instead, they are white, and you write on them with colored markers. At least one of the two has a projector, and allows teachers to base their lessons on a computer. Furthermore the roll call is computer-based, with lists of students saved in the hardware for each class. Every classroom has several school items and devices (e.g. many scissors, colors, pens and papers, notebooks, etc.). They also have a couple of cupboards, cleaning tools, at least two fire extinguishers, and a video recorder. On top, they have air conditioning! They also have plenty of things that do not exist at all in our school systems: firstly, a common room (This common room is only for people of the sixth form, i.e. 17 and 18 years old, but it has plenty of space, many armchairs and a table football!) which is completely different from our ‘hall’, because it is only for students to relax in. They may spend their time in there, for instance, if they have a spare hour between two lessons, or simply if they arrive earlier in the morning. Secondly, lots of very well-equipped rooms which are specifically for “Speak English Please!” 26


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practical subjects, such as carpentry rooms, metalwork rooms, textile rooms, drama rooms, et cetera. Then there are innumerable computer rooms, certainly more than ten, and some of them are really new, containing new generation Apple machines. Moreover, the open space used for PE is perfectly exploited: there is a big container in which all sports equipment is kept and ready to use (from cricket to rugby). Furthermore, this is not at all the only place where pupils can do sport, but there are plenty of and big spaces used for basketball, volleyball, indoor tennis, squash, and so on. In England, classes are not organized as in Italy: the students are divided into groups according to their marks, general behavior and above all the grade they get in tests done at the end of each term. They are spread over six grades (A1 is the best, then A2, A3, B1, B2, B3, C1, C2), and they all attend the same lessons, but at different times of the day, or of the week, and obviously the programs are carried out at different speeds and different levels of depth. Usually, getting a high mark in a single subject is not sufficient to allow a teacher to move students up, but a group of good marks over a certain set of subjects is needed. In Italy, on the contrary, students usually choose sections in which they find pupils who are not classified on any basis, but they just get there randomly (usually parents ask for the sections they consider the ones with better teachers; but if there is an excessive demand, the headmaster draws lots). Since I have had the chance to attend lessons in classes of different bands, I have found out big differences concerning the different levels of attention during tuition, the way things are taught, and the noise during lessons (the more you move towards C2 classes, the more noise there will be in classrooms). As for learning methods, the most common one among students is group work, which allows them to socialize and study at the same time; with the advantage that a group may produce better results “Speak English Please!” 27


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than a single student, and pupils learn to work together. In general, pupils are not monitored so strictly, and they often talk to each other without any reprimand. In Italy, on the other hand, students are supervised more firmly and they get less space. The biggest difference, though, is out of school: in Italy students are not reproached at all, and they even smoke in the garden; here smoking is strictly forbidden and younger students can be reprimanded if their shirt is out of the trousers. During this short course, I have chosen to focus on Biology. Of course, to attend Biology lessons, I had to consult the timetable and ask students for the times and places of classes. The lesson I followed was a twelfth- lesson, and it was about neurons and the nervous system. The way the teacher explained the topic is unlike the Italian way (apart from the fact that she was pregnant, which demonstrates the seriousness and honesty of workers. She might have been in the eighth month of pregnancy and she was still working, something that would rarely happen in Italy!): she first asked students questions in order to find out whether they had studied or not; she then started a PPT presentation, which was projected onto the whiteboard, and based her lesson on the pictures projected. If needed, she then wrote or drew something on the attached board so as to enhance explanations. Finally, she distributed some science books to the students and started reading something about the issue concerned. However, in spite of the large differences in method, the program that is to be carried out is exactly the same as in Italy, even though we fulfill it in different years: the book they use treats anatomy, genetics, plants, DNA, which are all subjects that we Italians study between the second and third year (so between fifteen and sixteen years old). In conclusion, I think that both Italian and English schools are well organized. If I really had to express an opinion on the two systems, I would say that the British one is better, from many – if not all – “Speak English Please!” 28


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points of view. I believe the Italian Ministry of Education should get some ideas from this system. I do not want to say too much, but feel rather humiliated when I see that at The Ridgeway school pupils wear specific clothes for the periods of PE, while in my school even erasers for blackboards are missing…

Students as Protagonists Marta Cinotti

You can really feel the differences between the two education systems only staying in an English school, watching the place and how it works. Compared to an Italian school, an English one is a huge building with lots of different classrooms in which students interchange rooms at the beginning of each lesson. Usually there are also open air spaces used by the students in their breaks and fields used during PE lessons to do sport. These schools also have plenty of spaces dedicated to sport, like gyms and swimming pools, which are even used (after school time) by people that live in the surrounding area as a leisure centre. There is a canteen, because it is not in the English’s habits to have lunch at home with all the family; furthermore, you can always find a library, lots of computer rooms and laboratories that you would never expect to see in a school, like textile and design workshops, and a cookery room. Attending a lesson in this school is what can really make you realise the differences between the two countries. An Italian lesson is more or less always the same: a teacher explaining the lesson, students taking notes and doing self-studying at home. What I found out here is that students are the real protagonists of the lesson; teachers in this school do not simply give a speech that comes to a conclusion, but “Speak English Please!” 29


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make students come to it by themselves: teachers invite pupils to reflect on what it is said, on what they have learnt and how this could be useful for them; in this way, I think, what is said in a lesson is better kept in students’ minds, because the lesson actually comes from their mind. I was really impressed by one teacher, at the end of her English lesson, saying to the class: “Now I want you to stop for two minutes and think about how you felt before this lesson and how you feel now in your heart and in your mind”. I would never expect to hear anything similar in my lessons! In conclusion, we can say that one of the most relevant aspects of the English educational system is the collaboration and involvement of the students. In fact, to achieve these important points, the most popular method in a lesson is group work. One of the lessons that is certainly very impressive is the drama lesson, which is the one I want to focus on. As we know, Italian people are not used to having photo by Nicolo’ Stefanelli drama lessons in their curricular school classes; sometimes schools organise this kind of activity as an extra-curricular and optional one, and it would probably last for a certain period and would not have any influence on the profit of the students who attend it. Often, having available only a short period of time, these lessons become more a project, concerning a certain aspect, than lessons themselves. “Speak English Please!” 30


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So what do the Italian students know about the theatre in general? And how do they know it? The few things that we learn about drama, mostly from the historical aspect, we learn from literature - Italian, English and also Latin or Greek literature in schools that have these subjects - because some of the most important authors were also playwrights. However, even when the lesson concerns a play, literature always deals with themes, stylistic features and the connection with the historical contest, so it never explains what drama actually is. Let’s see then what studying drama means in an English school. Firstly, we should say that in Secondary school it is a compulsory subject for the first four years, then, up to Year 10, students can choose the subjects they want to keep on studying, so it becomes optional. English students usually really enjoy drama lessons, because they can be very funny sometimes. For the first years of Secondary school, drama is usually like an hour of games: the lessons of the youngest pupils deal with the basic techniques of performing, which could often be learnt in a funny and easy way, like a game with all your classmates. This fact could make the drama lesson seem a useless hour, but I completely disagree with this point: these kinds of game develop student’s creativity and simplicity, they help the kids to become more confident about themselves and to face other people’s judgments, they teach them how to improvise and to think immediately of what to do to get out of any situation. In the long run, as anybody would expect, studying drama becomes more and more complicated. Beside the techniques of performing, students also begin to learn about famous and historical playwrights and their celebrated works. What is different between our ways of studying these works is that they do not analyse them in a literary and chronological way, as I said before, but they focus on the setting of the play and how it can be performed. Then, their study continues “Speak English Please!” 31


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choosing a part of the play that has been analysed and doing some personal work on it. Concerning the evaluation of the students, as a final exam they are required to perform one of the parts in the plays that they have been studying during the year; what is really interesting about these exams is the fact that they are open to the public, so anyone could just sit and enjoy the show! In addition, sometimes drama classes and music classes join forces and put on a musical that is shown towards the end of the year to students or teachers of the school or anyone who buys a ticket for it. Staging a musical is a real experience of working in a theatre, because you need to decorate the scenery and procure costumes for the actors, even asking for help from the textile classes in the school. To sum up, after ‘being part’ of an English school, I would say that one of the most important things that the Italian one misses is the creativity that should be transmitted to its students, which could perhaps be integrated with the addition of some subjects - like drama- to the usual curriculum. However, I cannot say which is the best of the two systems, because they both have some weaknesses that should be improved. In any case, the main task of any school is to provide students with a culture and make sure that they study in order to be prepared to face their future and have a position in the world.

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Italian v. British Education: pros and cons Davide Corciulo

The present education system was established in England by the “Education Act of 1944”. In the secondary school pupils do one hour of religion and music; two hours of physical education, history, art and geography; the remaining subjects are taught for three hours. The buildings in which English schools are found are not only more modern but also better than Italian ones: laboratories, kitchens, pitches for all types of physical activity, school canteens (one with a machine which recognises fingerprints in order to pay for lunch!). Concerning religion, it is compulsory and it cannot be taught by people of a specific religious denomination: the head teacher considers it “a very factual and an experiential lesson” in which thanks to teachers and debates it is possible to explore human (religious) feelings. In Italy religion is sometimes taught by a priest and also it focuses on studying Christian aspects (for example the Gospels and the Bible) during the first and second year; in the third, fourth and fifth year religion is a debate among students and the teacher about ethics and moral topics. When students are going to start the sixth form they have to choose three or four subjects, sometimes from those done previously but sometimes starting from scratch. Many English students are happy to make this choice because the sixth form is not compulsory and its function is to introduce pupils to the university: in fact it would be useless and counterproductive to study something that students will not continue in the following years. This problem is a point of debate among Italian students who cannot understand the utility of studying subjects which will not be useful “Speak English Please!” 33


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for them in the future. But it could happen that during the morning an English student has only three hours of lessons and so he/she could take advantage of this spare time for studying. However this does not often happen because in the majority of English schools, teachers do not assign a lot of homework, or kids prefer to do it out of school. For this reason after finishing school they have a lot of spare time (a part of the morning and part of the afternoon) often without homework: this is a real fault of English school in my opinion. Some new directions were introduced by the government which won the elections in 1997: they considered that some subjects did not need to folphoto by Nicolò Stefanelli low an ‘academic way’; besides they reduced the importance given to foreign languages. However, that will soon be changed again. One fault of Italian school is that school programmes do not focus a lot on foreign language; during the last three years of school, English, which is the only foreign language done in traditional courses, is mainly studied through literature: many students think that it would be better if they only conversed with their teacher in order to improve their English. Italian school is, in practice, completely different compared to the English one, apart from the compulsory age that goes from six to sixteen years old. After finishing Middle School pupils can choose “Speak English Please!” 34


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among three kinds of schools: A “Liceo” which is divided into “Liceo scientifico”, in which they can focus more on scientific subjects, and “Liceo classico”, in which they study more humanistic subjects like Ancient Greek; “Technical” and “Professional” institutes which provide more for pupils with practical abilities who, after school, will immediately enter the world of work rather than continuing their studies at a higher level. In fact a Liceo pays more attention to the all-round culture of its pupils (who study about ten subjects) and they are encouraged to continue studying in order to get a degree. In the past, before the latest educational reform, so as to give students the chance to get in-depth knowledge of certain subjects, pupils had the opportunity to choose certain ‘experimental’ curricula, but these have now been abolished. Now after “The Gelmini reform” (Mrs Gelmini is the Minister of Italian education) in the traditional course of a Liceo, during the fourth and fifth year per week pupils are taught: four hours of Italian, Maths; three hours of Latin, a Foreign Language (generally English), Philosophy, Physics, Science; two hours of History, Art and history of art, Physical Education; one hour of Religion (optional). Following the school reform, ‘experimental curricula’ have been grouped together under one roof with the title of “Applied Sciences” in which pupils do not study Latin, do one less hour of philosophy a week, but mainly they do two more hours of science. In both courses there is the same number of lessons per week, for a total of thirty hours. Concerning Biology in England, the programme is very similar to the Italian one, but the way of teaching it is different. In England students who are seventeen and attend “the sixth form” (it corresponds to the fourth and fifth years in an Italian Liceo), do the same programme that is done by Italian students during the third year: cells and cellular activities , the human body (anatomy, physiology, pathology, etc), and biomasses. “Speak English Please!” 35


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Sex Education can also be considered part of biology. In England, even if it is not taught by a Science teacher, it concerns the discussion of the reproductive system and above all its diseases. It is begun in the ninth year, because in England adolescents generally start their sexual development at about fourteen: perhaps in Italy this subject could not be taught because these topics are sometimes a taboo. The real difference with Italian school is that in the English one they use a lot laboratories and technological instruments to involve pupils more and therefore to improve their practical abilities. For instance teachers are used to preparing slides, which they then show in class on an interactive whiteboard. Speaking about English laboratories, there are Chemistry and Physics ones, as in Italy (although they are not very used); there are ICT rooms (as at home) but surprisingly also Sewing, Cooking, Design Technology, Wood and Metalwork rooms that are important for pupils’ practical life. To sum up, I think they are a waste of time, considering that instead of them students could study more important subjects. When teachers explain something, they involve pupils in order to give them the chance to say what they think, and what they have understood after their explanation: in short, a biology lesson in England is an interesting debate between students and the teacher. In Italy, apart from programmes, there is a different way of teaching. First of all the tools with which we are equipped are older than English ones: for example in Italian schools chalk and blackboards are still very much used. During school explanations Italian teachers do not often use interactive blackboards, they do not make slides and sometimes for pupils it is more difficult to follow lessons because of their length and lack of movement. The only positive thing is that Italian students develop the ability to concentrate for longer periods.

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Some Biology or Chemistry lessons can even last two hours, during which the teacher can decide either to explain a lot or to give students oral tests: if he/she decides just to talk, two hours is a very long time and students nearly fall asleep! This does not happen in England where teachers are more understanding with pupils and in one hour they talk for a maximum of thirty minutes: it is scientifically proved that the best part of the learning process is in the first half hour. But at the same time Italian school knowledge of Biology is more complete than English children’s: an Italian lesson could be more boring but of course it is very effective!

Different Schools, One Common Goal Giulia D’Alfonso

Spending some time as an English student in an English school helps people to understand how education works in this country, which is full of peculiarities, and makes one able to find out many differences between it and an Italian education. To begin with the main features of an English school, teachers are a fundamental and important body of the education system and a great support for students. To become a teacher you need QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) which ensures that you have achieved a suitable skill level to become a teacher. To obtain QTS you must complete ITT (Initial Teacher Training) which is composed by several courses. Future teachers have to decide what subject and age group they would like to teach because to teach in the primary school they need a good understanding of all National Curriculum subjects (with a degree in any subject), while to teach in the secondary one they need a degree in at least one National Curriculum subject, the one that they want to teach. In addition to this, teachers teach the same class in the same classroom throughout the day only in the primary “Speak English Please!” 37


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school. In secondary schools, they normally have their own classroom and various groups of children which come to them as determined by the timetable. The timetable is different for each student. It usually starts at 8:50 and ends at 3:15 pm and includes a break time and a lunch one. Being created based on photo by Nicolò Stefanelli students’ preferences, it is divided into lessons that can last from fifty to sixty minutes. What could happen in a daily lesson is always focused towards the growth of children and their preparation for the following years. Teachers use their own methods that could be based on theory, practical activities, debates and comparisons made by the students and among themselves. Usually teachers explain the lesson with the help of equipment like smart-boards, books and research. Afterwards, they give the students enough time to write down all that they have just learnt. At the end, teachers ask the students what their opinions are and their impressions,and this is the start of a constructive debate aimed at finding out their own improvements. It seems easier dividing students into many groups and, before explaining to all the class their own opinions, students discuss and compare different tasks and ideas in each smaller group. This training is really useful for improving the abilities of speaking and, at the same time, of listening to each other, which are the basic ones in social life, as teachers and students clearly know. “Speak English Please!” 38


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One of the subjects to be taken into account is Art, with its own way of teaching and learning. It is compulsory only for the youngest students, instead it becomes optional for students of the 6th Form. Art lessons deal with theoretical and practical skills. The theoretical ones concern the history of art over the centuries, the study of important artists and a basic knowledge about drawing and painting, for example colours, techniques and tools. The practical ones are surely the most involving and attractive and include several kinds of projects such as drawing, painting, colouring, modelling and decorating. Art students have the opportunity to decorate the school during events like parties or important meetings and, moreover, they could be useful for creating the scenery of any play and show, if there is a Drama class in the school, like in many schools in the United Kingdom. On the one hand, talking about the way of teaching Art, school provides different equipment for students in order to let them have the best way to learn and to improve their abilities. Books, computers and gallery visits are available for them. The aim is that each student has to find the information that he needs to succeed in his tasks on his own This does not mean that teachers do not do anything; on the contrary, they have to look after pupils and make sure that they are on the right road. In addition to this, Art classrooms are full of a huge variety of tools such as colours of different kinds, brushes and pencils and several materials, useful for students to express themselves and their studies in the best way. On the other hand, dealing with the ways of learning and studying this subject, students’ tasks are searching for what they need, analysing the results and criticising them, which are some of the most positive skills. The final product will be composed by each student's own research and investigations, and their own ideas and criticisms. Students are also allowed to show their improvements using presen“Speak English Please!” 39


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tations and worksheets, taking advantage of the equipment and the tools given by the school. The works can be displayed during educational exhibitions or, if they came out of a particular project such as environmental or local ones, they can be exhibited in local museums or during local events. Eventually, they are used to decorate the walls and the rooms of the schools. Trying to find out some differences between English education and the Italian one, it is evident that they lie in the organization of the timetable, as in Italy it is the same for every student of the same year and it is divided differently during the week. Besides the classes are the same for all the year, and teachers too follow a different path to get a job and they do not have a personal classroom. However, the analogies between them are more interesting and important: wherever you are, whatever the Government is with its different rules and laws, whatever the organization is, education is the engine for current and future society and all the people from all the countries who deal with it always try to make it the best.

Two Different Ways of Learning Giorgia Dell’Atti

This essay’s aim is to analyse the structure of English secondary school and Sixth Form Classes just at a glance, focusing in depth on the way of learning and improving languages, and to make a comparison between the English system and the Italian one in order to point out the most evident similarities and differences. One cannot fail to take into consideration a basic aspect of English lessons which concerns the organisation of any student in the classrooms: indeed classes in the sixth form are arranged so that only a few people attend the same lesson. As a result, students easily “Speak English Please!” 40


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achieve the required skills and competences and teachers can follow every student in their leaning-process, taking into account their own attitudes and their education in order to get the best out of them. Everyone has a different classroom depending on the different subjects, and this way of organizing classes allows pupils furthermore to improve relationships and communication skills. Focusing on the study of languages, which I personally took part in, to outline its characteristic aspects, its main core-point consists in properly achieving writing, listening, speaking and reading skills. Thus students have their own textbook to study grammar and they can benefit from the presence of a language assistant, a native speaker of the language they are studying, who helps the teacher. Even if teachers consider a theoretical approach to languages more useful and successful, or rightly necessary to take the first steps when beginning photo by Nicolò Stefanelli studying a language, they try to make their lessons deeply challenging and interesting by providing the students with some practical materials, such as original articles or essays taken from newspapers, books and reviews. The relevant aspect of this alternative way of learning a language is that the majority of these materials concern present-day and daily-life topics and issues dealing with technology, health, politics and music. For this reason, it has doubly positive feedback: pupils are im“Speak English Please!” 41


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mersed in situations, like reading a newspaper, which they are not really used to, or they do not like as much, and improve their vocabulary in such a way that they can also enjoy themselves. When getting to high-level knowledge of the language, in Sixth Form Classes, they begin reading novels in the original language and analyse them from a literary and historical perspective. A similar approach is taken with films, which are usually taken from the contemporary repertory, and focus on important aspects of the cultural world. At the end of the film, pupils are asked to explain views, challenge opinions, develop and reflect an argument, use evidence, debate points and evaluate ideas. Successively they are to write a review down, in which they have to state basics and details about the plot, analysing also the style of the film-maker and the use of special effects to underscore the best of the film. An extra activity, they have the chance to do, is the translation of extracts taken from anything. Obviously the study of a language is not good enough without an actual way of making the theoretical knowledge practical and, as the French writer Montaigne already wrote in his essays, there is nothing better than travelling and getting practice talking to authentic speakers to brush up a language and experience the culture of the country. For this reason, the schools organize optional trips or exchanges and cultural twinning with other countries which enable the students to also have a human experience as well as practising the speaking skills. As a result of such an impressive personal experience through school lessons in England, I would like to underline several evident differences which I noticed the most. In Italy, high schools' main objective consists in providing the students with an all-round and complete education in order to prepare them enough to get access to universities and to face any likely future difficulty even in the world of work. “Speak English Please!” 42


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This is also due to a cultural reason: all of us acknowledge that the social, political and civil background which we live in has been completely shaped by the presence and the role of culture: thus we think we have the duty of spreading such a valuable cultural wealth as mediators. In England too the students are given a general education in every field, but only until they stop attending compulsory lessons: then they choose with a specific perspective the subjects they are most interested in, according to their skills, their passion and competences. It represents a pre-choice before university and it has some pros, like giving the students real support to know themselves better, their capabilities and their lacks in that particular field. Only so can the students be sure that that particular field is the best for them and can begin specializing their knowledge in view of university, without getting confused or having no clear ideas of which faculty they will go to study in. As concerns the way of learning languages, I cannot underline any huge difference: in fact the theoretical and the practical approaches are similar in the Italian school system. In my view, making a comparison between a person of my age in England and myself, the choice and specialization in three of four subjects can only have positive aspects before making up one's mind for one of the most important choices of life, the choice of the faculty of the university. Indeed one defect of the Italian school system is not properly providing career guidance or vocational guidance, but giving pupils a wide knowledge only in a very ‘old-fashioned’ way. This is without making any effort to look for an alternative or more innovative way of studying the same paragraphs written in a book, succeeding in giving the students a sense of achievement and enjoyment, and at the same time reminding them of the relevance and the preciousness of knowledge in daily life.

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Practice v. Theory Enrico De Luca

You can easily understand how Italian and English schools differ from one another by focusing on the differences between the Italian High School “Cosimo De Giorgi” and “The Ridgeway School” situated in Wroughton. The first thing I would like to draw to your attention to is that students who attend English schools, unlike Italian ones, are selected and put in a specific class according to their skills, fact there are eight different courses ( C1, C2 C3, B1, B2, A1, A2 and A3), whose difficulty is very different from one another. Yet another thing I would like to consider is the fact that English students study more at school than at home, in fact they do not have to do a lot of homework, because their teachers’ aim consists in making them be interested in lessons in order to improve their skills. As a result, English students are not accustomed to studying for long periods of time, because they focus more on practical activities than theoretic ones. For instance, if you attend an English school you can study drama, cooking and construction. Besides English students study ICT, a subject that makes them learn how to use the computer in a safe way. Indeed, students have to study this subject in order to become familiar with the Internet and avoid viruses that can easily damage their computers. On the contrary, Italian students do not usually study ICT, thus they cannot have the possibility of learning how to use the Internet safely. Actually I studied a similar subject when I attended the primary school, but it was not considered as important as other ones, in fact I “Speak English Please!” 44


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studied it few hours per year and I had to do only mock tests in order to allow my teacher to understand whether I had followed lessons. Instead, in England, on the whole, you have to do eight tests which refer to the different programmes used, like Power Point, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Publisher. Moreover, English students have the chance of going camping and doing alternative experiences in order photo byThoms Katan to accustom themselves to facing difficult situations without panicking and being afraid. Personally, I tried going camping with my group of friends and Mr Sims, who teaches Business and Economy at the Ridgeway School of Wroughton, in order to understand what kind of activities English students do at school. Concerning this experience, I tend to think that it was very hard because we had to walk along steep paths and struggle hard to do without useful tools that we could not take otherwise our rucksacks would have been too heavy. On the other hand, Italian students can do extracurricular activities that last few hours like going to the cinema or to the theatre in order to watch films or performances linked with topics studied during the lessons. This difference is due to the fact that Italian headmasters find the idea of letting students go camping very hard to accept, because they consider it a waste of time. In fact they want students to study assiduously at school, because teachers have to complete the entire curriculum. In fact, the last part of the school year is always “Speak English Please!” 45


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like a competition, because teachers try to teach and evaluate students about the last topics and, to be honest, they cannot be clear and make us understand what they explain. Yet another thing I would like to consider consists in the way of teaching foreign languages in an Italian school and an English one. In England the Modern Foreign Faculty currently offers both French and German in the curriculum, with all students having the opportunity to study a foreign language. Besides students can study also Italian and Spanish, although they are optional. The language learned in the curriculum is fully enhanced by several trips abroad. Students in Years 7 and 8 have the opportunity to visit the Christmas Markets in Germany where they can experience at first hand the culture of the country and can try out any language they may learn in school. Students in Year 8 and 9 can enjoy a cultural visit to France, staying in Normandy and Paris. Again there are plenty of opportunities to experiment with the language. In Key 4, students are offered the chance to participate in an exchange programme with schools in Bordeaux in France, and Tubingen in Germany. Moreover “The Ridgeway School” holds an annual languages skills day for Year 5 Students, which is a great opportunity for primary students to meet peers from other schools. Besides, the school allows students to take part in regional speaking competitions and organises immersion day activities that make them improve their capacity of writing and speaking in a foreign language. To sum up, the fact that English students have the chance to learn foreign languages through enjoyable activities may be considered a “Speak English Please!” 46


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relevant similarity between English and Italian schools. Nevertheless, in England, schools provide electronic devices such as computers, projectors and electronic whiteboards that help teachers explain what they have to teach. Besides, to my mind, there is a remarkable difference between the attitude of English and Italian students. For instance, I was surprised by the fact that English students can spend a lot of time in the Common room of the school, because they are sixth formers. On the contrary, Italian students have to study harder before taking their last exam, in order to fill any gaps and get a good mark. Thus, in my view, the most important difference between these two conceptions of education is due to the fact that Italian students have an overview about different topics, while English ones focus on a narrower range of subjects that they can choose according to the faculty in which they want to study at university.

The English Way Gianluca Greco

The Ridgeway School is a high school and sixth form college in Wroughton, a small village near the city of Swindon. The school was founded in 1968 and it is still focused on its goal: to help young boys and girls to grow up in the right environment and to develop their own thoughts and civic consciousness. The school consists of several buildings, each of them has a different aim: the division is accomplished so that one building (or at least one block) incorporates classrooms for the same kind of subjects; there is a library, several computer rooms, a leisure centre with a gym, tennis courts, a swimming pool and a large field used during P.E. classes.

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One of the main differences between the Ridgeway School and the Italian ones is the evident gap in equipment supplied, such as interactive boards, computer rooms and, in general, technological items. What appears to be even clearer is that the way of learning and teaching, in a wide sense, is really different from the way it is in Italy: it seems that the English way of teaching is more ‘pupil-shaped’ than the Italian one. Teachers are keen on interacting with their pupils and to all appearances their most important goal is to involve them in conversations, helping them to express their own opinions, a far cry from the Italian way of teaching, which is basically based on the teacher talking and pupils listening. On the other hand, the way of teaching I have just described tends to reduce the weight of theoretical notions that play a central role in Italian schools: to be more precise pupils find it difficult to handle empiric thoughts (for humanistic subjects) or problems (such as for scientific subjects); in fact, during the Maths class I attended, I noticed how the teachers, just after a brief explanation of a Mathematical law, propose practical problems concerning it, whereas in Italy we tend to focus on less pragmatic exercises. In the end, I find this wide gap between these two countries really sad; it is the cultural substrate that influences the way of learning and teaching. It seems that we Italians are less interested in the personal development of the pupil, while English people concentrate less on the actual range of knowledge.

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School and cultural differences between England and Italy Thomas Katan

Having spent most of my life in Italy, I had never had the chance to see or to visit an English school. Interestingly, although I have some friends who study in the UK, my idea of an English school was different from what I found. In fact the first thing that I noticed was that both younger children and teenagers were going to the same school, while in Italy there is the middle school that splits up this age group. I was equally fascinated to find that every class in the UK is equipped with smart boards and for the scientific subjects you do your lessons in laboratories; therefore you are always mixing theory with the practical aspects. photo byThoms Katan

Another difference between the two systems is the time-table and the uniforms worn at school. In fact in Italy uniforms are not used at all, whereas in England only sixth formers can choose not to wear them (most of the time they choose not to, because nobody likes them). In Britain lessons usually start at 8.30 and finish at 3.15. During the school day there is a break at 11.00 and another at 1.15 (students can decide to eat in the canteen or to bring their own packed lunch), instead in Italy we start lessons between 8.00 and 8.15 and finish at 1.15 or 1.45 (depending on the class you are in or the school) “Speak English Please!” 49


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and our break is at 10.00 in some schools and 11.00 in others, lasting only 10 minutes. One thing that English students find shocking to hear is that we go to school on Saturdays and vice versa Italian students think of Saturday off as paradise. One last thing that English people find crazy is that we stay put in class for 5 hours a day for an entire year before we can change classroom. However, final exams are the same in the entire world: at the end of the last year of school you have to take your final test(s) before you can leave school. Obviously there are some differences concerning how the exam is done, and what types of testing systems are used. For example students that are applying for medical school have to take a Logical Reasoning test (usually during the period of A levels). This is not part of the curriculum, and has only pass and fail marks, but shows the ability of a students to think on their feet, whereas in Italian schools this test does not exist, but students that would like to apply for that type of university have to pass an entrance exam which is based on general knowledge. What would be a typical scientific lesson for English students would be a dream for every Italian student. I had the fortune to attend both a biology class and a physics one, and I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed them. For instance the first thing that I noticed was that not only books are given or lent by the school (even though you hand in a cheque at the beginning of the year for the books that you are going to use and at the end of the year if you do not lose or ruin them you will get the cheque back), but also the fact that in the sixth form the number of the people in classes is fairly small. In the biology class there were only about 6 pupils from the school, therefore the teacher had more time to go over and revise better what had been taught, and the possibility to teach in a more calm and easy-going way. Naturally both the smart board and the internet were being used to make the lesson “Speak English Please!” 50


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a bit more up to date, but at the same time they were using the text books to copy down the pictures of (in this case) neurons, key words and summary boxes. I thought this was quite a slow system of learning compared to ours, because we can directly write and underline in the book. The classroom was full of diagrams, skeletons of animals and other interesting biology stuff. Needless to say, the physics class was in a way the same sort of thing. The room was full of astronomy posters and expensive technology to measure things during experiments: they do these every day whilst studying the theory. After 2 years of studying logs in maths, in this school I have finally found the first practical use for them. This makes both maths and physics much more interesting because we can immediately see the use of what we are studying. In Italy the typical answer to a typical question from a student “why do we have to learn this stuff? We will never use it!” is “Don’t worry, just study, you will find it very useful at university” or “It opens your mind” (very useful answers for a teenager that cannot see any purpose in what he is doing). Once again the smart board was being used and during the theory, when we were supposed to calculate the average distance of a star, the teacher used a light bulb (to represent the star) connected to a generator from which he was able to increase or decrease the luminosity of light from it: next to it there was a ruler to measure the distance from which the light was being captured. Therefore while they were doing all the boring calculations, students were also seeing the practical results. To sum up, I believe that neither system is perfect and both could use some fine-tuning here and there. Personally, I think that the best way to change both into better systems for students would be by listening to them and, more importantly, taking into account what they say. “Speak English Please!” 51


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School Systems Marco Laudisa

Every time we talk about other European schools we start thinking about how big and well-organised they are compared to ours. Well, that is probably a correct view about the foreign schools, but most of the time we tend to put our own way of teaching and learning into shadow, only because we believe that it always needs improvements and we are never pleased with it. However, except for the question of the big spaces, and for some more or less important factors, our schools are not that different from the English ones. Initially, the first thing that hits your eyes is the fact that young children are in the same schools as the older pupils, so it is quite funny to see those little kids among the tall sixth formers. Another important, and of course noticeable, difference is the Saturday off. That is one of the dreams every Italian student has, and that we envy the most. However, I am not going to consider the most banal distinctions such as their lunch hour, the common room, the prom, the uniforms and the others that everybody knows perfectly well. Furthermore, even though our school buildings are really small and not well organised as the ones in Britain, and our school system surely has many things that do not work properly, we should not complain about our way of teaching, because, at least in my humble opinion, it is better than the one we are experiencing during this fortnight in England. Certainly, they have more interesting and practical subjects, such as design and technology, textiles, cookery and lots of those kinds of subjects that we do not take up in our school. In fact many of our schools have those subjects, but they are already specialised schools which are chosen before starting the second part of secondary education; therefore this cannot be considered a big diffe“Speak English Please!” 52


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rence between the two schools, because English pupils have to choose their subjects as well, even though those classes are grouped in one huge building. For this reason it is quite interesting to see how these lessons, unknown to “liceo” students, take place, and how many useful and fascinating machines are used by the students. However, our school, the “Liceo Scientifico De Giorgi”, is very different because we do not do any of these practical subjects and therefore we only have regular classrooms with desks and old blackboards, while they are equipped with more technological implements like smart boards, which 90% of the classes haphoto byThoms Katan ve, vast open air fields in which they spend the lunch or break hours, large and innumerable computer rooms and so on. Even so, there is something bad about the computer and especially the internet: that is the fact that many internet sites are blocked, and most of the time even useful web pages cannot be used because of the filters. Nevertheless, there are many pros and cons to both the schools: the English classes are much less numerous than the Italian ones, so it is a lot easier for teachers and learners to respectively explain and study because students are more controlled. To make a comparison, there are 15 students on average in the English classes while 25 in the Italian ones. Nonetheless, In Italy the subject programs are different and harder than theirs, especially for Maths. Furthermore we have lessons for about 30 hours a week, while the English pupils only 16; “Speak English Please!” 53


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it could sound a little bit strange because they spend more time at school than us, but the reason is that (at least in the sixth form) they are given some extra hours during the ordinary school day in which they are supposed to study. Moreover, we take 3 written and 2 oral tests for almost every subject, but English students take them only at the end of the terms. In addition, the English lessons are better organised because they are thought of as an interaction between the teachers and the students: the pupils have a sort of friendly relationship with their teachers and it leads to a more interesting lesson which can be more easily learned, thanks to the fact that they are requested to speak during them. Meanwhile, in Italy we are just supposed to listen to what the person in front of us says and to write some notes. In my opinion, this happens because the average age of the teachers in Italy is about 25 years higher than the English one, therefore the younger teachers know how the pupils are likely to learn and what is the best way for them to understand their lessons better, because they finished their studies only a few years before, and they remember what being a student means. Additionally, in the English schools there is a person who is unknown in Italian high schools: the tutor. A tutor is the person who looks after a group of pupils and makes sure that their education is working properly and, if not, intervenes and makes it go on the right way. Another difference is definitely the presence of the bullying phenomenon, which in Italy is not a problem. I was told that many of the students at the Ridgeway are victims of bullies’ violence; in fact it is possible to see spread throughout the school a lot of notices which are trying to convince the victims to inform the authority of the school about the acts they are subjected to. In my opinion, this phenomenon hits the English schools more than the Italian ones because “Speak English Please!” 54


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of the ‘age gaps’ between the pupils; for this reason, older and bigger students tend to threaten or beat up the younger or smaller children in order to obtain something from them, to impose themselves or just for pleasure. Due to this, many anti-bullies campaigns have been carried out to stop the phenomenon and to finally defeat the bullies. The subject which I chose was Art and Design compared to our “Disegno”; even though the names are quite the same, there is a gap between them and their way of being taught. Firstly, Design and Technology, or at least the lesson I observed, consists in drawing on the computer the shape of what you would like to obtain, and then with a sophisticated machine get the shape engraved onto a wooden tablet. Afterwards, they fuse a particular type of metal and pour it on the tablet in order to obtain the metal object that you designed. In our school, Art is thought of as History of Art, so we study the buildings, statues and other things done by famous artists of the past, while design is the subject that concerns the drawing of pre-set geometrical shapes in prospective and other views. In conclusion, I think that the schools are different in implements, classrooms, way of teaching and other more or less important aspects, and I find it quite interesting spotting the differences because it is an efficient way of finding the aspects which the two schools are not good at and to improve them.

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Another Way of Teaching Eric Lucking

Italian and English schools differ quite a lot: simply the external aspect of them manages to create a gap between them. While Italian schools are often composed by a single bare building, English schools are divided into different structures, surrounded by fields and grass. But the thing that differs most is the way of teaching. When you enter a class, the first difference that you notice is the disposition of the desks: while in Italy pupils have to sit in strict lines, in England the desks are disposed all around the teacher's desk. Since every teacher has his own classroom, they are free to decorate it according to the subject that they teach. The result is that every classroom is full of material that can be used by the pupils, as well as decorating the environment. Every class has both a whiteboard for pens, and an electronic blackboard, which can be connected to the computer of the teacher, as well as be used with the hand or with a special pen. The use of these tools shows how the English teachers are used to technology. In Italy, there are only normal blackboards, on which we write with chalk, and many teachers can barely use a computer. During the lesson, English pupils interact with the teacher more freely than Italians: they make jokes, comments, criticize the lesson and even show they are annoyed/bored by the subject. Teachers often address ironic phrases towards their pupils, and try to involve them with examples and original ways of teaching, like working outside or using pictures and other equipment. It is not unusual to see a teacher pass a book to a student by throwing it. “Speak English Please!” 56


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The behaviour of the pupils differs from class to class: the pupils of the A level classes work hard and participate in the lesson with brilliant suggestions, while the lower-level pupils tend to get distracted and to make a lot of noise (chatting, screaming and even singing). This is because of two reasons: the first one is that in the A level classes there are smarter pupils that want to follow the lessons; the second one is that the teachers seem to be very patient and they rarely punish students. In Italy students are more respectful of the teachers, and they get punished when they behave badly. Generally, the English teachers tend to be more severe with the younger children than the bigger ones, probably for an educative purpose. In England students do not have to bring a lot of books and equipment because the teachers provide them with what is necessary. This allows them to photo byThoms Katan move quickly from one class to the other, and eliminates the possibility that a student could forget to bring something. Instead, in Italy students have to bring all their stuff from their home, which is a difficult and tiring thing to do. About the ways of teaching, in England teachers tend to concentrate more on practical things than on theoretical ones. Since every teacher has his own classroom, they make their students do experiments and demonstrate formulas. Instead, in Italy this is almost impossible, because in every school there is only one laboratory, which must be “Speak English Please!” 57


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shared between all the classes. Moreover, it is difficult to move a class around, so teachers often prefer to renounce their turn. The lack of theoretical study can be easily identified with a comparison between an Italian lesson and an English one: English pupils appear to ignore knowledge that in Italy is taught in the primary school. On the other hand, Italian pupils are not even capable of performing the easiest experiments. The subjects treated at school also change considerably between the Italian school and the English one: in the latter there are some subjects related to manufacturing, while in the former you have to choose a particular kind of school to have the chance to work with raw materials. In England, lessons are based more on the participation of the students, with a continuous exchange of questions and answers, while in Italy it is more common to find a teacher that talks and the pupils that take notes. In English schools it seems that the pupils have only little homework to do: sometimes the teacher assigns an essay or some exercises, but basically students study very little at home. Instead, in Italy pupils have to study at least one hour every afternoon to get a sufficient mark. The teaching of English literature is completely different from that of Italian literature. The first thing that you notice is the reading of an entire book during a whole year: at the beginning of the year, the teacher chooses a book that the students have to read during every lesson. Instead in Italy pupils study from anthology books, and read some passages of the most important works of various countries.

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In England the themes of the books read by pupils can be much more harshly realistic and deal with subjects considered rude or taboo. While in Italy literature is more concentrated on the quantity of the knowledge, in England the most important thing is the depth of the study: pupils are urged to compare the behaviour of the characters, to detect their evolution as the book develops, and to give impressions of their feelings and mentality. Students are much more involved than the Italian ones: the teacher asks them to read passages of the book, or to give their opinion about a particular aspect of the book, while in Italy students just listen to the explanation of the teacher, and sometimes read a text.

English School: a Different Culture Alessandra Margiotta

Concerning the number of days which pupils spend at school during a year, the English and Italian education systems are very similar because they both expect students to attend about 200 days; however the calendars present some differences: the first big one is that the English school week lasts only five days; secondly, in Italy students have holidays at Christmas, Easter and three months in summer, while in England they have about seven ‘relaxing’ weeks during the year, although sometimes these are not only based on religious festivals. In addition to this, an interesting, but sometimes underestimated aspect of English school is the fact that teachers have their own classrooms (and this is good because they are well-equipped with all the necessary things for more interesting lessons) and pupils have to move from one to another when the bell rings, so this quick movement can help them to relax just a little instead of staying five hours on a chair in the same boring room without any colourful posters. In “Speak English Please!” 59


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England students are more independent (and probably more responsible) at school, in fact they can move around the building and meet their friends to chat together when they are free, also because there are many places inside and outside the building which have been exclusively included for them. About the subjects that students have to study at school, the two systems totally differ because students make their choices in a different way. In England schools are comprehensive, so, when students are 11, they choose some of the subjects they want to study (others are compulsory) and before starting the Sixth Form they decide which three or four subjects they are going to study over the next two years, according to the faculty that they would like to attend at University. This kind of system motivates teenagers much more since they follow lessons which they really like, although at the secondary school there are some still compulsory subjects like English, Maths and Science; besides, in Italy teenagers make only one choice at the age of thirteen between a technical and an academic school in which different subjects are taught. However, the English system is better because it gives the chance to focus on specific topics in the Sixth Form, when students are more aware of what they want to do in their future. Sitting in some lessons in England, you can notice a completely different method of teaching and learning, because teachers let students be more independent, in fact they have to search for what they need on their own. The English teachers do not explain everything to the students but they give them some specific tasks to focus on and then, they compare all together what they have learnt. For the Italians it is very strange because we are used to listening to the teachers for a long hour and taking notes in the meantime, even if sometimes it can be boring, while in England students follow the lessons watching the slides on the smart board that the teachers have prepared and then “Speak English Please!” 60


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they copy the phrases into their copybooks. The English method is more involving because students can ask lots of questions and say what they think about some topics, because there are many moments during which they can exchange their opinions. What is more, they do some writing exercises soon after the short explanation by the teacher, so they can understand if they have some problems with the topic or if it makes sense; in this way, they can solve their doubts with the help of the teacher, as happens during the Maths lessons. A thing which I have noticed and I really like is the method of teaching History, which I consider more correct than the Italian one; they study historical periods of different nations separately, for example the 18th century in Russia, then in Great Britain and so on. Because of this, they study all the periods in depth and the history of almost all the nations, while in Italy we focus only on some ‘leader’ countries like England, France, America and Italy. I think that we do not have a real genephoto by Nicolo’ Stefanelli ral idea because we learn only about a part of the whole, and our system seems to consider the traditions of some populations not important. On the other hand, it would be better if sometimes the English pupils listened to their teacher for some hours in order to get used to concentrating for a long period. In addition to this, I do not agree with the fact that English students have only written exams, in which they have to write an essay choosing between two possible tasks, for example for History “Speak English Please!” 61


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and also other theoretical subjects, since I believe that they could have some difficulties when asked to prepare or pronounce a long speech in some unexpected situations. In England the teaching is adapted to the level of the students who attend that class since the teenagers of the same age are not necessarily in the same class, but it depends on the marks they had the year before; in this way, the school does not let students improve their knowledge all together or with the help of a friend of theirs, because they are completely separated. I do not like this kind of system because it is, for me, antisocial and the main problem is that it happens also in the primary school where the pupils are more vulnerable. Asking the English students, I have learnt that the relationship between students and teachers is very good. It is true, in fact teachers let students, especially the 16-17 year-old, chat during the lessons about something that does not concern the school and use their mobile phones (probably because they believe pupils are responsible), so the relationship is more informal than in Italy. When we arrived it did not seem like that because all the pupils, except those who attend the Sixth Form, wore the black and white uniform of the school, but it is only a symbol of joining the same school, according to what students say. However, while Italian students are rarely punished, in England it is common to isolate pupils from their friends for one hour if they have done something wrong. To sum up, I believe that we cannot say which school system is the best, but there are some aspects that both schools should take on board from each other. The English school can be considered the dream school for Italians because pupils have more freedom and lots of technological devices, but sometimes it would be better if the teachers distanced themselves from their pupils in order not to confuse the roles, although I noticed that the majority of the pupils respect their teachers much more than us. “Speak English Please!” 62


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Developing a Child’s Potential Roberto Montaruli

The first thing that you can see entering an English school is that the pupils wear a uniform except for the sixth grades (the last two years are exempted from doing so). The second difference is that in the English timetable students move from classroom to classroom according to the subject they have, whereas in Italy only the teachers move classes and students sit in the same classroom for 5 hours a day with just one break. Besides these things, every class has both a whiteboard for pens, and an electronic whiteboard, which is connected to the computer of the teacher, and they can be used with the hand or with a special pen. The use of these tools highlights how the English teachers are practiced in the use of technology. In Italy, we have only normal blackboards, and teachers rarely use a computer (often because they do not know how to use it!). Since school lasts from 9am to 3pm, students are provided with a canteen service that has a modern recognition system: all pupils are registered with their thumbprint on a machine, so that every time they have to buy something for the break or for lunch, they leave their fingerprint on a reader that recognizes them and sends a bill to their families. However, English schools are financed by remarkable state funds (6,000,000 pounds), which keep the school in more than optimal conditions. One strange thing is the massive presence of advertisements in the corridors and in the computer rooms that increase school’s money by sponsoring videogames, consoles or other things that could attract the pupils. “Speak English Please!” 63


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The first year of secondary school is called seventh year, and the subsequent years are named below in chronological order until the twelfth. In England the classes are organized in a different way from in Italy, in fact students are divided into groups according to their marks that can be A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B3, C1, C2 and they all attend parallel lessons but teachers, naturally, follow a different way of teaching. In the Italian education system, marks are from zero to ten, while in England marks are on a scale of six letters: E, D, C, B, A, and the best one is A*(only with which can you aim to access one of the prestigious universities such as Cambridge or Oxford!). In Italy history is usually considered a theoretical subject and the teaching of this subject is done by a teacher who reads and talks about the lesson, and the students have to listen and take notes without taking part actively in the lesson. In England, instead, the method is completely different because the teacher explains the general concept and, through a succession of questions, the pupils collect a series of information about the topic and afterwards they have to work at home, or in groups, which allows them to study and enjoy it at the same time. All this in my opinion draws the pupils closer to the subject, making it more tangible and interesting. The school itself lends books to the students every day. I think that the English education system is better than the Italian one because it gives a preparation in much more detail, which can help pupils when choosing university. In Italy, on the other hand, the programme gives us a much wider field of knowledge, which can create some difficulties after school, but enriches the general culture of people. At the same time the Italian education system offers a training to study quantitively, both for long periods and a wide selection of different subjects, while the English one is concentrated on fewer subjects in more depth.

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Besides this, the jewel in the crown of English school is the wide variety of technological and sports equipment available from the infant school. I do not know if the English school gives better results than Italian one, but I believe that having a well-funded school helps to achieve them. All these things are the result of a state policy that aims at fully developing a child's potential.

Different Ways of Teaching and Learning Stefano Pastorelli Even if Italian people spend less money on school taxes, the English school service is far superior to the Italian one: in fact English schools offer a lot of facilities, laboratories, sports centres and they can also use very m o d e r n classrooms furnished in a modern way with photo by Nicolo’ Stefanelli posters and equipment. Unfortunately, a lot of Italian public schools have old buildings, which are no longer suitable for carrying out the same functions that they had previously because they should be restructured or rebuilt. Despite these big differences, the Italian school’s preparation can be compared with the English one, as is demonstrated by recent OCSE PISA studies which have pointed out the excellent school level of Italian students. In fact in my opinion Italian school gives students “Speak English Please!” 65


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the possibility to choose among many ways since, for example, when you have got your diploma from a liceo you are able to enrol in whichever university you want, from classical letters to engineering. During our school mornings in Wroughton we had to shadow some schoolmates in different classes, since there are different rooms specifically for each subject and year, so studentshave to move, not teachers. Here rooms are very different from Italian ones: the latter are not so big and often English classrooms could host twice as many people as they actually hold. As regards teaching, there are a lot of differences: first of all teachers are more open with students, helping them every time they can; a lot of instruments are also used to improve the effectiveness of the lesson: projectors, sound systems, posters, computers, etc. The Italian way of teaching is very different: latterly it has become very hard to find a job as a schoolteacher for people who have recently graduated, because all the teachers are quite old but the retirement age has been raised. So the two countries use different methods, and the Italian one has not evolved from research or recent studies, but only from experience, which has led to a very varying cultural level. Moreover the way in which a student studies and learns is very different and, in my opinion, the English one is a lot simpler: students do not have to bring books with them, but the teachers manages and corrects the exercises that they do during the lessons, so every heavy book always stays in the same room, and people simply take them when they enter. Differently, Italians have to carry rucksacks full of books and paper every day, risking also forgetting them at home. A very strange thing that I noticed is that, unlike my classmates and me who sometimes have to study all the afternoon because of all the homework we have, the students of the school we visited do most of their work during the lessons, so they have only a little to do at ho“Speak English Please!” 66


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me, and can spend their spare time improving their ability in some sports or having a hobby. The English also do not waste time between a lesson and another one, and for me it is surprising how fast they change class: maybe it happens because of the warnings that they receive every time they do something wrong, a choice that, in my opinion, should be proposed also in Italy because it is a good way to avoid the gap of time between consecutive lessons. For one morning we also had the opportunity to attend a primary school lesson, which I noticed has approximately the same aim as Italian ones, because they manage to teach children how to stay together, co-operate, read and write. But the tools used are very different: they have a lot of computers to use - and it is not unusual for pupils to know more than teachers about technology - big playgrounds and a lot of games and puppets. One thing that makes it very unusual is that the children of the same class are usually divided into different groups according to their ability, so from when they are very young meritocracy is one of the most widely used instruments for teachers to improve their teaching.

A Wide Range of Subjects and Facilities Mattia Pellegrino

In UK schools the range of subjects is very wide, because they can follow a lot of courses, unlike us. In fact we have to do prescribed lessons and we cannot change classmates during the day, while they have the chance to change them at every lesson, forcing them to socialize with new people – I think this is a very positive thing. British school’s holidays are different from Italian ones, in fact for example we usually have the majority of our holidays in the summer, while “Speak English Please!” 67


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theirs are shorter and more frequent, and usually take place in winter. Lessons are only from Monday to Friday so pupils have free weekends. But now I have to talk about the most important thing in an Italian school: homework. I have learnt that here in England students usually do not have much homework to do at home, and I think that is because they spend more time than us at school. The best students usually study for half an hour a week, instead our best students often spend something like 6-7 hours a day studying, but even average students spend at least 1-2 hours per day. Talking about the facilities, in Italy some schools are very old, so their facilities are not so good. For example in our school we have a small room that is used as a conference-room where there is a television that works only from time to time; in addition to this, I have seen that in every class there are whiteboards and an interactive one with a projector, while we have old blackboards. As regards the subject that I have chosen, P.E., I have to say that here it is not a lesson in which you can relax playing football, volleyball and so on with friends, but you have to do athletics, and expert teachers show you how to play sports like cricket. P.E. classes are also divided into male and female, and the disciplines that they do are different too: for example girls do athletics like the discus throw. Sports facilities here are better both in quality and quantity. For example football pitches, tennis and basketball courts, and a swimming pool that I think is very important because swimming is the healthiest sport and it is useful for people of any age. In Italy sometimes we do not even have footballs or volleyball balls to play with. Clothes are also an important difference: we do not have uniforms and for sport usually wear the same clothes that we use for school. “Speak English Please!” 68


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Here not only is the uniform of black skirts or trousers and white shirts compulsory to the end of year 11, but they have a special uniform they change into for sport, consisting of a light blue t-shirt and a pair of black shorts. Another difference with Italy is that we do not have mentors. When students reach the 7th year, so when they are around 11 years old, they will be followed by a mentor that can help them with schoolwork and with their school life but he does not normally teach them anything. We can say that they are a kind of guide, and if you have any kind of problems you can ask them. English students are often also divided in four ‘houses’ that in The Ridgeway School are called Avebury, Salisbury, Kenneth and Banbury. These houses are awarded with medals and house points, the first ones are given out for a victory in sport or an intelligence competition, while the second ones are for good homework or school work, or for good behaviour. But if you behave badly your house would lose points, depending on what you did or how many warnings you have had for your faults. In English schools there is also detention for students that behave badly photo by Patrizia Sanguedolce at school, in fact I have heard that here there are detention rooms for those students that misbehave with their classmates or teachers. “Speak English Please!” 69


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One more difference concerns activities outside school. There are those for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a kind of survival course that you can follow and at the end of it there is a test where you have to prove your skills by camping and exploring unknown and wild areas, or doing voluntary work. Talking about other school trips, here it is very different from Italy, because here they usually start to go abroad when they start secondary school in the 7th year, when they are 11, while in Italy we have the chance to go abroad with our classmates only in the last year of high school, so at 18 years old. To sum up I have to say that there are some aspects of English schools that I prefer to Italian ones, for example school trips, facilities, the canteen because it can help you to socialize with others , while in Italian schools I like the fact that there is not a division of students depending on their intelligence, because I think that this can discriminate students. Finally I have to say that I prefer English schools for the range of subjects and facilities that it can offer you.

English Education v. Italian Education: Maths Raffaele Pico

In England there are Primary Schools and Secondary Schools: the first could be considered the same as the Italian ones, instead the second ones are different for several reasons. In England there are schools in which there are students from 11 to 18, instead in Italy there are schools for students aged 11 to 14, and schools for students aged from 14 to 19. Maybe it would be better to have only one secondary school where students could aggregate and grow all together. In fact in Italy a kind of trauma is quite common because of the big difference between the first part and the second part of Secondary schools. “Speak English Please!” 70


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Another significant difference between the two countries is that in Italy there are schools according to the specialization they give to students. So there are Technical schools or Vocational schools for example. Instead in England there are schools in which you have lots of subjects that can be studied: from Music to Sewing, from German to Chemistry. But the most meaningful difference is that students do exams at the age of 16 and then they have to choose particular subjects to study further. So they do not attend all lessons, but only the ones they have chosen. Classes are very different: in Italy there is a stricter environment, because of teachers who are more formal and sometimes like tyrants. This could be a positive thing as well as negative, because students learn how to behave correctly, nevertheless at the same time they feel rather oppressed. In England students have more freedom and in classes they seem like the teachers’ friends. But it often happens that they continuously keep chatting with their classmates and so an hour’s lesson can become just a noisy waste of time. The number of students in English Sixth Form classes varies from 8 to a maximum of 15 students, while Italian classes of the same age group can even be composed of 30 students. It obviously depends on students’ behaviour, and whether the lesson to be taught is easy or difficult, but sometimes 15 students can make more noise than double their number. There is also a big difference of meaning between the Italian word “classe” and the corresponding English one, classroom. Here teachers have their own classroom and they personalise it with pictures and posters linked to the subjects they teach, instead in Italy students have their own classroom and teachers move from one to another. One of the subjects taught in English secondary schools is of course Maths: the most interesting thing to consider is the way it is taught. Maths lessons seem to be entirely based on multimedia: teachers use “Speak English Please!” 71


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interactive whiteboards where they project various topics. They also provide books to students but they are just a support: the lesson is composed of a first part in which the teacher explains a particular topic and a second, longer part in which students have some exercises and problems to solve. The teacher is always available to help them, and the relationship is so close as to make the teacher and the students like friends. This is something that hardly ever happens in Italy, because of the system, but in particular because of the large number of students every teacher has got. The topics covered during lessons are not the same as the Italian ones: in particular I found that in the year that corresponds to the Italian fourth year they study statistics, instead in Italy we study trigonometry in almost all schools. However, what they do not do in class students must finish in their own time. In conclusion, we can say that a school that is better than another does not exist: there are positive and negative aspects in both systems. In my opinion, one of the positive aspects of the English one is that students go to school with more pleasure than the Italian ones. But I also think that introducing an English-like school in Italy would not be a good idea, because Italians have become accustomed to their system, and when you get used to something it is very difficult to make a change.

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A School Day in England Giulio Quarta Colosso

To compare these different education systems let us just pretend to follow an Italian and an English school day. The English school day starts at about 9 o’clock. Most of the students arrive by bus, some by cars and those who live near the school on foot. Moped and motorcycles are not used, probably because of the climate. When the bell rings all students go into classrooms, according to the subject, for their first lesson. After the second period there is a twenty-minute break, and after the fourth they have lunch. Schools have canteens, where students can have cheap lunch, but most students have packed lunch, prepared at home. After lunch lessons go on, there is one more period. School finishes at a quarter past three, for the rest of the day lots of students have afternoon activities, indeed they do not have a large amount of hophoto by Marcella Campobasso mework. An Italian school day starts around 8 o’clock. Students stay in the same room every day, because it is the teachers who move. Pupils always have the same classmates, who are not divided into grades, as in England. There are five periods. Between the second and the third period there is a break of only ten minutes. School ends around “Speak English Please!” 73


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one o’clock, then students go home and they have lunch with their families. Although English and Italian schools differ for several points, they have something in common too. The first difference I would like to underline is between the structure of the buildings, and the presence of different laboratories. Starting from the outside, most English schools are provided with lots of facilities, such as tennis courts, football pitches, wide grassy fields and extended recreation areas. Inside the schools there are a lot of other facilities: most of them are provided with gyms and pools, which in the afternoon are used by the general public, as a leisure centre. These facilities are also used by the school to organise afternoon sports courses for the students. The schools are indeed very active during the evenings. There are not only sports courses available after school: if students want to improve their musical and theatre skills, subjects that are anyway studied in the morning, they can join a band or a theatre group, organised by the school. Most of the schools even have theatres, where students can perform. In Italy this kind of school simply does not exist. Structures are smaller than English ones; furthermore they are not well equipped. The only facility that Italian schools usually have is a small gym, often overcrowded. To sum up, the main difference is the structure of the school and the presence of leisure facilities. This obviously affects the way education is implemented. Indeed, a lot of practical subjects like sewing, working with iron and wood, playing an instrument, drama, cooking, cannot be taught in an Italian school. There are not only different subjects, but the same subject is taught in quite a different way. First of all in England there are not fixed clas“Speak English Please!” 74


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ses, they change every year, and for every subject a student has different classmates. This happens because classes are formed according to the level of the students. There are three main grades, A, B, C. These grades are divided into two further levels. Neither are there fixed classrooms, as teachers ‘own’ them, and students move from one room to another. The classrooms are furnished very well; they all have an electronic whiteboard and a projector. Thanks to this equipment teachers can prepare lessons at home on their own computer, for a better explanation. The relationship between students and the teacher is not too formal; teachers are mostly calm and allow more independence to students than in Italy. The classes are usually not so crowded; there is an average of twenty students in each class. Theoretical study is in the background, practice is the most important thing. It is very rare to see a teacher explaining his lesson through textbooks, or students studying them. In Italy students spend all the year in the same classroom, with the same classmates. Classes are not divided by grade of ability. Moreover classrooms are not well equipped, often there is only an old blackboard. Most teachers are very strict with students, lots of classes are overcrowded, so following a lesson can be very hard. Now let us compare how a specific subject, modern languages, is treated in England and in Italy. In Italy during Middle school, English and French are both compulsory, then, during secondary school, only English is. There are some courses in some schools which specialise in languages, where students can study both French and English during the secondary school. While in Primary and in Middle school only grammar of the language is studied, in the secondary school students approach English literature, studying the most famous writers – poets, novelists and dramatists - and the history of the country, from prehistory to modern times. “Speak English Please!” 75


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In England studying modern languages is compulsory from the primary school; the main languages studied are French and German. Enrichment activities allow further exploration of language with some possibility of learning either Spanish or Italian. During secondary school French or German are compulsory too, instead during the sixth form it is optional, the new government is trying to make it become compulsory even during sixth form years. The lessons which I attended were two French lessons: in the first one there were students of the A grade, in the second one there were students from the level C2, the lowest. The first class was composed by thirty students; they were very quiet and participated actively. They wrote down a dictation, then they corrected it all together. After that they did some grammar. The second lesson was very different, the students were only ten, they misbehaved so much that one of them got a warning from the teacher. Their lesson was very simple and no one wanted to participate.

Not Only Better Facilities Carlo C. Stabile

We are born into a completely globalized world. For this reason we tend to think that there are not so many differences between people of different countries. Actually, even in the same continent, there are lots of variations, especially talking about the choices of governments concerning education. And this is the field I would like to examine, in particular looking at the differences between English and Italian school structures. Every time we watch a comedy on television or probably only think of the typical English school, we just concentrate on the beautiful huge buildings, with an enormous range of facilities. I know it is “Speak English Please!” 76


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normal, but how about the other differences concerning the way English people teach and learn? Maybe we have never thought about them: the varied methods which are adopted by European countries to obtain the best from their pupils. To enter a secondary school in England, you have to photo by Nicolò Stefanelli be eleven years old. At that moment you have just passed the SAT exam after primary school, and you begin the 6th year. Differently from what happens in Italy, the system of continuing to count the year (instead of starting again from year 1 at secondary school) after the five years at primary school, gives pupils the idea of a sort of continuity between the two schools. After that, when you are sixteen and you are going to finish year 10, you have to take GCSE’s before deciding to continue to study (but only a limited number of subjects) in a sixth form college till A level exams, or to leave school and start working. Looking at the variations between the two school systems, another evident one is the English uniform. Pupils till year 10 must wear a uniform, which is almost the same for boys and girls and consists of (in case of The Ridgeway School) a white shirt, a black jumper, a black pair of trousers and a pair of dark (and uncomfortable in my opinion) shoes. If you are a Sixth Form student at The Ridgeway School, your lessons do not begin every day at the same time. You only have to follow “Speak English Please!” 77


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your timetable, to know where you are expected to be and at what time. While pupils till 16 have a busy timetable with lots of lessons, the last two years students have only three or four subjects to study. The result is that they stay in a classroom only for 12-16 hours per week, so they have more spare time to spend (in theory) preparing their A level exams by themselves, or more probably only chatting or playing table football in the school common room! All the lessons finish at a quarter past three in the afternoon, so students go home, unless they have some special activities or extra courses. In the afternoon, the lucky English boys often do not have to do any homework, so they can just sit and relax before dinner, and then they go straight to bed, because for most of the year in England it is too cold to go out in the evenings. In the few hours of Maths lessons I had the opportunity to follow in The Ridgeway School, I was able to notice some differences compared to Italian lessons. Beginning with the method, I have immediately seen that English teacher spends little time on theory, and prefers to start doing exercises very quickly. So when the bell rings, all the pupils come into their classrooms and find their teacher waiting for them, usually with a remote control in his hand. The lesson starts and on the whiteboard students can see the slides moving while the teacher is explaining the day’s topic. After an explanation that lasts only a few minutes, the teacher assigns an exercise and leaves the students solving it till the end of the lesson, and he is always helpful to each one who needs a hand. If they do not finish the assignments in class, pupils have to finish them at home. I was able to verify that this kind of methodology is considered normal in English schools. In fact, shadowing a nice pupil, I had the chance to take part in a geography lesson, in which the teacher, after “Speak English Please!” 78


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explaining what a flood is and showing a documentary video on the web, using all the technological instruments she had in her class, gave some exercises and left students to do them. When you are about eighteen years old, in whatever country you live, you have to make one of the most important decisions of your life, probably the one which could significantly mark your lifestyle forever. Continue to study and get a degree or further qualification, or enter the world of work immediately? And in case you decide to go to University, which faculty fits you best? Do you want to stay at home in your home town, or would you prefer to go away from your family and begin a new life in a different city or even, why not, country? First of all, in England as in Italy, you must focus on your initial budget before taking any decision; otherwise you cannot survive for too long. To get into university, some English students do something similar to the Italian ones: you have to pass an entry test if you want to study medicine, or attend Oxford and Cambridge, before you start the first year. But in all other cases, entry depends on the results of your A levels and an application to UCAS. If Universities offer you a place and you obtain the required grades, then you can go! All the rest of your organization (move to another town, rent a house, etc.) is the result of this. If all fails, you can try again another year, or wait for the Clearing System. Then, you can begin to plan your life at University, with the possibility of obtaining financial help from English government (if you are a UK resident): this loan you have to return monthly when, hopefully, you get a job.

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At the Cutting Ridge of Education Nicolò Stefanelli Travelling around the world gives us the opportunity to compare our culture and our traditions with those of other countries. People can learn many different things through contact with foreign friends like, for example, their language or their habits. An interesting point of comparison could be considered the school system because it highlights the importance which a government gives to educaphoto by Nicolò Stefanelli tion. School is one of the most important periods in people’s lives, just like infancy, because it contributes to children’s whole development. Each country has got a different school system, depending on the way of teaching which is chosen. In England, for instance, everything is focused on giving pupils the possibility of choosing the subjects that they would like to study; this enables students to concentrate on all the subjects that they like and eventually to drop the ones they are not good at. This point is quite interesting because, since they are young, pupils have to think about what they will do in their future.

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After shadowing some students and teachers in different classes and levels of The Ridgeway School, I observed a general way of teaching which is really effective: the inductive method. It is mainly based on drawing theoretical concepts from practical experience and it generally helps the students understand things earlier and better. If, for instance, a Geography teacher wants his students to understand the meaning of global warming, he starts explaining how life is possible on the earth, speaking about the positive aspects of the green-house effect caused by the atmosphere, and then he asks questions about what could happen if the icecaps started to melt; after receiving some answers, he links them with the previous concept and the students are able to understand the notion and to draw their own conclusions. It often happens that students are divided into groups of four or five and they work together; this leads to an improvement of team-work abilities which are very important in future work situations. Except for the sixth form lessons, where the teachers are more relaxed since there are fewer people in the classroom and the learners are almost sixteen or seventeen years old, the teachers are very strict in order to maintain discipline, attention and participation from their students. It sometimes happens that when the lesson finishes the cleverer pupils go out of the class before those who made a noise during the lesson. Once people are in the two years of sixth form, they start to be looked after by a personal tutor who has to help them in the choice of their future university course; the relationship with the tutor should be good, in order to choose the right option according to the general personality and preferences of each single student. In the majority of the classrooms the desks are distributed in two semicircles, an inner and an outer one. The aim of this distribution is “Speak English Please!” 81


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to allow everyone to see the smart board which consists of a white panel where images are shown, thanks to an overhead projector linked to a computer. The teachers work with their own laptops and all the students can see pictures, diagrams and graphs; they usually take notes copying key sentences which are prepared before the lesson by the teacher. Another interesting point is that sometimes teachers show short clips or a movie, which are impressive since they are more direct and clearer. Unfortunately in Italy the technological aspect of the method of teaching is not really much developed. For example in the classrooms there are still blackboards and chalks to write with, and there is usually a maximum of two multimedia rooms for each school. In the long run more and more smart boards will appear, but at present there are only few people able to use them. This leads to a really different way of teaching in Italy, which is mainly based on an oral explanation given by the teachers, and which is called the deductive method; it means that pupils learn things first theoretically and then they should see experiments and have some practical experience. For this reason, laboratories are less used and it becomes also quite difficult to book them, since often there is only one and it must be used by all the school. To follow the lesson, the students have their own books which they can make notes in. This is one of the most evident differences between the Italian and the English school, and it leads to a different way of paying attention by the students. In England the lessons are more interactive, so the teachers often ask students questions and vice versa, and this creates a sort of meaningful dialogue; in Italy, instead, the questions are usually asked at the end and at the beginning of each lesson, in order not to disturb the teachers’ speech. “Speak English Please!” 82


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As regards the effectiveness of the general qualification that each kind of school gives, it is necessary to stress that they both provide an excellent cultural background, even if there are several aspects that should be shared between them.

Encouraging Learning and Leisure Lorenzo Vergari

There are many differences between Italy and the UK, especially in Education. As a matter of fact even the concept of “school” is felt differently in the two countries. In England schools join a sort of race for the most advanced building, which keeps the level of Education really high. On the contrary, in Italy funds are becoming less and less, so that buildings are getting worse and worse. Furthermore in England much money is assigned to make schools better still, through purchasing modern equipment, such as interactive whiteboards and electronic devices. In this way, classrooms keep clean, and are practical and comfortable for everyone. English school provides students with valuable benefits, for instance free access to the library, the possibility to borrow books every day at school which avoids having to buy them, and other useful opportunities, for example in sports or technology. While in Italy school is thought of as an obligation, in the UK people consider it something which only deserving ones ought to attend; consequently in Italy subjects are, in a certain way, imposed, while in England pupils make certain choices at different ages. In fact in English Education subjects can be of two types; compulsory or optional. Until the beginning of the 12th year, all subjects are compulsory or of limited choice, then each student can select up to five subjects freely. Besides, as students of each year are split for every subject into many levels - from the lowest level (F) to the highest one (A*) - according to “Speak English Please!” 83


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their ability, no pupil has got a fixed mate in every lesson, while in Italy students are used to having always a common companion in everything. In this way, each student could learn at his own real speed, allowing more brainy ones not to be slowed down and less gifted ones to study better. On the contrary, in Italy, every class contains students of different levels, penalizing both gifted and lazy ones. Having reached a certain age, English students are offered a wide range of subjects among which they can select their favourite three of four ones. Moreover UK schools organise courses of practical subjects, like textiles or design technology, in addition to the academic ones. These are suitable for students that do not like just theoretical topics. Most English schools offer an incredibly wide range of complementary activities, which, put side by side with study, remind us of the Latin motto “Mens sana in corpore sano”. In order to appeal to everyone and to photo by Nicolò Stefanelli encourage learning and leisure, activities are well developed and differently featured. One of these is the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which entitles pupils to show their ability at working out difficult situations outdoors or in non-school environments, and depending on students’ attitude is evaluated at three levels. Another interesting activity is related to drama; indeed each year students put on a play or show, open to everybody. In addition to that, the two countries adopt ways of structuring school which are nowhere near similar: in Italy teachers are used to “Speak English Please!” 84


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carrying on explanations talking straightforwardly to their pupils, in English Schools they create a sort of dialogue with pupils, through which they explain the theory as well as verifying whether children have understood or not. Furthermore English teachers try to make the lesson as amazing and appealing as possible, in order not to let students get bored and distracted, thus they do not use only books and traditional tools, but they display the lessons through electronic smart boards, computerised shows and videos. In the English education system homework is not thought very necessary; so teachers prefer not giving too much homework, instead they make their pupils work at school, under their control. Unlike this, in Italy homework is considered crucial, and therefore assigned regularly and in massive quantities! Besides there is a more familiar relationship between an Anglo-Saxon class and teachers, thanks to which pupils may bear the tension, unlike Italian aloofness. Italian teachers look quite strict and distant, whereas English ones seem to want to understand children’s failures and to help them to work doubts out, even if by slowing lessons down. All these differences between the two educational systems are fairly noticeable through attending a lesson, in my case Biology. As a matter of fact all Biology lessons are done in a big class, full of comfortable furniture, such as wide lockers and tables for students. In addition to that, the class has a wealth of innovative and modern equipment, like powerful computers and a video player. On the other hand, Italian lessons are taught in small classes with ancient items and few comforts. Even the way of explaining the lesson to pupils is unlike ours: English teachers spend a lot of time using the electronic smart boards, because according to English research, pictures can make students easily remember concepts. Moreover they deeply analyse what the text book says and, through practical example, they underline the “Speak English Please!” 85


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most significant parts. Instead in Italy, teachers are not used to drawing pictures and spend their lessons slowly reading the book and then doing exercises about topics. Before the beginning of every year, teachers of both UK and Italy establish their programs following the Ministry’s curricula. These delineate what they want to teach throughout the year. However English teachers have to follow their plan precisely, as their students have to face an external exam, while often Italian ones do not manage to deal with their deadlines. Finally the whole subject is felt differently in Italy and UK, since in Italy Biology is thought as one of the hardest subjects, while in the UK it mainly seems to students as an interesting subject, necessary to sort out many questions about everyday lives.

photo by Nicolò Stefanelli

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GETTING TO KNOW WILTSHIRE ... AND BRITAIN The Geography of the Swindon Area Eric Lucking

Swindon is a large city situated just into the south-west of England. South-east of its position there are the hills of the Wiltshire Downs, which can reach 270 metres in height. The area is characterized by a succession of grass uplands, valleys and some scattered rivers, and it is dotted by small woods. The uplands are deserted, apart from sheep, goats and race horses. In recent times the landscape has changed: acres of the fertile grass uplands are now cultivated, and the human presence is indicated by the presence of silos, photo by Nicolò Stefanelli barns, houses and sheds. There are also some problems gypsies who have often settled in the countryside without permission. Moreover, even today there are still signs of the Second World War: derelict huts, broken runways and overgrown dumps sometimes ruin the landscape. Swindon occupies about 40 km², with a population of about 180,000 inhabitants (population density is 780/km²), “Speak English Please!” 87


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distributed near the rivers and on the low ground near them. Most of the citizens are Christians (70.3%) or atheists (19,2%). The most important towns in the area are Chippenham, Cirencester, Marlborough, Malmesbury, Calne, Wootton Bassett, Cricklade, Highworth, but there are also a lot of smaller villages. Its position gives it a maritime clime, with a temperate climate during both summer and winter. Every year, its rainfall is about 720 mm of water in 123 days, especially during the winter. Because of its climate, it is surrounded by flourishing fields. During the winter, a moderate quantity of snow falls, while during a year there are more or less 1550 hours of sun, significantly higher than northern cities.

The Varied Fauna of Wiltshire Aldo Cingolani

The county of Wiltshire boasts an infinite variety of animals. In these two weeks, I have decided to distinguish the variety of as many species as I could. For this reason, I have acted in two ways: either I have attentively looked at all the places we visited, to find all the different creatures that lived nearby, or I have walked all around the centre of Swindon asking passers-by some information. Of course in Wiltshire, as in the rest of the UK – and I would say of the world – pets are highly loved, and all my mates who have been entrusted to families said they all have at least one pet. The main thing I noticed is the great presence of livestock: every place we visited had some land or farms with sheep or cows in them. Their presence has both positive and negative effects. On the one hand the smell in those places increases, but on the other hand their excrements make the grass grow green. In particular, I have seen “Speak English Please!” 88


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cows, sheep, goats, oxen. Concerning wild animals, it would have been a hardship to reach far off places and look for rare animals. So I have asked some willing people for information about the possible wild animals that live in this country. The most cited animals have been: swans, moorhens, seagulls, squirrels, rabbits, horses, hares, foxes, rats, pigeons, badgers. Most people (half of the twelve people I have interviewed) stated the commonest wild animal in the area is the fox, though more than one person said foxes are a source of annoyance for the loud noise they make (similar to barking). Other very common animals are rats, pigeons, squirrels, and rabbits. The most beloved animal (besides dogs and cats that always came up when I asked them which would be their favourite animal) is the rabbit, which is considered cute by most photo by Nicolò Stefanelli of the people, with four preferences. Then there is the squirrel, with three, then robins with two, and finally the fox, the badger, the swan and the horse (the reason why a guy said horses is because he bets on horse races!), with only one. I have also asked people which is the local animal that annoys them most. A third of those interviewed thinks it is the rat. The rest declared they are bothered by foxes, dogs, seagulls, pigeons (these last three species disturb people because of their excrements that are left all over the town!). As a last question I wanted to know whether there were dangerous animals in the area or not. Four people said there “Speak English Please!” 89


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are not; two said members of the dog family, such as foxes or pitbulls, and six immediately thought of snakes: in particular one cited the grassnake, one the viper, and four the adder. Among all the animals that I have named above, I have only had the chance to see a couple of rabbits, a pheasant, a squirrel walking on an electricity cable, some seagulls and pigeons, and finally horses, bulls, cows and sheep. Furthermore, I am very glad to have admired animals that no-one had named (even though I have seen most of them in Wales), which are three frogs, a large amount of tadpoles, some leeches, some mole -hills and a wonderful falcon! All in all, English fauna is slightly different from the Italian one, and having to find the most numerous species in this place has also represented a chance to watch from close to animals that I had never seen in real life before.

Avebury Carlo C. Stabile

England is not only London - that is what I had the luck to learn in this wonderful fortnight in Wroughton. This has been my first trip abroad, so the first time I have seen all the English grassy hills spread everywhere (especially around the motorways). The area of Swindon, where I have spent most of the time, is really pretty, with lovely typical English cottages perfectly integrated in luxuriant countryside. However, there are lots of other interesting aspects in this region in the South-West of England, for instance the historical places to visit. I am very interested in the Prehistoric Age, so I particularly enjoyed the trip to Avebury. “Speak English Please!” 90


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Avebury is a Neolithic monument containing three stone circles, which is located around a village in Wiltshire. It is one of the best-known megalithic sites in Britain, and it is currently used not only as a tourist attraction, but also still as a place of photo by Nicolo’ Stefanelli religious importance for contemporary Pagans, whereas in Stonehenge, such believers are not allowed to go and pray. Constructed around 2600 BC, during the “New Stone Age”, the monument includes a large henge, surrounded by a ditch and a bank, exactly the opposite of traditional castles In the middle of this henge there is a large stone circle, with two other separate smaller stone rings inside. The most important archaeological research took place in the 20th century, led primarily by Alexander Keiller (a marmalade manufacturer), who oversaw the project of reconstructing much of the monument. Its original purpose is not known, although some archaeologists believe that it was probably used as a ritual or ceremonial place. In particular, the archaeologist Aubrey Burl believed that rituals would have been performed at Avebury by Neolithic peoples in order "to appease the malevolent powers of nature" that threatened their existence, such as the winter cold, death and disease. However, new books come out continuously on the subject and each one has a com“Speak English Please!” 91


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pletely different theory, sometimes the opposite with respect the previous one!

The History of Wiltshire Ettore Alemanno

The Arrival of the Saxons Around the 6th century Saxons were in the north of the Wiltshire area. It is thought that they came to Swindon hill about 100 years later. Two thousand years later other groups of Saxons built a small settlement near where the High Street and Market Square are now. Their huts were made from wood and chalk. Probably the Saxons used to grow barley and oats, had sheep and with the wool made cloth. They also raised pigs, hens, geese and goats. People and animals slept together on the floor. Saxons used wood to make houses and roads, they also used wood to make looms with which to make clothes. Battles One of the most important battles in the Wiltshire area was fought at Ellendun in 825 .The battle was between King Beornwulf of Mercia and King Egbert of Wessex. Beornwulf had attacked Egbert to emphasise his superiority, but the battle of Ellendun broke the illusion. Fought just south of Swindon near the modern village of Wroughton, it gave Egbert the power over a critical strategic area leading into the middle Thames valley and then he took the control of southern England. Society While quite a lot of news remains about battles, today only one document survives where there is the name of "Swindon Street" about 1346. We can see that there is written "Newport Street”, which means “Speak English Please!” 92


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new market. For many years "New Port Street" was just a small road with only a small cottage. Today there is only the old cellar situated beneath numbers 17 and 18 "New Port Street". This is now the oldest house in Swindon.

Swindon during Tudor and Stuart Times Giorgia Dell’Atti

Swindon`s smugglers During Tudor Times smuggling was very popular in Swindon. Smugglers supplied illegal alcohol to workers from Holland and Belgium making cloth in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Alcohol was smuggled into the country on the south coast, and carried on wagons to north Wiltshire. The trade became so big that safe hideaways photo by Thomas Katan had to be built where the bottles could be stored and moved about without attracting attention. Secret tunnels lined with bricks were built underground in Swindon to help with this. Meanwhile, tax collectors travelled around trying to catch the smugglers. Wine and Spirit The Bell of the High Street is the oldest inn in the town. It probably opened as “The Lapwing” in 1515, a place where wine and spirit merchants could sell liquor. Wine merchants also worked in “Speak English Please!” 93


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part of the old market building in Market Square, next to the Mason`s Arms. The Manor House and the Old Roads Thomas Goddard signed the documents to become Swindon`s first Lord of the Manor in 1563. The Manor of Swindon was built on the site of the medieval manor house, close to Market Square. Twelve generations of the Goddard family would live there in future years. Several of the tunnels beneath the Old Town seem to point towards this mansion. Some years later, in 1599, Wood Street and Newport Street were narrow lanes with a few cottages and a windmill. Wood Street became the site of several blacksmiths` workshops, known as forges. As the town grew, traders were attracted from other areas and they established themselves in the High Street. The Civil War and the Glorious Revolution The entire region actively supported the parliamentary cause, displaying a spirit of violent anti-Catholicism, and the efforts of some popular local people to raise a party for the king met with vigorous resistance from the inhabitants. At the time of the Glorious Revolution, King James II gathered his main forces at Salisbury. His troops were not keen to fight William and Mary, and the loyalty of many was in doubt. The first blood was shed at Wincanton, in Somerset. In Salisbury, James heard that some of his officers had deserted and he broke out in a nose-bleed which he took as a bad omen. His commander in chief advised retreat on 23 November, and the next day John Churchill deserted to William. In November, James`s daughter, Princess Anne, did the same and James returned to London the same day, never again to be at the head of a serious military force in England.

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Soaring Through the Skies of Swindon Nicolò Stefanelli

Swindon is a large town giving its name to the borough and lies in the county of Wiltshire: in the southern part of England, moving west. This town is totally immersed in the countryside and it is midway between Bristol and Reading, only 81 miles from London. The town is divided into two parts, a modern one and an old one; the latter is mainly characterized by many churches dating back to the 14th and the 15th centuries, built in gothic style. This means that the buildings look as if they are soaring upwards and all of them have bell towers with spires, either a large single one or four small ones at each corner of the main tower. One characteristic that churches have in common is a little graveyard all around the building, which is considered quite important by the people because it leads to a moment of reflection while walking into the holy area. About the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery: In the old town area of Swindon it is possible to find in the same building both the Swindon Museum and the Art Gallery. Admission for both is free. Swindon Museum has displays of local history, archaeology and geology. The museum displays tell the story of Swindon's Jurassic past, its connections with the Roman Empire and the more recent social history of this thriving town. In the art gallery, the majority of the works are modern. Swindon's remarkable art collection now has a reputation as one of the best exhibitions of British 20th century Art outside London. It was esta“Speak English Please!” 95


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blished by a local benefactor, H J P Bomford, during 1944, from his generous donation of works. The collection donated includes many of the major British artists of the day.

The Borough of Swindon Raffaele Pico

The city was initially a small market-based town and it was used to barter goods: this was until the 1800s. Now it is called the Old Town.The arrival of the Great Western Railway in 1840 led to the building of a new town, between the railway works and the hill, where the original town was built. Nowadays this town corresponds to Swindon’s town centre, and it is completely pedestrianized. Now Swindon is one of the major cities along the M4 corridor, with lots of business companies that chose to photo by Nicolo’ Stefanelli set up offices in the town, because of the excellent transport links. For example Honda, BMW and Intel have their headquarters in the town. Considering culture, Swindon has got sports teams and many music venues, theatres and shopping centres where it is possible to enjoy shopping at national or independent stores. The city of Swindon is an urban centre, even if two-thirds of its borough is rural and there are many delightful and historic towns and villages within its boundaries. “Speak English Please!” 96


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Swindon Folksingers' Club The Swindon Folksingers’ Club was created by Ted & Ivy Poole and friends in 1960: it has always kept traditional music alive in the town. From its origins in the folk revival, the club has been a witness to Swindon’s character change, from a rail-based town to a modern centre, where new technologies and financial services are at their best. However, Swindon Folksingers’ Club has remained as a pleasant, relaxing and welcoming place where anyone can come and sing or listen.

Swindon’s Railway Giulio Quarta Colosso

The coming of the railway made a huge impact on the life of Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century, but nowhere did it have an impact as great as it did on the town of Swindon, which rose from obscurity to become a household name. Before the Great Western Railway completed its first section of railway in 1838, the sleepy town of Swindon did have a weekly market and even an annual mop fair, but its population was still less than 2,500. In 1835 Parliament approved the construction of a railway between London and Bristol. Its Chief Engineer was Brunel, helped by Gooch. It became clear that the “Great Western Railway” needed a central repair works so, in 1840 Gooch identified a site at Swindon, the only refreshment stop, for all the trains between London and Bristol. There was no heavy industry in the area so workers would have to be moved in from the rest of the country. A village for workers was built about one mile north of Swindon. With Brunel's support, construction started immediately and they became operational in 1843.

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The works quickly progressed from repairing to manufacturing carriages and wagons. In 1846 the first locomotive was produced. In a few years Gooch established the works at the forefront of railway technology. Initially it only employed 200 me, when repairs began in 1831. By 1851 the works were employing over 2000 men and were producing about one locomotive a week. At the turn of the century, the works were employing an estimated ¾ of Swindon's entire workforce. The works transformed Swindon from a small market town into a railway town, boosted the population considerably photo by Nicolo’ Stefanelli and provided medical and educational facilities .

The history of the Great Western Railway! Stefano Pastorelli

Wiltshire’s history of 20th century is very closely linked to the development of the area’s transport systems, and the Great Western Railway had a great role, especially during the first two decades of the 20th century After the First World War the Great Western not only had to recover from the conflict itself, but also to cope with the upheaval caused by the ‘grouping’ of railways into the Big Four. This trauma led to the collapse of the coal business, and the Wall Street Crash also contributed, and some people remember the GWR for this crisis. “Speak English Please!” 98


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Others remember the GWR because of the incredible difference between rich people wanting to go on holiday, who to travel to the West Country on luxury expresses, whereas humbler passengers travelled in goods trains. In spite of that, most people remember the GWR for its corporate image that, as a matter of fact, was promoted through colourful posters suited to advertise its role all over Wiltshire. Moreover its main parts, like engines and chimneys, were turned out by a well-known company of the time. When the Second World War began on the 3rd September 1939, at first the GWR was included in the Big Four Companies, then with this group it passed under the control of the Railway Executive Committee. The first major task undertaken by GWR was the evacuation of almost 113,000 schoolchildren from London and other big urban areas; the war and other strenuous missions (in February 1941 more than seven thousand children were evacuated from the Bristol area to Cornwall and Devon) stretched it to its limits and beyond, and after the war the decreasing number of tickets sold led the entire society to ruin and the definitive incorporation into the Western Region of British Railways.

Entertainment in Swindon Marta Cinotti

Swindon is a nice town in the south of England. Despite its over 155 thousand inhabitants, it is still considered too small to be a city. It has the advantage of being quite close to the most important cities of the area: an hour from London and Oxford, less than twenty minutes from Bath and Bristol. However, these big popular cities do not overshadow Swindon with its history, culture and attractions. “Speak English Please!” 99


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People that live in Swindon, or in one of the many neighbouring villages, have many activities available in the city for their free time. The town itself is considered to be the most popular attraction for both young and old people because, thanks to its shops and restaurants, it is a nice place to meets friends and go to pubs for a drink, which- according to the statistics obtained from a survey - is always the most popular pastime of the people in this area. Shopping If you are a young girl you will probably enjoy shopping in Swindon a lot; less than five minutes’ walk from the train and bus station, you will find a huge shopping centre with indoor and outdoor galleries which include more than two hundred shops and cafés. With its fascinating environment, you can also find the McArthur Glen Designed Outlet, the largest European designer outlet, with more than 150 stores. It was built in 1997 within the disused Swindon railway engine works. Cinema Five minutes from the city centre, there is the Empire Cinema. Being detached from the city makes it a bit difficult to reach for people who live in the surrounding villages. In fact they stated in interviews that they wish it was in the real centre, because it would attract more people. However, almost all the people asked said they often go to the cinema, except for elderly and retired people who think it is quite expensive. This means that this service should be improved, maybe reducing the cost of the tickets for certain age categories.

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The Wyvern Theatre Swindon also has a theatre, which was opened in 1971 by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. The name “Wyvern” comes from a mythical beast similar to a dragon which was the emblem of the kings of Wessex. This year the theatre celebrates its forty years, offering a range of shows, plays and musicals of all kinds. Not many people of the city are interested in theatre, except young girls who often go to see musicals. What should be improved? More than half of the people that I have interviewed think that Swindon does not give enough importance to music. They all wish there were more festivals and facilities for new bands and musicians that want to be discovered.

The ‘Boring’ Life in Swindon Alessandra Margiotta

Our friends and I have been in England for about two weeks and I am getting used to the daily routine of the people of the region where we are living, Swindon.

photo by Nicolo’ Stefanelli

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learnt what my hosts and teenagers like me do every day, but now I am sure about their lives after asking people who were walking around Swindon questions based on the topic that I have chosen. I had decided to talk to people who represented three generations (teenagers, workers and retirees) for my survey in order to have a general overview; however, I noticed that they do almost the same things. The first question in which I was interested was if they have the typical English breakfast every day, but, as I expected, they denied it and a few of them added that they prepare it only at the weekends; however, the most common food at breakfast is cereals with milk or coffee. The people who wake up earlier are the oldest ones, in fact they usually get up at about six o’clock; on the contrary students and workers get out of bed at about eight o’clock because they start later, although some people, like managers have to leave home at 6:30 a.m. because they start work earlier. During the day, pupils are at school from the 8:45 to 15:15 and there they also have a break and lunch in the canteen. Workers do not eat something at home, either, but at the canteen, if the company which they work for has one, or at a fast food place nearby. On the other hand, retired people have lunch at home at about 12:00 after going out shopping, cleaning the house or cooking the lunch, especially if they are women. The afternoons are the same for almost all the elderly people because the majority of them stay at home watching TV or sleeping. It is very strange that very few people practise sport or go out with their friends; only some students who attend the Sixth Form work some afternoons because they do not have homework to do.

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After dinner, which is usually at 6:00 or 6:30, teenagers, workers and retirees do the same things that they have done in the afternoon: watching TV! However, some people, especially the younger ones, go out and meet their friends in a pub or somewhere else before going to bed at 11:00. Finally, at weekends the routine is broken, and people do something different, but nothing that is very exciting: often meeting friends and having lunches or dinners together. In conclusion, people who live here do not change their routines spending the afternoons, for example, joining clubs or leisure centres although the latter are well equipped; only a few use the weekends to go on journeys around the region. As for me, it seems very bizarre that many people do not need to do something different: I do not understand!

Hobbies Roberto Montaruli

In their spare time people usually do activities that give them pleasure after a tiring and stressful day. People choose hobbies suitable to their age, as emerged from the questions people in the streets of Swindon were asked (it has been also found that some inhabitants of Swindon are not very polite because they sharply refused to answer!). To carry out my questionnaire I divided the population into 4 groups: young people, families, workers and the elderly. The young group of the population states they mostly like sports such as football (as in the rest of the world), cricket (taught at school), squash, badminton and cycling, while they found other hobbies like darts boring, thought of as an ‘elderly game’. Watching TV plays an essential role in keeping people informed. This is a favourite pastime for people as it can give unending information and pleasu“Speak English Please!” 103


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re. Everyone loves also to eat, especially if the food is delicious and mouth-watering, such as cakes and ice-cream! The interviewed families, all composed of three members, said they are too busy because of work, and that in their spare time they would rather hang out or watch TV than do something that may stress them even more. Workers were the people that very roughly rejected my questions , maybe because they were disturbed by me during a break at work, except for one person that spoke to me about his love for sailing. The age group that has given me most satisfaction was that of the elderly. Because of their spare time, they have a wide variety of hobbies, like model railways, stamp collection, reading, listening to music but above all gardening, as everyone can see along English streets. A man explained to me that he has fun with HamSphere, which is a computer based Amateur Radio system that allows licensed radio amateurs and unlicensed enthusiasts to communicate with one another using a simulated ionosphere. I was particularly struck by the thoughts of a lady who said that people nowadays spend too much of their free time in front of the TV or the computer rather than do something constructive.

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano: the Best Motto for Many British Students Davide Corciulo

Sports have a prominent role in England and particularly in university life because they are important for releasing tension which is accumulated while studying in preparation for exams. Sports are also important in order to give prestige to schools and above all uni“Speak English Please!” 104


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versities: every year the most famous rival university towns, Oxford and Cambridge, organise the boat race and the winners are carried in triumph in streets and are considered nearly like heroes. Students are used to alternating time for studying and for playing sports from Primary School upwards. Independent schools (not financed by the state) have a tradition of sports some of which are considered ‘elitist’, such as fives and racquets; photo by Nicolo’ Stefanelli instead in traditional schools sports like football, rugby, athletics, tennis, swimming and boxing are done, thanks to the equipment and spaces with which schools are provided. English school also has an important role for the emancipation of women concerning sports, not only for junior ones, such as netball and rounders, but also for those which are traditionally considered male ones like football, cricket and even rugby. As a result of questioning done in Swindon, I found out that students in the High Schools do sports such as tennis, badminton, hockey, football, trampolining, dance and rugby. Participating in these sports can depend on gender: boys play sports such as rugby, cricket, football, whereas girls usually do dance, hockey and trampolining. Besi“Speak English Please!” 105


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des, for young people swimming is a regular sport/leisure activity in which they participate thanks to having access to a number of swimming pools; one located in Swindon and the other in Wroughton. Concerning middle aged and old people, they prefer following sports on television rather than playing sports themselves. These sports are: tennis (Wimbledon), Formula One (Silverstone), rugby (RBS 6 nations), cricket. However, the sport which is particularly followed by all ages in Swindon and in the surrounding villages is football, because there is a football team called “Swindon Town” which plays in “Football league two”.

All but the squeal of a pig can be used! Giulia D’Alfonso

“All but the squeal of a pig can be used!” is the most representative sentence for Wiltshire, a British county that hides a peculiarity: pork, which has always been one of the most important resources for the local community and economy. As concerns the cultural aspect, Wiltshire is quite well-known for its good typical meat, thanks to the curing method adopted for making bacon which makes it sweet and consequently better, called The Wiltshire Cure. In addition to this, we can link the social aspect to the economic one because the inventor of this new unusual method was George Harris who, born in a family that owned a factory and a butcher’s shop, “Speak English Please!” 106


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was able to create one of the most important British factories. George inherited his family’s success, which derived from the arrival of lots of pigs from Ireland to Bristol, which, on the way to London, often stopped at Calne, the town where this family lived. George was able to expand the family factory and he also discovered a way to make meat more lasting putting it into what he called an “Ice House”, which became an important site for all the local people and which allowed him to make much money. What is more, the Harris family was eventually recognized by a Royal Warrant of Appointment, an important award granted by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. Connected to meat and to the Harris family, there are two typical Wiltshire dishes. The first one is Wiltshire ham, made with an old, traditional method in which the leg of pork is immersed in brine for several days, which gives it a wonderfully moist texture. The taste is also sweet thanks to the added unrefined brown sugar. The second one is the Pork Pie, which is made with mince pork, bacon, apple, dried sage and chicken stock. Although it is a really fat dish, it is absolutely delicious with its savory taste.

English Festivals and Customs Enrico De Luca

England is well-known not only because of its cities of historical interes, but also because of its large number of legends and festivals that represent a peculiarity of all the country. One of the most important English festivals is Glastonbury Festival, which has been run by the farmer Michael Eavis since 1970 and takes place on the last full weekend of June. The entertainment consists of pop and rock concerts that involve very famous artists and bands, “Speak English Please!” 107


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like U2, Beyonce and Coldplay who attract a great number of people to attend this festival. Another important festival is the Carnival that takes place in Wroughton on 2nd July. It lasts one day and people can enjoy themselves and have a good time for all the afternoon and the evening. The inhabitants of the town that hosts this festival look forward to taking part in it and have to prepare fancy dresses which they wear during the celebrations. These clothes are both representations of well-known people and extravagant characters that people put outside the entrance of their houses as a form of celebration. Yet another thing I would like to consider is the so-called “Hunting the mallard”. It is a custom which takes place at All Souls' College in Oxford, on 14th January. The Fellows who are gathered for their Gaudy on that night elect a Lord Mallard and six officers, who carry white staves and wear special medals on which the mythical bird is depicted. Led by the officers, the whole company sets out at midnight on a torch-lit procession singing a special song in order to “hunt the mallard” all over the college, including the roof. The age of this custom is not known, but it certainly existed as early as 1632 when it was mentioned in a letter written by Archbishop Abbott. The connection between the bird and the college is explained by the legend that a mallard of great size was discovered when the foundations were laid in 1437, but it seems more likely that the custom stemmed from what originally had been a student’s joke.

Local Music in Swindon Gianluca Greco

Music is an important part of a people’s culture: it is a way of expressing feelings and of sending messages. So I chose to write about local “Speak English Please!” 108


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music because I think it is a way to fully understand the identity of a local community. During a walk through the city centre in Swindon I asked people some questions about music in general and local music. I decided to interview two target groups: photo by Nicolo’ Stefanelli young girls aged between 14 and 18, and young men aged between 20 and 30. I expected the answers to my questions to be different, but the wide gap I actually found surprised me. Substantially the questions were about their music habits and traditional Swindon music: the first group’s answers show that the interviewees do not really know much about local music, young girls seem to be much more interested in what we usually call brit-pop music - developed in England (almost everywhere) and wide-spread all over the world - therefore they are not very interested in the contents but they care a lot about how the music is presented to the public. Besides, a minority of them had never been to a live concert. In the opposite direction, the second target group seemed far more interested in local music than the first was. The interviewees were well informed about the local music role and they managed to tell me something about local bands and singers: mainly in Swindon and in the surrounding area they tend to produce metal, rock, indie and folk music. The first three kinds of music are usually directed to a younger audience, whereas folk music is usually listened to by older “Speak English Please!” 109


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people, especially in pubs or specialized clubs. Indeed, folk music reflects the countryside culture, while rock and indie music come from the industrial city suburbs. In this way you can have Swindon and the neighbourhoods translated into music. Furthermore lots of them told me about a famous metal festival in Reading (quite near town) highly attended by Swindon young people. In the end, the only thing on which both the groups of interviewees agreed was the importance of music, in fact, almost all of them listen to music every day, just to underline its weight in their lives.

From Pigs to Piggy-banks Thomas Katan

History, or the past, plays a major role in creating every civilisation and culture and can be seen in traditions that remain. The economy too shows signs of it. In fact, to talk about the birth of the concept of an economy we have to go back in time about 3.000 years ago, to when mankind started trading and bartering. People did not get up one morning and decide that they were going to forge coins and start trading with different people to satisfy the needs of the growing population, but things developed slowly over time. In about 1840, when Isambard Kingdom Brunel built the first railway station in Swindon, he did not exactly know the economic side effects that it would have on what was then a little town. Incredibly he managed to transform Swindon from an agricultural town into an industrial one, creating thousands and thousands of new jobs. A new part of town had to be built close to the railway and industrial buildings to cope with the increasing demands for workers. Soon after hospitals and schools were built, and these created new jobs, and thus the economy branched out in different ways. “Speak English Please!” 110


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However, from the 1960’s until the 1980’s the railway industry started to decline causing a huge deficit in the economy, and in the end thousands of people lost their jobs, often then deserting the busy town. Today Swindon is a business town with big names and big labels stamped across town and streets, full of flashy shops and brands. So it does not come as a surprise when middle-aged residents are proud to say that until 2 years ago (2009) there was 0 unemployment. However, due in part to the global recession, many shops are starting to close down, creating a major source of unemployment. What is more, people reckon that it is going to get worse in the coming year, even though the local mayor (although he is not very well-respected) is trying to do everything in his power to bring Swindon to its former position of full-employment. One of the main plans he has put into action is to try to attract more people by building a new housing estate, but it remains to be seen whether there is enough money around for people to buy property. photo byThoms Katan

Purchasing goods in Wiltshire Lorenzo Vergari

Since the second half of the 20th century, the County of Wiltshire has become the ideal place for shopping malls to develop quickly. As a “Speak English Please!” 111


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matter of fact in Swindon, one of the biggest towns of the entire county, several supermarkets have been built and then opened, strongly appreciated by visitors and citizens. After having analysed the opinions of some local people, it was found that they greatly appreciate these places, which have quickly become the most common choice for purchasing goods. From the statistics obtained by interviewing 10 inhabitants of the examined town (Swindon), 7 people answered the question “Where do you purchase food and clothes?” stating that they are used to going and buying both food and clothes in huge shopping malls, like for instance “The Brunel” in the town centre, while the other three said they usually buy their food in local shops and their clothes in department stores. The deduction is clear and simple: supermarkets well suit people’s needs, offering a wide wealth of items at affordable prices, and promoting goods appealing to people of every age, from children to the elderly. Although people like buying goods in shopping malls, they recognise that often the quality of goods sold in supermarkets is lower than that of smaller shops, but state that quality is less important than convenience and prices. Unfortunately, this tendency to buy products and produce inside huge shopping malls has led to a reduction of small shops’ existence. Because of this, a catch-22 is born, causing a current decrease in the number of local shops, and subsequently an increase of the supermarkets’ power and an ever-decreasing quality of goods.

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Cornwall’s Geography Marco Laudisa

Cornwall is situated in the very south-west of England and forms the tip of the British island, and is, therefore, exposed to many winds blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean. The north and the south coasts have different characteristics. The north, due to its exposure to the Atlantic Ocean and to the Irish Sea, has a wilder nature and it is mostly covered with beautiful high cliffs. However, there are plenty of beaches which are important for tourism in the county. The south coast is, on the contrary, more sheltered and characterised by two estuaries.The inland part of the county consists of infertile uplands photo byThoms Katan with a series of granite outcrops. The intrusion of granite into the sedimentary rocks made the countryside full of tin and copper, and these minerals were extracted from the Bronze Age until a few decades ago. Today a quarter of the economy is based on the tourist industry, thanks to the wonderful natural attractions, such as beaches, cliffs, as well as the museums, and the original culture of the county. Other industries are fishing and agriculture: what remains of the mines, however, just survive as World Heritage Sites. The climate, the beaches and other natural factors give people the opportunity to do some sports like surfing, playing golf, cricket etc.

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The southernmost part of Cornwall is called the Lizard Peninsula and it is a geologically interesting zone: that is because it has the only example of Ophiolite in Britain. Ophiolite is a section of the oceanic crust found on land, and consists of dark green or red rocks which create spectacular cliffs. All in all it is a very interesting area from the geographical point of view.

photo byThoms Katan

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Speak English Please!  

Diario di bordo dell'esperienza di scambio linguistico-scientifico tra Liceo scienifico "De Giorgi" di Lecce (IT) e "Ridgeway School" di Wr...

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