Italian language school, Accademia Lingue e Culture Europee (ALCE), is located in Bologna, the capital city of the Emilia-Romagna region of North Italy. It offers language courses in a traditionally Italian atmosphere and historic environment.
We spoke to school director Luca Armaroli to find out more about ALCE’s aims, life in Bologna and being a member of the “IALC family”.
Q: Hello Luca, how does it feel to be part of this exclusive group of quality language schools?
A: Well, working in this field for numerous years, I have met many high quality IALC member schools and this has had a very positive effect on my business. There are various reasons why I wanted ALCE to become an IALC member, one being the main principle of this exclusive group, namely high quality services. I am very proud to be a part of the IALC family.
Q: The Emilia-Romagna region was struck by an earthquake. The school was unaffected. How was the rest of the city?
A: First of all, I would like to thank everyone for such great and numerous support. Normality of life in Bologna has at no point been interrupted by the earthquakes. Fortunately the city of Bologna did not suffer any material damage and all activities, both that of ALCE and the rest of the city continued regularly.
Q: You were established in 1999. How have things changed at the school since then?
A: We started out with an incredibly small base, almost the size of a small apartment. A few years after that we expanded our school to two locations and in March 2011, on our 10th anniversary, we moved into our present premises.
In many ways this represents an important milestone in ALCE’s history, apart from a very central and attractive position, the school offers an up-to-date structure both education and equipment wise. However, it is very important for me that ALCE’s constant rise in quality and services has never changed our main characteristic - being a family run business, where focus on the individual is essential and ever present. This has always been one of the most important goals for me and my wife Rossana who is the “real boss” around here and has contributed so much to this school.
Q: What are your main aims for ALCE?
A: ALCE is already an official CILS examination centre (Certificate of Italian as a Second Language) but in the very near future will also become an official DITALS examination centre (preparation course for Italian language teachers). We strive to increase in number as well as size, yet preserving our high standards in both didactics and student diversity.
Furthermore, we are working on promoting and developing our cooking classes and wine tasting courses, as well as launching a brand new Italian Plus Culture program - dedicated to true culture lovers of Italian art and history.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing your school?
A: Probably just as most industries all over the world right now, ALCE is facing the global economic crisis and its consequences. Continuing and moving forwards despite this is one of our biggest challenges at the moment. In fact, ALCE’s growth owes a great part to all the agents with whom we have built strong and fruitful relationships. Although we are one of the youngest of the IALC members, we at ALCE would like to bid to host the 2015 IALC Workshop. It would be exceptionally great to see the IALC Workshop come back to Europe and Bologna.
Q: Which countries do the majority of your students come from?
A: We strive to keep a heterogeneous representation of nations at our school. For instance, in 2011 our medium-sized school had a maximum of 9% representatives of a single nation. The top 12 countries in 2011 were:
Q: What are the most popular student activities?
A: The most popular of all are the Wednesday and Friday “aperitivo” afternoons where our students of all ages and nationalities, accompanied by one of our teachers, get to know each other better, as well as put their most recent Italian knowledge into practice through conversation.
Q: Moving on to find out more about you, which is your favourite travel destination?
A: I have always travelled a lot. Destinations that I simply cannot resist are the Maldives and the Galápagos Islands. Another dream: New Zealand; I hope very soon …
Q: Your favourite pastime?
A: The school keeps me quite busy so I usually don’t have too much free time, but when I do, I just love taking my dogs for long walks ; also I like scuba diving and underwater exploration.
Q: Your favourite song?
A: I cannot avoid mentioning a very talented and famous Italian poet and singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla, who unfortunately passed away recently, and his beautiful song called “L’anno che verrà”. As for the international scene, one of my all time favourites is “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull.
Q: Your favourite book?
A: My favourite writer is Tolkien; I have all his biographies but the book of course is The Lord of the Rings (I have started reading it again in Spanish and in English)
Q: Your favourite meal?
A: Now here I am on home ground! The Emilia Romagna region and the city of Bologna are both famous gastronomic centres. It’s a tough choice, but amongst numerous typical local dishes, I must say my favourite is the world famous “Lasagna alla Bolognese”.
Q: Your dream dinner guest(s)?
A: Actually, since we offer cooking classes here at ALCE I’d be really curious to host the great international chef Gordon Ramsey, and get his verdict on my cooking!
Q: Finally, what would you say are the main benefits of learning Italian at ALCE?
A: We guarantee a high standard of tuition and our aim is to help our students learn quickly and effectively, yet within a friendly and encouraging learning environment. To achieve this we teach in a direct and communicative manner, in Italian from the very first day, using the most advanced methods and the most dynamic and interactive techniques. To sum up the facts:
- A language institute that is open all year-round and offers full academic year courses
- A relaxed and friendly learning atmosphere
- Individual attention in the classroom (max class size is 8 students per class, on average they are 4-6 per class)
- An academic system structured to ensure all weak points are identified and dealt with effectively
- Weekly student assessments and additional self-study
- An official CILS examination centre (authorized by University of Siena)
- Our courses represent excellent value for money
- Good opportunities to meet Italian people
- A wonderful city and a great location (Bologna is authentically Italian, away from mass tourism)
- Very easy to reach (international airport, low cost connections, main railway junction in Italy)
- A guaranteed quality accommodation experience (including our unique directly managed student house / residence)
ALCE is a medium-sized family run school and officially recognized examination centre for CILS that specialises in teaching the Italian language, providing overseas students with a comprehensive educational and cultural experience within a friendly and encouraging environment.
ALCE – tel +39 51 0560 300 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org