Aurora Youth Program

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    The word Aurora means "dawn" in Italian. The goal of the Aurora Program is to be the beginning of an Italic education. The Italic Studies Institute has a particular strategy in aiming its program at children of the 5th and 6th grade level.

    Forming A Connection: The ages 11 and 12 are formative years. The child's intellect has formed and is being prepared for junior high school. Subjects like history and English have been formally introduced and the student is beginning to be aware of grammatical rules and of the diversity of the human race. Aurora must begin the process of connecting Italic culture with the American experience.

    Create Demand: In many states students must enroll in a foreign language course in the 7th or 8th grade. By introducing Italian in earlier grades the student will be more likely to continue Italian later. Likewise, if parents want their children to continue Italian they may lobby their schools to add Italian to the curriculum.

    Positive Experience: The Aurora method is designed to encourage not assault the student. Grammatical rules are kept to a minimum. Total immersion, which may leave a new student lost and bewildered, is discouraged. Team events and prizes are frequently used. Learning Italian must be pleasant and not too challenging. If their first Italian language experience is too formal or too challenging, students may later opt for Spanish or French believing that it is "easier."

    Relevance: Because Aurora is not just Italian language but rather a taste of Italic civilization (Latin, history, music, etc.) the students learn the origins of much English vocabulary as well as everyday things that are traceable to Italy. This reinforces their connection to Italian culture and intellectually justifies their participation. In linguistics, all Romance languages, including Latin, Spanish, and French, are classified as the Italic Language Family, Aurora can be thought of as the "Gateway to the Romance Languages."


    Latin: The introduction of Latin into an Italian language course may shock some teachers but Latin roots provide a bridge among the Romance languages and English. It explains cognates and sheds light on the common origins of Europeans and Americans.

    Italian History: Aurora is designed to show the continuity of Italian history from Roman times. It is a method of explaining the origin of vocabulary (tlrru the spread of Latin) as well as demonstrating how today's world evolved culturally and politically.

    Limited Language Goals: Levels I & II have limited language goals. Yet, the five principles that are taught - pronunciation, masculine/feminine, singular/plural, agreement, commands & questions - are clearly the most fundamental elements of any language. In the short time that the children are in the program these goals are the most readily obtainable. Moreover, they create an excellent foundation for future learning.
        * PRONUNCIATION - Vowel & consonant sounds, syllabication, cadence, and syntax.
        * MASCULINE/FEMININE - The standard rule is taught without too many exceptions to confuse the students. The singular definite article predominates (e.g., la rather than le)
        * SINGULAR/PLURAL - To make plurals without the confusing exceptions.
        * AGREEMENT - This combines what was learned in the last two principles.
        * COMMANDS & QUESTIONS - Used throughout each two hour lesson, this principle tries to elicit an automatic response from the student either by his reaction (stand up!) or by his verbal response (I'm 11 years old). This is an attempt to develop fluency and can help build confidence.


    The Aurora Program is divided into two parts for the following reasons: First, because we recruit children from the public schools there is no fee charged (some school officials think that even a registration fee is tantamount to profit). Once the students are exposed to Aurora, their families are encouraged to join the Institute in lieu of a course fee for Level II. Second, experience has shown that students are more available just before and just after the winter holidays. Therefore, Level I is held at the end of October and Level II at the end of January.

    Level II uses an Italian language video and more written exercises than Level I. And although new vocabulary is introduced Level II is meant to reinforce Level I by repetition.


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