A new language school steeped in encouragement and love



Sean Cook and Patrizia Amati are back in Laguna Beach to run Ciao Languages, their new online education service.

By Barbara McMurray, Laguna Beach Independent Special

“Well done, come by bene! (“Wow, how good you talk!”) Sean Cook heard this often as a young man fulfilling his postgraduate dream of living in Italy in the 1990s. No matter how hard his attempts at speaking are clumsy, absurd or unintentionally classified X, he found the Italian people infinitely generous and indulgent for their blunders.

“Love the language, don’t learn it because you need it for a job, for a certification, or because it’s good for your brain. If you love it, that’s enough. And don’t ever let anyone tell you. that a language is useless.

The lesson of effusive encouragement stayed with him. Fast forward nearly three decades, and Cook’s new Laguna Beach-based online language school, Ciao Languages, is rooted in positive reinforcement and empathy, which he sees as powerful motivators for doing more. efforts.

During his 27 years in Florence, Cook met and married his Sardinian wife, Patrizia Amati, in 2002, and had two sons, Jan, 14, and Thomas, 17. After working on a business plan for a few years, he returned to Florence. Laguna Beach with his family in mid-July. They enrolled the boys in Laguna Beach High School and now live next door to his mother and stepfather, Pam and Al Oligino. Together with a partner in Taiwan, Cook and Amati run the new family business. Amati also teaches Italian to her clients in person.

Cook has extensive experience in running language schools. In addition to working as an English teacher since 1994, he also owned and operated a foreign language school in Italy for 18 years. Although he does not consider himself a polyglot, he is fluent in Italian, speaks French and knows “a few sentences” in German and Japanese. He is currently studying Mandarin, naturally online.

Ciao Languages ​​courses – in French, German, Italian, Spanish and many more – are offered exclusively online via Zoom videoconferencing with native teachers. “The Ciao Languages ​​course catalog is constantly updated and is intended for frequent and recurring reference,” said Cook.

“We have a huge global network and can find any teacher for any language a student wants to learn,” he noted. “Our goal is to help students start to understand and speak a new language immediately. A variety of levels and timing options are offered so that students can learn on their own schedule.

Classmates Ciao, Cook said, interact online once or twice a week and congratulate each other. Services include assessment, access to digital and non-digital content, live online lessons with language coaches, and commentary to encourage and guide students as they progress to the speaker level. running.

The company only hires native speakers who share an enthusiasm for learners to be operational in their new language.

“We strive to make the online environment as human as possible,” said Cook. “We use modern teaching techniques with lots of useful slides that make the student talk as much as possible and practice as much as they can. We want students to have a real communication experience, so that they can express themselves in a foreign language.

Dismissing theories about the pragmatic benefits of being bilingual, Cook could be called a passionate purist for his belief in the only real reason for acquiring a new language: love.

“I love the language,” he said. “Don’t learn it because you need it for a job, for certification, or because it’s good for your brain. If you like it, that’s enough. And never let anyone tell you that a language is useless.

Getting his fledgling business off the ground means Cook is teaching again, even though he was used to a team of 14 when he sold his business in Italy. Two mornings a week at 5 a.m., he is now sitting at his computer, teaching English to a group of Taiwanese students.

Soon, he added, Ciao Languages ​​will unveil a partnership with a digital content provider that will provide students with more home practice opportunities and new ways to explore their love of the language. (ciaolanguages.com)


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