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Joan Gravina, Tutor (Post Beginners Italian). Member since 2010
Joan and her husband Renato getting ready to go out to dinner on Christmas Day 2010. Photo taken by their granddaughter, Meghan.
I love learning. However, as a youngster I was not really aware of this. At 14, I left school and went to work. Like so many of my generation, I married young and set up a home and family. My husband and I have two children and three grandchildren.
I grew up in Brunswick. It was there that I first met an Italian family, and through them, my husband. We are all still friends. I learned to speak Italian firstly with that family and then with my mother-in-law.
I always loved reading and dabbled a little bit in correspondence courses and night school. But it was not until I started work at the University of Melbourne that I realized it was possible for me to study at University level. I then started night school in earnest. I was eventually accepted into the BA program through a special admissions scheme and subsequently completed a BA (Hons) in Italian. I later completed a Master of Arts in History.
All too soon it was time to retire and I thought ‘what next?’ I had really enjoyed working and studying at the University. My job had meant lots of contact with students and I missed this. I now knew that I wanted to be in a teaching and learning environment. But how?
The first thing I did was to volunteer as a tutor helping to teach English as a Second Language at the Glenroy Neighbourhood Learning Centre. Great, I thought. What else can I do?
I heard about the University of the Third Age and decided to make enquiries about courses. I joined and immediately enrolled in a Photoshop course, which was well taught and useful. Towards the end of last year, Julie Nankervis approached me to see if I was interested in tutoring in Italian. A tutor was needed for the post-beginners’ class. Was I interested? Absolutely. I knew it was going to be a challenge, as I had never had the responsibility of running a course before. At the same time I was excited and pleased that all my years of studying Italian could finally be put to some use.
As I suspected, offering the Post-Beginners’ Italian course has been challenging and sometimes difficult. But it is also exciting and satisfying. For my part, I am still learning how to teach. I spend lots of time looking for material for my class, trying to find the right balance. Should there be more grammar, songs, poetry, literature or conversation. Should I show a movie? If so, where? The students have been great and often offer their suggestions about what they would like to do. Every week I look forward to my class and always go home planning the following week’s lesson.
I am very pleased to be a member of such a vibrant and interested group of people. U3A has given me the opportunity to continue my interest in learning as well as a chance to teach. What this means to me is that there really is no use-by-date on learning.
Joan Gravina, August 2011