Francesca Romana Memoli
Industry Faces
Francesca Romana Memoli, Founder and Director of Accademia Italiana Salerno in Italy.

I was born, grew up and studied in Salerno. During my university career my professor asked me if I wanted to start teaching Italian as a foreign language to Erasmus students. I was very young, just 18. After my degree I lived in Russia and studied the language. I taught Italian to Russians and then I came back to Italy and I taught in Florence. When I was 23 I decided to come back to my hometown and founded my school. It was a very big challenge and for many people it was a crazy thing, crazy because Salerno wasn't a traditional destination for educational programmes.

 

 

In the beginning...
... I did everything by myself. I taught; I was the secretary; the director; the cleaner. And I have no shame about that! But then we grew up, we expanded our premises and now we have 11 permanent staff. Today we have a different set of difficulties. Competition is very hard, and we especially need to always be innovative, different from bigger destinations or traditional programmes. Why Salerno? Why Accademia Italiana? Our area is very famous for cuisine, but we cannot only offer this so we have just signed a partnership with culinary school Gambero Russo. We are famous for music and opera. It's not enough to sell Italian plus opera, so we have just signed an agreement with the State Conservatory of Music.

 

 

Clients today...
... are more demanding. They have different needs. They need to speak English to survive; they need to speak German for business and French for European institutions. Italian is losing out. It's not an issue of popularity. Learning Italian is the perfect way to learn about Italy. But schools need to increase the interest in Italian and show that Italian is a professional language not just the language of cuisine and music.

 

 

My most memorable moment...
... is when I expanded my school in 2008. It was an economically difficult moment but I was brave and decided to expand. For the opening ceremony I invited the Ministry of Education, Foreign Affairs, European Commission, European Parliament and they sent delegates to the opening. I was very proud. Salerno is not the capital. It is a provincial city.

 

 

Typical day...
... I don't have a typical day. Every day is different. The hardest challenge I have to face is to combine my family and working life. I have a husband and three children and I have to take care of them. Almost every day I try to find time for myself, doing sport for my personal well-being. I was a very sporty person in the past so I try to find time for me.

 

 

The future...
... we will always be struggling (in the Italian language teaching industry). We will always be the country of le dolce vita, the good life, fashion, art. When I travel abroad I have the feeling that there is a high expectation of the Italian way of life. I hope that Italians will always find the best way to take advantage of this.

 

 

People might not know...
... that I have a tattoo! I'm a very formal person. Nobody expects me to have a tattoo! It's of a snake, a symbol of youth in ancient mythology. I was also a football referee between the ages of 18 and 22! It was a very important experience, because during a game I had to manage so many players, all bigger than me! I feel it was both motivating and empowering. Good for my character!

 

 

http://www.accademia-italiana.it/en

 

 

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