Tutto Bene: New Language Programs Steep Students in Italian Culture

Posted: May 27, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Italian flag

Italy: rich in history and culture, romantic in language, classic in art and literature. Now, Mason students have the opportunity to fully engage with the birthplace of the Renaissance movement and artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and poets such as Dante Alighieri.

This summer, students can experience the country’s culture through an Italian immersion program called “Little Italies.” This is the first time the Department of Modern and Classical Languages has offered a language immersion program, which aims to reproduce certain aspects of the study-abroad experience.

“While nothing can duplicate the experience of education abroad, an immersion program in a language like Italian, whose culture has a vibrant presence in America, can help students develop linguistic and cultural proficiency and promote an awareness of their interconnectedness,” says Kristina Olson, term assistant professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

The immersion program will cover the elementary and intermediate course work found in ITAL 110 and ITAL 210, which equates to 9 credit hours. The first session is from June 16 through July 18. The second session is from July 21 through August 8.

Classes meet Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to noon. A required lunch conversation hour meets from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Throughout the summer, beginning students with little or no exposure to Italian will intensively learn basic language skills during the class meetings, lunch conversation hours and excursions. The cost of lunch is included in the tuition. There is an additional charge of $300 for the first session and an additional charge of $150 for the second session.

The goal of the program is to offer more than the elementary/intermediate sequence of the basic Italian program and combine an intensive language classroom experience with experiential learning. Students will be exposed to the Italian-American community and to expressions of Italian cultural production in artistic institutions in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore area.

By the end of the summer term, students should have achieved the linguistic and cultural proficiency in Italian to narrate and converse about themselves or others. There will be regular writing and grammar-based assignments as well as compositions that will be based on the excursions.

Students will visit Little Italy in Baltimore and attend events in the District of Columbia such as the annual Festa Italiana and take guided tours of the Italian collections in the National Gallery of Art and the Italian Embassy. Students will also attend an operatic production at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts and will view contemporary Italian films such as “Last Kiss” and “Cinema Paradiso.”

For students who want to experience Italian culture firsthand, the Center for Global Education (CGE) is offering a study abroad program in Florence, Italy, in January 2009.

The study abroad program through CGE is open to any undergraduate, including non-Mason undergraduates, who have earned 45 credits by January of next year. Each student will take one Italian language course for 3 or 6 credits and 9 to 12 other credits across five disciplines: art history, government, administration of justice, sociology and philosophy.

The program will be led by Martin De Nys, associate professor of philosophy.

All classes will meet Monday through Thursday in the Centro Fiorenza, a former palace that overlooks the Arno River and the medieval bridge, Ponte Vecchio.

The deadline to apply is Oct. 3, 2008.

For more information about the Italian immersion program, contact Olson at 703-993-1827 or visit the web site.

For more information about the study-aboard program, contact Kevin Stoy or visit the CGE web site.

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