Milan and Siena 2020

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Italian language

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As you plan to spend the summer immersed in Italian language and culture, you should strongly consider getting the most from your experience by studying Italian with us. Our Italian courses during the summer will have minimal homework and no papers. Classtime will include both traditional classroom activities and laboratories/workshops outside the classroom, in parks, cafés, and other authentic settings. Your practice will be done in the field: at our aperitivi and cene italiane, and in the community, interacting with Italians.

Our Italian language courses are not for credit but you can earn credit for them in the fall (see below, or contact Dr. Elvira Di Fabio, <edifabio@fas.harvard.edu>). Passing our language courses in Milan and Siena would also grant you admission to more advanced Italian courses at Harvard during the regular academic year. Regardless of credit and future course decisions, we believe that those students who have spent the summer in Italy with us, and who have concurrently taken our language courses, will gain a deep knowledge of Italian society. Indeed, the film screenings, language tables, and community interactions (especially the Palio) that are built into the course ensure that there will never be a better opportunity to learn the language with immediate relevance and ample opportunities to practice.

Beginning Italian. Tuesday, and Thursday, 75 minutes. Instructors: TBA.
Recommended for students who speak little or no Italian and want a basic toolkit for using the language to get around Italy. The aim of the course is to cover most of Beginning Italian (i.e. Italian 10 in the Harvard curriculum), although the material is adapted so as to be as relevant as possible to the topics addressed in the summer course. It is focused on developing basic communication skills to facilitate and enhance the summer-immersion experience. Students who pass the course will place into Italian 11.
Students participating in Beginning Italian need to purchase a textbook before leaving for Italy. Please purchase the 5th edition CoverParliamoItaliano(available used) of Parliamo Italiano!: A Communicative Approach, by Suzanne Branciforte and Elvira Di Fabio. If you plan to continue studying Italian in the fall, then you should invest in a new copy, which allows access to the online supplement used in Italian 10 and 11 at Harvard. Please contact TBA if you are ready to purchase your Italian-language textbook and would like advice about purchasing options. If you purchase the textbook near the end of the Spring Semester, we may be able to put you in contact with students of Italian who are selling their books and arrange a reduced price.

Intermediate Italian. Tuesday, and Thursday, 75 minutes. Instructor: TBA.
This course will be offered contingent on there being sufficient interest at this level. It is meant for those students who have finished Italian 11 or equivalent who wish to improve their fluency. There will be a mix of grammar review, literature, and discussion at a pace suitable to the participants. No textbook need be purchased.

Advanced Italian language group. TBA. Instructor: TBA.
We will not use a textbook, but rather we will treat the meetings as a reading and discussion group in which we examine excerpts from the course’s literary texts in the original language and talk about course themes as well as current events going on locally. We will read material and prepare presentations connected to the field trips on Fridays. We will tailor this group to the skill level and interests of those who wish to participate.

Final exam. Students who wish to be placed into Italian 11 in the fall or to receive credit for an intermediate or advanced summer language course must pass an oral and written exam at the end of the course, in addition to class participation and a passing score on weekly quizzes.

Credit. Harvard students who wish to receive credit for language study on the Milan and Siena program must complete all components of the program’s language course and receive a passing grade of B- or better. Then, upon return to campus in the Fall, students petition Dr. Di Fabio for permission to sign up for ITAL 91-R (Independent Study, 4 credits). At the end of the semester, Dr. Di Fabio will enter your grade for 91-R as reported from the summer course.

Citation. Students who study at the intermediate level or above (equivalent of ITA 20, or above), may count ITAL 91-R as one course toward the language citation in Italian. Citation students are strongly encouraged to continue their study of Italian in the Fall at the appropriate level (ITA 30 or above), concurrently enrolling in ITAL 91-R and the next language course in their sequence.

Continuing with Italian in the fall.  If you pass the Beginning Italian course, you will be approved to start in Italian 11 at Harvard in the fall, leading into Italian 20 in the spring and jump-starting a Citation (or more) in Italian language. The summer course will not cover the exact grammar and vocabulary as Italian 10 on campus, but students will be well-equipped to continue with the more grammar-based Italian 11 if they take advantage of the immersive and communicative experiences of the summer.
Students in the Intermediate and Advanced classes will receive personalized suggestions regarding their continuation with coursework in the fall.
For planning and further information, please contact Dr. Di Fabio, <edifabio@fas.harvard.edu>.

Full immersion.  Within the program itself students will have many opportunities to practice and expand their Italian. In Milan and Siena both, we will be joined by Italian university students auditing our course, who will be incredibly welcoming and excited to meet Harvard students. While they will be glad to be able to practice their English, they will also be thrilled to speak Italian with those of our students who really want more practice.
Prof. Erspamer and the program TAs will regularly host social gatherings in Italian (over an espresso, a pizza, a gelato, an aperitivo) for students taking Italian class; the idea of this is to encourage conversation in Italian by surrounding ourselves with native speakers in informal settings. Some students who arrive with no Italian will find that they are able attain a great ease in speaking by summer’s end. Italians associated with the program have been invariably impressed with summer-students’ progress.
Finally, the best place to fully immerse will be Siena, where students will be paired with contrade to get ready for the Palio of Siena. The contradaioli (contrada members) are always excited about welcoming students from our program to take part in and learn about their traditions. Some speak English well, while others speak none at all. It is here that students really begin independently to build friendships with local people who are enthusiastic to share their culture. Knowing some Italian will be vital to fostering this connection, and it will make it possible to meet many more people than one otherwise would. Students who seek out these experiences can spend most of their last few weeks in Siena surrounded by chatty Italians: you will be amazed at how much this does for your language capabilities.

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