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, no papers, and no exams. The work will be done in class, and we hope that your practice will be done in the field: at our aperitivi and cene italiane (language/pizza tables), and in the community, interacting with Italians.
Our Italian language courses are not for credit. However, if you participate in our Beginning Italian course and take the on-campus Harvard placement exam, you could have a bridge built for you to earn credits when back to Harvard in the fall.
If you place at the Italian 10 level you will be offered the possibility of earning 4 credits during the fall semester by taking a part-time Italian 10 course that has been expressly designed for Milan/Siena students. Regular 4-credit Italian language classes offered at Harvard meet 4 hours a week. Our Milan/Siena 4-credit Italian 10 course will meet, rather, 2.5 hours a week. This option is available in the fall semester only.
We cannot be sure that we’ll be able to extend the same opportunity to students who in the placement exam would place above the Italian 10 level as only with an enrollment of at least eight students could we offer a special part-time Italian 11 course. If a part-time Italian 11 could not be offered, qualified students would of course still be admitted in a regular Italian 11 course.
And this is why we want to offer you this option: Italian courses at Harvard teach students, not only language, but culture. We believe that those students who have spent the summer in Milan and Siena, and who have taken our language courses during the summer program, will have gained a deep knowledge of Italian society. You will have experienced immersion, through film screenings, language tables, and community interactions (especially the Palio); thus, when you return to Cambridge, you will be prepared for a course that is streamlined and more focused on grammar. This 2.5 hr/week, 4-credit course will create a bridge for you to continue with Italian in the spring semester and beyond, in courses that can be counted towards an eventual Citation in Italian Language.
Textbook for Beginning Italian. Students participating in Beginning Italian need to purchase a textbook before leaving for Italy. You may purchase the 4th or 5th edition (they are both 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 the 5th edition, which is the required edition for Italian 10 and 11 at Harvard. Please contact Julianne VanWagenen <firstname.lastname@example.org> or Chiara Trebiaocchi <email@example.com> 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.
Beginning Italian. Tuesday, and Thursday, 75 minutes. Instructors: Chiara Trebaiocchi and Julianne VanWagenen.
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 some of the material differs slightly so as to be as relevant as possible to the topics addressed in the summer course. This is a partial first-semester course for students with no knowledge of Italian, focused on developing basic communication skills to facilitate and enhance the summer-immersion experience. Students who excel in the course, with very good results, could place into Italian 11.
Advanced Italian language group. Monday, 120 minutes. Instructor: Chiara Trebaiocchi and Julianne VanWagenen.
We will not use a textbook, but rather we will treat it as a reading and discussion group in which we examine excerpts from some of 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 are lucky to have a great deal of flexibility, and we will tailor this group to the skill level and interests of those who wish to participate.
Conversation. On Tuesday: A weekly chat in Italian with prof. Erspamer about Italy and Italian matters—in a pizzeria. Recommended to all students who understand Italian and in particular to those at the intermediate level or higher.
Continuing with Italian in the fall. Students who want to continue with Italian in the fall or spring semester should take the Harvard Placement Exam. Placement would then be as follows:
– Score of 300 or less = student takes Italian 10 (beginning I)
– Score of 301-450 = student takes Italian 11 (beginning II)
– Score of 451 or higher = student takes Italian 20 (intermediate).
Students who place into 11 or 20 must take the full course. Students who place into 10 will attend a special section for them that will work on skills not covered in the MI/SI 20-32hr beginning language offerings. This section would meet for fewer hours than normal (2.5hrs or 3hrs a week instead of 4hrs), and would have a project component that would be developed over the course of the semester, building on cultural understanding gained from the summer program.
N.B. This special section is available in the fall only. If you elect to take Ital 10 in spring, you must take the full course.
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, Chiara, and Julianne 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.