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, and in the community, interacting with Italians.
Our Italian language courses are not for credit. However, if you excel in our Beginning Italian course and take full advantage of the immersion experience, you will be well-prepared to continue with the more grammar-focused Italian classes at Harvard in the fall, and could be on your way to earning a Citation (or more) in Italian language. Regardless of future course decisions, we believe that those students who have spent the summer in Milan and Siena, 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 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.
Students participating in Beginning Italian need to purchase a textbook before leaving for Italy. Please purchase the 5th edition (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. Monday, 120 minutes. 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.
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).
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 your Teaching Assistants 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.