In 2007, I spent a semester teaching at the University of Tuscia in Viterbo, Italy. I understood at the outset that students were competent in English and I would be teaching in that language. It wasn’t quite so easy. My students generally didn’t speak any better English than I did Italian. It was a problem.
The solution I arrived at had advantages for everyone. I would put up a powerpoint slide and talk about it in English. Two students who were fluent in English and Italian took turns translating.
For assignments, I asked for written essays on labor relations topics. I accepted both Italian and English responses, and I spent a great deal of time reading, correcting, and translating the answers. As a result, students gained some facility with English, and my Italian improved substantially.
Near the end of the semester, one of my colleagues told me the students had planned a “pizza party” for the class at a local restaurant. The evening was a true feast of pizza of all kinds. I later learned that each student in the course had contributed a fairly substantial sum for the event.
My experience in Italy was overwhelmingly positive. My students were responsive and appreciative of my efforts. We shared a joint effort with a high degree of interaction, and a moment of celebration at the end.
Raymond Hogler – Fulbright to Italy 2007