I PROGRAMMI UNIVERSITARI AMERICANI IN ITALIA: ANALISI A CAMPIONATURA DI UN MODELLO
Toscano Gore, Brittany
De Fina, Anna
This study examines three U.S. university study abroad programs, looking at the experience of American college students studying the Italian language. I focus my research on three American universities, Georgetown University, Middlebury College and the University of Oklahoma. Using a case study model of research to create a detailed description of each of the three institutions’ study abroad programs in Italy, the research also includes methods including survey, interview and observation to gather insight and perceptions from the three stake-holding groups: participating students, language instructors, and the university administrators and staff responsible for managing the program. Through this data I identify the most influential components and features of each program for the process of learning the language for participating students.Despite the differences in the emerging program models, the objective is the same in all three cases: to provide a high quality academic experience to students in which they are exposed to Italian language and culture. Differences between the three programs emerge through my examination of the strategies implemented by the programs to achieve this goal.Among the findings, the importance of the quality of academic experience emerges across all three groups of study participants. Another important factor is the centrality of the Italian language in the program curriculum, both inside and outside of the classroom. The programmatic components such as language level of incoming students, quantity and level of the language courses offered, language of instruction, extracurricular opportunities including housing are all factors that are related to the role of the language in the program. In the current context in which many universities seek to facilitate the opportunity to study abroad for as many students as possible, language learning is not always a primary objective. While this fact is reflected in programmatic structures, it would be valuable to have a more comprehensive understanding the experience of Italian language students. The scope of this paper is, through detailed description of these three programs, to contribute to a body of research helping to foster a greater knowledge of the landscape and trends among American study abroad programs.
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