Teaching foreign languages in the middle and high school systems has increasingly entailed projects that transcend classroom practices and offer students hands-on interdisciplinary experiences, including through study abroad programs. Exposing university students of foreign languages who plan on a teaching career to the various components of this profession early on better prepares them to become dynamic and inspiring teachers for the next generation.
For this reason, a new paid internship in Language Teaching and Cultural Programming was introduced this year through the Inserra internship program, which for the past three years has supported a vast array of opportunities for student interns in business and translation companies, as part of dynamic international projects. In the Summer of 2019, the Inserra Chair partnered with IACE (The Italian American Committee on Education) in New York to involve one of the Italian majors, Francesca Oliveri, in their study abroad program in Narni (Umbria). A unique combination of Italian language and culture classes with performing arts shows and visits of historical, artistic and natural spots, this program is known for an integrated approach that fully leverages the rich history and beautiful location of the ancient town of Narni, and its lively cultural scene. Oliveri assisted the teachers and organizers of the program in numerous forms starting from the opening ceremony in New York through the entire two-week period in Italy with the students in and outside the classroom to the flight back to the U.S.
“The opportunity to intern with IACE has gifted me with the knowledge of what being a teacher really means. Not only was I was able to learn about the intricate inner workings of running a summer program such as this, but to also gain the valuable experience of teaching students and familiarizing myself with specific cultural aspects of the region. I gained insights into creating a more reflective and interactive classroom, and best of all, I became more confident as a speaker of Italian, which will only encourage me to further study the language,” Francesca states.
The program included visits to local museums, castles, and waterfalls (Le Cascate della Marmora), as well as a trip to Rome and Ostia Antica. It also featured a mosaic workshop, cooking classes, and a climbing and speleology intro course. In the background, a regular program of concerts and dance shows punctuated the evenings whether in old palaces or churches.
“At a time in which degrees in languages are finally being re-designed to offer new opportunities to students from the business to the translation fields, it is uplifting to also see students who are still committed to a teaching career in the school system,” Teresa Fiore (Inserra Chair) remarks. “As faculty, it is our responsibility to make students aware of the different facets of the teaching profession, which increasingly makes teachers into ambassadors of inter-cultural, inter-national, and inter-disciplinary experiences. In the Italian Program (MLL Dept.) at Montclair State University, which also offers the Teacher Certification in Italian for the State of NJ, we are lucky to have a paid internship program like the Inserra’s that produces real experiences abroad, thanks to welcoming and supportive partners such as IACE.” Francesca Oliveri, a transfer student from Bergen Community College under the NJSTARS Program, plans on spending the Spring semester abroad at the University of Verona and then pursuing her credential degree once she is back at MSU to complete her BA in Italian with a minor in International Studies.