Bridge Stella Newark detail

Bridging the University and HS Systems Through World Languages: New Approaches to Italian Teaching

“Bridging the University and High School Systems Through World Languages and Cultures: New Approaches to Italian Teaching on the East and West Coasts” (Feb. 23, 2019 1-4 p.m. EST)

Online Workshop with presentations and discussion WORKSHOP REPORT WORKSHOP PP

At a time in which the study of world languages is being redesigned to respond to the changing needs of the student population and the job market, the close and dynamic relationship between the university and high school systems is proving to be a fruitful terrain to expand and enrich the internationalization of the curriculum and increase students’ opportunities in a continuously more globalized world.

New projects launched in Italian Studies in the past half-a-decade both on the East and West Coasts provide the opportunity to reflect on the relevance of modern languages at large, when acquired over a long period of time and as part of targeted synergies across systems. A summer courses for high school students on a university campus, Italian courses for Spanish speakers developed by both college and HS instructors, and curricula focused on translation to engage students active in both systems in the actual use of the language (including as part of internships and special projects with outside agencies) are productive routes to create a continuum in the teaching and learning of world languages. This long-term axis promises to increase enrollment, number of majors/minors, and quality of competence.

Sponsored and organized by the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, the workshop is to a degree an extension of the roundtable organized in Nov. 2018 with the MLA Executive Director as guest speaker (see video). This Feb. 2019 workshop includes presentations by university professors and staff, as well as high school teachers and language coordinators, and aims at involving a mixed audience via Zoom meeting in order to create a lively exchange on the subject.
* This program grants Professional Development credits, like all Inserra events (write to for more details).


1-1:45pm (EST)
Introduction of Speakers and Preliminary Questions from Participants via Chat
“Challenges and Opportunities in Modern Languages and Cultures for the HS and University Systems (Dual enrollment, Summer courses, Shared Materials and Literature)”
Moderator: Teresa Fiore (Montclair State University) and Frank Sedita (Montclair Public Schools)

1:45-2:25pm Session I
“Summer Course in Italian for HS Students on a University Campus: Learning and Institutional Benefits Across Systems”
Presenters: Teresa Fiore (Montclair State University) and Patti Gruther (Watchung Hills HS)

2:25-2:35pm Break

2:35-3:15pm Session II
“Italian Courses for Spanish-speaking Students: Learning Arc, Curriculum and Textbook Changes, Growth Opportunities”
Presenters: Diego Cortes Velasquez (Rome III, CSULB) and Manuel Romero (CSULB)

3:15-3:50pm Session III
“The Role of Translation in Modern Languages Programs in the Third Millennium: Market Needs, Student Interests, Transversal Applicability of Knowledge”
Presenters: Clorinda Donato (Cal State U Long Beach) and Marisa Trubiano (Montclair State University)

3:50-4:00pm Closing remarks
“Future Steps: Synergies across Systems for Courses, Workshops, and Grants”
Moderator: Teresa Fiore

Speaker’s bios

Diego Cortés Velásquez is a Full-Time Lecturer in the Department of Romance, German, Russian Languages and Literatures (RGRLL) at California State University, Long Beach. In 2013 he received his Ph.D. in Linguistics and Teaching Italian as a Second Language from the Università per Stranieri di Siena. His research fields and project areas include: Intercomprehension in Romance Languages and Plurilingual Education, Cross-cultural pragmatics, Task-based Language Teaching, Approximation in Speech, and Translation Studies. He is also the co-coordinator of the DISDIR Project (DIsdette e altre Strategie DI Rifiuto / Cancellations and other refusal strategies). HE has held teaching positions in prestigious universities both in Italy and abroad. His publications include Intercomprensione orale: ricerca e pratiche didattiche (2015) [Oral Intercomprehension: Research and Teaching Practices], several book chapters, and journal articles, including “Analizzare i manuali per l’insegnamento delle lingue: strumenti per una glottodidattica applicate” (2018) [Analyzing Language Textbooks: Tools for Second Language Teaching].

Clorinda Donato is the George L. Graziadio Chair of Italian Studies at California State University, Long Beach, Professor of French and Italian, and the Director of the Clorinda Donato Center for Global Romance Languages and Translation Studies. Her primary fields of study are the European eighteenth century and the Intercomprehension of the Romance Languages. She has published extensively on eighteenth-century topics and has published several articles on multilingual teaching and learning. She was the principal investigator for the three-year NEH grant, “Teaching French and Italian to Speakers of Spanish” (2011-2014). Her co-authored text book, Juntos: Italian for Speakers of English and Spanish is under contract with Hackett Publishing. Her volume, Dissecting Gender in Eighteenth-Century Italy and England: The Case of Caterina Vizzani is forthcoming in the Voltaire Foundation Series, Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment.

Teresa Fiore is the Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University. She is the author of Pre-Occupied Spaces: Remapping Italy’s Transnational Migrations and Colonial Legacies (Fordham UP, 2017 AAIS Book Award/MLA Marraro Prize Honorable Mention) and numerous articles on migration to/from Italy in Italian, English and Spanish. She has published an article in TILCA’s 2018 issue entitled “Italian Language and Culture ‘at Work’: New Projects in Business, Audio-Visual Translation and High-School Outreach at Montclair State University Italian Language and Culture.” On campus she coordinates a regular program of cultural events and educational initiatives that place emphasis on bridging pre- and post-university experiences while fostering interdisciplinarity and collaborations: Italian Translation Project and Summer Course for HS students.

Patti Grunther has been teaching all levels of Italian at Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS), a large public school in suburban N.J. for the past 11 years. After teaching English for 20 years in Italy, she returned to the U.S. in 2006 to complete an MA in Applied Linguistics, earning in the meantime a Certification as an Italian teacher. During her tenure at WHRHS, she has grown her school’s program, established an AP program and created an Italian Cultural Studies course. Upon seeing the need for many high school students to gain more confidence in order to successfully approach AP Italian courses and exams, she began a fruitful collaboration with Montclair State University professors Teresa Fiore and Marisa Trubiano and together in 2017 they launched an intensive 3-credit pre-AP summer course for high school students that has been recognized as Best Practice by the Italian Consulate and the Italian American Committee on Education (IACE).

Manuel Romero received an MA in Italian Studies from California State University, Long Beach. He completed an MA Thesis entitled, “Chronicling the Encounter: Wilderness and ‘Civilized’ Spaces in Filippo Salvatore Gilij’s Essay on American History,” for which he was awarded the 2017 Best Master’s Thesis in the College of Liberal Arts. He is the Program Coordinator of The George L. Graziadio Center for Italian Studies and Associate Director of The Clorinda Donato Center for Global Romance Languages and Translation Studies. To date, his research has focused on Jesuit accounts of the New World, Spanish encyclopedism, Translation Studies, and Intercomprehension. He has published in the Journal of Italian Translation and Dieciocho, and is a coauthor of Juntos: Italian for Speakers of English and Spanish and Juntos: French for Speakers of English and Spanish.

Frank Sedita is the Supervisor of World Languages & ESL, K-12 at Montclair Public Schools. Prior to this position, he taught Italian for over 6 years in the Morris School District, NJ. He holds a BA in Sociology and Italian as well as a MAT from Drew University, where he is pursuing a Ph. D. in Arts & Letters, Literary & Global Studies. He defines himself as “a world language educator and lifelong learner dedicated to promoting global citizenship through active dialogue, facilitation, and collaboration.”

Marisa S. Trubiano is Associate Professor of Italian at Montclair State University, where she teaches translation courses at all levels on a regular basis. Her current projects include the translation of Ennio Flaiano’s theater into English. After bilingual productions with KAIROS Italy Theater at the Fox Theater (Montclair State University) and the Theater for the New City in NY, her translation of Il caso Papaleo (The Papaleo Case) appeared in the Journal of Italian Translation. She is completing an article on Flaiano’s novel Tempo di uccidere and its refractions in the U.K. and U.S. Current translation projects with students include the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Translation project with the New York Labor History Association and the subtitling of interviews for a documentary on Venice.

Organized by the Inserra Chair in collaboration with the Italian Program (MLL Dept.) and with the support of the Montclair State University Network for Educational Renewal.

Photo credits (banner): Detail of Joseph Stella’s “The Voice of the City of New York Interpreted: The Bridge” (Newark Museum) by Mike Peters.


Feb. 23 Zoom Workshop PowerPoint with links to programs and projects


Montclair State University:
Italian Translation Project
Summer Course for HS students

California State University Long Beach:
Translation Minor (recently approved in SP19 – description coming soon on CSULB site)
Italian for Spanish Speakers (courses in catalogue)
NEH grant for French and Italian for Spanish Speakers Initiative


Conteh, Jean, and Meier, Gabriela, eds. The Multilingual Turn in Languages Education. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2014.

Dolci, Roberto, and Anthony Tamburri, eds. Intercomprehension and Multilingualism: Theory and Practice for Teaching Romance Languages. New York: Queens College’s John D. Calandra American Institute, 2015.

May, Stephen. The Multilingual Turn Implications for SLA, TESOL and Bilingual Education. New York: Routledge, 2014.


Donato, Clorinda. “The Future is Multilingual: French, Italian, and Portuguese for Spanish Speakers,” ADFL Bulletin, Vol. 44, No. 1 (2016) pp. 112-127.

Donato, Clorinda, and Cedric Oliva. “The ties that binds: Italian for Spanish Speakers in Intercomprehesion.” In Intercomprehension and Multilingualism: Theory and Practice for Teaching Romance Languages. Ed. Roberto Dolci, and Anthony Tamburri. New York: Queens College’s John D. Calandra American Institute, 2015.

Donato, Clorinda, and Violet Pasquarelli-Gascon. “The Language of the Other: Italian for Spanish Speakers through Intercomprehension,” Italica, Vol. 92, No. 3 (FALL 2015), pp. 713-735.

Fiore, Teresa. “Italian Language and Culture ‘at Work’: New Projects in Business, Audio-Visual Translation and High-School Outreach at Montclair State University Italian Language and Culture,” TILCA 2018.

Spinelli, Barbara.* “The Multilingual Turn in FL Education: Investigating L3/Ln Reading-Writing.” Translation and Translanguaging in Multilingual Contexts 3:2 (2017). Amsterdam, NL: John Benjamins, 2017. 184-209.

Spinelli, Barbara.* “Localizing the Global: Exploring Responsive Forms of Inclusive Pedagogy in Order to Preserve Linguistic Biodiversity.” Plurilingual Education Research, Teaching and Language Policies. Ed. Marianne Hepp, and Martina Nied Curcio. Rome, Italy: Istituto Italiano di Studi Germanici, 2018. 105-22.

Spinelli, Barbara.* “Costruire competenze plurilinguistiche attraverso il co-apprendimento e l’approccioriflessivo: uno studio pilota negli USA.” Intercompréhension en réseau: scénarios, médiations, évaluations, Travaux du CRTT. Lyon, FR: Université Lyon 2, 2015. 113-24.

* For Barbara Spinelli’s articles, please contact the author via


Blanche-Belleviste, C. Il progetto EuRom5, comprendere le lingue oggi (1995).

General publications about HS-UNI relationships

“Building Understanding of High School Students’ Transition to College”
by Nelson Nunez Rodriquez, Jacqueline DiSanto, Antonios Varelas, Sarah Brennan, Kate Wolfe, and Ernest Ialongo (Hostos Community College of CUNY). In International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 29:2 (2017), 402-411.