New Course for AY 2019-20: Italian for Spanish Speakers

ITAL 111 Comprehensive Beginning Italian for Spanish Speakers (Spring 2020)*


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Italian for Spanish Speakers FLYER
     ITAL 111-01 (CRN 26773) – Tue/Thur 10-11:15AM
Instructor: Dr. Teresa Fiore (

Related image The areas of the world that at one time were territories of the Spanish Monarchy or Empire

Designed for students starting Italian in college with knowledge of Spanish as native, heritage, or second-language speakers, this is an introductory course on the fundamental skills of speaking, reading, writing and comprehending Italian with an emphasis on the numerous linguistic similarities between Italian and Spanish, as well as the fascinating commonalities between Italian and Spanish/Latin American cultures. Materials are adapted to the specific beginning level of the class leveraging the students’ high comprehension skills via translanguaging as well as their understanding of the transnational mobility of people and culture.

  Image result for chiesa barocca ragusa  Image result for cioccolato di modica  Image result for peruviani milano

The extended imperial period which between the mid-1500s and the early 1700s saw Southern Italy, Sardinia as well Milan under the same Spanish colonial control of Latin America has created intriguing echoes in the language (in Naples, people say “tengo freddo” as in “tengo frìo” to mean what in standard Italian is “ho freddo” = “I am cold”). Further echoes can be found in the architecture (the historical center of Palermo with its main thoroughfare called via Maqueda), culinary recipes (the Aztec chocolate bars made in Modica, Sicily), artistic styles (the baroque in Puglia churches as well as Tiepolo’s frescoes in Madrid) and religious practices (the intense Holy Week celebrations in Central America as well as Calabria). Yet, the course also builds on present linkages: music currents (Jovanotti’s songs in Italian and Spanish, and the influence of reggaeton among Italian rappers), sports stories (Maradona as a soccer star in Naples), urban projects (Renzo Piano’s Botìn Cultural Center in Santander), and fashion trends (Dolce and Gabbana’s Spain-inspired Sicilian collection).

Students are involved in the traditional tasks of a beginning class but with an “accent:” they learn how to give/receive directions by resorting to the map of the Spanish Quarters of Naples, and how to use the imperative through the song “Vivimi” by  famous singer Laura Pausini winner of four Latin Grammies (yes, an Italian winner of Latin awards who feels humbled by being included in the Latin American community! see video). The final project looks at the Latin American immigrant communities in Italy today (the substantial and culturally vibrant group of Peruvians in Milan) as an indirect mirror of the Italian immigrant communities in Latin America (the large and impactful presence of Italians in Argentina).

Italian and Spanish as languages, along with Italian and Spanish/Latin American cultures, are presented as close relatives and friends throughout the course, so that students can quickly recognize themselves in the content and medium of learning, and thus thrive in a short period of time, thanks to the valuable Hispanic heritage they bring to the class.

Image result for pausini grammy  Image result for tiepolo frescoes madrid Image result for settimana santa calabria Image result for quartieri spagnoli Related image

  • This class was designed in connection to Montclair State University’s designation as Hispanic Serving Institution (see article about HSI).
  • The development of this new course was also made possible by special funding from the MAECI (Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation).
  • Special thanks to the team of faculty and staff at California State University Long Beach for their support and advice as trailblazers in the field of language acquisition across Romance Languages based on the Eurom 5 approach of the E.U. (Dr. Clorinda Donato, Dr. Diego Cortés Velásquez, and Manuel Romero).

RESOURCES (about Intercomprehension in general, as well as Italian for Spanish speakers specifically):

General (documents, PPP’s, articles, grant opportunities)

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

Workshop “Bridging the University and HS Systems Through World Languages: New Approaches to Italian Teaching”: PowerPoint contains a section on Italian for Spanish speakers

NEH grant for French and Italian for Spanish Speakers Initiative (Cal State U Long Beach)


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.

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’approccio riflessivo: uno studio pilota negli USA.” Intercompréhension en réseau: scénarios, médiations, évaluations, Travaux du CRTT. Lyon, FR: Université Lyon 2, 2015. 113-24.

* This course was taught as ITAL 101 (section 06 – CNR 41340) for the first time in Fall 2019, before being approved as a new corse included in the official Catalogue of courses starting in Spring 2020.

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

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