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World Languages and Cultures

Italian Comes Full Circle

High schools, the Montclair State Italian Program and Made in Italy in NJ

Posted in: Italian, World Languages and Cultures

a group of students stand together in a classroom for a large group photo

The Italian Program welcomed Carmela Lattanzio Lambert and her Italian class from Scotch Plains – Fanwood High School on November 16th. A graduate of the Montclair State University Italian Teacher Education Program twenty years ago, Carmela was celebrating by coming back to her alma mater and bringing her students to the university where it all began. An added special treat: Her students also got to meet her mother, Vincenza Lattanzio, who works on the custodial staff at the Feliciano School of Business! Montclair State is definitely a family community!

For Carmela and many graduates like her, Montclair State has always been and continues to be an important point of reference for Italian teacher training (via the major and an M.A.T., new for 2023) and professional development at the annual Teaching Italian Symposium, the new Language, Business and Culture BA/MBA program, innovation in curriculum (courses in Fairytales, Italian for Spanish Speakers, Translation for Tourism & Cultural Promotion and more), exciting student research, scholarship and internship opportunities and cultural programming open to students and the community through the Inserra Chair and the Coccia Institute.

The students from Scotch Plains – Fanwood High School met Drs. Antenos and Trubiano for a short introduction to the Italian Program, took a guided tour of the campus by a Montclair State student ambassador, and then joined Dr. Antenos’ Italian Conversation class focusing on the Mediterranean diet and sustainability issues.

During the introductory presentation, Dr. Antenos reminded the students that with 65 Italian companies in New Jersey, the garden state is an “Italy outside Italy,” also thanks to the 18% of New Jerseyans who trace their linguistic and cultural heritage back to Italy. Students can benefit from the training they receive in the LBC and Italian majors, get an internship and/or study abroad and then work for an Italian company, in a seamless transition from school to work. Montclair State Italian graduates are well equipped to translate Italian commercial and cultural innovations for a plurilingual customer base; indeed, the intercultural communicative competence that they learn and practice is a distinguishing feature of all Montclair State offerings in world languages and is closely aligned with recommendations – highlighting communication skills – for professional success by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The high school students mingled with and worked collaboratively with Italian students in Dr. Antenos’ Italian Conversation (ITAL 309) class. “Scotch Plains students crashed my class without trepidation, connecting with Italian majors and minors who are testaments of what they too can achieve with continued study of language and culture,” declared Dr. Antenos. “Participating in an interactive university lesson deepened their understanding of complex iconic cultural symbols like food, and opened up important conversations about nutrition, the environment, and racism.” Indeed, the Language, Business and Culture and Italian majors prepare students to converse and work in languages other than English since it is crucial to be able to translate and localize concepts, designs and products, and also to be able to meet users and practitioners in the languages in which they live, create and work.

Looking back on their visit to Montclair State, Scotch Plains – Fanwood Italian teacher Mrs. Lambert said: “I have taken many trips with students in the past 20 years, this has been the most rewarding for me as an educator. The students were truly grateful to see a glimpse of what to expect in a college level class next year. Most importantly they were in awe of the possibilities of using their Italian studies in the future.”

Another way for high school students to get a taste of the MSU Experience is through the accelerated Italian summer course, now in its 5th year.