Speaking Italian

Since the Prato campus in Italy opened in 2012, University of New Haven students have been given the opportunity to talk with local Italian students. That gives students a chance to practice their Italian, but also learn more about the culture.

“It is important because all UNH students at the Study Abroad program are studying Italian language,” said Pierro Ianniello, one of three professors who teach Italian on campus. “But not only that. Language is the first step into culture, and actually meeting Italian people is such an important further step into the culture of the host society.”

Students at the Prato campus sign up for Italian Conversation Exchange, which allows them to practice speaking Italian and also receive extra credit. Learning Italian in class is different compared than speaking and learning from Italian students who are roughly the same age as university students.

“As an American student who’s learning Italian in school, I can say that having these conversational exchanges has benefited me when it comes to learning the culture and Italian language,” said Amanda Wilson, a junior in Prato. “Because, yeah, I’m learning through class the formal way of speaking but it’s a lot different when using it on a day-to-day basis, and learning first hand is a whole different experience.”

During the conversation exchange, Italian  and American students realize that despite the different languages and cultures they have things in common. 

Italian Student Sofia Paccosi, 18, said, “I can imagine how difficult the language is and so far for them it is easier to learn about our different culture rather than Italian.”

She said the exchange helps people learn from people their own age — and perhaps they can make friends.

Through the years, Ianniello, along with other staff members and professors, have tried to keep improving the exchange. He says he keeps improving the program.

Enough students participate in the conversation exchange that the Wednesday sessions were split in two. The first session is from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the second from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.