Written by Clara Vedovelli, a graduate student in Language Education from the Ca' Foscari University of Venice. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Bologna in foreign languages and literatures. During her masters, she collaborated with the Ca' Foscari School for International Education and she interned at the Pedagogical University of Cracow as a tutor of Italian. Clara is aspiring to gain hands-on experience in a professional environment outside the classroom, and she is focusing on creating active engagement on the ILF's social media platforms. Being born in the Italian Alps, Clara enjoys hiking and spending time innature.
Margaret I. Cuomo, M.D. is the president and co-founder of The Italian Language Foundation (ILF). ILF has been committed to the promotion and the support of Italian Language Education throughout the U.S. since 2008, providing great opportunities for students and teachers. In this interview Dr. Cuomo provides insights about the activities of the Foundation and its active involvement in the promotion of the Italian language and culture.
Dr. Cuomo, as an Italian American and as the president of The Italian Language Foundation, what do you think about the perception of the Italian language and culture in the U.S today?
Having lived through the “dark ages” of nationwide persecution of Italians in America as crude mobsters and criminals, Americans today generally have a more positive view of Italian Americans and the life-enhancing contributions that they continue to offer to our society. In art, music, theater, cinema, fashion design, shoe design, graphic design, architecture, fine glassware, ceramics, and more, Italian brand names are an integral part of American culture. Of course, Italian cuisine is appreciated and enjoyed nationwide. Every one of the fifty states celebrates Italian cooking, as seen in the number of Italian restaurants, Italian-based cooking shows, cookbooks of Italian cuisine, and more. Italian designers can be seen lining the streets of every major metropolitan city, in the United States and internationally.
In which ways is the Italian Language Foundation promoting and supporting Italian language Education?
Since its establishment as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization in 2008, the Italian Language Foundation has focused on the support of students and teachers of Italian nationwide.For students of Italian at the high school level, we offer the Awards for Excellence, which provide cash rewards for students who successfully complete the AP Italian examination.The Italian Language Foundation offers free sessions in college counseling and mentorship to students in need in high school. We encourage students and teachers of Italian to submit their blogs on pertinent topics involving contemporary culture, and we post these blogs on our website.
Internships are a powerful tool for promoting the study of Italian at the high school and college levels. The Italian Language Foundation places students of Italian in internships offered by companies that produce or distribute Italian goods and services. In nurturing these internships, the Italian Language Foundation illustrates to students of Italian that there is practical value to the study of Italian in the United States. This is a very important mission, as students are eager to study subjects that will help them prepare for their future careers.
For teachers of Italian, the Italian Language Foundation has offered free professional development workshops since 2008. Some of these workshops have been offered in collaboration with ACTFL, (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages), the AATI, (American Association of Teachers of Italian), and with the College Board, and some are offered by individual outstanding teachers of Italian at the high school and college levels. By offering these workshops, the Italian Language Foundation encourages teachers to be confident and competent in their classroom teaching.
In addition, the Teacher Recognition Awards are offered to outstanding teachers of Italian nationally each year. The Italian Language Foundation offers a cash reward to the teachers, and a certificate of commendation.
What are the future plans of the foundation, and how do you see its future development?
Moving forward into 2022, the Italian Language Foundation intends to expand its internship program. Offering internships to students of Italian is a powerful motivator to study this beautiful language. We are appealing to Italian-based companies in the United States to offer our students of Italian an opportunity to work in their organizations as interns.
In addition, teachers of Italian will be provided with more free professional development opportunities. ttending national conferences which will enhance their teaching methodology.The Italian Language Foundation is expanding its social media presence. We also welcome blogs by our supporters, and of course, by students and teachers of Italian everywhere. Our goal is to engage our followers in an interactive exchange with Italian language learners nationwide, and all over the world.