Written By Ryan Calabretta-Sajder, Assistant Professor at University of Arkansas for ILF


Are you getting ready for the fall semester and thinking about changing up your courses a little? Are you looking to add a new AP didactic unit or create a unique specialization for your program? Consider adopting some themes from MADE IN ITALY. MADE IN ITALY is a merchandising mark which indicates that a product is completely designed, manufactured and packed in Italy. The concept generally includes 4 As: agroalimentare, abbigliamento, arredamento, automazione, and a fifth which I have added, artigianale.

There are numerous motives for re-thinking the Italian curriculum and incorporating concepts based on MADE IN ITALY. First, many students and parents alike overlook Italy’s global economy importance: the 3rd-largest national economy in the European Union and 8th-largest by nominal GDP in the world (2019). Italy’s industrial scope surpasses the stereotypical commerce define as la dolce vita – food, wine, cars, and fashion – including amongst others cruise ships, pharmaceuticals, engineering, and robotics, including the main computer chip in the iPhone as well as equipment used to combat Covid-19.

Beyond Italy’s significant economic role, there are other reasons for diversifying the Italian curriculum.

Students are searching for a less traditional curriculum, one that focuses limited attention to literature and more on practical elements useful and adaptable across the curriculum.

MADE IN ITALY courses bring together various colleges, departments, and programs from across the campus: Business (marketing, advertising, economics), Architecture & Interior Design, Agriculture (agricultural economics & agribusiness, food science, horticulture, school of environmental sciences), Fashion, Arts & Sciences (communication, journalism, Italian, communication, sociology & psychology), Engineering, and many others. It underscores the relevance of Italian, beyond a linguistic or touristic perspective, for students, parents, and even administrators.

The How: Incorporating MADE IN ITALY

Teachers can utilize MADE IN ITALY in many ways throughout the curriculum. First and foremost, faculty can integrate didactic units into the language curriculum as early as Elementary 1. This is true of both the high school and college curricula. For example, instead of introducing the concepts of formal/informal in a school or familial setting, as most textbooks do, it can be done within the business setting. When presenting colors, rather than using national flags, instructors can introduce students to MADE IN ITALY products’ logos and then ask the class to describe them. One could employ MADE IN ITALY as a bridge course from the language sequence to the content courses. Through exploring company websites and advertisements along with newspaper articles and presentations, the course material easies students into more advanced literary and cultural texts.

One of the objectives of offering a curriculum with MADE IN ITALY is the possibility of having internships.

Internships are available for high school and college students, both in the US and Italy. As professors and organizations, we need to take advantage of the various Chamber of Commerce to collaborate with Italian associations and corporations.

Additionally, MADE IN ITALY can be easily delivered as a study abroad course in Italy, blended with in-class lessons and on-site visits. In many regards, this method of delivery proves most fruitful as students get to experience the company in person, communicating directly with its founders, employees, and administrators. If a summer 4-6-week session is not a feasible option, consider teaching the course in the spring semester and then organize an intersession component for an extra credit in which you bring students to Italy and coordinate a series of on-site visits. It can also serve to create a Business Specialization with Italian: 4-semesters of language, conversation, advanced grammar/Italian, MADE IN ITALY, Italian for International Business, and a required internship.

Before concluding, I also want to suggest that embracing some MADE IN ITALY didactic units can prepare students for the AP Italian language and culture exam. The AP Italian themes, and even subthemes, align closely with the exam. You can take one product and study it from different perspectives. Let’s take the bicycle, for example. We can discuss it from an aesthetic point of view and/or investigate its impact on the quality of life and environmental challenges.

To learn more about blending MADE IN ITALY didactic units in preparation for the AP Italian examination, consider registering for the following webinars in collaboration with Italian Language Foundation and The College Board. Register Here:

AP Meets MADE IN ITALY: Teaching the Four ‘As’ according to AP

July 28th, 2020, from 7–9 p.m. ET. ~ Presenter: Dr. Ryan Calabretta-Sajder

AP Meets MADE IN ITALY II: Culture, Innovation, and Business

August 4th, 2020, from 7-9 p.m. ET. ~ Presenter: Dr. Enza Antenos