Un gelato, per favore: Language Learning Made Sweet

Did you know the modern Italian language mainly developed from the Florentine dialect during a process of evolution that lasted several centuries? Because of this linguistic distinction, Florence is the perfect place to study Italian. This summer, a group of students from Texas A&M University participated in an intensive Italian language program based in Florence. Their goal was to hone their linguistic skills while learning about Italian society in one of Italy’s main cultural centers. Under the direction of Texas A&M professor Manuela Marchesini, the program featured an intensive Italian language course organized in two sections, one taught by Marchesini herself and one by local faculty Cinzia Pace. 

To take full advantage of the program location, the course included several activities designed to help students practice their newly-acquired language skills. One such event was a gelato mixer with Italian students from the University of Florence. After meeting at the Accent Study Center in the Oltrarno neighborhood, the group headed to the local gelateria in piazza Santo Spirito. There, students had the chance to practice their Italian conversation skills, chatting while waiting in line and ordering their gelato of choice, all in Italian, of course! After this tasty treat, the group headed back to the Study Center, where they continued their conversations. The conversation prompts the faculty had prepared were soon left behind, and Italian and U.S. students were chatting freely about life in Texas and in Tuscany, their experience as university students, and countless other topics. Many even exchanged contacts to keep in touch after the end of the program and develop long-distance friendships. 

Music offered another opportunity for students to use their language skills in a typically Italian context, as they attended an opera performance in the church of Santa Monica. Throughout the night, various singers performed a selection of pieces from famous Italian composers, such as Verdi and Puccini. The night provided an excellent opportunity for students to practice their listening skills, while enjoying the satisfaction at being able to fully appreciate these timeless pieces.

Engaging with local students and participating in cultural events gave Texas A&M students helpful chances to practice and improve their language skills, while also allowing them to experience the more everyday side of Florence. 

 Accent collaborates with U.S. partners during the program design process to identify visits, expert guest speakers, and other experiential learning activities to complement program learning goals. Please reach out to Accent’s Program Development team at development@accentglobal.com if you are interested in discussing these ideas for your customized study abroad programs.