From cookery classes to helping raise funds for a school refurbishment, Swansea University is finding innovative ways for students to engage with Italian language and culture.
The efforts are thanks to the Erasmus Internship Programme, which is being run by the Department of Languages, Translation and Communication for the second time this year.
Alessio Soriga, who has an internship as a teaching assistant in Italian, is working with a group of students in a series of activities, including conversation and translation meetings and one-to-one/two-to-one language clinic sessions.
“Thanks to additional contact hours students are offered the opportunity to acquire a more in depth knowledge of both the Italian language and culture through activities that help them improve and refine their language skills in a stress-free and motivating environment,” he said.
“Social events help students understand and ‘live’ from afar the Italian culture. We meet weekly to watch an Italian film related to the Italian culture, then we discuss it. Sometimes we even learn practical skills - a few weeks ago we learnt how to make fresh ravioli!
“There are important projects too, such as the translation into Italian of the book From Entrà to S… by Teresa Maria Ragazzi Skibinski, chef and winner of UK Food and Drink Supercook title. Proceeds from the book will go to refurbishment of a school in Emilia-Romagna (Italy) damaged during the 2012 earthquake.
“The activities don’t just help students to learn Italian by translating texts and therefore enhancing their employability opportunities, they also sensitise them through doing good works.”
The group has also created ‘Italian at Swansea – La Nostra Piazza’, the department’s website and blog, atwww.italianatswansea.weebly.com.
Alessio said: “This site is for home students, who can find lots of useful information and extra study and materials for self-study and revision; for students in their year abroad, who contribute with pictures and stories of their experience in Italy and thus keep in touch with their home university and course tutors; and for prospective students, who have the opportunity to see what the Italian Department does here at Swansea University.”
Dr Giovanna Donzelli, who has worked hard to establish strong exchange links with overseas universities, sees the Erasmus Internship Programme as a unique opportunity to offer students in Modern Languages at Swansea a dense programme of extra-curricular activities, that are designed and run by students and for students and range from content instructed language teaching events (i.e. film nights, cookery classes, project-based group work) to important collaborations with local authors which enhance students’ motivation, sense of achievement and employability skills.
Alessio said that both he and the students had benefitted from being part of the programme.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me by Dr Giovanna Donzelli and the Italian Department,” he said. “Thanks to them I’m gaining a better understanding of the world of work and enhancing my employability opportunities. This entire experience is closely related to my studies back in Italy so helps me a lot. Plus I’ve met wonderful people, and I think this is the best thing I could have ever hoped for.”