It’s been almost three weeks that the Northern region of Italy, Emilia Romagna, has been hit by deadly earthquakes. The first one struck on May 20th at 4:00am (magnitude 6.o) and it was followed by several aftershocks. The following week another quake reached the 5.1 magnitude, causing more death, collapse of buildings and weakening several structures. Many of the readers might recall the devastating earthquake that hit in 2009 the Abruzzo region destroying entire towns and causing 308 deaths.

Every day smaller quakes are still being felt in the region and are causing several problems to Italian business and the made in Italy. Several factories such as the textile, shoes, ceramics, agriculture have estimated damages for over 500 Euros due to the severe structural ruin and produce damage. Prominent examples are factories of the parmigiano reggiano, the Balsamic vinegar, the prosciutto made in the city of Parma and the wineries of Lambrusco.

In the case of the Parmigiano, the quake caused 260.000 wheels to be affected, since the shelving which housed them (in Italian they are called “scalere”) collapsed, and they cannot be sold in the marketplace. Some have been moved to neighboring dairies, but the damage has been estimated to be over 70 million euros. Several provinces near Modena which produce the high quality Balsamic vinegar were also hard hit and suffered according to some estimates 18 million euros in damage. Some bottles of Balsamic vinegar cost up of hundreds of dollars.

As we mourn the loss of life, Italy is also dealing with the fear of paralyzing one of the most fertile economic areas in Italy.

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New Newsletter: Quaderno Culturale

The Istituto di Italianistica staff at the European Languages and Literatures Department at Queens College/CUNY is going to publish a newsletter: Quaderno Culturale. This publication will be distributed to all Universities with an Italian Institute and to the high-schools that offer Italian in the Tri-state area at the beginning of the Fall and Spring terms. It will inform Italian faculty, teachers and students about the Queens College Italian Program: courses, events, research areas, faculty and students profiles. If will also cover events from the CUNY colleges and institutes that teach and promote Italian language and culture. If you wish a significant event of the Italian Program of your CUNY college to be signaled by Quaderno Culturale, please send your information to the newsletter project coordinator Tiberio Snaidero:

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2013 Year of the Italian Culture

Italian ambassador Claudio Bisogniero announced that 2013 will be dedicated to celebrating Italian Culture. The program still has to be revealed and as soon as we hear of it we will post it on our site. ILAC will certainly willing to collaborate and plan some events to celebrate Italian Culture so if you have some ideas and would like to participate do not hesitate to contact us.

To read more (In Italian!) check out the website i-ITALY, the Italian/American Digital Project.


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Italian Food nouns & Expressions, and their “Double Meaning”

BROCCOLARE, il verbo del rimorchio


This list was inspired by the video podcasts made by journalist, Beppe Severgnini. The richness and creative nature of the Italian language is quite evident here ! Enjoy!

Broccolare:  To try to “score” with someone

Broccolone : Stupid, foolish man .

Provolone [Italian cheese]. (fare il provolone,), to act as a womanizer, Dongiovanni

Tacchinare: (Refers to turkey) to try to seduce someone.

Cozza: (Mussel) an ugly person.

Limonare: (To lemon) to french kiss.

Baccala’ (Cod) a fool, a stupid person.

Fico: (Fig) handsome.

Want to add more to the list ? Please add a comment or expression in the comment box.


Posted in Culinary, Culture, General | 1 Comment

Easy readings in Italian

We want to share some websites which provide easy readings for students of Italian. These can be used in the elementary and intermediate levels and for reading comprehensions on quizzes, exams, etc. The following links will be also added to the Resource page of the ILAC website. Our next ILAC meeting is May 4th.

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Pedagogy Workshop — service to others

Today several professors from different CUNY campuses presented to an audience composed primarily of graduate students from the Comparative Literature department. The theme of the workshop was the pedagogy of Foreign Languages, we discussed, among other topics, how to use movies in second language acquisition,  teaching at a community college and senior colleges, task-based instruction, and second language acquistion best practices.

The presentations were very well received by the participants and we, as the organizers, together with Monica Calabritto, Director of  the Italian Program at the Graduate Center have been extremely satisfied with the outcome and turnout. We now want to to make this a fixed feature, and select a different theme every year. We believe in sharing resources, ideas and mentorship to graduate students. Offering ourselves as mentors to graduate students truly defines what it means to be good teachers — a life dedicated to serving others.

Ciao a tutti e grazie per la partecipazione !





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Pedagogy Workshop “Evolving Pedagogies in the Modern Language Classroom”

The Italian Language Advisory Committee and The John D. Calandra Italian American Institute cordially invite you to attend the workshop

 Evolving Pedagogies in the Modern Language Classroom

Dear Fellow CUNY Foreign Language Teachers,

Please join us for a half-day workshop on language teaching at CUNY’s Calandra Institute on Jan. 25th from 10:00-2:30. Several professors from various CUNY schools have put together the following program in the hopes that it will help us improve our teaching as we reflect on and share our language-teaching practices.

As you can see in the brief program below, it is a relatively casual affair but we do need to know if you intend to come. Please RSVP to if you plan on coming. We hope to have at least a dozen attendees, and we are inviting all foreign language teacher in the CUNY system. Even though some of the examples will be in Italian, the presentations will be in English. Please spread the word and RSVP by January 15th. 

10:00-10:30 Coffee

10:30-11:00 Teaching Foreign Languages at CUNY
An open discussion of what we all find to be our strengths and areas for improvement while teaching in the CUNY system (led by Tom Means, BMCC, and Morena Corradi, Queens College)

11:00-11:30, Lesson Planning, Mary Refling, BCC
Planning a Lesson in Four Easy Steps.  We will review how to write more effective, performance-based objectives, plan your classroom activities for varying time segments, and avoid over-reliance on textbook exercises and worksheets.  The last ten minutes will be devoted to games and props that make learning vocabulary and doing verb drills much, much more fun.

11:30-12:00 Traditional Instruction and Task-based Instruction, Tom Means, BMCC
This talk will present what is commonly referred to as Traditional Instruction (TI) or PPP (Presentation, Practice, Produce) of foreign languages, and why it is still the dominant method of teaching languages in the US. We will then discuss one emerging methodology that has some empirical support for its efficacy: Task-based instruction (TBI). The presenter will walk through one “cycle” of TBI, illustrating its most promising features to foster fluency and accuracy in our students.

12:00-12:30 Lunch break (pizza offered by Calandra Institute)

12:30-1:00 Culture through Language and Language through Culture, Samuel Ghelli, York College
A discussion of how a study of the bones of the (Italian) language–lexicon, morphology, syntax–can represent/teach the culture of the (Italian) people. Such a grammatical analysis can help students see culture through language.

1:00-1:30 Harnessing technology to help deliver pedagogically sound lessons, Antonietta D’Amelio, Baruch College

Technology plays a crucial role in exposing learners to authentic language and culture but it can also be used to deliver highly effective lessons.  The presenter will demonstrate and discuss some proven strategies that will help you create highly interactive learning modules that boost learning and promote target language fluency.

·       Learning the present indicative tense using PowerPoint
·       Expanding vocabulary through music and YouTube
·       Speaking meaningfully by incorporating short films

The presenter will discuss and demonstrate effective ways to achieve your objective and how to effectively utilize available media resources in order to support and expand in-class instruction.

1:30-2:00 Introduction to Blackboard and Web. 2.0 tools, Giulia Guarnieri, BCC

This session will provide a pedagogical framework on how to meaningfully integrate technology into your courses. We will begin by exploring some of the basics of Blackboard and then present several Web 2.0 tools that will stimulate interest in the subject matter and generate a passion for learning foreign languages.

2:00-2:30 Q&A session with all presenters

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Ciao Rita

 This weekend as I was watching Italian TV (RAI) on cable I found out that an Italian student from Hunter College, Rita Morelli, was murdered. She lived on the East side on E120th Street and also worked, as many students do, as a waitress at Caffe’ Buon Gusto. She was killed last week, the day before Thanksgiving. I learned about her senseless death from Italian TV and reading the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, online. All weekend I searched for information on local TV stations, and major papers and with dismay realized that there was no mention of her death. She was no news worthy and such a brutal murder, the body which was found sprawled in a pool of blood, has gone unreported. Over the weekend I saw local TV stations reporting on cats being stuck up a tree, or about CT, where they experienced some power outages. This story was not covered by the local stations (as far as I was able to see) and thus, these few lines. We want to remember the life of a young woman who came to America with a luggage full of dreams. A vivacious gal with a passion for foreign languages and music who was a student at CUNY. Ciao Rita, people we do remember you and we do miss you.

Posted in General, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Open Letter

To:  Dean Anderson, Chair of the Pathways Steering Committee
From: CUNY Council on World Language Study (Alicia Ramos, President)

While CUNY Council on World Language Study (CCWLS) was pleased to see languages (plural) listed as a disciplinary area in the Pathways Essential Learning Goals of September 12th, we are dismayed and deeply concerned about the absence of foreign languages from the Common Core and their minimal presence in the Flexible Core as per the Summary of the retreat of October 14th.  Given that:

•       it is knowledge of the language that gives access to the culture of a geographical area
•       study of a second language affords critical reflection between language and culture
•       study of a second language improves first-language competency
•       the United States is at a disadvantage in foreign language competence relative to other competitive countries
•       knowledge of languages other than English is relevant to all four areas in the Flexible Core
•       a number of disciplines are listed in more than one area of the Flexible Core
CCWLS urges that foreign language be included as an option in all four categories of the Flexible Core.  In addition, to foster deeper linguistic knowledge and cultural understanding, we strongly recommend that an exception be made so that two courses in a foreign language may be taken among the five required courses in the Flexible Core.  In the increasingly interconnected world we inhabit, knowledge of another language is crucial to the professional success of CUNY graduates. We do our students a disservice if we deprive them of this knowledge and thus allow them to fall behind their peers, nationally and abroad.

Respectfully submitted.
CUNY Council on World Language Study

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Italian Language and Literature Conferences

I would like to remind all Italianists of several opportunities to present at our Italian professional organizations.

AAIS(American Association of Italian Studies) will hold its annual conference at the College of Charleston in Charleston,May 3-5, 2012. For more information please check the website.

To receive information about upcoming conferences, job ads, etc you can subscribe to the AAIS list-serve,

AAIT (American Association of Teachers of Italian), for more information about upcoming conferences please contact the association’s website, To subscribe to the listserve please consult this page,

Painting: La Città ideale (Anonimo fiorentino) 1480- 1490

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