Gain a New Perspective
From exploring linguistic relativism to recent studies of how language may influence our perception of time, the relationship between how language shapes our thoughts and perspective has long been a topic of academic study.
But even at the simplest level, being able to speak someone's language not only opens up new paths of communication, it can give you insight into how they see the world, how they want to relate with you, what they expect of things, and more.
Learning another language is also a sign of respect for another culture, and shows your desire to connect with people on their terms, rather than expecting them to meet you on yours.
With its roots in Latin and long considered to be the language of love, learning Italian is a wonderful way to enrich your perspective, alter your thoughts, and learn more about the world around you.
Instructor Patric Earle has been sharing his love for Italian since the 80s; we asked him to tell us more about his background and approach.
What inspired you to teach Italian?
At university, I majored in the Classics -- Ancient Latin and Greek -- and minored in Secondary Education. I taught undergraduate Latin classes for 2 years while I was a graduate student TA, and then later taught Latin in a high school for 3 years.
During my undergraduate studies, I spent a semester in Rome and began my study of Italian, which I continued throughout my years as a teacher by visiting Italy during the summers.
In the mid-80s, I had an opportunity to begin teaching Italian night classes, which allowed me to take my experiences as a Latin teacher and combine them with my love for Italian. I have always considered myself to be an educator, and I've spent most of my life perfecting my Italian language skills.
What do you enjoy the most about teaching this class?
There are 2 things that inspire me to continue teaching:
- I love speaking the Italian language, and teaching is a way for me to exercise and practice the language
- I am a very nurturing person and love helping students and interacting with them
The students who come to SCC are generally adults who have a real interest in learning Italian. The overall experience is so positive for both students and teacher.
How is this class different from others that you teach?
Presently, I only teach Italian classes, but the joy of teaching a modern language -- as opposed to Latin, which is often considered a "dead" language -- is that we can speak in class and make this very relevant to the students' needs and experiences.
Who would benefit the most from taking Italian?
Students of Italian typically fall in the following classes:
- Those planning to travel to Italy
- Singers (opera) or other musicians
- Those who work or who are planning to live in Italy
- 2nd or 3rd generation Italo-Americans who are exploring the idea of applying for Italian passports under Italian State rules allowing Americans with native Italian grandparents the opportunity to apply
- Those interested generally in acquiring language skills and who may have already studied other Romance languages such as French or Spanish
Tell us about an inspirational teaching moment.
The students in SCC Italian are nearly all highly engaged, intelligent, interesting and fundamentally delightful individuals.
I have gained many friendships with students over the years I've taught these classes.
In this sense, I gain as much or more than the students themselves.
My students will take away the following from my Italian classes:
- An increased general awareness of language study (the mechanics of acquiring one, and the value or pleasure in studying it)
- An increased understanding of the structure, sounds, grammar and syntax of the Italian language
- Increased confidence in speaking a foreign language
- Increased appreciation for Italian culture
- The enjoyment and camaraderie in shared classroom experience such as learning a language
I share a wide variety of resources with my students, both in class and via our online Canvas classroom.
Here's a selection of a few of the helpful resources I've shared throughout the years: