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Umbra Represented at the Forum on Education Abroad

Dr. Francesco Burzacca presented on the role of community engagement in enhancing second language acquisition.


The Umbra Institute was represented at the sixth annual Forum on Education Abroad, which took place March 24-26 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Francesco Burzacca, Director of Italian Language Programs at Umbra, was part of a team of educators who discussed the principles of effective community engagement for study abroad students. The talk, “Global Community Engagement: Lessons from the Field and Discussion on Best Practices,” focused on the innovative range of activities whose aims are both to enhance student learning and to contribute to the work of community partners. All five panelists stressed the importance of collaborative partnerships with the community in order to achieve both objectives.


Burzacca’s presentation highlighted the creative ways in which community engagement informs the Italian language learning experience at the Umbra Institute in Perugia. From the practical application of the language in the “Survival Italian” program, which runs during the first week of each semester, to the use of interviews with Italians and the Tandem program of language exchange, experience shows that interaction with the locals facilitates the acquisition of a second language. After the presentation the team led a roundtable discussion on the topic, citing other examples of the Institute’s methods of teaching Italian in a more organic, holistic manner.

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