Heather McDermott and Teresa Marino are two students in Professor Judy Chiariello’s Introduction to Special Education class. Teresa and Heather have been part of an exciting educational opportunity – they have been tutoring Italian students at the local liceo scientifico, a high school with a scientific emphasis. What subject are they tutoring? English, of course. The Italian students have a two hour block of English language every day and must speak only English during this block. In her reflection journal Teresa noted: “The best part of this whole experience has been being able to give these students a chance to learn about American culture while improving their English. Being able to make learning my language easier for them made me feel so good because I am in the same boat with learning Italian. I know how hard it is when Stefania (the teacher) says they can only speak English and all they want to do is speak Italian.”
Heather noted that there are some differences between the Liceo and an American high school. One major difference is that the students stay in the same room all day and the teachers rotate from class to class.Heather and Teresa both found that the students were very interested in American culture and asked many questions about American schools, music, movies and TV shows. One of the lessons taught was based on the words of the song “Time of Your Life” by Green Day, a group popular with Italian teens. As the Italian students read and comprehended the words, a discussion developed around the comparative significance in Italy and the U.S. of such life milestones as high school graduation and moving out of your parents’ home.
On Teresa’s last day at the Liceo her students presented her with flowers and a card. It turns out that the experience has been so positive for Heather and Teresa that their last day will not be their last day – they have volunteered to continue with the tutoring. Professor Chiariello joins Heather and Teresa in thanking Umbra staff member Anna Selberg for making this enriching experience possible.