Italian language courses returning for spring semester

Jackson French

Update: This story has been updated. It previously incorrectly stated Arabic classes would not be offered next semester as a result of being unable to find an Arabic Fulbright teaching assistant.

After a 10-year absence, Italian language classes are making a return to WKU.

Laura McGee, head of the modern languages department, said two Italian language bi-term classes, Italian 101 and 102, will be offered next semester.

“We have not been able to offer it because we simply couldn’t find someone who was qualified to teach it,” McGee said.

She said if the Department of Modern Languages were going to find Italian teachers, they would have to look in the immediate area.

“We have not found qualified part-timers locally,” she said.

McGee said she applied for two Fulbright language teaching assistants for Arabic and Swahili this year but was unable to get the Arabic teaching assistant.

McGee said the department plans on having an Arabic teaching assistant every semester in the future.

“Fulbright actually reached out to us and they said, ‘Last year, you applied for Italian and we couldn’t give you one, but this year we can give you one,’” McGee said.

While McGee said the course would be offered next semester, she is unsure if Italian will be regularly offered after that date.

That Fulbright language teaching assistant is Paola Mannarelli, from Milan, Italy.

“I was teaching in England for three years,” she said. “I was teaching Italian and Spanish in a British school and then I got the Fulbright Scholarship, so I’m here.”

Though she has finished her studies, Mannarelli said she is taking two classes as part of the scholarship.

“When you apply for a Fulbright, you have to teach some classes, Italian in my case, and then you get to take two courses per semester, one credit and one audit in the university,” she said.

“I think they wanted Italian, especially the music department and the art department have been asking for it for a long time,” she said.

Mannarelli said knowledge of the Italian language is useful in music classes because many musical terms are of Italian origin.

“I’m taking [a] music appreciation class, and half the words are Italian,” she said.

Tonight, as a part of International Education Week, Mannarelli will present a lecture called, “The Italian Who Came to Bowling Green,” in which she will discuss and debunk Italian stereotypes.

“I try to connect them to my own experience,” Mannarelli said, adding that the stereotypes will concern the food and people of Italy.

She also said the lecture will include a screening of the Italian coming-of-age movie, “Caterina in the Big City.”

Mannarelli said she can’t wait for next semester to start.

“I have to say, I’ve lived in many places abroad, and I’ve never seen such interest in Italian,” she said.