Tania Astorino, an Academic Program Manager at Green College and student of Italian 401: Advanced Studies in Italian Language and Style, demonstrates how deepening one’s knowledge of other languages and cultures can benefit those with a passion for lifelong learning, including working professionals.
“Learning a new language can open doors to professional opportunities, help to grow your network of colleagues and friends, and is fulfilling and rewarding in so many intangible ways.”
Why did you study Italian?
Growing up, I spoke an Italian dialect at home, which allowed me to build a relationship with my grandparents and other family members in Italy. Over the last couple of years, I have become increasingly interested in more fully exploring the historical and modern cultural and social aspects of Italy. Improving my Italian language skills will allow me to engage directly with the literature and other resources. I also look forward to returning to Italy when we can travel more freely again.
More generally, I am in the process of completing a graduate degree in the Department of Educational Studies, where I have been diving into the theory of adult learning and professional education. I hope to be able to work with voluntary organizations that offer educational programming to migrants, particularly forced migrants, as we have seen over the recent years arriving in Lampedusa and around the world.
What is it like balancing work with education?
“I know students and instructors have mixed feelings about 'Zoom school,' but being able to study online was hugely beneficial.”
I know students and instructors have mixed feelings about “Zoom school,” but being able to study online was hugely beneficial because our class met three times a week for an hour each time. A 9 AM start time also helped, because it left the workday largely intact. Previously, for in-person classes at UBC or in the community, it was sometimes tricky getting to class on time. I am lucky to have an employer that supports staff to pursue learning and development which, of course, helps.
In terms of workload for the course, I found it reasonable, and I was often able to find weekly time for extra assignments and readings, or to access the many media resources made available to us.
What are your favourite aspects of UBC’s Italian classes?
“Luisa’s course was the perfect mix of grammar, conversation, literature and so many other elements that, when combined together in single term which moved very quickly, truly accelerated my learning process. ”
I was delighted to see an advanced-level Italian language course offered at UBC. I had been taking some conversation and grammar courses within the local community over the last couple of years, but had not quite found what I was looking for.
Luisa’s course was the perfect mix of grammar, conversation, literature and so many other elements that, when combined together in single term which moved very quickly, truly accelerated my learning process. She used authentic sources from Italian magazines, newspapers, books and movies, which helped us gain exposure to modern terminology and concepts to rapidly expand our vocabulary.
If I had to pick my favourite aspect of the course, it would be how all students, regardless of varying levels of fluency, were able to contribute and learn in a welcoming and safe space. My excitement for studying Italian has returned, and I am really hoping that similar classes are offered in the near future.
What advice would you give to those who are curious about learning a new language?
“I would encourage everyone to invest in themselves.”
Don’t hesitate to try! I would encourage everyone to invest in themselves. Learning a new language can open doors to professional opportunities, help to grow your network of colleagues and friends, and is fulfilling and rewarding in so many intangible ways as well. My instructor was so supportive and encouraging, as were the students, and the class was a lot of fun. I hope to see new and familiar faces in other language classes at UBC soon.