ASU professors provide language lessons to high school students

The faculty taught Portuguese, Italian to the students through interactive lessons that included language, culture

August 5, 2021

This summer, faculty from Arizona State University's School of International Letters and Cultures provided lessons in Portuguese and Italian to a group of 86 students participating in Friendly House’s Talent Search college and career readiness program.

Friendly House’s TRiO program is the only nonprofit of its kind in Arizona, serving primarily middle and high school first-generation students from low-income families. The program seeks to support and encourage these students toward a path of higher education.

“Language isn’t something that people generally hear when talking about higher education,” said Vanessa Sandoval, college and career readiness TRiO adviser. Group of heritage Spanish speaking high-school students Group of heritage Spanish-speaking high school students at the Friendly House’s TRiO program. Download Full Image

Not only did the summer camp sessions provide students an opportunity to learn a different language, but it also exposed them to more possibilities in higher education.

Friendly House offers many programs with adult education, immigration, family services, and workforce development. The TRiO program in particular works primarily with middle and high school students in the Phoenix Union District, providing them with support and guidance for college enrollment.

“I wanted to integrate a cultural education aspect with this year’s summer camp. Exposing them to different careers that are out there, specifically to different languages, is so important because students really don’t know what other careers are out there (in higher education) besides sciences,” Sandoval said.

ASU organizers and participants include former Assistant Director of Academic Services Barbara Fleming, Assistant Professor of Portuguese Ligia Bezerra, Senior Lecturer of Portuguese Cezar Augusto Ponti Medeiros and faculty and students from the Italian program.

“I met with the students over Zoom and taught them Italian vocabulary, how to introduce themselves and about the diverse languages and regions in Italy. I was inspired by my professors and the Italian department to share this beautiful language with other students,” said Chloe Larson, a chemistry and Italian senior at Barrett, The Honors College. Larson is also the president of the Club Italiano at ASU.

The professors provided interactive lessons in Portuguese and Italian, highlighting not only language but culture. Lessons included discussions of the demographics of various regions, from the food that they eat to the sports that they play and the music that is most popular. Some students were even able to recognize many of the artists. At the end of each session, the students had the opportunity to converse with the professors in breakout rooms, forming both sentences and paragraphs.

Many of the TRiO students were heritage Spanish speakers and lessons on Portuguese and Italian cultures proved to be relatable to them.

The lessons, according to Sandoval, “tapped into their hobbies and interests — music, sports, food — and expanded those horizons of what’s possible.” 

At the end of the summer camp, TRiO students took home some school-branded bags and certificates proclaiming them future Sun Devils.

“What the professors shared of their own experiences helped motivate the students as well,” Sandoval said. “ASU is a university that many of these students already know. I think a message that many of them might take away is that this is within reach. ASU is where these professionals come from, and it’s somewhere that I want to go.” 

This article was written by Raegan Mills, co-editor of the School of International Letters and Cultures newsletter, in collaboration with Enrique Martín-Bonneville, communication specialist in the School of International Letters and Cultures.

Chloé Martin-Bonneville

Sr. Marketing and Communications Specialist, Global Launch


Fall 2021 courses at ASU to prepare students to be true global citizens

May 26, 2021

Although summer has just begun and we still can’t travel around the world due to the pandemic, that doesn’t mean that we can’t discover and learn about the cultural diversity of our planet. If there is something we have learned this past year and a half, it's that Sun Devils are resilient and can achieve anything, no matter the obstacles or where they are.

Through the lenses of these six interdisciplinary courses offered for the fall 2021 semester in the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University, students will have the opportunity to learn from the history of early Rome, to explore fascinating cases of cultural diversity and investigate race in a transnational framework. These classes will provide students with the knowledge and hands-on learning to thrive in their future careers. woman looking at a globe Download Full Image

Registration information for these courses is provided below, and more information can be found in the ASU Class Search.

LAT/SLC 394 "Rome Before the Empire"

This is a course that surveys the history and literature of early Rome to the fall of the republic. In addition to primary and secondary materials covering the history of this critical period for Rome, students will have a chance to read selections from key authors in Rome's emerging literary culture (Plautus, Cicero, Catullus, etc.).

Greco-Roman culture is a huge part of the legacy and tradition of Western civilization, but the creation and evolution of the Roman Republic is one of the more overlooked stories of antiquity. Paraphrasing the great ancient Greek historian Polybius, who studied this period, "Who would not be fascinated to know under what form of constitution Rome became the dominant power in the known world?"

There are no prerequisites for "Rome Before the Empire;" it is a great upper division course for an elective, general studies designations, etc. If you have an interest in Roman history, literature and culture, this will be an excellent choice. And if you are a classics major, this is essential background for your major.

Faculty teaching this coursePaul Arena, lecturer of classics in the School of International Letters and Cultures

SLC 212 "Language and Culture Clash"

This asynchronous online course explores fascinating cases of the cultural diversity of our planet and how it is reflected in languages of the world. We are looking into how these cross-cultural and cross-linguistic differences affect intercultural communication. The exploration of all these phenomena is conducted through discussions with fellow students and individual projects addressing concrete cases of global diversity in this field.

In this day and age when formidable forces of globalization strive to put us into the straitjacket of uniform thinking and speaking in just one language, exploring and cultivating cultural and linguistic diversity has a twofold importance. First, it reveals a fascinating multicolored world of difference, to which each language and culture contributes with its own lens to look at the world. Second, it develops cross-cultural sensitivity, which facilitates intercultural communication. 

While this course is open to all students interested in getting a preview into cultures and languages of the world and differences between them, it is of particular interest to those career tracks that imply global engagement. These career tracks include but are not limited to engineering, business, journalism, political science, global studies, sustainability and history, as well as language and literature studies. You can meet humanities, social behavioral sciences and general studies designations by taking this course. 

Faculty teaching this courseDanko Šipka, professor of Slavic languages and applied linguistics in the School of International Letters and Cultures

ARB 294 "Arab Cultures in a Global Perspective"

This course will increase students' knowledge of Arab culture, promoting awareness and understanding of customs, values, attitudes and cultural differences that may differ from their own experience and/or cultural background. Using a broad array of readings, popular music, documentaries, film and art, this course leverages multimedia and everyday life to approach the subject from global and local perspectives. Topics will include Arab family, art and music, food, gender identities, religious life, political conflict and war, Islamic tradition and exile and immigration. 

Arab cultural, religious and social customs influence many cultures around the globe. This course was designed for the curious and will explore key elements of Arab culture in context. Over the course of the semester, you will learn about:

  • Arab family and customs (diverse ethnic practices), including gender roles and differences.
  • Arab social customs, such as marriage, divorce, visiting, dating, wearing of the veil/headscarf, etc.
  • Arab taboos and gestures significant in a clearer understanding of the Arab World.
  • Arab art and music through movies and media.
  • Arab cuisine through food and recipes.

This course offers a deep and broad introduction to Arab culture in context, emphasizing its connection to conditions around the world. Sign up and expand your understanding of Arab culture by putting it in a global perspective.

Faculty teaching this course: Miral Mahgoub, associate professor of modern Arabic literature in the School of International Letters and Cultures

HUL/SLC/FRE 494 and 598 Humanities Lab: "Deconstructing Race"

This "Deconstructing Race" Humanities Lab will investigate the category of race in a transnational framework, examining diverse geographical and historical manifestations of race in relation to social, economic, political and cultural practices. Looking at various colonial legacies, philosophical texts and works of art, this lab will encourage reflection and interpretation of the language and idea of race in order to understand the different experiences of racialized populations and communities, with the explicit goal of promoting a more inclusive vision of humanity for the 21st century. Watch the lab's trailer film here.

All Humanities Labs address pressing social challenges that affect today's local and global communities, and this lab is no exception. Students who take this course have the opportunity to engage with community partners and other students from across the globe, including those from Europe, Africa and Latin America in a co-learning experience to deconstruct race and its manifestations in other parts of the world. The course encourages students to become active learners, inviting them to pose new research questions about racial (in)justice, conduct transdisciplinary collaborative research, engage in open dialogues with multiple stakeholders and develop public-facing outcomes. This all matters because it provides a dynamic opportunity to be part of the solution in real time.

The "Deconstructing Race" lab is designed for undergraduates and graduates from all majors who have an interest in exploring racialization and its numerous global manifestations. The Humanities Lab believes that people from a variety of broad scholarly backgrounds and cultural perspectives expand the foundation for discovering productive solutions. And from a logistical standpoint, this lab also offers general studies humanities credit, general studies global awareness credit and automatic honors credit to Barrett Honors students. 

Faculty teaching this course: Isaac Joslin, assistant professor of French in the School of International Letters and Cultures, and Yeukai Mlambo, director of Mastercard Foundation Digital Initiatives at ASU EdPlus and an assistant research professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

JPN 394 "Religion, Philosophy, and Culture in Japan"

This course examines the influence of Japanese religions on Japanese values, culture and society while surveying the major religious traditions of premodern and modern Japan, focusing on Shinto, Buddhism and new religions. The course will also explore religious practices in Japan and how religion interacts with the government, community groups and daily lives of people. 

Generally speaking, Japan has many unique cultural characteristics that are very different from American culture. It is essential to learn theoretical information of such sources if not directly see them — as people can't realize their cultural identities without comparing them to others. This course provides students such an opportunity to have a self-reflection of their cultural background through studying Japanese religions and philosophies.

This course is best for any level of student who has an interest in the humanities. 

Faculty teaching this course: Eiji Suhara, lecturer of Japanese in the School of International Letters and Cultures

SLC/HST 214 "The World’s Game: The History and Culture of Soccer"

This course provides a survey of the cultural significance and global reach of soccer, both historically and in contemporary culture. Students study materials from around the world in several mediums; they view films that explore the cultural impact of the game; read literary works that focus on soccer; and engage with scholarly articles and contemporary news media dedicated to the game. The course provides a comprehensive sense of the history, personalities, rivalries, fandom and even the finances and scandals related to the world's game.

Students should take this course for a variety of reasons: It’s a great elective and a really great experience, first and foremost. There is no other sport in the world with the deep-rooted cultural relevance of soccer. Because every region and nation in the world has its own unique "flavor" in how the game is played and enjoyed, and since players and competitions engage across these cultural boundaries, soccer combines a unifying thread (the game and its rules) with global diversity (domestic competitions versus UEFA Champions League, Men's and Women's World Cups, etc.). These qualities continue to evolve and need to be constantly reevaluated, especially in terms of gender and economics. The "world's game," indeed!

"The World's Game" is a lower-division course, but it should appeal to a broad base of students at ASU. It's a fun elective and a great way to get general studies requirements. But it obviously is a sine qua non for any student interested in soccer. The course is structured for all backgrounds and interests in the game. Whether you are an absolute "footy junky" with a lot of interest in soccer or you know very little about the history and culture of the sport, this course has a lot to offer you.

Faculty teaching this course: Enrico Minardi, senior lecturer of Italian, and Paul Arena, lecturer of classics in the School of International Letters and Cultures

Chloé Martin-Bonneville

Sr. Marketing and Communications Specialist, Global Launch