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Italian, French course offerings expand at Downtown Phoenix campus

October 05, 2012

The School of International Letters and Cultures offered the first French and Italian language courses on the downtown campus in fall 2008 for journalism students in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and students in the Colleges of Public Programs and Health Solutions. The courses immediately filled to capacity.

Since then, the school has expanded its French and Italian course offerings every year, and has attracted students from the School of Letters and Sciences, the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, in addition to retaining strong student enrollments from Cronkite, Public Programs and Health Solutions.

This year, in order to meet the high demand from downtown students seeking Italian and French language courses, the school is offering even more beginning- and intermediate-level courses. Students now have options in Italian (ITA) 101, 102, 201 and 202, and French (FRE) 101, 102, 201 202. The school has plans to continue meeting the needs of downtown students by offering even more language and culture courses in the coming years.

In addition to the hundreds of students enrolled in Italian and French courses downtown, 23 downtown students have chosen to expand their professional opportunities by declaring a French or Italian minor through the School of International Letters and Cultures this year. 

“In addition to teaching language, we also teach culture and cultural awareness, which is the foundation of communication," says language professor Mariana Bahtchevanova. "In our French courses, students will learn more about France and the francophone world (the history, geography, contemporary culture, everyday life, the media, educational system, political system, etc). They will also gain insights into a different worldview.”

Because French is an official language in 54 countries for more than 200 million people, and is the official language of the United Nations, the EU, NATO, Interpol, WTO, FIFA, the Red Cross, and numerous other international organizations, students who speak French and understand French/francophone media sources, have a big advantage in any professional field in the world. 

Having foreign language experience is especially beneficial for journalism and health care students.

“Cultural awareness is central when journalists and health care providers interact with people from other cultures because people see, interpret and evaluate things in many different ways," Bahtchevanova says. "Students in our courses develop the ability to stand back from their own culture, and be aware of how their own values, beliefs and perceptions are informing their professional work. Developing cultural awareness is an important component of any professional training, but is crucial for journalists and health care providers.”

Distinguished School of International Letters and Cultures alumnus Christopher Livesay is one example of the professional value of language and culture study. Livesay, who graduated from ASU in 2005 with degrees in Italian and art history, went on to earn his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in 2010. In his short career, Livesay has achieved great success by leveraging his language and culture degrees with his journalism degree into an international journalism career that has taken him to Rome, where he currently lives and reports across Europe, Mexico and the United States for PBS Frontline, BBC/PRI, and the NPR show “All Things Considered."

As Italian students, Laura Posteraro and Jesus Yanez-Reyes are also using their language and culture skills professionally by combining their love for Italian with their interest in broadcasting in an internship at KASC (The Blaze) AM radio station, where they offer a college radio alternative to the commercial stations in the area by broadcasting Italian news, culture and music with the show “Buongiorno Italia.” Reaching out to ASU students and the Italian community at 9 am, every Friday, beginning Oct. 5, the show promotes Italian language and culture in Arizona. (Listen for the show on station 1330 AM or online at

In addition to offering courses, the School of International Letters and Cultures also organizes international humanities events on the downtown campus every semester in order to connect with and support the interests of downtown students. Most popular of the events are “Italian Movie Night,” dedicated to a recent, interesting Italian movie with English subtitles, and “Learn about Italian Day,” which is a student-run initiative geared toward students who want to learn more about the school and the advantages of studying Italian.

The School of International Letters and Cultures also provides exciting and prestigious French and Italian study abroad opportunities each summer. Founded in 1981, and directed by knowledgeable, world-class faculty, the programs provide students with the opportunity to experience and study international humanities and learn languages firsthand while earning credit toward their degree.

Included in this summer’s options are three programs in Italy, two programs in France, and one program focused on French language in Québec, Canada.

Students interested in study abroad programs in the School of International Letters and Cultures may contact Barbara Fleming at, or attend the SILC Study Abroad Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Feb. 5, 2013, on the Tempe campus in Old Main Carson Ballroom.

Students interested in Italian at the downtown campus may contact Antonella Dell’Anna at

Students interested in French at the downtown campus may contact Shannon McHale at

The School of International Letters and Cultures is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.