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What Italian language class should I take (including questions about placement policies and proficiency exams)?

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See the section on "Basic Language Courses" or contact the Italian Language Coordinator for more information.

Whom should I ask for a letter of recommendation? And how should I ask?

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You should ask a faculty member with whom you have taken at least one class (and done your best work) and who is familiar with the school/profession to which you are applying (i.e. If you are applying to graduate programs in Anthropology, your best bet would be your anthropology professors first, then other professors, internship directors, or employers close to the anthropology field.). Choose a professor who knows you by name and has praised your work.

Write or email your professor at least two weeks before the application deadline (but preferably longer) and request that they write a letter of recommendation for you. You should explain:

  • What you are applying for (job, professional school, internship, study abroad program, scholarship, etc.)
  • What courses you've taken with this professor
  • Why you believe the professor would be a good person to write you a letter of recommendation (Did you do a special project related to your application essay? Did you demonstrate the kinds of presentation skills your prospective employer is seeking?)
  • When the deadline is
  • Where the letter should be sent
  • Any other information that the professor can use to personalize your letter of recommendation and make it stronger (remind the professor of any awards you've won, any study abroad opportunities you have successfully completed, etc.)

Remember, the more detail you provide, the more likely your professor is to agree to the request and the more likely it is that he/she will be able to write a strong, specific letter of endorsement.

How can I practice my Italian language skills when I'm not in class?

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Speak to your professors in Italian whenever you can, take advantage of the Language Tutoring Center in Sparks (or apply to be a peer tutor, if your Italian is advanced), join the Italian Student Society and attend language tables, check out books and videos in Italian from the library, watch Italian programs on SCOLA (the international cable network to which PSU subscribes - available in on-campus dorms and classrooms), surf Italian websites and listen to Italian radio on-line, attend International Student gatherings and offer to help Italians with their English if they chat with you in Italian, and keep a journal in Italian. Read Italian texts out loud, so that you can hear and practice your accent. Barnes & Noble sells Italian periodicals, like L'espresso and Vogue (Italia).

I've gotten decent grades in my Italian language classes, but I still don't understand when some Italians speak (or I can understand everything, but I have such a difficult time saying exactly what I mean in Italian). It's frustrating. What can I do?

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First, congratulate yourself on your progress thus far. Not too long ago you didn't know a single word of Italian, right? Not all Italians speak with the same accent (not all Americans do, either – just think about how differently a Texan and a Bostonian speak!), and some take some getting used to. Not everybody makes the same rate of progress in foreign language learning, either. Usually, the Intermediate Italian and the 300-level classes can be the most frustrating, especially if there are more advanced students in your class. Do not despair. With patience, practice, and perseverance you will also become fluent in Italian. Formulating your own thoughts is almost always more difficult than reading or listening to others speak. For this reason, intermediate and advanced Italian courses prompt you to write and speak your own thoughts so often. The more your practice – even if you sometimes make mistakes! – the faster you will improve your language skills and gain confidence in using a foreign language. Study or travel in Italy helps many students to make the jump from frustration to proficiency, but it is not absolutely necessary. See the question above for ideas on how to practice your Italian in State College.

I want to take an Italian class, but it is full. What do I do?

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If it is a language class (IT 001, 002, 003, 010, or 020), contact the language coordinator for your options. If it is any other course, contact the instructor directly. Sometimes the classroom can accommodate a few more students and the instructor may permit more students, especially if they are declared Italian majors, to enroll. If there are as many students enrolled as the classroom can maximally hold, however, then the professor must turn students away in order to respect fire codes.

I took IT 490 (or some other course) and on the syllabus it states clearly that course can count for the Italian minor, but it doesn't show that it counts on my audit. What do I do?

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This has been a glitch in the curricular system for a long time. IT 490 does count for the Italian minor. The Italian advisers know this and they are the ones to sign off on your minor when you are about to graduate. So if you have checked in with your Italian adviser and have met all of the other requirements, too, you need not worry. If your major adviser should ask about the discrepancy, you may request a memo to give him/her from Sherry Roush.

I officially declared my Italian minor, but I have decided to graduate without fulfilling all of the minor requirements. What do I need to do to "undeclare" my Italian minor?

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You do not need to do anything to "undeclare" an Italian minor. If you have not met the requirements when you declare your intent to graduate, you will be cleared to graduate (if all major requirements have been met), but you not receive the minor. You must "undeclare" only majors.

I really like my IT 001 instructor and wish to take all of my language classes with Prof. X. Is that a good idea?

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We believe it is best for Italian students to become accustomed to different accents and language teaching approaches during their first semesters of study. Choosing different instructors of elementary and intermediate Italian makes you more prepared for advanced courses and study/travel/business in Italy, where you will encounter many other speaking styles. So even if it might be possible to take more than one course with an instructor you like, it's not a good idea.

I took Spanish (or French or Latin) in high school. Can it count toward my 8th-credit proficiency in a second Romance Language for the Language and Literature Option?

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You may elect to take a proficiency exam in the language to "test out" of the requirement, yes, but you will not receive the 8 credits. You will need to make these credits up in your electives.

There are 400-level courses that have a pre-requisite of 350 or 351, but those 300-level courses are never taught. What do I do?

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IT 350 and IT 351 were deleted from the curriculum in Summer 2005 and thus are no longer taught. Some of our 400-level courses, though, still (mistakenly!) list those as their pre-requisites. As long as you have taken at least one 300-level Italian course (301, 320, 325, or 330W), you may enroll in any 400-level course conducted in Italian