Spanish-speaking students at Montclair State University will be able to take advantage of their language skills in ways they had not yet imagined this upcoming spring 2020 semester.
The university will be offering “Comprehensive Italian for Spanish Speakers,” and the School of Communication and Media will continue to offer their course on bilingual reporting for its second year, “Reportaje de Noticias.”
Both of these courses will allow for students with a proficiency in the Spanish language to use that knowledge for an experience that will serve students academically, professionally and personally.
While these two courses may seem surprising to some, the courses are being offered in an opportune setting. Montclair State received the designation as a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) in 2016. This designation is reserved for academic institutions that have at least 25% of Hispanic students as undergraduates with full-time enrollment.
Professor and Inserra Chair of Italian and Italian American Studies Teresa Fiore will be instructing the course, “Comprehensive Italian for Spanish Speakers,” in spring of 2020. Fiore is currently teaching the course for the first time, with the same content under “Italian I” in the fall 2019 semester.
Fiore commented on how the class could benefit Spanish speakers.
“The class is leveraging a richness that is not always appreciated and valued,” Fiore said. “[The course] allows them to bring their rich heritage and have that become the backbone of an academic experience that will lead to the students’ success.”
Elizabeth Aucello, a senior Spanish major, stumbled upon this course and is taking it to fill up her fall schedule.
“It ended up being one of my favorite classes because I actually surprised myself,” Aucello said. “I know more than I think and I’m learning faster than I thought I could.”
Aucello spoke about the advantages these courses have for the Hispanic student population.
“There are a lot of students that speak Spanish on campus. I hear it when I’m walking to class,” Aucello said. “Having these classes that help students focus on a skill they already have and bring it to a real career is a good way to prepare them for the real world.”
Andrew Moya, a sophomore animation major and legislator for the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), said he was not aware of these courses.
“These are really cool courses that are offered that are beneficial [and] that I never thought about,” Moya said.
Moya transferred to Montclair State from the University of Connecticut, an institution that is not designated as an HSI. He spoke on his experience there and how it differed from Montclair State.
“There I saw very little diversity, very little people who looked like me,” Moya said. “Coming [to Montclair State] I definitely felt welcomed. I felt like I saw people like me who understood me.”
Brianna Campoverde, a senior justice studies major, said she can see the benefits for learning a language in her major.
“I feel like a lot of people in the major, that I know of, are focused on studying Spanish, which is becoming a dominant language,” Campoverde said. “I think another language [along with Spanish] just makes students more marketable.”
Daniela Montoya, sophomore linguistics major, is currently in Professor Fiore’s Italian I class and is looking forward to using her language skills in the future. She talked about her interest in speech pathology and working with Italian students.
“I want to go into speech pathology. If I have Italian students, I could connect with them, speak in their language and help them learn English,” Montoya said. “It really involves a connection [with the students] and also for me to be able to connect with students one-on-one.”
Karelys Avelino, a freshman business major, mentioned her enthusiasm about the courses and Montclair State’s HSI status.
“I think it’s great, we’re seeing a lot more diversity than before,” Avelino said. “The Hispanic community is growing, so the fact that people are finally acknowledging that is great.”