There are more than 60 million inhabitants in Italy and there are more than another 60 million people of Italian descent all over the world. Hence, Italian is a language of vital cultural, commercial and political importance.
Approximately 20,000 people in Manitoba trace their origins to various regions of Italy. About 90 per cent of them live in Winnipeg. Italian immigration to Manitoba started in 1890, reached its peak in the early 1960s and tapered off through the 1980s.
Over the years, a significant number of students have enrolled in Italian language classes at various levels and in a variety of settings, including public and private schools through the commendable endeavours of local organizations, most notably the Dante Alighieri Cultural Society, which has been very active since its founding in 1966.
Until then, Italian language classes were offered in the basement of Holy Rosary Church located at the corner of Sherbrook Street and Bannatyne Avenue.
Italian language credit courses have been offered at the University of Manitoba since 1977, when Cristina Povoledo began to teach a course at the introductory level. Subsequently, the number of courses increased to two in 1983 and to three in 1985.
A few years later, in 1992, it became possible for students to pursue a minor in Italian studies at that university.
At the University of Winnipeg, within the division of continuing education, Italian language classes have been offered for several years. But it wasn't until 2002 that full credit courses at the introductory level were launched and co-ordinated by Prof. Sante A. Viselli in the department of modern languages and literatures.
In the 2006-2007 academic year, two courses were offered: one at the introductory level, the other at the intermediate level, with respective enrollments of 35 and 13.
I taught both courses after taking over from instructor Marisa Panagia when she decided to return to Italy at the end of the 2004-2005 academic year. …