The following list was produced by the AATI Advocacy Committee to offer tips to educators on how to increase enrollment in Italian classes. If you are looking to build, maintain, or improve enrollment and retention in an existing program, here are a few suggestions to consider. Remember, if your job or program is in jeopardy, please reach out to the AATI immediately so we can try to help!
- Become a member of the AATI
For more than a century, the AATI has been dedicated to serving the profession. Whether it has been keeping you informed about Italian programs, pedagogies, or publications, the AATI has aided language and culture educators in the field. Joining the organization will provide you opportunities for networking, for career building, and for access to classroom resources.
- Start an Italian Club
Presenting Italian in an extra-curricular environment can help remind students that learning a language is not just academic, it’s fun and has a real purpose. Informal conversation will help students build confidence in their speaking abilities and ultimately contribute to their classroom performance. Students will build relationships with their peers and be more motivated to continue their studies in Italian.
- Establish an Italian Honor Society
Honor Societies are a way to motivate and recognize high-achieving students in their efforts towards excellence in Italian. There are two Honor Societies available to students of Italian. Creating an honor society is yet another way to help students take interest in the study of Italian language and culture.
- Società onoraria italica - Open to Junior High and High School Students
- Gamma Kappa Alpha - Open to College & University Students
- Publicize the Italian Program
Bring attention to your program by way of social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and others, which serve as an excellent way to communicate with other Italian educators, students, and your community. Better yet, have your students create content for these pages as part of an assignment! Get them invested and excited about the possibilities. At the college level, make an effort to be actively visible at university events like major fairs, new student orientation sessions, study abroad events, etc. Update your web pages regularly with student testimony and recent photographs of your students.
- Talk to First-Year Advisors on Your Campus (College & University)
Make an effort to meet with your university’s first-year advisors at least once a semester. Give them your business card, program brochures, and other information they can show new and transfer students. This is an excellent recruiting tool that works.
- Promote the various language testing and certification programs or better yet, partner with them!
Students who graduate high school with AP credits or the Seal of Biliteracy can often receive university credit, and meet or exceed certain college requirements for graduation. In addition, reach out to local and regional higher ed institutions to find out if they have any HS-College programs in Italian. These programs allow HS students to enroll in college courses taught by an approved HS teacher at their own school. Students pay a (very) reduced rate to take the course and receive the same credit they would, had they taken the course at the university. By way of this type of program, students can transfer their college credits virtually anywhere!
- Get to know your student population (& their parents)
Strive to meet students’ needs/interests (while maintaining the academic strength and quality of your program). Are they interested in cinema rather than Medieval philology? A business course rather than a theatre course? Also, by getting to know the parents of each student population, you can also learn what their concerns and questions are about language learning. Perhaps a celebration of language and culture just for parents or a letter home might be just the trick.
- Dig into Experiential Learning Opportunities
By creating internships or other onsite and hands-on learning options for students locally and abroad, you will help them see and understand the real world applications of their language skills, as well help them to be job-ready. These can be done even at the HS level while leaning on off-campus partners discussed below.
- Find Language Allies On-Campus
University language programs can help grow their numbers by partnering with other disciplines across campus. Talk to your colleagues, department chairs, and deans about requiring a year of Italian for students in other majors, such as Global Studies, International Business, Art History, or even Architecture!
- Find Partners Off-Campus
This is important at all levels of education, but especially so with programs in K-12. Seek out community organizations, businesses, or charitable groups that want to support language learners. Ask for their help with publicizing and financing incentives such as scholarships for Italian speakers, classroom materials for digital projects. Perhaps they could judge a talent show or provide food for an event celebrating Italian heritage.