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Italian language and culture


Italian language and culture

Educational and Cultural Office

The Educational and Cultural Office at the Embassy of Italy is responsible for the Australian states of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territories and Tasmania.
Italian is one of the 13 foreign languages that can be taught in Australia as curricular languages. The Italian curriculum, along with some other languages, was completed in 2014 and assigned to the various states that are committed to adopting it, either in its entirety or with appropriate modifications.
The collaboration among the Educational and Cultural Office, other Offices at the Embassy of Italy, the Italian Cultural Institutes, the Consular Network, Local Agencies, the Dante Alighieri Societies, the MAECI Lecturers and the Universities and the strong appeal of the Italian culture and of the “Made in Italy” enabled the consolidation and widespread dissemination of the teaching of the Italian language in Australia.
This is confirmed by a recent survey that reports that in 2016 the students of Italian were 314,000. This is a very reductive number, since many teaching situations were not reached by the survey. Australia ranks as first in the world for the number of students of Italian and Italian is the most studied foreign language after Chinese in Australia.

The Office is currently headed by Dr. Anna Rita Tamponi.

Linguistic Cooperation.
The Office coordinates the teaching of Italian in Australian schools K-12 and collaborates with the Italian Departments in the Australian Universities. It is responsible for the agreements with the governments of the various states with the objective of implementing and consolidating the diffusion of the Italian language and culture.
In the recent years various agreements have been signed between Italy and Australia. The Framework Agreement is the Agreement on Cultural Co-operation between Australia and Italy of 8 May 2015. In line with this agreement, MoUs have been signed with the Education Ministries of the states of Victoria (20 January 2014), South Australia (August 26, 2015), Queensland (February 16, 2016), New South Wales (May 11, 2016), Western Australia (May 18, 2016), Australian Capital Territory (May 31, 2016). Tasmania is under negotiation.
The signing of the MoUs represents the consolidation of the Italian language and culture in Australia in contrast with the strong diffusion of the Asian languages. Some key actions proposed in the MoUs aim at promoting direct contact between Australian and Italian schools through scholarships, exchanges, twinning and visits at all levels (students, principals, teachers, administrative staff), joint projects in order to enhance the quality of teaching and of available resources, at consolidating the presence of language assistants by facilitating the arrival of young Italian graduates. The presence of Language assistants has a positive impact on students who have a direct contact with Italian mother tongue speakers, and on teachers who may update their Italian and be in touch with advanced teaching methodologies. The agreements also include the organization of conferences, seminars, teacher development courses and online sharing of resources.
Further to the application of MoUs, in 2017 new Addendums have been signed with Queensland in order to encourage mutual visits of School Principals and with Western Australia in order to implement the Language Assistant program.
Italian students are not only students with families of Italian origin, but also students with different and multicultural backgrounds who are attracted, firsthand or through their parents, by our language and our culture.
The constitution and expansion of bilingual schools continues to be a priority. There are currently three bilingual schools : Yarralumla Primary School in Canberra, South Brunwick Primary School in Melbourne and IBS in Sydney, two more will soon be established in Queensland and South Australia. One of the most interesting and ever-expanding Italian approaches to teaching is the CLIL approach, which in Australia is also called immersion program with courses taught in Italian. At university level, Italian is taught in 20 Universities sometimes with specific degrees, doctoral or post-doctoral programs, sometimes simply with secondary courses for students of various faculties.
Every year prizes are awarded to the best students of Italian in Universities (Premio Italia) and in schools.
One of the most significant initiatives is 'The Week of the Italian Language in the World’, which includes various events such as a conference for the teachers of Italian in Australia. This Conference has now reached its third edition.

Cultural Cooperation
In synergy with the various institutions and the Italian community, The Educational and Cultural Office organizes a number of actions aimed at promoting the Italian culture. The great interest for the Italian culture is also due to the presence of a large Italian community of nearly one million people. Nevertheless, our target is not only people of Italian origin but also people with different backgrounds, as we are convinced that approaching the Italian culture means getting in touch not only with the “Made in Italy” but also with the roots of our Western culture.
In order to promote cultural events and our 'Vivere all’ italiana' (‘Live the Italian way’), the Educational and Culture Office has constant and constructive contacts with other Offices at the Embassy, with the Consulates of Italy in Australian, with the Melbourne and Sydney Culture Institutes, with Comites, Dante Alighieri Society, Universities, Local Agencies, and with the various associations such as the Academy of Italian Cuisine. In order to organize joint events, the Office collaborates also with the ACT Government and the Federal Government, with prestigious Australian institutions such as the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, the National Museum of Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive, the National Gallery, with other Diplomatic Missions and with the European Union.
Among the significant annual events we may include the participation to the Multicultural Festival, the International Music Festival, the Week of the Italian Cuisine in the World, the Design Week and the Italian Film Festival.