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Pumpkins October is a great month for Italian festivals, especially food festivals and wine harvest celebrations.

But what about Halloween? Well, Halloween is not a big celebration in Italy and does not belong to the Italian tradition, but it is becoming more popular especially in the larger cities.

Halloween in Italy is All Saint’s Eve. All Saints Day on November 1st and All Souls Day on November 2nd, are still the main Autumn holidays in Italy.

All Saints’ Day was instituted to honor all the saints, known and unknown.
All Soul’s Day (or the “Day of the Dead”) is a Roman Catholic day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away.

Italian in Canada

Searching for Italian classes or Italian themed cultural events? For those living in Canada here are some organizations that might be a good starting point:

Casa D’Italia in Quebec

Casa D’Italia is community centre where the Italian community meets, Italian culture is fostered and shared, and many intercultural exchanges take place. http://www.fcciq.com/e_casa.asp

Scuola Dante Alighieri

The Scuola Dante Alighieri promotes Italian language learning and cultural exchange opportunities for students from kindergarten to university. http://www.centroscuola.ca/

National Congress of Italian-Canadians


Find more associations, classes and clubs in the Canadian sections of the School and Clubs pages listed on the top menu.

bandieraIf you would like to connect with Italians no longer living in Italy, or with people around the world who have Italian parents/grandparents, here are a few suggestions:

Linked-in has several groups of people who call themselves Italian. Some are Italian born, some are of Italian ancestry, some are Italian at heart. They now live in Australia, North and South America and in several European countries.

Then there are also many websites that are devoted to Italians who were born in a specific region.
Here is a short list and you will probably be able to find many more:

Facebook too, hosts many pages where Italians abroad connect. Search with keywords like “Italiani estero” and you will find several groups.

Next time you feel like connecting with people who call Italy their motherland, you know where to start.

Did you know…?
After English, Italian is the number one language spoken in the home in Australia.

What if you are studying Italian, you wish to practice,  and you don’t have anyone to talk to or to listen to?
Well, you can go online and listen to this Australian radio that broadcasts in Italian: http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/italian

You can get the news, you can sharpen your language skills, you can learn and even entertain yourself while you do some other tasks that do not require your full attention. Italian learning made easy!

italian festivalThis weekend many Italian communities around the world will be celebrating San Gennaro (Saint Januarius), and this will give anyone an opportunity to enjoy a festive event, eat Italian food and try to practice some Italian with other festival participants.

But who was San Gennaro?

He was a martyr saint and Bishop of Naples during the 3rd century AD and now he is the patron saint of the Italian city of Naples.
In the calendar of the Catholic Church, Saint Januarius’ feast day is celebrated on September 19.

Where are the Festivals?

The  longest-running and biggest religious outdoor festival in the United States is, of course, the Feast of San Gennaro, in New York City: http://www.sangennaro.org/

Many other cities and local Italian communities celebrate San Gennaro. Perform an internet search using the words “san gennaro celebrations” and see if you can find one near you.

language developmentAlmost all human beings acquire a language (and sometimes more than one), to the level of native competency, before age 5.

Most researchers agree that children acquire language through interplay of biology and environmental factors. A challenge for linguists is to figure out how nature and nurture come together to influence language learning. Language acquisition is a complex process.

Emphasis on Nature

Some researchers theorize that children are born with an innate biological “device” for understanding the principles and organization common to all languages. According to this theory, the brain’s “language module” gets programmed to follow the specific grammar of the language a child is exposed to early in life. Yet the language rules and grammar children use in their speech often exceed the input to which they are exposed. What accounts for this discrepancy?

That is where the theory of universal grammar comes in. This theory posits that all languages have the same basic structural foundation. While children are not genetically “hard-wired” to speak a particular language like Dutch or Japanese, universal grammar lets them learn the rules and patterns of these languages—including those they were never explicitly taught. Some linguists believe that universal grammar and its interaction with the rest of the brain is the design mechanism that allows children to become fluent in any language during the first few years of life. In fact, childhood may be a critical period for the acquisition of language capabilities. Some scientists claim that if a person does not acquire any language before the teen-aged years, they will never do so in a functional sense. Children may also have a heightened ability, compared to adults, to learn second languages–especially in natural settings. Adults, however, may have some advantages in the conscious study of a second language in a classroom setting.

Emphasis on Experience and Usage

Not all linguists believe that the innate capacities are most important in language learning. Some researchers place greater emphasis on the influence of usage and experience in language acquisition. They argue that adults play an important role in language acquisition by speaking to children—often in a slow, grammatical and repetitious way. In turn, children discern patterns in the language and experiment with speech gradually—uttering single words at first and eventually stringing them together to construct abstract expressions. At first glance, this may seem reminiscent of how language is traditionally taught in classrooms. But most scientists think children and adults learn language differently.

While they may not do it as quickly and easily as children seem to, adults can learn to speak new languages proficiently. However, few would be mistaken for a native speaker of the non-native tongue. Childhood may be a critical period for mastering certain aspects of language such as proper pronunciation. What factors account for the different language learning capabilities of adults and children? Researchers suggest accumulated experience and knowledge could change the brain over time, altering the way language information is organized and/or processed.

Courtesy: National Science Foundation

festa italiana posterOn Saturday, September 10, visit and have fun at the 2011 Festa Coloniale Italiana, an annual Italian festival that celebrates the rich Italian and Italian-American heritage that has existed in San Francisco for generations.

This free event continues to be San Francisco’s only Italian festival and this year’s celebration includes the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

There will be continuous live Italian music, plenty of beer and wine, and the most mouth-watering food this side of Siena including sausage and peppers, pasta, deep-fried calamari, meatball sandwiches and cannoli. Vendors will be selling Italian-related products. There will be a pizza-toss demonstration as well as an Italian-dancing demonstration.

To learn more, visit the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club website.

Per gli appassionati di lingua italiana nella zona di Mendoza, in Argentina, ecco una organizzazione che offre corsi di italiano:

Unione Amici Della Lingua Italiana in Argentina: http://www.uali.com.ar/

e su Facebook:

La Società Dante Alighieri ha lo scopo di tutelare e diffondere la lingua e la cultura italiane nel mondo, ravvivando i legami spirituali dei connazionali all’estero con la madre patria e alimentando tra gli stranieri l’amore e il culto per la civiltà italiana.

Esplora il sito della Dante per saperne di piu’:
o cerca una sede vicino alla tua citta’.

The one-parent-one-language method (OPOL) is a popular method for teaching young children to speak multiple languages. With this method each parent speaks only one language with the child. The language used by the parent is usually the language that is native to that parent.

Although the OPOL method is very popular and very effective, there can be problems.

One common issue is the lack of exposure to the language that is spoken by only one parent (minority language), when this language is not the one that children are learning at school. It is then very helpful to find other sources of exposure and other ways of creating a sense of need, so the children have more than one reason for using the minority language. Especially effective is the type of exposure that involves interaction with other people.

Another problem is exclusion: when one of the parents doesn’t speak the other’s language, the bilingual child will feel uneasy about excluding one parent from the conversation, when both parents are present.

That is why, when both parents can speak the minority language, their best strategy is to speak only the minority language to their children, and let them learn the language of the community only when they are outside the home.

If you have used or are using the OPOL method, what is your experience? Is it working for you and your children?

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