This year Dante Alighieri Society of Washington marks an incredible achievement for 30 years in divulgating la bella lingua through the Italian language program.
Created in 1984, the language program has provided Italian classes to thousands of students interested in learning or advancing their knowledge of the Italian language. This program is one of many established throughout the world.
Over the years, passionate students coming from different backgrounds and different ages embraced the language program contributing in its success. From Seattle University Alumni, to Seattle opera singers to simply Italian culture lovers, the program has seen students achieving their goal in learning the forth most studied language in the world.
The way the Dante Alighieri language program is structured makes an immense difference in the learning process of the language.
In fact, the program follows an academic university calendar and curriculum, guaranteeing an extended and deep approach to each level of the program.
The course plan, named ADA, Attestato Dante Alighieri, is the curriculum and educational programming plan of the Dante Alighieri Society. It is designed and developed as a tool for planning and teaching, addressed to all Dante societies. The plan describes content that develops students’ language skills at any given level, if treated appropriately from an educational point of view. ADA is built on six levels tracked by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2).
Dante Alighieri language program is what is known as a “hosted program” and it couldn’t be the same over the years without the generosity of Seattle University that has offered the space and the classrooms for this strong continuing educational program.
Speaking with Professor Giuseppe Tassone, Director of the Language Program since 1998, he describes a pleasant and sort of nostalgic journey and the changes that Dante Alighieri Society of Washington has gone through.
In the early years, registration had to be done by mail, and students interested in joining the program had to call him by phone in order to be placed into the classes; it was a before-internet era and Tassone remembered calling people back one by one late into the night to get them registered.
Finally in 2012, web designer Jeff Zeunert created the first Italian program website in exchange for language lessons, things have changed and life became easier.
Another important aspect of the Italian Language Program of the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington is the certification PLIDA (Progetto Lingua Italiana Dante Alighieri) that the program began to offer in on November 2nd 2012. The authorization of the PLIDA center in Seattle has been announced and signed by the President Ambassador Bruno Bottai and Secretary General Dr. Alessandro Masi, an outstanding accomplishment for the Dante program.
Seattle is one of the few committees in North America to offer PLIDA exams, a significant and useful certification in the Italian workplace and in Italian universities but it is also a way for students to test their reading, speaking, writing and listening skills. Students can take the exams at Seattle University in November and May with certified examiners who collaborate with the administration in Rome Headquarter.
PLIDA certification is recognized by the Italian Department/Ministry of Education, University and Research, the Italian Department/Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Italian Department / Ministry of Labor and Welfare.
Going back in the history of Società Dante Alighieri di Washington, we can report that the society finds its roots the early 1900’s along with the first Italian immigration wave in the USA. In Washington State, Catholic parishes conducted Italian Language Schools and Father Caramello of the Mt. Virgin Church was a legendary teacher. The school opened in 1918 with 162 students, and continued for years. The Seattle Dante Alighieri School was closed in 1943, along with all other Italian Societies, right after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
It was just in the 1970’s when an Italian Language School supported by the Italian government was reestablished under the patronage of the Seattle Italian Club. The school was addressed to be at the service of the children of Italian engineers at Boeing.
Soon after, in 1975 the reestablished Seattle Dante Chapter, endorsed by the Sede Centrale in Rome, was a non-profit organization that offered an award of $100 every year to a Student of Italian Language attending the University of Washington.
A crucial step in this process happened in 1983, when Professor Pia Friedrich, with the Dante Chapter requested that the Italian Government support the Italian Language School.
The following year, the Dante Committee requested an operating budget of $10,000. The Italian Government granted $13,000.
The beloved Paola Martini, the first director of the program, who guaranteed the SU campus as the location for the Dante Alighieri Society’s Language Program with the help of the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Seattle University.
Today the Dante Alighieri Society doesn’t receive any financial support from Italian institutions and the program is operating exclusively with the income from students’ tuition and the generosity of Seattle University.
What is the secret of such a strong and structured program? It is that Dante Alighieri Society of Washington, with nearly 500 committees existing in 62 countries, promotes Italian culture through the language with passion and competence.
For more info about the program, please visit: www. danteseattle.org