Office Hours: Fall 2023: T/TH 11:00-12:00; TH 2:00-3:00 in room S601M; new phone x6639
Phone: +1 (212) 220-8000;ext=5275
Professor J. Thomas Means, Modern Languages Department, BMCC/CUNY, is an expert in language teaching and world cinema.
He holds a Ph.D. in Italian and Second Language Acquisition from Rutgers and he has published widely in the field of language teaching and learning. He is trilingual (English, Italian, Spanish) and also has basic competency in French and German. His research and practice focus on effectiveness of teaching approaches.
Second-Language Acquisition, Italian, Spanish, Applied Linguistics, Italian Cinema, French Cinema
- B.A. Rutgers College, Rutgers University, English; Italian,1997
- M.A. Rutgers University, Italian Literature,1999
- Ph.D. Rutgers University, Italian and Second Language Acquisition,2006
- This course is for students who have had no previous background in Italian. Grammar is taught inductively and simple texts are read. Skills in comprehension, speaking, reading and writing are developed.
- In this continuation of Italian I, grammar, composition, conversation, and reading of Italian texts are covered. Prerequisite: ITL 101 or departmental approval
- 3 CRS.3 HRS.NULL LAB HRS.ITL 170E (Literature, Culture and Civilization of Italy)
- This liberal arts elective is an introduction to the evolution and development of Italian culture and civilization through the literary and artistic features, geared to the understanding of present day problems of modern European Italy and the Italian-American people. Readings are in English, and term papers are in English.
- Study in this course includes a review of grammar and of composition. Modern prose is read, discussed and analyzed.
- This intensive writing course emphasizes comprehension, writing, and analysis of Italian contemporary and classical texts.
Prerequisite: ITL 200 or departmental approval
- This course is for students who have had no previous background in Spanish. Grammar is taught inductively and simple texts are read. Speaking, reading and writing are emphasized
- In this continuation of Spanish I, grammar, composition and oral comprehension are developed and supplemented by readings or Spanish texts. Students who have taken SPN 103 will not receive credit for this course. Prerequisite: SPN 101 or departmental approval
- Taught in English, this course provides a historical introduction to Italian cinema, first concentrating on examples of iconic genres and movements, such as the classics of neorealism, and auteurs of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. For the contemporary strand, we will focus on situating the films in the historical and cultural contexts that have shaped the past several decades of Italian social life. We will examine issues of representation and production of societal values, e.g., gender, family relations, and national identity vs. local cultures. No knowledge of Italian is required.
Research and Projects
- Around the World in TV and Film
- From Italian Neorealism to French New Wave
- Italian Cinema, from neorealism to the present
- Task-based teaching modules for Italian, Spanish, French
- 2024: Instant French Vocabulary Builder, Second Edition, Hippocrene Books
- 2023: A Trip Deep into the Italian Alps. Film review of “The Eight Mountains” Teaching Italian Language and Culture Annual
- 2022: Tom Means Interviews Stephen Krashen, Teaching Italian Language and Culture Annual, 1-3
- 2020: Instant Italian Vocabulary Builder, Third Edition, Hippocrene Books
- 2020: “Remote Teaching of Italian,” Introduction to the Special Issue, Teaching Italian Language and Culture Annual, 1-3.
- 2020: “Task-based Language Teaching of Italian: A One-year Case Study,” Italica, 97.3
- 2020: “Task-Based Italian Materials,” Institute for Language Education in a Transcultural Context
- 2019: “Responsible Language Teaching: A Definition in Flux,” Teaching Italian Language and Culture Annual, 5, 8-19.
- 2018: A Teacher’s Guide to the Instant Vocabulary Builder Series, Hippocrene Books
- 2018: “Input-heavy Task-Based Language Teaching,” Teaching Italian Language and Culture Annual. Special Issue. 49-67
- 2018: Instant Spanish Vocabulary Builder, Second Edition, Hippocrene Books
- 2018: Ingles Instantaneo: Instant English Vocabulary Builder, Hippocrene Books.
- 2016: “Interlanguage Stretching within a Task-based Empirical Pedagogy (co-authored with Larry Selinker),” Teaching Italian Language and Culture Annual, 2. 1-18
- 2015: “Significant Growth in Italian Enrollment at a Hispanic-Serving Institution,” Italica, 92.3. 736-746
- 2014: “Students Learning through Recording, Transcribing and Editing Their Task Performances in Second-Semester Italian“,Italica, 91.1 (2014): 29-42
- 2013: Allora, Corso di italiano (Contributor and English Language Editor), New York University Press
- 2011: A Comparative Study of the Effectiveness of Task-based versus Traditional Instruction of Intermediate Italian, Mellen Press
- 2008: New Approaches to Teaching Italian Language and Culture (Author of Chapter Two), Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Honors, Awards and Affiliations
- Featured podcast guest (in Italian), “L’italiano vero,” Episode 104, 2023; Episode 95, 2023; Episode 62, 2021; Episode 47, 2020
- Featured podcast guest (in Spanish), “El reto bilingue,” Episode 133, 2020
- Shortlisted, Cambridge University Press Award for Best Doctoral Thesis in the Field of Second Language Learning and Teaching, 2008, “Christopher Brumfit Ph.D./Ed.D. Thesis Award”
- Shortlisted, Best Doctoral Dissertation Research in Foreign Language Education, 2007, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, “Emma Marie Birkmaier Award”
- National Foreign Language Teacher of the Year, 2004, SCOLA Network
- Feature story, New York Post, “Talking the Language of Success,” 2003
I have always been passionate about languages, film, and travel. I hope to share some of this excitement with my students, in the hopes of pushing them to new experiences and understandings.