Professor Tom Means of the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) Modern Languages Department recently discovered that the BMCC Italian program, in which enrollment has quadrupled since 2000, is the largest Italian program among community colleges, nationwide. Professor Means has also just published an article examining language learning, in Italica, a top peer-reviewed journal in the field of Italian Studies.
“The thrust of the article is about how the majority of our Italian students are Hispanic, and that through a linguistic phenomenon called ‘intercomprehension’, Spanish speakers are able to decode Italian rather naturally,” says Means.
After submitting the article for publication, he continued his research. "I got curious about just how big our Italian program is," he says. "It turns out, we are the largest Italian program in the United States for community colleges.”
Means bases this finding on his analysis of data from the Modern Language Association (MLA), and concludes that not only does the BMCC Italian program larger than Italian programs at all other U.S. community college, “we are the seventh largest Italian program in all of U.S. higher education,” he says. “Only St. Johns, the University of Arizona, the University of Georgia, Loyola University/Chicago, Montclair State University and New York University are larger than us. Syracuse University and Pennsylvania State University come right behind us.”
In order to get those numbers, “I combed through the MLA’s Language Enrollment Database,” Means says.
The Italian language program is growing alongside several other language programs at BMCC, which is about to launch a new Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Modern Languages degree program with three concentrations: Spanish, French and Italian. This associate degree program will link to bachelor’s degree programs in French, Italian, Spanish, Romance Languages and Translation at Hunter College, CUNY.