The rise of teaching Spanish as a foreign language in Italy: advantages and challenges
Despite popular belief and the strong and long-lasting relationship between the two countries, the history of teaching Spanish as a foreign language in Italy is relatively recent. In the last 20 years, luckily, the demand for Spanish as a foreign language in Italy has increased significantly, also thanks to its inclusion in the educational system. In this article, in addition to presenting data showing the didactic success and the rising demand in Italy, I aim to dispel some myths that for too long have affected Italians’ perception about the alleged ease of acquiring Spanish. Aware of the fact that linguistic affinity can be both a bridge and a barrier for Italian students learning Spanish, I will focus on some differences between these two languages, in terms of vocabulary, encouraging a dynamic way of learning. Based on a project currently under development, this contribution combines personal experience as a Spanish as a foreign language (E/LE) teacher in Italy and observations on studies on interlingua and cognate languages learning, including Calvi (1995; 1997; 2004) and Bailini (2016; 2018).