The promotion of Italian language worldwide is an essential component in the development of Italy’s “soft power,” which in turn has made the country a recognized “cultural superpower.” The Embassy of Italy is deeply committed to supporting the spread of the Italian language in the United States, as an important tool for cultural diplomacy as well as a driving force behind all “Made in Italy” sectors: from culture to fashion, from design to gastronomy, from scientific research to high technology.
Italian is the fourth most studied foreign language in the United States and is increasingly perceived as a strategic and important language, that can give a competitive edge also in the workplace. According to the latest available data, there are currently about 200,000 Italian-language students in American schools. Over 60,000 of them attend Italian courses in universities. Another encouraging figure is that of the more than 2,500 AP Italian Language and Culture Exams taken in 2020.
Italy was also confirmed as the second country of destination for American students studying abroad. According to the latest “Open Doors” report of the International Education Institute, in the 2018/19 school year almost 40,000 American students chose Italy as their country of destination for their studies, only 315 fewer than the United Kingdom, which traditionally occupies the first place.
These important results encourage us in our pursuit of “educational diplomacy” as a tool to further strengthen the solid and excellent relations between Italy and the United States. These results have been achieved also thanks to the language promotion strategy carried out by the Embassy of Italy in close collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in close coordination with all the members of the National Observatory of the Italian Language.
Bilateral relations between Italy and the United States have also been enriched over the years by intense literary exchanges between writers, poets and intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic. The discovery of literary America significantly impacted many Italian writers. And, over the years, countless Italian authors have been discovered and appreciated in the United States, from Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarca, to Giacomo Leopardi, Primo Levi, Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco, to contemporary authors such as Alessandro Baricco and Elena Ferrante.
The main 2021 initiatives on Italian language and literature will take place within the framework of the 160 years anniversary of diplomatic relations between Italy and the United States. Under the High Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic we will honor the moment in which the seed of an extraordinary friendship was planted, through a rich program of initiatives that will involve the entire Italian network in the US. Along this journey into the poetry and beauty of our language, we will be led by the “Supreme Poet”, as we celebrate the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri.
For more information on the cultural programs of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and its diplomatic, consular and cultural network world-wide, please visit the website “Italiana”.