The Foundation Year (FY) at the University of Pavia (UNIPV) began in the 2018/2019 academic year, inspired by the long tradition of internationalization ancient Italian university, which each year boasts thousands of students from all over the world. For example, through the Marco Polo Turandot Program, in which UNIPV has participated since 2007, boasting around 1,300 Chinese students who attend Italian language courses in preparation for enrolling in Italian universities or academies.
The Foundation Year is based on the same objective, but with a different target -- to offer a highly educational path in Italian, intended for international students who, in addition to wanting to learn or improve their language skills, do not meet the 12 years of education required for enrolling in a degree course in Italy.
The preparatory program includes a nine-month Italian language course and courses from other subjects. The solid linguistic preparation offered allows students to attend area courses held entirely in Italian, including those who have no prior knowledge of the language. The University of Pavia's Foundation Year unique in its cutting-edge teaching methods of the Italian language, thanks to the fact teaching has always been accompanied by research on language learning.
Ukrainian student Valeria says, “I have always dreamt to study in Italy and the Foundation Year at the University of Pavia made my dream come true. I believe there is no difference between online or in presence classes since all the lessons are well structured, the Professors are highly qualified and provide good materials, help, and support to all the students. The Foundation Year at the UNIPV is a wonderful experience. Moreover, Pavia is my favorite city in Italy. It is a medium-sized university city, with a high quality of life, amazing architecture, historical monuments, and a wonderful atmosphere.”
All the FY classes are composed of students of many different nationalities and languages, and in this way Italian represents not only the language of instruction but also the language of communication among the students -- the best and most effective context for learning the language and for studying the curricular content in Italian.
This is what makes the Foundation Year stand out; students from all over the world, with different language levels, immersed in Italian, therefore learning it more quickly and effectively. The success of this approach is shown by the rapidly increasing popularity of the program.
Foundation Year student Alexandra, from Russia, says, “Learning Italian in Italian requires a lot of effort at the beginning, since you must put yourself in an environment of a new language, but in the end, it is the best and most effective way to learn a language. I felt like my brain rewired itself to think in Italian, and this accelerated the process of learning the language. It is an extremely interactive and effective way to learn Italian and the area study subjects.”
“Moreover, the application process was more straightforward than I thought It would be; the application platform is clear and easy to use; the team is available to answer any question you have regarding the documents. Advice: start the application process in advice. I got my acceptance letter immediately.”
The Foundation Year began in 2011 with a group of about 20 students and now includes 50 students, almost double the previous year, studying 420 hours of Italian (divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced) and 300 hours of their choice of Humanities; Sciences and Medicine; or Economics, Law, and Social Sciences (six students, 31, and 13, respectively).
As we all know, 2020 was a complicated year for the whole world and this inevitably altered the teaching method of the program. But the good news is the University of Pavia and FY staff converted all courses to online,
Thanks to the success of online, the University of Pavia has launched a new option for participation in the program. In addition to the Residential option -- attendance of all courses in Pavia -- a Blended version of the Foundation Year has been introduced, with half of the lessons taken online and half in Pavia, along with an Online version.
In the Blended version, the intensive Italian course from October to February is held online, while the second part of the Italian course and the area studies classes from March to June are held on campus in Pavia. The Blended option was very successful as it was chosen by more than half of the participants.
The Online version, designed because of the situation of uncertainty and risk with the pandemic, provides for and guarantees the teaching of all courses entirely online, namely both the Italian courses and the Area studies classes, from October to June.
Behind the success of the Foundation Year is the great experience it offers students from all around the world. In the last few years, there have been FY students from Morocco, Brazil, Syria. Iran, Sudan, Venezuela, USA, Italy, and around 35 other nations! Year after year, FY's teachers exhibit excellent collaboration, experimenting with and implementing new, avant-garde teaching methods and approaches.
Margarita from Venezuela explains, “I did the Foundation Year Program because I wanted to study in Italy and also wanted to speak italian fluently and I can happily say that thanks to the Program I was able to do such things. I found the FYP one time when I was looking on internet for universities and I saw it and it just caught my attention very quickly. I would definitely recommend it to a friend because it is a wonderful experience that will give you the necessary tools to study whatever you will like to study in the future with a high level of Italian.”
The goal is to accompany each student step by step throughout their Foundation Year, until they pass the final exams and enroll in a degree course at the University of Pavia or another Italian university.
Article written in association with the University of Pavia.