Meet Professor Gina Siddu Pilia, Foreign Language Resource Center

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The mission of the Foreign Language Resource Center (FLRC) is to promote the development and use of foreign languages – Italian, French, German, and Spanish – among students enrolled in all level courses in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. The services offered by the FLRC include, but are not limited to: individual tutoring, conversation tables in the Tiber Cafe and preparation for the CILS exam (Certification of Italian as a Foreign Language). Gina Siddu Pilia, who teaches Italian at John Cabot University, is the Coordinator of the FLRC. We sat down with her for an interview.

Professor Gina Siddu Pilia

Professor Gina Siddu Pilia

What are the benefits of studying a foreign language in an increasingly globalized world?
Federico Fellini said: “A different language is a different vision of life.” English now being the de facto international language should not discourage students from picking up a new one.

Learning another language opens up new opportunities and gives access to perspectives that one might never have encountered otherwise. Moreover, it gives the learner the ability to step inside the mentality and context of that other culture. Speaking a foreign language enables one to cooperate, negotiate, and compromise, with another culture.

What are the challenges of running the center?
At the FLRC, we tutor individual students. With JCU representing more than 70 countries in its student body, our main challenge is to consider and respect each student’s different cultural and linguistic background, in order for him/her to learn a new language effectively.

What is the role of the students who work with you in the FLRC?
In addition to working as tutors, they lead the various conversation tables. Students who go to the conversation tables get to speak to mother tongue tutors, in various languages. For example, in addition to the four languages the FLRC focuses on, last semester we offered conversation tables in Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese as well.

I would definitely advise students to consider working here. Not only do you learn a lot, but it’s also something that looks great on your resume, and can really help you pursue a related career in the future.

What is your advice to someone trying to learn a new language?
Other than attending a class, there are many additional ways to go about it. You can watch films in the original language, or learn the lyrics of your favorite songs. In general, stay motivated and don’t give up. Leave your comfort zone. Dive in. And come to our conversation tables and tutoring center!