Helping Kids Learn to Appreciate All Things Italian

Learning a new language is one of the best ways to become familiar with a country you might have an interest in. Collina Italiana offers classes for kids to experience the culture, food, music, stories, and language of Italy.

It’s no secret that New York City is home to some of the best ways to experience Italian culture, with neighborhoods such as Little Italy and artisanal grocery stores such as Eataly. We are surrounded by a plethora of cultures, and as New Yorkers, it is our responsibility to take full advantage of the opportunities they offer to understand and become immersed in the languages, foods, and traditions of many different people.

Today, New Yorkers can visit the Italian American Museum to learn about the history and presence of this ethnic group; celebrate the annual, 11-day Feast of San Gennaro to salute the Patron Saint of Naples in September; and, of course, learn Italian, a rich language with a long, celebrated history.

Learning a new language is one of the best ways to become familiar with a country you might have an interest in. It also helps when there is a large presence of people speaking it in your area.

Alessandra Greco is the director of children’s programs at Collina Italiana, an Italian language school on the Upper East Side. She moved to New York from Italy almost 10 years ago. Most of her students’ parents say they have been to Italy and fell in love with the lifestyle because it is more relaxed and leisurely, in contrast to the constant fast pace of New York.

“Even if there are many language schools out there, this is a playful environment, in a positive, non-competitive atmosphere where everybody can come and the children will feel confident, even if they don’t know the language,” Greco says of Collina Italiana’s program.

Students at Collina Italiana learn about culture, food, music, stories, and of course, the language. “Many schools have a very strict program, but our program is adjustable and perfect for everyone,” Greco says.

According to the 2000 United State Census, New York is home to the largest number of Italian Americans in the United States. There were more than 2.7 million Italian Americans in the state, comprising about 14.4 percent of the state population. Many Italians emigrated to New York City in the late 1800s and assimilated into American life. These families have planted their roots and embedded Italian culture to shape the New York metro area. 

When you learn about the history of your city—especially one as great as New York City—you develop an appreciation for the immigrants and residents that molded it into what it is today, and it is important to celebrate it.

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