Language Program News

Language Program Director Giuseppe Tassone

Jeffrey Freiberg is one of the students in our Italian Language Program.  He joined the Italian Language program in the fall of 2020 with the beginning level A1 and successfully completed his first year of Italian. Last November, Seattle-Perugia Sister City Association awarded Jeff with a scholarship to study for a month in Perugia. His trip was postponed until next summer but he found in our program a place to fulfill his passion for Italy and the Italian language.  Here is Jeff’’s experience in his own words.


2020 End of Quarter

Jeff Freiberg on the right with director Giuseppe Tassone and instructor Roberta Punzi at the end of fall quarter 2020 celebration.

Italy in Seattle with the Dante Alighieri Society – Italian Language Program

By Jeffrey Freiberg

Ciao a tutti, my name is Jeffrey Freiberg and I am thrilled to be heading to Perugia, Umbria next summer to continue my Italian journey. I’ve always been intrigued by Italian culture, due to having a grandmother whose family is from Palermo, Italy, to growing up in a city with a large Italian population – Philadelphia, to falling in love with calcio during the summer World Cup of 2006. It led to me selecting an Italian class with my two free elective classes while studying at Temple University ten years ago, and it culminated in my first trip to Italy last April. My wife and I got married at a villa in the small town of Poppi with our closest friends and family present, and then we spent the next 10 days touring 12 cities/towns mostly in central Italy. We fell in love with the playful spirit of the Italian people, the melodic language, the beautiful scenery and architecture, and of course, the heavenly food and drinks.

We immediately looked for ways to recapture that feeling we had in Italy once we got back to Seattle. Thankfully, we found the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington and the Seattle Perugia Sister Cities Association. Dante Alighieri offered two A1 classes this past year with two wonderful professors. Damiano Pinton and Laura Ciori are extremely skilled in helping all their students find an entry point into the language, no matter what their starting point is. They make class fun and social, and modify the textbook and curriculum to make it relevant to modern day Italy. I recently had the pleasure of meeting students from the advanced classes at an end-of-quarter social gathering in December and now I’m even more eager to continue through the classes at Dante Alighieri! Whether you just want to learn some basic phrases or become conversationally fluent, Dante Alighieri can get you there with their amazing professors.

DAS were quick to react to the COVID situation this winter and spring, leading to classes being held on Zoom. As a teacher myself, I know there’s no substitute to learning in person, but I’m amazed at how seamlessly and effectively our classes transitioned to Zoom. Luckily for me, DAS is offering a special summer session of classes where we will review the skills we’ve learned this year before we advance to the A2 classes starting this fall.

The application process for this scholarship was pretty straightforward. After filling out your scholarship application, Seattle Perugia Sister Cities Association (SPSCA) does a round of interviews before recommending their selections to their board. The interview was very informal and felt more like a fun casual conversation with others who share your passion for everything Italy related. SPSCA is a very welcoming community who shares Dante Alighieri’s mission of bringing people together to celebrate and explore Italian culture. Similar to Dante Alighieri, SPSCA also holds special gatherings and events throughout the year that are a great way to meet new people and enjoy various elements of Italy. 

I am currently a classroom teacher at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School in the Central District. While I love my job and cherish every day with my students, it’s hard for me to deny that I’m in full countdown mode for next summer!

Dantedì Flashmob – 25 marzo le 10:00 di mattina


Dal 25 marzo di quest’anno si celebra il Dantedì, la giornata dedicata a Dante Alighieri. A seguito delle emergenze sanitarie che costringe tutti a rimanere a casa, la Società Dante Alighieri ha promosso un flashmob invitando tutti con #stoacasacondante, a leggere in balcone il V Canto dell’Inferno della Divina Commedia, quello più popolare, che racconta dell’amore di Paolo e Francesca. L’Amore è un sentimento che aiuta a superare ogni male, persino quello oggi rappresentato dal Covid-19 e per questo mercoledì 25 marzo alle ore 18 italiane tanti cittadini nel mondo sono stati invitati a leggere i più celebri passi del poeta fiorentino. A Seattle saranno le 10:00 di mattina. Quindi subito dopo il caffè tutti a leggere e a registrare i versi di Dante!

Amor, ch’al cor gentil ratto s’apprende,
prese costui de la bella persona
che mi fu tolta; e ‘l modo ancor m’offende.

Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdona,
mi prese del costui piacer sì forte,
che, come vedi, ancor non m’ abbandona.

[Dante Alighieri, Divina Commedia, Inf., V canto]



Spring Quarter 2020 Italian Language Classes

Dear Italian Language Students,

The commitment of all of us at the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington’s Italian Language Program is to bring you one step closer to Italy with our Italian language lessons. That commitment couldn’t be stronger in this trying time, when unfortunately we must engage in social distancing that separates us from our Italian friends and each other.

For those students whose passion for the Italian language and all things Italian cannot and will not be stopped, we will be offering classes Spring Quarter, but are switching from in-person to online lessons. Although we know that an online classroom is not the same as an in-person lesson, all the teachers of the Italian Program are determined to do everything they can to make this new learning experience as exciting, inspiring, educative, fun and effective as our lessons have always been.

We will keep a close eye on the rapid evolution of the situation and adjust accordingly.  We will continue to look into ways to improve our language classes throughout the quarter and into the future. The following is a description of how we anticipate the upcoming Spring Quarter classes will be conducted:

Students will interact with their instructor and peers through the video conferencing Zoom platform. The Zoom platform allows real time interactions between the students and the instructor. Instructors will present in real time the grammatical structures and vocabulary listed in the syllabus with the support of Zoom Whiteboard among other tools. Just as for in-person classes, students will be able to ask questions and interact with each other. Follow up exercises will be provided – some during the online connection and others to be completed offline. During each lesson, instructors will provide opportunities for conversation as a class and in groups with the aid of images, guided interviews and other aids.

At the beginning of each online session, the teacher will share the content of the lesson with the students. The duration of the live portion of each online lesson may vary from 60 to 90 minutes. Shorter online sessions will include additional offline activities for the remaining class period.

As always, we welcome your feedback. It is a vital factor in delivering the best learning experience possible. We look forward to hearing your opinions and recommendations for improvements.

Thank you for continuing to share your passion for the Italian language and the country we all love, especially during this challenging time.

Giuseppe Tassone
Language Program Director

March 10 & 12 Winter Quarter Classes to be Held Online

No in person classes for the last week of Winter Quarter

The health and safety of our students and instructors is our number one priority. We are following closely the guidance of our local public health experts, the World Health Organization, and the CDC regarding the threat and spread of COVID-19 and are carefully assessing the impact of this outbreak on our Italian Language Program.

In order to support efforts by public health agencies to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the region, Seattle University, where Dante Alighieri Society Language Program classes are held, has announced that beginning Monday, March 9, classes will not be held in person through the end of Winter Quarter on March 20. Most other universities in the Puget Sound region have announced similar efforts.

The Italian Language Program of the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington is following Seattle University’s lead.  Instead of holding classes at Seattle University, students will complete the remaining Winter quarter lessons on Tuesday 3/10 and Thursday 3/12 from home.  Each instructor, with the Language Program director’s coordination, will provide instructional materials and exercises to be completed at home.

Students having questions should contact their instructor or the Language Program Director, Giuseppe Tassone.

At this time we hope to be able resume in person classes at the start of Spring Quarter on Tuesday, March 31. However, we will continue to evaluate the situation over the coming weeks and will post information on our website as well as notify our students.

Spring Quarter Registration Now Open

Registration for spring quarter is now open for continuing students and new students and closes on March 20. Information on the classes and registration instructions are available here. The first day of class will be Tuesday, March 31. We recommend that absolute beginners  start classes in the fall. Students with some knowledge of Italian are often able to start classes in the Spring quarter without difficulty. For assistance in choosing the correct class, please contact the Language Program director, Giuseppe Tassone.