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  /  Education

SIS Intercultural Study Abroad’s educational approach is based on a combination of spontaneous and guided learning. Students learn spontaneously thanks to everyday interaction with host families, language partners, staff and volunteers in service sites and members of the local community. In addition, students are also guided in Italian language and culture through daily classes. Both spontaneous and guided learning processes combine to help students to develop linguistic and intercultural competencies.


During their first days in Siena, students meet and get to know their host families, professors and program staff members; in addition, they are introduced to important and useful sites and facilities in the city. They also receive information about courses, schedules, class activities and excursions. During the orientation period students take an Italian placement test and are divided into different levels.

Intensive Italian course – semester

The first three weeks of the semester is dedicated to a 75-hour front loaded Intensive Italian Language course. This course includes in-class work as well as language-related activities in the local community. During these intensive weeks students begin to attend the semester-long Intercultural Reflections Seminar. At the end of the intensive language course, students take a final test to reassess their level for further language study during the remainder of the semester.


Students continue their study of Italian Language for two hours daily, four days a week.  In addition to language, students choose 2-3 content courses among different academic fields based on their interests or major studies. Content courses include in-class and outside activities, ongoing evaluation and final assessment. Students also continue the reflection process through the Intercultural Reflections Seminar.  All of our courses are approved for U.S. academic credit through an agreement with Portland State University.


Our summer program is divided into three different lengths. 8-week students begin their experience with a 2-week (45 hour) intensive Italian course. Following the intensive course, all students from all summer programs follow the Italian language course two hours a day, five days a week. Summer students must also take the Intercultural Reflections Seminar, as well as 1-2 content courses, depending on length of program. All summer courses are approved for U.S. academic credit through an agreement with Portland State University.