Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2013

Faculty Award winner

Chiara Mazzucchelli

 College of Arts and Humanities

 Modern Languages and Literatures

As an Italian instructor, by the book, much of my classroom work focuses on helping students build proficiency in the four language skill areas–listening, speaking, reading, and writing. However, my goal as a teacher goes beyond the facilitation of linguistic growth. I want to open students' eyes to other ways of thinking about the world and to help them step outside their own cultural and linguistic comfort zones.

My teaching philosophy springs from the realization that learning a foreign language can significantly challenge a student's confidence. The obstacles imperfect mastery of the language pose to effective communication can be intimidating and even uncomfortable for students. Beginners especially feel frustrated with a low mastery of speaking skills that compels them to create short, descriptive sentences when they'd like to be more articulate. To make the learning process as smooth, enjoyable, and rewarding as possible, I strive to create a respectful, supportive learning environment. I create an atmosphere that allows even the most inhibited student to feel engaged and comfortable enough to take chances.

But no book, and no instructor, can teach you how to live with and like Italians! This is why I research possibilities for my students to live in Italy. In 2010, I worked to build a partnership between UCF and a network of high schools in Italy thanks to which we now select students from our program to be teaching assistants of English in Italy. Six UCF students have already been offered this opportunity, and three of them are currently there.

While learning about Italy, my students are also learning a lot about themselves, and that's how I know my teaching has been successful.