Tunney develops usage of Italian, grows a shrinking group


Submitted Photo: Isabella Tunney

Tunney frequently travels to Italy with her family during the summer. It helps her practice her Italian and stay in touch with the language and culture.

In addition to her study of Spanish at St. Paul Academy and Summit School, senior Isabella Tunney has been a fluent Italian speaker ever since she was little. Tunney’s family is part of a decreasing group of Italian speakers in the U.S: according to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 709,000 Americans speak Italian at home.

Tunney’s mother immigrated to the U.S. from Italy, which is why she has grown up speaking Italian. The skill of fluency “allows me to be immersed in the culture because I don’t have a language barrier” said Tunney. For students who only speak their languages at school, it is extremely difficult to attain fluency. Furthermore, it can be difficult to feel engaged in a culture when one is not fluent in the language.

Not only does Tunney allow her to immerse herself further into Italian culture while spending her summers in Italy, but she has also found herself having different, more informed perspectives as a result. “When you don’t have a language barrier you can see different perspectives from a personal level,” said Tunney. Tunney is able to understand a wider range of perspectives because she is not limited by language.

Tunney’s analysis of different topics in school has been informed from spending time with both her Italian and American friends. “The way people at school would analyze something would be different from the way my Italian friends would because of how our cultural backgrounds shape our opinions and actions,” said Tunney. Both her Italian friends and American friends shape Tunney’s thoughts when discussing at school.