The availability of Italian language courses in high schools and universities in the United States varies greatly, both as a function of cultural, geographical and historical realities. While Italian has become a stable language offering in East Coast institutions, especially in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, other regions, in particular the South, register little to no Italian language offerings, even in major research institutions.
On the West Coast, Italian, while taught in many universities and colleges in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, registers a low number offerings in high schools. This renders sustainability, strengthening and expansion of Italian programs highly problematic. Additionally, the current and worsening budgetary limitations affecting all sectors of K-12 and public higher education could easily result in further program reductions and closures. Let us cite the closure of the long-standing University of Reno, Nevada program a few years ago.
One of the realities that has not been seriously considered when contemplating the potential success of Italian programs is the ethnic reality. Indeed, Spanish speakers constitute an overlooked audience for the teaching of Italian language, literature and culture in the target language.