Cultural and linguistic mediation

Cultural and linguistic mediation is a professional service where 2 people of different cultures are helped by a mediator who translates what they say. In this way, people communicate by speaking their mother tongue or another language they know well. Today, mediation is offered in many offices. Many schools also use it to help teachers and foreign parents.

Often, when people don’t speak a language well and need help, they turn to their acquaintances and friends. However, there is a professional service called mediazione culturale e linguistica (cultural and linguistic mediation) where a mediatore (mediator), who can be a man or a woman, helps 2 people who are of different cultures to communicate better. In this way, a professional person can help, avoiding the confusion and conflicts that often arise when people can not understand each other well.

Mediation is offered in many public and private offices that offer services for foreigners, such as:

  • Government Offices:
    Comune, Questura, courts, etc .;
  • Health services:
    for appointments and medical visits in hospitals
  • Social services:
    for appointments with professionals such as social workers and lawyers;
  • Reception services:
    in the assistance in the first period in Italy;
  • In schools

In Italy, mediation is a service that has developed more over the recent years, especially in the cities. If you live in a small town, mediation for the language of your choice may not be available.

On this page, you will find more information on the work of mediators, the rules they must respect, and the mediation service in schools.

The mediator, mediatore or mediatrice, is a person who knows the Italian language and culture well and those of another country. They are called to help people of different cultures and languages ​​to communicate better.

Mediators can be both foreign and Italian people.
Foreign mediators have usually lived in Italy for a long time and have good knowledge of the Italian language, both written and spoken, and of their mother tongue or another language.
Italian mediators, on the other hand, in addition to Italian have a good knowledge of a foreign language and culture spoken by a foreign community in Italy (ex. Arabic, Chinese, Bengali, etc.).

Usually, mediators must have at least a secondary school diploma or a qualification of the same level that they have taken in another country and that has been recognized in Italy. Many mediators also follow training courses to be recognized by the Comune (municipality) and to be able to work as mediators.

There are rules that mediators must respect in their work. These rules are:

1. Communicate clearly
The mediator is not the person who can give advice or resolve a situation because he is only called to tell what the 2 parties say. The mediator can only translate what has been said and must do so clearly. The mediator must not report things that have not been said or change the meaning of what a person says.

2. Remain Neutral
The mediator must always remain calm even in difficult situations.
Maintaining neutrality also means that, in no situation, the mediator can take the side of either person. This also means that the mediator cannot express his personal views.

3. Maintain professional secrecy
During and after service, the mediator must maintain professional secrecy. All information and documents are confidential and this means that the mediator cannot under any circumstances tell other people what is said during a meeting in which he is giving service.

The mediator helps you understand better what is happening and explain your needs to the other person, but he cannot give you personal advice or decide what to do for you.
Because of these rules, the mediator must not stay in contact with the people he helps after work. For this, he cannot give his private contacts, such as telephone number and address, but can only give the contacts of the office or the organization he works for.

In recent years, the number of children of foreign origin in Italian schools has increased consistently. Today, foreign children who have non-Italian citizenship are more than 8 million.
For this reason, municipalities and schools have decided to use mediators to help foreign students integrate better, when needed, and in the relationship between school and family.

Mediators who work in schools must not have undergone any legal conviction prohibiting them from working with children and minors.

The mediator in schools is a support for both parents and the school. These are some of the tasks:

For Parents:

  • Better understand how the Italian school system is organized;
  • Know the rules to follow
    like: enrollment, compliance with compulsory schooling up to the age of 16, etc .;
  • Help families maintain good communication with teachers;
  • Help them to participate in the school life of their children;
  • Together with the teachers, he helps them in the school orientation phase:
    for example in the choice of a new school or a new path, especially in the choice of secondary school after the 3rd year of middle school

For the school:

  • During the first reception of a foreign student new to Italy and his family:
    to understand the differences compared to the school of the country of origin, important cultural and religious differences, etc;
  • Reception of unaccompanied foreign minors;
  • To facilitate communication with the family;
  • Support during family meetings;
  • To translate documents, notices, and other messages;
  • For other intercultural projects organized by the school, the Comune, and/or the Region.

REMEMBER: the mediator is not a teacher and does not work for the school so he can help, but he cannot replace the role of teachers. The mediator alone cannot help you with school difficulties.

The mediation service is usually requested by the schools.
The teachers request the service from associations or offices that offer mediation, after having made an assessment of the student’s situation.

In special cases, social services or courts may also request mediation.

If you think it is necessary, you too can contact the teachers and ask if your child’s school can offer and ask to organize a mediation service in your language. The school will communicate the day and time of the mediation. If your child is a minor, the school may also ask you to sign a consent for the mediation service.

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