SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Daria Pizzuto is headed to Chile, where she will research native-written literature that can be used to develop a Spanish teaching program for American children.

The doctoral candidate at Seton Hall University and a resident of Plainfield, has been awarded the "Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching" grant in order to conduct her research in Chile. 

“Research shows that literature-based instruction enhances communicative performance, helps students acquire life skills and leads to vocabulary and comprehension gains,” Pizzuto said.

Sign Up for E-News

“Yet, it is a challenge in the U.S. to find authentic middle-grade novels written in Spanish by a native Spanish-speaking author. Since Chile has a rich children’s literature tradition, it is my hope that I will be able to examine and analyze Chilean children’s literature and use it as a foundation to create an innovative, literature-based Spanish curriculum to be used in American schools.”

Pizzuto, who teaches World Language in Basking Ridge, received her grant from the College of Education and Human Services. The Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program recognizes and encourages excellence in teaching in the U.S. and abroad. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential.

“As a Ph.D. student at Seton Hall, I feel like I have an advantage over other applicants and awardees,” she said. “The faculty and my coursework prepared me to produce a sound review of literature and methodology in my research proposal for the Fulbright application, and get it successfully accepted. I know that the things I learned in this program will be a huge benefit to me as further my research abroad.”

Pizzuto is one of 45 U.S. citizens who will travel aboard through the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program in 2016-2017. She will spend six months immersing herself in Chilean Spanish education beginning in March 2017. She also plans to conduct interviews with Chilean educators and students.

“I want to speak to Chilean teachers and students and go to their libraries in order to see how the educators teach Spanish with the literature that they use,” Pizzuto said. ‘This will allow me to create curriculum in my role as an educator, collaborate with international educators and share my findings with colleagues and policymakers.

“One of the goals of my research is to get the most authentic resources as possible and bring them back to New Jersey where my students can study Spanish with the most robust literature directly from Chile.”