The rise in immigration over the last years has gradually transformed Italy into an increasingly multicultural nation similar to most European countries.
Following this demographic change, the profession of “mediazione linguistica e culturale” (language and cultural mediation) has developed over the last two decades as a response to the need of migrants and non-Italian speakers to access public services and foster their integration into the host society.
Therefore, the “mediation” is a pro-active activity that differs from translation and interpreting: it aims at dealing with the language and cultural barriers that impede migrants to gradually integrate into the Italian society. In this context, the “mediator” facilitates the communication process between Italian speakers and non-Italian speakers and prevents possible conflicts and misunderstandings deriving from the lack of knowledge about Italian institutions and culture (and vice versa).
In practice, the specific tasks of the cultural mediator today include: performing bureaucratic tasks, helping the seeker to apply for asylum or international protection, interact with other children or students at school, etc. The linguistic and cultural mediator therefore plays an important role in education, health, social services and in many other sectors such as volunteering offering social guidance and language support service. (see also linguistic and cultural mediation)
In conclusion, the semantic field of the Italian term “mediazione linguistica e culturale” seems to overlaps the Anglo-Saxon “Community Interpreting” at least to a certain extent. However, the professional role of the “cultural mediator” in Italy is still in need of a clarification of role and definition. Moreover, it would be advisable to bridge the gap between the actual role of the “language mediator” and the recent interesting development of “language mediation” as an even more recent academic discipline.