This paper is based on a personal experience of teaching Italian as a foreign language between 1992 and 1996. While a part of this paper draws on established theory regarding the teaching of foreign or second languages, providing the relevant bibliographical references, some more anecdotal reflections are added, given the impossibility of recuperating data lost in the years between an enlightening, if not wholly successful, language teaching experience and the present time. Nonetheless, if the reader happens to be a teacher of second or foreign languages, these few anecdotal references will probably make some kind of sense. The students involved in this experience were English speaking military personnel from the NATO airbase at Decimomannu (CA). Students were predominantly male, between the ages of approximately 25 and 35 serving as ground crew or administrative staff in the Royal Airforce. Most had minimum school education up to 16 years of age and were thus, in part, interested in improving their qualifications for career advancement. The British armed forces actively encourage servicemen to study for additional GCSE and A-level examinations. The aim of the courses described in this paper, organised through a private language institute here in Cagliari, was twofold. Firstly to provide a basic knowledge of the Italian language for everyday use and secondly to prepare for the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate IGCSE in Italian as a Foreign Language (see Appendix I). It is the aim of this paper to analyse the organisation of these courses, with the benefit of hindsight, in order to focus attention on some of the problems of teaching the Italian language to native English speakers. Among a number of errors concerning primarily preconceptions about language teaching (organisation, methodology and testing), the Italian language and the language learner, three salient problems have been identified for the purposes of this short analysis: • the ‘foreignness’ of the target language; • setting multiple objectives; • failure to identify learner difficulties with the target language. These three points are discussed in more detail below, and suggestions are made as to how they may be, if not completely avoided, at least alleviated to some degree. While the work described below refers to native English speakers, it may serve as a source of reflection for those involved in the teaching of the Italian language to non-native speakers, especially considering the increasing numbers of immigrant children with diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, whose successful integration within the education system both here in Sardinia and in the rest of Italy is largely dependent upon an effective and proficient acquisition of the Italian language.

Teaching Italian as a foreign language

WADE, JOHN CHRISTOPHER
2006

Abstract

This paper is based on a personal experience of teaching Italian as a foreign language between 1992 and 1996. While a part of this paper draws on established theory regarding the teaching of foreign or second languages, providing the relevant bibliographical references, some more anecdotal reflections are added, given the impossibility of recuperating data lost in the years between an enlightening, if not wholly successful, language teaching experience and the present time. Nonetheless, if the reader happens to be a teacher of second or foreign languages, these few anecdotal references will probably make some kind of sense. The students involved in this experience were English speaking military personnel from the NATO airbase at Decimomannu (CA). Students were predominantly male, between the ages of approximately 25 and 35 serving as ground crew or administrative staff in the Royal Airforce. Most had minimum school education up to 16 years of age and were thus, in part, interested in improving their qualifications for career advancement. The British armed forces actively encourage servicemen to study for additional GCSE and A-level examinations. The aim of the courses described in this paper, organised through a private language institute here in Cagliari, was twofold. Firstly to provide a basic knowledge of the Italian language for everyday use and secondly to prepare for the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate IGCSE in Italian as a Foreign Language (see Appendix I). It is the aim of this paper to analyse the organisation of these courses, with the benefit of hindsight, in order to focus attention on some of the problems of teaching the Italian language to native English speakers. Among a number of errors concerning primarily preconceptions about language teaching (organisation, methodology and testing), the Italian language and the language learner, three salient problems have been identified for the purposes of this short analysis: • the ‘foreignness’ of the target language; • setting multiple objectives; • failure to identify learner difficulties with the target language. These three points are discussed in more detail below, and suggestions are made as to how they may be, if not completely avoided, at least alleviated to some degree. While the work described below refers to native English speakers, it may serve as a source of reflection for those involved in the teaching of the Italian language to non-native speakers, especially considering the increasing numbers of immigrant children with diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, whose successful integration within the education system both here in Sardinia and in the rest of Italy is largely dependent upon an effective and proficient acquisition of the Italian language.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11584/22084
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