Italian Language in Context: Novice Abroad I

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Course Information
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 



This course presents the basic structures of the Italian Language through a communicative and direct approach. The student will become familiar with Italian language and culture through reading, listening and writing activities concerning different aspects of the Italian life. Study abroad enhances the chances of communicative competences that are most difficult to foster in a mere classroom setting. As such, students will be exposed to different communicative situations and contexts, so that they will naturally gain confidence outside of class and become more willing to use the language from the very beginning. Speaking and listening activities will be an important part of each class period: particular emphasis will be put on idiomatic and common expressions. By the end of the course students will realize they are better assimilated into everyday Italian life and culture, as they can now meet their everyday needs.

It is a demanding, highly participatory course that rewards daily efforts by students. The pace is quick and lively: those who commit seriously to this adventure will be surprised with the outcomes of their efforts.

Student Profile
This course is designed for students with little or no prior knowledge of the language.

By the end of the course, the successful student will develop a basic foundation in the five skills: intercultural communication, reading, writing, listening, and speaking to accomplish a variety of basic everyday needs in the host culture as described in the learning outcomes below.

Attendance policy: 

Regular class attendance is mandatory. Students are expected to attend classes each day, including course-related excursions.

IES Abroad Milano allows a maximum of TWO excused absences per semester. Each further absence will automatically result in a penalty of two points off (2/100) on the final grade. SEVEN absences per course (including 2 excused absences) will result in a failing grade for that course. Furthermore, an absence on the date of scheduled tests, presentations or quizzes does not entitle you to recover/reschedule such tests. Failure to attend your midterm and/or final exam will result in an F grade on that paper/exam.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will be able to achieve some of the outcomes for the Novice Abroad level as defined by the MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication. The key learning outcomes from the MAP are summarized below:

I. Intercultural Communication

  1. Students will be able to meet basic everyday needs using verbal communication, use compensatory strategies when they do not know the word or expression (repetition, body language, etc.), and identify some basic nonverbal communication strategies.
  2. Students will be able to recognize basic appropriate and inappropriate expressions and behaviors in the host language.
  3. Students will be able to distinguish between basic representations of formality and informality in the language.
  4. Students will understand that there may be differences between cultural stereotypes and generalizations between the home culture and host culture.

II. Listening

  1. Students will be able to understand basic statements, requests, descriptions, and questions in specific cultural context relevant to them (hosts’ interactions, Center interactions, studying, shopping, transportation, meals).
  2. Students will be able to use context to understand the gist of some basic spoken language they overhear, including the media, conversations between others, and announcements.

III. Speaking

  1. Students will be able to use some basic phrases appropriately in some everyday situations (home, the IES Abroad Center, the community).
  2. Students will be able to express some basic needs by asking questions, and get what they need in uncomplicated, everyday situations.

IV. Reading

  1. Students will be able to identify and understand basic sentences.
  2. Students will be able to interpret main ideas in short passages and news headlines, but their understanding is often limited to the words or groups of words that they have seen in class.

V. Writing

  1. With limited accuracy, students will be able to write short sentences and short paragraphs about basic and concrete topics they have studied, such as themselves, their families, their friends, their likes and dislikes, and their daily routines.
  2. Students will be able to send basic emails, text messages, postcards, and online posts, and fill out some basic forms.
Method of presentation: 

The approach to learning is direct and designed for an immediate use of the Italian language. In class, students are asked to use new communicative strategies in different situations, so that at the end of the lesson, outside of class, they can apply the basic grammar rules they just learned. This learning process stimulates students. They are never considered as passive recipients, but active users of the language for their immediate need.

During class activities students will often work in pairs or small groups. They will collaborate with each other in order to find out answers and solve problems; this way they also have an opportunity to socialize and learn from classmates in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. This is meant to encourage participation while reducing anxiety; students can help each other to succeed before surrendering and asking the teacher for assistance.

Italian will be used in all instances, with emergency use of English for disambiguation.  “Pledge for Italian-only in class”: in class students are invited to formally commit themselves in trying to use Italian only.

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Listening comprehension 1: 5%
  • Final Test Intensive: 10%
  • Listening comprehension 2: 5%
  • Listening comprehension 3: 5%
  • Midterm Exam: 15%
  • Listening comprehension 4: 5%
  • Oral Exam: 10%
  • Listening comprehension 5: 5%
  • Final Exam: 20%
  • Weekly Assignments: 5%
  • Class attendance (field studies included), active participation through discussion, reading and writing: 10%
  • Cultural activities: 5%

On request, after completion of the Midterm exam, students will receive information on their grade breakdown, and they'll discuss it with the teacher.

Students will be required to enter the Moodle course page on regular bases in order to access readings, exercises, and any other regular or extra material.


*P.D. = A. Battaglia – L. Tarini, Praticamente dimmi... Esercizi e Attività, Guerra Edizioni.
**D. = A. Battaglia – L. Tarini, Dimmi... Manuale per la Comunicazione – Primo livello, Guerra Edizioni.

Students are expected to go to class having studied in detail the Assignments as indicated on the syllabus and by the teacher in class.





Corresponding Learning Outcome(s)

Week 1

  1. Functional: asking questions, introducing yourself
  2. Grammatical: alphabet, numbers, to be, to have, pronunciation, definite and indefinite articles, gender and number of nouns and adjectives
  3. Vocabulary: basic everyday vocabulary, and most famous Italian words and expressions
  4. Culture: Italian greetings

* P.D. Unit 1

** D. Unit 1

  • Exercises to practice on formulating first questions, and basic structures useful for elementary conversations in everyday situations.
  • Listening Comprehension 1: September 13th

Ia, IIa, IIIa, IIIb, IVa, Va

Week 2

  1. Functional: talking about yourself, descriptions
  2. Grammatical: present tense, present tense of reflexive and reciprocal verbs, adjective and adverb molto
  3. Vocabulary: home; descriptions
  4. Culture: Italian greetings and gestures (Field study ‘I gesti italiani’)

* P.D. Unit 2, 4 and 5

** D. Unit 2

  • Excercises to practice on verbs and different actions, and to describe people, things and places.
  • Oral Exam 1: September 20th

Ia, Ib, Ic, IIIa, IIIb, IVa, Va

Week 3

  1. Functional: talking about yourself, descriptions
  2. Grammatical: present progressive
  3. Vocabulary: times and parts of the day
  • Intensive review.

* P.D. Unit 2, 4 and 5

** D. Unit 2

  • Describing progressive actions and everyday activities.
  • Final Test Intensive: Sept 25th





Corresponding Learning Outcome(s)

Week 4

  1. Functional: Asking and saying the time.
  2. Grammatical: introduction to present perfect
  3. Vocabulary: habits and events
  4. Culture: The importance of food in Italy

* P.D. Unit 2 and 4

Introducing the difference between everyday actions and specific events in the past.

Ib, Ic, IIb, IIIa, IIIb, IVa, Va, Vb

Week 5

  1. Functional: asking for directions, going shopping
  2. Grammatical: prepositions
  3. Vocabulary: shops, directions
  4. Culture: The Italian love for fashion (Field study ‘Al supermercato’)

* P.D. Unit 3

** D. Unit 3

  • Interacting with strangers to meet needs.
  • Exercises on useful vocabulary for going shopping.
  • Listening Comprehension 2: October 9th

Ia, Ib, Ic, Id, IIa, IIb, IIIa, IIIb, IVa, Va, Vb

Week 6

  1. Functional: Talking about daily activities
  2. Grammatical: present perfect
  3. Vocabulary: Schedules, leisure and hobbies
  4. Culture: Famous and less famous Italian cities

* P.D. Unit 4

  • Exercises to reinforce the description of past events.
  • Written activities to describe thoughts and events.
  • Listening comprehension 3: October 16th

Ia, Ib, Ic, IIa, IIb, IIIa, IIIb, IVa, Va, Vb

Week 7

  1. Functional: travelling, talking about past events
  2. Grammatical: present perfect, present perfect of reflexive and reciprocal verbs
  3. Vocabulary: self-care, travelling
  4. Culture: Italian life-style, traditions and stereotypes

* P.D. Unit 4

** D. Unit 4

  • Talking about travelling and past events.
  • Exercises on reflexive and reciprocal verbs in present and past tense.
  • I cultural essay: Oct 23rd

Ia, IIa, IIb, IIIa, IIIb, IVa, IVb, Va, Vb

Week 8

  • Midterm review
  • Culture: Tutti I Santi Vs. Halloween

Midterm Exam: Oct 30th


Week 9

  1. Functional: talking about family, having a conversation, talking about yourself and general topics
  2. Grammatical: possessive adjectives and pronouns
  3. Vocabulary: the house, family
  4. Culture: The Italian family

* P.D. Unit 5

** D. Unit 5 – 6

  • Exercises on specific vocabulary for family and house, related to the use of possessive adjectives and pronouns.
  • Oral Exam 2: Nov 8th

Id, IIa, IIIa, IIIb IVb, Va, Vb

Week 10

  1. Functional: telling stories, talking about past events
  2. Grammatical: focus on irregular past participles
  3. Vocabulary: stories and grammar connectors for talking about the past
  4. Culture: A night out in Milan

* P.D. Unit 4 - 5

** D. Unit 4 - 5

  • Reinforcing the ability to write short paragraphs, emails, messages, stories.
  • II cultural essay: Nov 11th

Ia, Ib, Ic, Id, IIa, IIIa, IVb, Va, Vb

Week 11

  1. Functional: talking about yourself, tastes and preferences
  2. Grammatical: Verb piacere
  3. Vocabulary: Verb piacere and related vocabulary
  4. Culture: Before you came in Italy, you thought… Now you think…

* P.D. Unit 7

** D. Unit 7

  • Speaking activities to practice short conversations about different topics.
  • Listening comprehension 4: November 20th


Oral Exam 3: November 22nd


IIa, IIIa, IVb, Va, Vb

Week 12

  1. Functional: tastes and preferences, guessing, expressing opinions
  2. Vocabulary: more adjectives describing personality and expressions of quantity
  3. Culture: differences between Italian life-style and American life-style

* P.D. Unit 7

** D. Unit 7

  • Practicing on reading about and listening to others’ tastes and preferences recounts.
  • Listening comprehension 5: November 27th

Ia, Ib, Ic, Id, IIa, IIIa, IIIb, Iva, IVb, Va

Week 13

  1. Functional: back home; talking about future events
  2. Grammatical: comparatives forms
  3. Vocabulary: comparisons
  4. Culture: Leaving Italy...

* P.D. Unit 7

** D. Unit 7

  • Exercises on comparisons. Group activities to express opinions and comparisons.

IIb, IIIa, IVb, Va, Vb

Week 14

  • General review

Final exam: December 13th



Required readings: 
  • Battaglia – L. Tarini, Dimmi... Manuale per la Comunicazione – Primo livello, Guerra Edizioni (handed out in class by the teacher).
  • Battaglia – L. Tarini, Praticamente dimmi... Esercizi e Attività, Guerra Edizioni (handed out in class by the teacher).

Copies of the below cited grammar textbook will be available for students at the library of center:

  • Battaglia – L. Tarini, Praticamente dimmi... Grammar notes – Glossario, Guerra Edizioni.

Supplementary material will be provided by the teacher or available on the Moodle course page. This may include: games, readings, songs lyrics, Italian movies, extra exercises, etc.

Previous Course Name: 
(Formerly IT100 Beginning Italian)