Italian Language in Context: Independent Abroad II

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

Proficiency at a level equivalent to IES Abroad’s Emerging Independent Abroad, as determined by placement test.


This course reviews and then expands upon all aspects of grammar. This is a demanding, highly participatory course that rewards daily efforts. Students will apply and consolidate the grammar and linguistic principles covered in class through a variety of communicative activities. Each of these will be followed by oral and/or written practice and vocabulary reinforcement, focusing on words and expressions that are common to Italian every-day conversation.

Topics will relate to major aspects of Italian culture, such as: fashion, cooking, opera and pop music,  soccer, regional traditions, modern history, etc. Students will be exposed to original Italian sources in order to gradually “fit in”, i.e.: announcements from the newspaper, medical and pharmacy terminology,  travelling, etc.

Students will be asked to visit places of interest in Milan. Assignments and information on class activities will be posted daily on the class site on Moodle.


Students who enter this level are able to accomplish everyday needs required to live in a new culture.  In this course, students will begin to develop independence and autonomy so that, when communication does break down, they have some tools at their disposal to resolve these challenges independently.  Students should welcome correction and guidance from their instructors, hosts, and others in the community as they progress.

By the end of this course, students will begin to converse at a rate of speed approaching normal conversation. They will start to become creative, spontaneous, and self-reliant as they solve problems, interpret texts, negotiate, and express their opinions, likes, and dislikes in the culture. Although students will still make errors and experience communication breakdowns, they are sometimes able to resolve these on their own. Students will understand some colloquial expressions and slang, and are starting to understand a wider variety of native speakers from different backgrounds.

By the end of this level, students will be capable of achieving the learning outcomes outlined below.


Italian. Students are required not to speak any English in class (with the teacher or classmates). The use of the target language (Italian) will be considered part of the participation grade; the teacher may at times use English or allow students to use their mother-tongue only to point out a contrastive analysis between Italian and English structures.

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: 

Students who are placed in this level should be capable of achieving the outcomes in the Emerging Independent Abroad level as defined by the IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication.

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

  1. Intercultural Communication
    1. Students will begin to identify at a basic level key host cultures, subcultures, habits, norms, and behaviors in a variety of settings, and they will be aware of the risk that generalizations can lead to stereotypes.
    2. Students will start to identify their own cultural beliefs, behaviors, and values by contrasting and comparing them with those of the host cultures.
    3. Students will be able to identify some gestures and body language, and they may be able to integrate some of those nonverbal actions into their interactions with native speakers.
    4. Students will be able to establish relationships with locals and explore communities and places beyond their comfort zone.
  2. Listening
    1. Students will be able to understand some spoken communications of moderate complexity (media, speeches, music, conversations, etc.) on a wide range of concrete everyday topics as well as abstract topics covered in classes.  
    2. Students will begin to understand native speakers from a variety of backgrounds and limited experience with non-native speakers, and they will comprehend common colloquial expressions and slang.
  3. Speaking
    1. Students will be able to speak on and discuss concrete everyday and personal topics, abstract topics covered in classes, as well as other topics of particular interest to them.
    2. Students will be able to participate and respond actively in a variety of interactions.
  4. Reading
    1. Students will be able to read and understand articles, online texts, short stories and other non-complicated literary texts using background knowledge to aid their comprehension.
    2. Students will begin to read and understand the main ideas of academic texts with assistance.
    3. Students will begin to read independently and support their comprehension through a variety of reading strategies.
  5. Writing
    1. Students will be able to meet many everyday writing needs (notes, text messages, letters, emails, chats, online forums).
    2. Students will be able to write short essays for class that narrate, describe, report, compare, contrast, and summarize on a wide range of topics with developing degrees of grammatical and lexical accuracy
    3. Students will be able to edit their own and their peers’ writing for common errors covered in class.
Method of presentation: 

The approach to learning is communicative and direct, designed for an immediate use of the  language.

Recordings/videos/readings will provide the input for most of the class activities. They introduce the basic theme of the lesson, and contain examples of new structures and much new vocabulary. In class, students are asked to observe the way the language works, and then to repeat and re-use new expressions and grammar structures in a variety of situations. Analysis of the grammar points will follow, together with stimulus-response exercises, oral and written activities.

The learning process is stimulating. Students are not considered as passive recipients, but as active users of the target language. Students will often work in pairs or small groups. They will collaborate with each other in order to find out answers and practice the language.

Web resources, songs, Italian movies, and clips from Italian TV programs will be part of the material used in class.

Field trips are an integral part of the course. During the semester students will also be asked to visit places of interest on their own, and complete assignments in pairs/groups. Field studies are based on the interaction with native Italian speakers. Following field studies, students will be asked to write and / or discuss the activity in class.

Office hours: by appointment, to be set at least 48 hrs in advance.


Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Test 1: 10%
  • Test 2: 10%
  • Test 3: 10%
  • Midterm Exam: 15%
  • Oral Presentations: 10%
  • Final Exam: 20%
  • Assignments (2 Film Reports): 10 %
  • Intercultural Activities (2 Presentations): 5%
  • Active Participation: 10%
  1. Active participation to class activities through attendance, discussion, reading and writing: 10%

Students must attend regularly, be on time, participate lively in all activities, be attentive in class and well-prepared (with homework completed) for in-class work/discussion. Students are also required to use Italian language during all activities. The attempt at peaking/practicing the target language will be considered positively, while the consistent use of English will have a negative impact on the participation %. Language mistakes during class activities will not affect the grade. 

  1. Satisfactory completion of homework assignments: 10%

Following each class students must review/memorize the material presented in class, and complete the assignments. Homework is not graded, unless differently specified. If it is unsatisfactory, students will be required to revise it. Uncompleted homework will result in the loss of 2 points/100 per assignment. Cinema: students are required to watch 2 Italian movies: 1 at the theater/cinema, 1 on DVD among the titles recommended by the teacher. Home assignments will follow (4 points each). Students are always required to be up-to-date with class work. They must read about homework and material assigned or covered in class by linking daily to the class web site or asking a classmate/the teacher, expecially if they miss class. In this case, it is their precise responsibility to obtain all the information about the material covered. In case of an absence, assignments due must be submitted anyway in the following class.

Participation to 1 GUEST LECTURE is mandatory, a written report will be required. 1 other can be chosen by the student among those recommended by the teacher for the intercultural activity or for  extra credit. Lectures will take place from 5.30 to 7.00 pm (day to be decided). Information will follow in class.

  1. Completion of 3 tests, Mid-Term/Final, and 1 oral presentation: 75%. See calendar at the bottom and write the dates in your agenda.
  2. Intercultural Activities: 5%

Have you been to the popular San Siro Stadium for an Inter – Milan AC match? Film your experience and make the whole class participate! Intercultural competence is one of the most relevant skills when learning a foreign language, and intercultural activities are unique opportunities to improve your language level using direct experiences from real life in Italy. Students are required to participate in and report on no less than 2 extracurricular activities. Hints will be provided in class or posted on the class site. The activities  must be presented during a 10-minute oral presentation with the support of a self-made video and/or photos, and a glossary of new words/expressions. Presentations will not be graded, they will be evaluated on a Fail/Pass Basis. If they are unsatisfactory the teacher may ask the student to organize another presentation in order to receive all the points. More details in class. Refer to the calendar for deadlines.

Grades will not be curved and will be determined according to the following scale:

  • A 100-94
  • A- 93-90
  • B+ 89-86
  • B 85-84
  • B- 83-80
  • C+ 79-78
  • C 77-73
  • C- 72-70
  • D 69-60
  • F 59 and below

Students are expectd 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 – Review + Expansion

  1. Functional: Describing oneself
  2. Grammatical: Noun/Verb/Adjective Agreement; Basic Prepositions, Present tenses, Impersonal Forms, Articles
  3. Vocabulary: Food, Personality
  4. Culture: The Open Market

Course Packet, pp. 1-50, hand-outs on Moodle


Test 1 10%: Sept. 13

I.A., II.B,


Week 2 – Review + Expansion

  1. Functional: Give/ask for information and preferences about yourself and others
  2. Grammatical:adverbs, Piacere and similar verbs (occorrere, mancare, ecc.), Past tenses
  3. Vocabulary: House, Railway
  4. Culture: Travelling by train

Course packet, pp.51-70, hand-outs on Moodle


Test 2 10%: Sept. 19




Week 3

  1. Functional: Describing people in the past, making comparisons
  2. Grammatical: Imperfetto vs Passato Prossimo, Direct and Indirect Pronouns.
  3. Vocabulary: Show business, Media
  4. Culture: Cinema

Course Packet, pp. 71-90, hand-outs on Moodle

I.A., II.B.,


Week 4

  1. Functional: Talking about a plot or an episode from reality
  2. Grammatical: Phrasal Links: time, location, cause. Prepositions: DI and SU introducing a topic. 
  3. Vocabulary: Modern Literature
  4. Culture: Music

Textbook: Units 1-2

Hand-outs on Moodle

Course Packet


Intercultural Presentation: Sept. 28


Week 5

  1. Functional: Asking for/giving information on historical events
  2. Grammatical: Simple Past – Passato remoto (intr.) Indefinite Adj./Pron. 
  3. Vocabulary: History
  4. Culture: Overview of Italian History

Textbook: Units 2-3

Hand-outs on Moodle

Course Packet


Test 3 10%: Oct. 12


Week 6

  1. Functional: Expressing/comparing opinions, doubts and feelings
  2. Grammatical: Phrasal Verbs, Present Congiuntivo vs Infinitive Structures
  3. Vocabulary: Slang and idiomatic expr.
  4. Culture: Italian School System

Textbook: Units 3-4


Hand-outs on Moodle


Course Packet


Week 7

  1. Functional: Espressing Agreement/Disagreement/Uncertainty
  2. Grammatical: Present/Past Congiuntivo with verbs
  3. Vocabulary: Pharmacy
  4. Culture: Italian Folklore/Gestures

Textbook: Units 4-5

Hand-outs on Moodle

Course Packet


Film Report: Oct. 22

I.A., I.C,  III. A/B

Week 8

  1. Functional: Complain formally and informally
  2. Grammatical: Congiuntivo with conjunctions
  3. Vocabulary: Politics
  4. Culture: Italian Political Parties

Textbook: Unit 5-6

Hand-outs on Moodle

Course Packet


Intercultural Presentation: Oct. 30

III. A/B, IV.A/c, V.A

Week 9

  1. Functional: Review
  2. Grammatical: Review
  3. Vocabulary: Review
  4. Culture: Review


Mid Term Exam 15%: Nov. 9


Week 10

  1. Functional: Expressing Hypotheses, personal expections in the past
  2. Grammatical: Imperfetto congiuntivo
  3. Vocabulary: Art
  4. Culture: Religion

Textbook: Unit 6-7

Hand-outs on Moodle

Course Packet


Film Report: Nov. 19

I.A., III. A/B, IV.A, V.B

Week 11

  1. Functional: Discussing different opinions, expressing critical thinking
  2. Grammatical: Advanced Uses of Imperfetto Congiuntivo, Independent, Tense agreement with/without congiuntivo (incl. exceptions and conversational forms)
  3. Vocabulary: Slang, idiomatic expressions,
  4. Culture: Body communication

Textbook: Unit 7

Hand-outs on Moodle

Course Packet


Oral Presentations 10%: Nov. 23-30

I, C, II.B, III. A/B, IV.C, V.B

Week 12

  1. Functional: Complaining/Expressing needs
  2. Grammatical: Imperfetto/ Trapassato Congiuntivo
  3. Vocabulary: Text Messages/abbreviations
  4. Culture: The Italian Society/Family

Textbook: Units 7-8

Hand-outs on Moodle

Course Packet


Oral Presentations 10%: Nov. 23-30


Week 13


  1. Functional: Expressing conditions/possibilities
  2. Grammatical: If-clauses (1st, 2nd)
  3. Vocabulary: Work/jobs
  4. Culture: Job interviews in Italy

Textbook: Unit 9


Hand-outs on Moodle


Course Packet

I.C., III. A/B, IV.A

Week 14


  1. Functional: Expressing conditions/possibilities
  2. Grammatical: If-clauses (3rd), Relative Pronouns (from CUI to QUALE)
  3. Vocabulary: CV/Professional Profile
  4. Culture: Italian Approach to work

Textbook: Unit 9-10


Hand-outs on Moodle


Course Packet

I.C., III. A/B, IV.A, V. C

Week 15


  1. Functional: Expanding ideas, taking/giving turn in a conversation, comment on facts
  2. Grammatical: Relative Pronouns
  3. Vocabulary: Newspapers/News
  4. Culture: News of the week 

Textbook: Unit 10

Hand-outs on Moodle

Course Packet

I.D., II. B, III. A/B, IV.C, V.C

Week 16


  1. Functional: Review
  2. Grammatical: Review
  3. Vocabulary: Review
  4. Culture: Review


Final Exam 20%: Dec. 12




Required readings: 

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

  • Computer (personal laptop or IES lab), Internet Access, and Printing Facilities.
  • 2 Course Packets (review, cultural hints, extra work), available at the “Copisteria Borella”, Via Carducci,  across the street from the IES Center.
  • 1 textbook: 1) Campus Italia,Vol 2, ed Guerra, and 2) a reference grammar : “” ed. Bonacci. Both books are on reserve for the course students at “IL LIBRO” bookstore, Via Ozanam 11 (Red Line Subway, LIMA stop. Opening Hours: 9.30-7 pm. Closed on Monday morning  and every day at lunch time, from 12.30 to 3.00 pm).
  • A medium size ENGLISH-ITALIAN dictionary (about 150.000 words). Webster, Oxford, Cambridge Press. Always bring it to class.  NO MICRO-DICTIONARIES PLEASE!
  • Italian dictionaries are available at the IES Library, please ask the CA’s


Previous Course Name: 
(formerly IT 250 Advanced Intermediate Italian)