Italian Language in Context: Emerging Competent Abroad III

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

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


A 60 hours course designed for advanced students of Italian. This class adopts an integrated method focused on the acquisition of linguistic and cultural skills which allows the students to understand complex, academic and literary texts (Interpretive Mode), to present both their own and another person's ideas and thoughts about topics not necessarily related to daily activities (Presentational mode) and to interact with other people even in a formal context (Interpersonal Mode).


Students who enter this course will have mastered most of the outcomes of the Independent Abroad level as defined by the IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication, as well as selected outcomes defined in Emerging Competent Abroad.  Among other characteristics, these students are able to converse at a rate of speed approaching normal conversation. They are creative, spontaneous, and self-reliant as they solve problems, interpret texts, negotiate, and express their opinions, likes, and dislikes in the culture. Although they still make errors and experience communication breakdowns, these students tend to resolve these challenges on their own. Students who enter this level can already understand a variety of colloquial expressions and slang, and are also able to understand a wider variety of native speakers from different backgrounds.

Students entering this level can succeed in a range of moderately complex university courses designed for native speakers. Before registering, they should consult with the appropriate IES Abroad academic advisor on course selection.

By the end of this course, students will have started to acquire the subtlety of expression and control of complex structures that characterize Competent Abroad learners. However, Emerging Competent Abroad learners have only partial mastery of these structures and quite often resort to simpler and more direct modes of expression, particularly when negotiating linguistically difficult or unfamiliar situations. Emerging Competent Abroad speakers understand local cultural attitudes, values, beliefs, and behavior patterns well enough to make an informed choice about which cultural features they would like to adopt or need to adopt in order to live harmoniously in the local culture. They lack some of the depth of cultural understanding and sophistication of those who have spent more time living and working in the local context.


"Pledge for Italian-only in class". Students are absolutely required not to speak any English in class (with the teacher or classmates). The use of the target language (Italian) will be considered as a part of your

participation grade. English could sometimes come into play (the teacher might use it) when necessary, in order 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 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 the outcomes for the Emerging Independent 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
A.    Students will be able to describe and analyze 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.
B.    Students will be able to analyze the validity of their own cultural beliefs, behaviors, and norms by contrasting and comparing them with those of the host cultures.  
C.    Students will demonstrate openness and acceptance of different beliefs and styles even when they do not agree with them.
D.    Students will assume responsibility for their own learning by defining their linguistic goals and demonstrating independence in their exploration of the culture.

II.    Listening
A.    Students will be able to identify a wide range of social and cultural accents and some regional differences of the spoken language.
B.    Students will be able to understand most native speakers and non-native experts and comprehend a wide array of moderately complex interactions.

III.    Speaking
A.    Students will be able to participate fully in most academic and social interactions using, when appropriate, complex language including slang, colloquial expressions, double meaning, and humor with increasing confidence.  
B.    Students will be able to make arguments to support hypotheses and opinions on topics of their interest.
C.    Students will talk about abstract topics, but only if they are topics previously studied or which they are personally familiar.
D.    Students will be able to interact using different levels of formality.

IV.    Reading
A.    Students will be able to read and understand profoundly textbooks, literary works, and academic articles for classes taught in the host language as well as a wide range of popular texts for enjoyment.
B.    Students will be able to read and understand authentic materials including newspapers, advertisements, brochures, instruction manuals, etc. on abstract topics with limited assistance.
C.    Students will be able to choose independently their reading materials based upon their own interests.

V.    Writing
A.    Students will be able to write for a wide range of native audiences and express themselves quite clearly and effectively.
B.    Students will be able to write essays for classes incorporating aspects of appropriate academic style with limited assistance.
C.    Students will be able to use a variety of formal written styles with accuracy.

Method of presentation: 

The course is taught with a communicative approach to make students learn by using their own resources, to let them present or discuss subjects interacting with other people and produce written texts. The course includes multimedia material activities through which students will develop both culture and language use. Working in pairs or small groups is specially emphasized.

Required work and form of assessment: 

Test 1: 10%
Test 2: 10%
Midterm Exam 15%
Oral Presentation: 15%
Final Exam: 20%
Weekly Assignments: 10%
Active participation through discussion, reading and writing: 10%
Intercultural activities: 10%



This breakdown may be subjected to changes (TBA); in total, the course consists of 60 contact hours. At least one guest lecture of the IES Guest Lecture series, on Tuesdays from 17:30 to 19:00, will be designed as mandatory (TBA). During the first weeks of class we will review most of the prerequisites in order to create a level of homogeneity among students. The course pace will be adjusted (accelerated or slowed down) according to class response to teaching methodology.







Corresponding Learning Outcome(s)

Week 1

Introduction to the course; A geographical perspective on where we are.

1. Functional: knowing Italians; cities of Lombardy.

2. Grammar: past tense (passato prossimo, imperfetto, passato remote), nouns and pronouns, prepositions.

3. Vocabulary: common words, idiomatic expressions related to gestures.

4. Culture: Italian gestures and dialects.


- Research on a city of Lombardy.


- Write a biography.


- Reading on people of Milan.

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

Week 2

1. Functional: knowing about Italian and Milanese cooking traditions.

2. Grammar: passato prossimo versus imperfetto;, prepositions; review.

3. Vocabulary: food shops and stores.

4. Culture: Milanese best food shop.


- Paper on the field study at Peck


- Test 1 (10%): Sep 18th



Week 1

1. Functional: knowing about Italian recipes and people’s food habits.

2. Grammatical: ci and ne; expressions with prepositions; imperative.

3. Vocabulary: cooking, food.

4. Culture: traditional recipes of Milan.


Interviews of people of Milan on their food habits.



Week 2

1. Functional: writing a formal letter

2. Grammar: the conditional, the subjunctive.

3. Vocabulary: academic Italian; universities.

4. Culture: the Italian academic formal code; exchange Italian students’ experiences.


Write a cover letter.


Week 3

1. Functional: knowing about the history of Milan

2. Grammar: conjunctions with subjunctive

3. Vocabulary: building, architecture, politics

4. Culture: field study at the town hall in Milan


Write a paper on the field study


Week 4

1. Functional: reading of newspapers; writing an article for a newspaper

2. Grammar: the passive forms

3. Vocabulary: journals and magazines technical words; journalistic language.

4. Culture: understanding cultural differences in the news


- Write an article


- Interviews to Italians on their reading habits


- Test 2 (10%): Oct 15th


Week 5

1. Functional: reading by Collodi’s Pinocchio

2. Grammar: the future perfect functions.

3. Vocabulary: idiomatic expressions in the text.

4. Culture: the symbolic meaning of Pinocchio


Reading comprehension


Week 6

1. Functional: reading by Pinocchio

2. Grammar: hypothetical clauses; the passive si

3. Culture: view, compare and discuss movies’ production on Pinocchio


Ex. on Textual Connection




Week 7


Midterm Exam (15%): Nov 7th


Week 8

1. Functional: Walter’s lecture: Humor in Guareschi’s Works

2. Grammar: indefinite verbs (Past participle, Gerund, Infinitive).

3. Vocabulary: reading by Guareschi

- Intercultural Essay 1


- Visit and compare the readings with the reality of Milan today.





Week 9

1. Functional: reading by Pirandello, Il fu Mattia Pascal

2. Grammar: indirect Speech.


Oral Presentation (15%): Nov 21st


Week 10

1. Functional: reading by Piero Ottone: Il mestiere del giornalista

2. Grammar: idiomatic expressions.

4. Culture: field study to the Palace of leading newspaper of Italy


Write a paper on the job of the journalist.


Week 11


General review

Intercultural Essay II

I.A, V.B

Week 12




Final exam (20%): December 10th



Required readings: 

- Course Handouts.            

- An ITALIAN – ENGLISH dictionary 

- Martin Maiden, Cecilia Robustelli, A Reference Grammar of Modern Italian - 2nd Revised edition, Hodder Education 2007.

Previous Course Name: 
(formerly IT 350 Advanced Italian II)