Italian Language in Context: Competent Abroad III

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Course Information
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 
60 hours

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

Additional student cost: 



This course encourages students who have already acquired advanced language skills, to build upon precision, accuracy and expressiveness of language use, with a special focus on writing skills and critical thinking.

Students will be exposed to Italian current sources of information, i.e. mass-media, and will perform activities which a local Italian student of the same age, and with a similar background, would complete in an undergraduate setting.

Furthermore, students will be asked to take advantage of their proficiency in order to develop a deeper understanding of the culture of their host country. At the end of the course they will be able to interact with members of the local community on touchy subjects, like politics, religion, traditions, economics, healthcare, working environment, gender roles, stereotypes, etc.                                                                                                    

An historical overview will be provided in order to give the class  the necessary background for a better understanding of the roots of Italian language and culture. Excerpts from major literature masterpieces will be discussed in class.

Field studies and visits to places of interest in Milan will be part of the class. Assignments and information on class activities will be posted daily on the class site on Moodle. The teacher will give space to individual projects to be presented to the whole class during oral presentations.


Students who enter this course will already be capable of achieving the outcomes of the Emerging Competent Abroad level as defined by the IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication. Students who take this level should already be familiar with most of the complex structures and linguistic functions that will be covered. They should not be surprised, however, to find that they will need to review these aspects of the language to develop greater fluency and more sensitivity to subtle and underlying linguistic and cultural meanings.

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

By the end of this course, students will be fully able to meet the demands of living and working in the host culture. They will be able to communicate accurately, vividly, and expressively with their hosts on most topics. Students who succeed in this course will be able to function in a professional setting and to undertake further personal or professional projects in the host culture. Students will be able to understand local cultural attitudes, values, beliefs, and behavior patterns well enough to make informed choices about which cultural features they would like to adopt or need to adopt in order to live harmoniously in the local culture.


Italian. Students are required not to speak any English in class (with the teacher or class mates). 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 Competent 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 Competent 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 express their own ideas, perspectives, and arguments thoroughly and yet tactfully, using language proficiency, sociolinguistic skills, and cultural knowledge.
B.    Students will be able to perform any activity (social, academic, professional) a local student of their age, skills, and background would do with a reasonable degree of success.

II.    Listening
A.    Students will be able to recognize and appreciate the beauty and richness of language when they hear it.
B.    Students will be able to understand native speakers on a wide range of complex topics, including their digressions, side comments, and humor.

III.    Speaking
A.    Students will be able to talk about abstract ideas and concepts, engage in agreement or disagreement, and defend their opinions with supporting evidence.
B.    Students will be able to use the language for a wide range of creative purposes.
C.    Students will be able to use humor and an extensive variety of colloquial and idiomatic expressions effectively.
D.    Students will be capable of varying their language to make subtle and complex distinctions (e.g. formality and informality) with a wide array of native speakers.

IV.    Reading
A.    Students will be able to read and understand a wide range of non-academic texts from the local community (print or online), as well as sophisticated texts for their academic studies.
B.    Students will be able to understand the main ideas and supporting details when reading many works of literature and nonfiction with some assistance at times.
C.    Students will be able to recognize and appreciate the beauty and richness of the written word.

V.    Writing
A.    Students will be able to write academic texts that describe, relate, report, compare and contrast, analyze, and summarize with a notable degree of precision and accuracy on a wide range of topics.
B.    Students will be able to distinguish between the written style and the spoken style, and will be able to use the written style effectively with some support.

Method of presentation: 

Recordings/videos/readings from Italian media/books 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 style and synthax of the language used in local settings, and to discuss the relevant topics.  Analysis of advanced grammar/synthax points will follow. Students will be asked to practice the new structures through written/oral exercises.

Cultural/historical topics will also be discussed in class in pairs/groups/in plenum. As a follow-up, students will be required to write short essays dealing with the major points covered during the lesson. The teacher will provide suggestions, and will coach them in order to improve the style and sinthax in their reports. Students will be required to reflect on the teachers’ comments, and then revise the essays. Only the use of an Italian-Italian dictionary will be allowed.        

Required work and form of assessment: 
  1. Active participation to class activities through attendance, discussion, reading and writing: 10%

This implies that students must attend regularly, be on time, participate lively to 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 speaking/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 effect the grade. 

Attendance policy: In an emergency necessitating an absence, the instructor/the staff must be notified. Absences are considered excused ONLY in the following cases: (a) illness - a medical certificate issued on/before the day the student missed class must be submitted to and cleared by the instructor or the Academic Advisor; (b) unpredictable serious personal events - family members visiting is NOT considered a serious personal event; (c) IES/outside institution overlapping academic activities. 1 unexcused absence will not effect the final grade. Starting from the 2nd unexcused absence for reasons other than those listed above, each absence will result in the loss of 5 points/100, and the participation grade (10%) will be adjusted consequently. For ex., 3 unexcused absences = 90/100 in the participation %. Please note that an absence on a 3-hour class will account for 2 missed classes.

An unexcused absence on the scheduled day of an exam results in a grade of 0% for that exam.

PLEASE NOTE : Flight and travelling plans before/during/after class time will not be accepted as excused absences. Make sure that all flight/train reservations will allow you to be present at the scheduled class time.


  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 class-mate/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 on 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 Exams, and 1 oral presentation: 70%. See calendar at the bottom and write the dates in your agenda.
  2. Intercultural Activities: 10%

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 3 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.


Summary/Grade breakdown

TESTS : 70%

Calendar - Intensive

Test 1 10%

Test 2 10%

Test 3 10%

Midterm Exam 15%

Oral Presentations 10%

Final Exam  15%

ASSIGNMENTS: 10 %, including also 2 Film Reports (4 pts each) and a report on 1 Guest Lecture


1 presentation, 1 presentation, 1 report


Attendance, effort in the use of the language in class and ouside of class, active participation to group discussions.



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: Expressing causes and effects of an event

2.Grammatical: Causale clauses – Explicit/Implicit (i.e. Since, given that, etc.)

3.Vocabulary: Idioms using animals

4.Culture: Political-correctedness, The Italian approach/Historical overview of the Roman Empire, Barbarians



p. 85, hand-outs on Moodle


Test 1 (10%)





Week 2 –

1.Functional: Espressing the goal/objective of an action

2.Grammatical: Finale clauses – Explicit/Implicit (i.e. In order to/So that, etc.)

3.Vocabulary: Idioms using parts of the body

4.Culture: Italian major newspapers/Origins of Italian language, the Volgare


Textbook, p. 87, hand-outs on Moodle


Intercultural Presentation:




Week 3

1.Functional: Shifting emphasis from a subject to another. Tranforming a simple sentence into a complex clause.

2.Grammatical: Relative clauses (i.e. of whom, for whom, who, etc.)

3.Vocabulary: The language of politics

4.Culture: Political parties/First Examples of written Italian Language


Textbook, p. 86,

hand-outs on Moodle


Test 2 (10%)





Week 4

1.Functional: Dealing with obstacles, problems politely

2.Grammatical: Concessive clauses – Explicit/Implicit (i.e. Although,etc.)

3.Vocabulary: antonyms/synonims

4.Culture: Field study at the Museum– Milan: capital of the Western Roman Empire


Textbook: p. 88-89

Hand-outs on Moodle





Week 5

1.Functional: Asking for/giving information on historical events

2.Grammatical: Simple Past – Passato remoto (intr.) Indefinite Adj./Pron., 

3.Vocabulary: the language of History

4.Culture: The Tv news/ Medieval times

Hand-outs on Moodle







Week 6

1.Functional: Expressing rules/regulations

2.Grammatical: Impersonal forms in the present/past

3.Vocabulary: Slang and idiomatic expr. of students

4.Culture: Italian School System/Medieval times

Hand-outs on Moodle






Week 7

1.Functional: Espressing Agreement/Disagreement/Uncertainty/Complaints

2.Grammatical: Advanced use of congiuntivo mode

3.Vocabulary: Latin expressions used in modern Italian

4.Culture: Italian Cinema/Middle Age Literature masterpieces

Hand-outs on Moodle



Test 3 (10%)




Week 8

1.Functional: Expressing like/dislike/critical opinions formally

2.Grammatical: Phrasal links, punctuation

3.Vocabulary: Phrases/lines from Divina Commedia used in modern Italian

4.Culture: TV programs/Dante

Textbook: p. 30-32

Hand-outs on Moodle



Intercultural Presentation




Week 9

1.Functional: Review

2.Grammatical: Review

3.Vocabulary: Review

4.Culture: Review



Mid Term Exam


Week 10

1.Functional: Expressing a sequence of events, telling a story

2.Grammatical: Temporali clauses (i.e. After, Before, In the meantime, etc.)

3.Vocabulary: Tv spots/Ads/Medical issues

4.Culture: Religion/Moral issues/ Boccaccio

Textbook: p. 58-9

Hand-outs on Moodle



Film Report:






Week 11

1.Functional: Reporting

2.Grammatical: Direct/Indirect speech

3.Vocabulary: Art  

4.Culture: Milanese painters/Leonardo


Textbook: pag. 62

Hand-outs on Moodle


Oral Presentations



Week 12

1.Functional: Interacting with peers/teachers/professionals

2.Grammatical: common mistakes of Italian speakers

3.Vocabulary: Text Messages/abbreviations/Social networks

4.Culture: The Italian Goverment/Entrepreneurship/


Hand-outs on Moodle



Oral Presentations





Week 13


1.Functional: Expressing hypotheses/possibilities

2.Grammatical: If-clauses (1st, 2nd, 3rd)

3.Vocabulary: Work/jobs

4.Culture: Job interviews in Italy/Renaissance

Textbook: p. 110


Hand-outs on Moodle





Week 14


1.Functional: Expressing conditions/possibilities

2.Grammatical: Hypothetical clauses - Advanced

3.Vocabulary: CV/Professional Profile

4.Culture: Italian Approach to work/Neo-classicism/Pinocchio

Textbook: p. 110


Hand-outs on Moodle





V- B

Week 15


1.Functional: Expanding ideas, taking/giving turn in a formal setting, expressing criticism

2.Grammatical: Limitative/avversative clauses (While, according to, ecc.)

3.Vocabulary: University

4.Culture: News of the week / Major modern Italian poets / writers – Leopardi/Manzoni

Textbook: p. 111

Hand-outs on Moodle



IV – A,B,C

V- A

Week 16


1.Functional: Review

2.Grammatical: Review

3.Vocabulary: Review

4.Culture: Review


Final Exam 20%




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, newspaper, etc.


- AA.VV. , Affresco Italiano – Liv. C1, ed. Le Monnier

- Hand-outs on Moodle

- Italian-Italian dictionary, Devoto-Oli


D. Bertocchi, E.Lugarini, La lingua pensata, 2008

C. Guastalla, Giocare con la letteratura, 2006

A. Chiuchiù, Grammatica e comunicazione, 2009

AA. VV, Parole, 1995

S. Nocchi, Grammatica avanzata della lingua italiana, 2005

A. De Giuli, Le preposizioni italiane, 2008

P. Zamora, Hai voluto la bicicletta (Esercizi su fraseologia e segnali discorsivi), 2006

Balboni A., Letteratura italiana per stranieri, 2008

AA.VV. Storia, Vol. I, Ed. Zanichelli

Previous Course Name: 
(formerly IT 400 Advanced Italian)