Teaching Italian Language and Culture Through Soccer

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University of Michigan

I plan to present an overview of a class that I have designed and that I am currently teaching at the University of Michigan. Italian 271 – Calcio, the Italian National Sport is an advanced language class taken by students who have completed four semesters of language learning. A passion for most Italian men and women, more than politics, religion, or any other sport, in Italy soccer is a source of endless conversations and a central element of popular culture. A not-given penalty or a victory in an important competition occupies the media for days and the memories of the tifosi forever. In my Italian 271 class, students learn about the favorite Italian sport, about its history, teams, and protagonists. They have the unique opportunity of closely following a good portion of the Serie A season. Students acquire the knowledge necessary for engaging in and understanding soccer-related conversations; also, they become aware of a specific vocabulary that has permeated everyday Italian language. Starting from Italian soccer, the goal of this class is to improve students’ linguistic skills and understanding of Italian culture in a larger sense. Through the use of online media sources (mainly newspapers and videos), this class allows students to immerse themselves into a very specific Italian environment, and, at the same time, perfect skills that will permit their further exploration of other Italian cultural and social themes. Through class activities, conversations, and assignments, students continue their learning of Italian grammar and improve their speaking, reading, writing, and listening skills. 

Pierluigi Erbaggio , PhD Candidate in Italian – University of Michigan, erbaggio@umich.edu 

Presented at the Teaching Italian Culture Conference Georgetown University, Washington D.C. Saturday, October 19, 2013

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