Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date






Publication Title

Set the Stage! Teaching Italian through Theater: Theories, Methods, and Practices


One might wonder whether preparing English translations and surtitles for a play performed in Italian by foreign language students in an academic environment is necessary. At first glance, there seem to be several reasons to avoid this enterprise. The translation of a text is a complex and time-consuming endeavor for both students and the instructor. It imposes a painstaking work of editing and line-by-line comparison between the original and its rendition in English. Although the translation could be rendered as a communicative and/or collaborative assignment, the goal is the production of an English text. The focus on English required by translating and surtitling may seem contradictory and even counterproductive in theater performance-based courses, in which speaking the second language is both a central goal and a decisive tool for language enhancement. And, after all, surtitles in English would allow only an audience of non-Italian speakers to enjoy the performance. However, despite these concerns, translating and surtitling a full play into English may be tremendously fruitful and rewarding. The development of surtitles fosters the comprehension, analysis, and enactment of the play; reinforces learners' linguistic skills; helps develop their cross-cultural competence; boosts their motivation; and, more generally, promotes an interest in and appreciation for Italian theater within and beyond the Italian programs.


This published version is made available on Dickinson Scholar with the permission of the publisher. For more information on the published version, visit Yale University Press's Website.