Confronting New Technologies: a Cross-Cultural Telecollaborative Project Across the Ocean

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Book Chapter

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New Approaches to Teaching Italian Language and Culture: Case Studies from an International Perspective


Confronti, an intermediate Italian curriculum, was first developed at the University of Pennsylvania in 2000 under the direction of Kathryn McMahon and Nicoletta Marini-Maio. For the prior two decades, instruction in basic language courses at Penn had been organized around the proficiency principle as articulated in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. The primary objectives focused on developing students' functional communicative competence, and work concentrated on preparing students to attain a specified level on the ACTFL scale in each of the four skills. As the new century came, a need was felt to move the curriculum "beyond proficiency." Within the pedagogical landscape in the US many figures called for an increased focus on content, and stressed the need to engage students intellectually in their language learning, whether it be through culture and context, the importance of literacy, or the development of multiple literacies."Before designing the new curriculum at Penn, the authors administered several questionnaires to students in order to gauge their motivations for learning Italian; a desire to learn more about Italian history and culture ranked very high. The goal for the new curriculum became, then, to place culture learning at the center, rather than the periphery, to challenge the students with engaging materials, and to integrate the language learning activities around the culture core.


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