Toward a Critical Teaching and Learning of National Languages and Cultures. Italian as a case study

Tiberio Snaidero


National identities exist. They change over time and are influenced by globalization, extensive migration, the Internet, and the constantly increasing speed of communication and transport, in the same way that a country's culture is influenced by new citizens who add their different national identities to the mix. At the same time, the identity of these new citizens is altered by the culture of the country they have moved to. By contrast, foreign language teaching varies little: If we consider the cultural topics selected by for teaching Italian as a foreign language, we can see how often they propagate an exotic, unrealistic image of bella Italia. As a consequence, students of Italian often have an out-of-date idea of contemporary Italy, especially with regard to its demographics and social dynamics. A wide variety of resources and methods is available to teachers who want to help their students understand this momentous change in Italian history, develop their intercultural communication skills and question both their own attitudes and the degree to which democratic values are being upheld by the culture they live in.

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