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The teaching of Italian in British Columbia : theories, methods, computers and MAE Stokovac, Jo-Anna G. M.

Abstract

The teaching of a foreign language involves the use of methods, rooted in an approach to language teaching, and often incorporates the use of technology such as computers and multimedia. In order to examine the approach, method, and use of multimedia technology in the teaching of Italian in British Columbia at the elementary and secondary levels, it is important to first define these critical elements. The first chapter examines the global shift from using a Grammar-Translation Approach to teaching foreign languages towards using a Communicative Approach. It is interesting to note that this shift spans numerous centuries and develops gradually through a series of innovative foreign language teaching approaches and methods. The second chapter provides an in-depth look at this Communicative Approach. It examines the theories it is based on, the components a Communicative Language Teaching or CLT syllabus incorporates, as well as the classroom manifestations of CLT, including the types of activities used, the role of grammar, the learning resources used, the teacher's role, and the student's role. The chapter also reviews criticism levied against CLT. The third chapter examines the role of computer technology in foreign language teaching. As computers become ubiquitous, it is important to highlight the reason why computers go hand in hand with CLT; computer technology incorporates aspects of the theories which Communicative Approach is based upon. As such, computer technology should be part of the CLT classroom but only after the most effective Computer Assisted Language Learning or CALL program has been chosen. This chapter identifies criteria for the selection of effective CALL as well as identifying how to implement CALL in the classroom setting. In trying to examine CALL's overall value to CLT, the chapter also highlights some of the positive and negative attributes of CALL. The final chapter uses the terminology and approaches introduced in previous chapters and relates them to the actual panorama of Italian taught at the elementary and secondary levels in British Columbia. The driving force behind the use of the Communicative Approach and the use of computer technology in the local teaching of Italian comes from the Italian Ministero degli affari esteri, or MAE. This can be seen through MAE's foreign policy, their financial assistance, their trained personnel sent to assist local teachers of Italian, and their ongoing commitment to the teaching of Italian abroad. The chapter, through a questionnaire completed by local teachers of Italian, also tries to ascertain whether the resources offered by MAE are being used to their fullest.

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