By Professor Martina Franci
The students of the Italian Language Advanced course at FUA have the great opportunity to collaborate with Blending magazine by writing of a series of articles and newsletters throughout the semester. This collaboration allows students to put into practice what they are taught in a professional setting. The purpose of interactive teaching is to expose the student to working in a linguistic and cultural context different from his own. In this regard, what better opportunity than writing articles about Florentine daily life?
During the semester, the first article written by the students discussed Italian cuisine. This theme was chosen due to the fact that the students had just arrived in Italy and one of the first factors that intrigues people is food. In Italy kitchens are filled with the rich aromas and flavors of our Italian cuisine. Food is not just a necessity here. However, it is not enough to discover the tastes and traditions of a new country, it is essential to have a curiosity and openness which we have worked on a lot in class. One particular Tuscan dish the students were intrigued by was Lampredotto, a typical Florentine dish, which they did not know existed until they arrived in Italy.
The students also prepared tourist guides in which the main objective was to recommend a restaurant, a pizzeria or a market that they had tried or discovered. The article on the San Frediano market was an article that had been selected. It described the market as a welcoming, economical place, where one can find excellent food, even for a quick lunch.
Another very interesting article written by the students concerned the MOBIKE, the small orange bikes traveling around the center of Florence and representing a Florentine novelty. In the classroom we compared this new service with similar services offered in their country. The articles presented by the students were very different. Some talked about the service in a very objective way, mentioning the origin of the bikes, the payment system, the freedom of how and when to use them. While others focused on the merits and weaknesses of the service, emphasizing the small wheels and the excessive lightness of the bike that does not give stability. The students ended the article with an interview of a person using these bikes. The interviews were with people they encountered on the street. This paved the way for the most curious anecdotes; those who emphasized the convenience and those who denounced the lack of brakes.
The third article contributed to the expansion of the students' Italian cultural knowledge. In the classroom we saw the film "The Mafia Kills Only in the Summer," which is about the mafia in a somewhat unusual way. The mafia is seen through the eyes of a child and the story is veiled by a strong dose of irony. The students wrote a review emphasizing how much the film effected them and how much they learned. The film was accompanied with texts concerning the Italian history of the second war, the years of Christian Democracy, Andreotti, Falcone and Borsellino. It was very motivating for them as students and also for me as a teacher. Working as a teacher is inspiring when it gives you the opportunity to transmit skills that go beyond grammar and language, when you are asked to tell the students a bit of Italian history and culture, the story that some of their grandparents might have lived and possibly abandoned for the new continent.
The last article was configured as an account of their experience in Italy. It was interesting to read and listen to how much this experience has given to the students. They love Italy, they love our hospitality, they love Florentine and Italian art, they love our food and have also benefited from what we Italians usually consider a deficiency: public transportation. Because they did not have a car and needed to use public transportation, they expressed how all of this has given them the opportunity to taste and live in our beautiful country.
The collaboration with Blending for advanced courses is a motivating tool. It is interesting and useful for Italian students; a door that allows them to fully enjoy our culture and society. Through this tool the students deepen the knowledge of our language and culture, a goal that we always keep in high esteem and that represents our mission.
Future editions of this course can be consulted at the FUA academic schedule.