The language course for foreigners created for Progetto Italica is the fruit of a collaboration between RAI International, a division of the Italian national television corporation (RAI) and a working group made up of teachers of Italian language and literature, and researchers and computer specialists from the University of Notre Dame (Devers Program in Dante Studies) and the University of Chicago (ARTFL). The course is constituted by an archive of original video made available by the RAI and integrated textual materials linked to the videos utilizing the possibilities of hypertext mark-up language (HTML). Access to the video courseware is restricted to project participants.
The course thus represents both a source for integrated pedagogical materials and authentic video. Extensive textual materials, images and self-correcting exercises have been incorporated to offer instruction in fundamental grammatical, cultural and lexical topics featured in the individual videos. The video clips are not artificial illustrations of grammatical points, communicative situations or cultural themes. Rather, they maintain their character as authentic examples of Italian language and culture.
The course is designed for students and teachers of Italian language and culture outside Italy who seek access to Italian language and culture by means of authentic materials and within the framework of a flexible didactic structure. The course supports independent and self-paced study by individual students and the creation of courses by teachers. Language instructors may easily adapt the course to classroom use in conjunction with other teaching materials in the context of a wide variety of pedagogical theories and approaches.
Each video clip is connected to a thick web of links including transcriptions, listening and comprehension exercises, grammatical lessons and exercises, lexical tables and relevant cultural pages. Each video becomes in this way the point of departure for a linguistic and cultural exploration of a particular aspect of Italian life. The textual and supporting materials have been organized to permit access to students at various levels of linguistic competence.
The final form of the course will offer two different means of access to the video courseware. A database and search engine will enable teachers to find within the archive video and textual materials relative to the specific grammatical, cultural or lexical themes they want to address in their classes. Independent language learners will access already structured lessons, departing from sample syllabi and work through the individual lessons according to itineraries suggested by the indexes to each lesson and the hypertext pathways embedded in each page.