88367 - Teaching Italian as L2 for Infant and Primary School

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Paola Polselli

  • Learning modules Paola Polselli (Modulo 1)
    Sabrina Ardizzoni (Modulo 2)
    Monica D'Argenzio (Modulo 3)

  • Credits 8

  • SSD L-FIL-LET/12

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures (Modulo 1)
    Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
    Traditional lectures (Modulo 3)

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Primary teacher education (cod. 8540)


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

This course aims at assisting students in acquiring key knowledge and the skills needed to teach and enhance the experience of Italian as a Second Language (ISL) in plurilingual formal settings. Specifically, by the end of the course, students are able to describe the development process of second language acquisition from different theoretical perspectives (psychological, linguistic, social and cultural theories). They are able to identify and use the distinguishing features characterizing key language teaching approaches, methodologies and techniques. They are able to observe, promote and assess ISL learning and to plan and organize ISL teaching activities in Infant and Primary school education. They know how to promote children’s discovery skills and ability to observe the coexistence of a plurality of cultural and linguistic codes.

Course contents

In language education, as in other areas of teaching, awareness of the act of teaching should emerge on the teacher’s part as the ability to question his or her actions in light of the scientific foundations of language learning. This entails the ability to define and motivate choices and teaching decisions with reference to theories and methodologies; knowing how to critically evaluate texts, teaching materials and tools so they can be selected on the basis of objective criteria and integrated with other inputs useful for observation, analysis and communicative use. This includes professional knowledge about how a second language is acquired, how to effectively organize language learning in a multilingual classroom, how to enhance the dimension of language learning in the study of disciplinary content in the context of formal learning at school.

Teaching Italian as a Second Language in Infant and Primary schools is a 48-hour course, divided into three modules and worth 8 credits.

In the first module on Language teaching (24 hours, Paola Polselli), the different dimensions of bi/plurilingualism in childhood are considered with particular reference to the characteristics of bi/plurilingual competence, narrative competence, reading and text comprehension and metalinguistic skills in bilingual children. Studies on second language acquisition (SLA) will be discussed providing useful indications for the definition of teaching practices and learning/teaching materials for Italian as a Second Language (ISL) in Infant and Primary schools. Students will thus acquire: 1) fundamental knowledge on how children communicate in the different phases of ISL acquisition (interlanguage development); 2) will learn to identify individual and external factors which might impact their language learning; 3) will learn how to best handle different kinds of input/output and variable interaction dynamics to promote negotiated meanings and socially shared cognition. The aim is both to foster a critical understanding of language teaching methodologies and to acquire knowledge leading to informed choices to support and encourage ISL learning by adopting positive teaching practices that enhance and promote multilingual perspectives, cultural diversity and social inclusion. In particular, discussion and activities will focus on:

  • types of plurilingual competence and individual or external to the learner factors
  • the learner's plurilingual profile and second language learning at Infant and Primary level
  • needs analysis and goals setting in language learning and teaching
  • acquisitional linguistics and interlanguage analysis
  • the main theories on language learning and the approaches or teaching methods derived from them
  • narrative competence, reading and text comprehension and metalinguistic skills
  • the presence of unknown languages in the classroom as an opportunity for language education
  • analysis and design of teaching and learning materials for ISL in the multilingual classroom.

The second module on Italian as Second Language for learners of Chinese background (12 hours, Sabrina Ardizzoni) will focus on linguistic, cultural, and social aspects specifically relevant to young learners of ISL of Chinese background.

We are going to address the following issues:

  • Language: Chinese linguistics from an historical, typological, phonetic and grammatical point of view. The dialects of China. The adherence to a normative language in China and abroad. Chinese writing systems.
  • The State: From “One Country, Two Systems” to “The New Silk Road”: an outline of the evolution of State in contemporary China and the impact on internal and overseas migrations.
  • The family: Family as pivotal identity element in Chinese culture and the importance of kinship nets.
  • School and educational frameworks: From the traditional schooling system to new educational models in the 20th century, and new educational opportunities in 21st century China.
  • Teaching tools: the first phases of ISL learning of newly arrived children from China and linguistic teaching children of second – or third – generation Chinese: assessment, teaching-program projects, resources for teachers; the empowering of advanced language skills, the importance of a new culture, the relation with family and community.

The third module of Italian for Arabic speakers (12 hours, Monica d'Argenzio) aims to provide a theoretical and methodological overview of the teaching of the ISL for Arabic speakers. The premise is that learning a language, rather than being limited to a mere didactic exercise, is first of all a social experience involving delicate aspects of personal identity, respect for others and the perception of oneself as well as the relationship with one's own culture. This is why we aim to tackle these issues by trying to analyze and dismantle the more complex issues that often characterize the process of those who learn the Italian language in Italy starting from a different language and culture. The thesis is that every foreigner, by adopting, voluntarily or not, Italian does not abandon the mother tongue but rather grafts the second language onto the first, developing that fascinating and complex condition of bilingualism that is typical of those who learn to live with two different languages. In this scenario the language teacher is a privileged spectator and, at the same time, the guide who can accompany and guide this path with positive results. Without any pretension of exhaustiveness, an overview will be presented on the socio-cultural and linguistic aspects that characterize what is, by convention, called the Arab world. Reference will be made to the migratory presence in Italy coming from this socio-geographic area and to the characteristics of the learners present in the Italian school (children, adolescents, adults). From the identification of the specificity of the Arabic language, attention will then be focused on the techniques to develop the different skills considered and illustrative case studies will be presented, especially in reference to written and oral productions. The topics will be the following.

  • The Arabic world: a socio-cultural and linguistic area with 1000 faces
  • The Arabic language: its main features
  • Arabic-speaking students in the Italian school. Types of learners: children, adolescents, adults
  • Teaching Italian to Arabic-speaking learners: glottodidactic, intercultural and linguistic strategies
  • Productive skills and Arabic-speaking learners
  • Case studies on how Arabic-speaking students learn.


Module 1:

  • Pallotti, G. (1998/2000), La seconda lingua, Roma, Bompiani (chapters 2, 3, 4 and parts of 5).
  • Levorato M. C., Marini A. (ed.) (2019), Il bilinguismo in età evolutiva, Erickson (chapters 1, 5, 6).
  • Slides provided by the lecturer.

Further reference texts:

  • Andorno, C., Sordella, S. (2018), “Usare le lingue seconde nell’educazione linguistica: una sperimentazione nella scuola primaria nello spirito dell’Éveil aux langues”, in De Meo A., Rasulo M., (a cura di), Usare le lingue seconde. Comunicazione, tecnologia, disabilità, insegnamento, Studi AItLA 7, Milano, pp. 211-233.
  • Danesi M., Diadori P., Semplici S. (2018), Tecniche didattiche per la seconda lingua, Carocci editore (capp. 1, 3, 4).
  • F. Gallina (2021), Italiano lingua di contatto e didattica plurilingue, Franco Cesati Editore.
  • Whittle, A. (2015), “Focalizzare la forma: sviluppo della competenza linguistica nella classe multilingue della scuola primaria”, in Italiano LinguaDue, n. 2, pp. 13-35.

Module 2:

  • Andorno, C. ( 2010), “Lo sviluppo della morfosintassi in studenti cinesi,” in S. Rastelli, (a cura di), Italiano di cinesi, italiano per cinesi: dalla prospettiva della didattica acquisizionale, Perugia, Guerra, pp. 89-122.
  • Ardizzoni, S., (2012). "Riflessioni sulla mediazione linguistico-culturale in ambito scolastico: note a margine di una lettura di Edgar Morin," in Scritti di mediazione, cultura e lingua cinese, Bologna, Bonomo Editore, 2012, pp. 9-46. (in dispensa)
  • Slides provided by the lecturer.

Further reference texts:

  • Mammuccari, Nuzzo (2019) "Acquisizione e uso dell’articolo italiano da parte di sinofoni. Uno studio di caso sull’espressione della definitezza".
  • Bernini, G. “Da lingue extraeuropee verso l’italiano. Tra linguistica acquisizionale e tipologia linguistica”, in Alberto Manco (a cura di) Le lingue extra-europee e l'italiano: aspetti didattico-acquisizionali e sociolinguistici. Atti del LI Congresso Internazionale di Studi della Società di Linguistica Italiana (Napoli, 28-30 settembre 2017) 2018, pp.11-32. https://aisberg.unibg.it/retrieve/handle/10446/129772/275314/Gottardo%20Valentini%20con%20copertina%20indiceAtti_SLI_2018.pdf

Module 3:

The list of readings will be posted on “Virtuale” at https://virtuale.unibo.it/.

Teaching methods

Lectures, dialogic talk, case studies, group activities and peer feedback sessions, individual work.

Assessment methods

The final exam will evaluate the student’s proficiency in the course contents and will consist of two parts:
- a written examination (answers to open-ended and/or closed-ended questions) aimed at evaluating the student’s critical and theoretical knowledge related to the chapters and the essays on second language acquisition and second language teaching listed in the bibliography; non-attending students will answer to 4 open-ended questions;
- a professional application task aimed at assessing working practice knowledge (students will be asked to analyse interlanguage samples or teaching materials and devise related teaching materials), to be performed in written form (attending students) or in oral form (non-attending students). The analysis grid provided for the teaching materials has been adapted from Cortés Velásquez D., Faone S., Nuzzo E. (2017), "Analizzare i manuali per l’insegnamento delle lingue: strumenti per una glottodidattica applicata" in Italiano LinguaDue, v. 9, n. 2.

To be considered an 'attending student' it is necessary to attend 75% of the lessons.

The evaluation criteria encompass: relevance of content; extent and depth of concepts and of conceptual links; mastery of the skills necessary to analyze, discuss and produce educational material; accuracy in written/oral production and terminology use.

Positive evaluation scores range from 18/30 to 30/30 (30/30 cum laude, in case of outstanding results).

  • A high or the maximum evaluation score (ranging from 27 to 30 cum laude) will be awarded to students who demonstrate full knowledge and mastery of theoretical and applied concepts and have a critical grasp of them (see course contents for Module 1, 2, 3 and related readings). Such students are highly accurate in their exposition and can use appropriate technical terminology.
  • Students who demonstrate a good grasp of theoretical and applied knowledge derived from course contents but who haven’t fully mastered linguistic, critical, discursive and terminological resources will be awarded a medium evaluation score (23-26).
  • A low evaluation score (18-22) will be awarded to students demonstrating a sufficiently secure mastery of theoretical and applied knowledge as described in course contents/bibliography, but exhibit a tottering control of the required linguistic, critical, discursive and terminological resources.

Teaching tools

Paper and digital texts (authentic materials from textbooks and websites relevant for Italian as a second language learning; dialogue transcriptions and examples from reference texts etc.); multimedia presentations; online and offline digital resources (iconic, audio and video resources).

Office hours

See the website of Paola Polselli

See the website of Sabrina Ardizzoni

See the website of Monica D'Argenzio