Colgate University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 2614-2618
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
One of the main goals of language courses is for students to learn to use the target language as a privileged means to convey information and ideas. Oral presentations are usually intended to develop students’ abilities to express themselves in an accurate and at the same time spontaneous manner in the second language.

Traditionally, students are required to research a specific cultural topic or focus on a given author or work of art to present in front of the class. Even though this practice helps students speak in front of an audience and share information, it does not always give them space to critically analyze a topic or produce something original from there. It often happens that students merely report data they find online to the class, risking to loose an important moment for them and their peers to communicate and use the language and their knowledge in a more effective way.

In my paper, I would like to present a creative project that my students of Intermediate Italian realized under my supervision and that I think can overcome some of the aforementioned problems and make the most of students’ presentations. The project involves the use of software Comic Life, with which students create a comic strip based on a film and a novel discussed in class. The aims of the project are various: enhancing students’ writing skills, developing working group strategies, improving their reading and critical skills, reinforcing basic linguistic and cultural concepts, and strengthening their speaking skills. The creative project also requires the audience to be active, with specific activities in response to the final presentation.

In one of my intermediate classes, I asked my students to work on a creative project based on Vittorio De Sica’s film, The Bicycle Thieves. In groups of three, students were expected to create a different ending for the film, using Comic Life. Even though they were free to create their own strips and shape the characters’ stories, they had to respect the historical circumstances in which the story originally took place, the main narrative and technical features, and the film’s social message. In preparation to this project, before watching the film students and I discussed the main features of Neorealism in class and the historical context in which this cinematic movement developed.

In the oral presentation, before projecting their comic strip, students introduced their final work, explaining the organization of the group and their thematic and technical choices. At the end of the presentations, the rest of the class, in small groups, wrote a short review of the project, taking into consideration how well the group reproduced the main formal elements of the film, respected the nature of the characters and the film’s historical and social setting, and originally created an appropriate and effective ending scene.

Through the use of Comic Life, the creative project and the final presentation become an interactive work among students, in which they not only acquire Italian language and learn about Italian culture, but they use their own knowledge in a more critical and personal manner.
Second Language Acquisition (SLA), Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), technology, culture, film.