I was in Georgia last weekend for a Graduate student conference and during a coffee convo with a Hispanic Linguistics professor I was asked about this class, “wait – what? Italian for Gamers?”…”Intensive Italian?”…”Gaming?”. Our chat was actually put on a brief hold while the professor took a brief time out to Google the class. #Simoneforthewin
And, as I did my elevator pitch of this class, so many of the intentions, angles, and purposes behind all of the pedagogical strategies and methods became a lot clearer and more apparent to me. Sometimes it just takes you explaining something to someone else for you to really fully understand it in a more general way and to appreciate it from an outside perspective. Explaining the class to someone who had absolutely no idea about what it entailed allowed me to bring myself outside of the nitty-gritty details of indefinite plural articles, vocabulary, due dates, and irregular verb conjugations, and really understand the value of the class on a more comprehensive level, while zoomed out looking at it from an eagle’s perspective.
- Everything is a complement
Each exercise and activity is very intentional. There is a careful balance of content and book work from learning the basics of Italian 1 & 2, and while we are following along with the homework on MyItalianLab, our in-class activities, lab assignments, worksheets, and extra credit options on quizzes and exams, are all based around our experience playing video games.I feel like there is this parallel balance in our progression of acquiring the basic language skills and cultural awareness set forth by the book, and the new and authentic material, including tons of digital realia, that our profesore is providing. Which results in an immense, and quite quick, enrichment of our Italian knowledge and ability to apply this knowledge.
- Real life language
An extra skill we gain by gaming and our corresponding worksheets is exposure to language that is used in real life, including slang and informal conversations. As a language teacher I am always aiming to integrate ways in which the language is actually spoken in real life, to help motivate the students, and prepare them for real-life situations. Because, as we know, when you are on the streets of Madrid or Milan, you don’t speak vertically while reciting a memorized diagram of verb conjugations…just sayin’….For example, the following are just a few helpful real-life Italian phrases and constructions we have been exposed to from our game playing:
• ‘Sali!’ – to get on, to climb on, to go up
• ‘Dallo a me!’ – give it to me
• ‘Stai vicino!’ – stay close! (*note – prepositions are part of capitolo 2 in the unit about l’università e la vita degli studenti)
• Sei in gamba! – right on; good thinking; smart girl/guy
• Aspetta! – wait, stop!
• Andiamo! – let’s go! (*note – Andare is one of the first -are verbs we learned in class).
• Fidati, ok? – Trust me. [*fidati dime]
• Scherzi? – Are you kidding?
• (Per) di quà – This way, over there
• Meglio + infinitivo – to be better off doing something…like ‘meglio tornare a casa‘ – to be better off returning home.
• Mi va – I feel like it…
• Ti va…? – do you feel like…?
^ I feel like this is the equivalent to ‘tener ganas de‘ in Spanish…’to feel like doing something.’
• Ma dove vai? – But where are you going?
• Mi basta – it’s enough for me. p.e. ‘mi basta un caffè‘ ☕️ – just a coffee for me.
• Viene! – come!
• Vieni qui! – come here!
- On the streets
‘Siamo nel 1476….e nel presente...’ (*millequatrocentosettantasei)
If you are learning a second language and are unable to physically immerse yourself in an environment where the target language is primarily spoken, such as with a Study Abroad experience, or snatching up an Italian ragazz🐌, then perhaps hopping into a video game is not such a bad substitute. As language learners and instructors, we are always practicing and advising our students to watch movies and shows in the target language, listen to Podcasts, watch Telenovelas, and now some of us are trying out the ‘Language Learning with Netflix‘ Plug In. These are all effective suggestions to increase our language skills. But wouldn’t it be cool if you were actually inside of the movie, speaking and moving along with the characters? How much would that increase your exposure to the Target Language, thus improving your linguistic competency?
Well, playing these games is almost like that. As giocatori we are plopped down onto the cobble stone streets of Firenze in 1476 moving about the world of la Repubblica Fiorentina e their nemici. We hop across roofs, speak with brothers, steal soldi 💶 to pay medical bills, shout at the enemy, hug our brothers, and even manage to sneak into the case 🏠 🏠 of our ragazze….As gicatori, not only are we able to temporarily entrar into the real world of this language and culture, but through our digital time travel, we expand our exposure to the culture as we creep into its history…