For me, learning is what happens during the ‘inbetween’. Not so much The Upside Down, but rather the ‘inbetween’.
The ‘inbetween’ refers to what is in between all of the quizzes, exams, scaffolded projects, structured dialogue, and homework tasks. The ‘inbetween’ is the process of learning a language, it is what happens internally or when you are least expecting it; it is writing verb conjugations over and over again, making your own connections, figuring words out through context or association, correcting your grammar, and helping your peers; it is looking up word meanings via images on Google.it, laughing with an accent, and troubleshooting tech; it is the process of laughing through hour long discussions on the variety of pastas that can be consumed at just one meal, the process of learning the steps of a video game through trial and error, and the process of texting your final project classmates jokes about Italian language and culture, and asking questions; and it is the process of making mistakes, where we make our most significant gains in language and culture.
In between completing MyItalianLab homework, filling in worksheets, taking quizzes, and mid term exams is when the learning occurs. Of course, the final products do matter, but I really believe that the real, long-term language and culture acquisition is found in the process of performing and completing these assignments and exercises, not the completion.
Intensive Italian for Gamers Spring 2019 definitely kept me on my toes! It was demanding, required a lot of time and effort, sped by quickly, and was carried out in a very intentional fashion. It was by no accident that my team pulled off the most spectacular final project! I couldn’t be more proud of my classmates and what we accomplished. As the four of us stood in front of the class, speaking Italian, reading, asking, and answering questions, and walking the class through our RPG Player game, supported by our PowerPoint, parole chiave sign, and our own knowledge, I felt oh-so-very accomplished and proud to be working with this intelligent group of students.
Again, it was all of the ‘inbetweens’ that had led us up to our successful showcase of Team LasagnYay.
What is Team LasagnYay you may ask? Oh, only one of the coolest and most creative projects I have ever had the privilege to work on. Our Final Project required the a diverse set of experiences and interests, and also allowed us to integrate all of the language learning competencies, writing, reading, listening, speaking, and cultural competence.
For our format we created our own 10-minute RPG game using the free version of RPG Maker Ace Light.
Project description: LasagnYay is a Fantasy RPG that involves characters passing stages of battles with monsters and bosses based on mythical Italian creatures and folklore. The main objective of LasagnYay is to get accepted to l’università di Bologna, in order to find and perfect the Authentic Italian Lasagne recipe. The character(s) will pass through various cities in Italy seeking to obtain local recipes based on region and time period. Should they pass the stage (overcoming the battle), they will collect a regional recipe as their passing token. Each recipe will provide a skill set. The skill set is a cooking skill, which allows them to move forward, as well as ‘fight’ the future bosses. Upon arriving to l’università di Bologna, they will present their recipe portfolio, request admission to the university, and either be accepted or denied. Our presentation will included a walk-through of the game itself, (i.e. a short demo), and a Q&A session.
We worked on the project over the course of about 6 weeks, employed as much language and culture as we could squeeze into our project. One team member took the lead on mastering the RPG platform, I took the lead on language, and the other two team members supported all aspects including pronunciation help, creativity in script and PowerPoint design, making our ‘key words’ banner, and providing team work and positivity! It truly was a collaboration of all efforts, I could not have done it without them.
And, of course, I truly feel that my most impactful learning moments were those done in when not in the spotlight of presenting or typing, but rather from running lines with the team over and over again in the language lab, to texting about the spelling of lasagne in our group chat, to the final correction our professor made on our key words poster just seconds before we were to begin our presentation. Every little word, conjugation, conversation, game played, worksheet completed, and song heard, led up to the creation of this project.
The other day somebody asked me if I thought I had learned 2 semesters of Italian in 1.
I do not feel as if I have learned 2 semesters of Italian in 1.
I have learned so much more than “2 semesters of Italian in 1” that it is really quite difficult to describe. If we breakdown the hours, we discover that an estimated 60 hours were spent in class, and I know I spent about 75-80 hours outside of class doing homework, studying, and working on our final project, so in a 15-week semester, I would estimate I spent about 140 hours involved in the ‘tasks’ of this Italian class.
But who is counting the hours?
The takeaway from Dr. Simone Bregni’s Italian 1200 class is unmatched. I learned an incredible amount for my own teaching practices, found myself positively humbled when working and learning from students 10 years younger than I, and a whole new world of language and culture was open to me.
I cannot express my gratitude for the opportunity to learn languages, in general, but specifically from people who care so much about not only sharing and connecting the cultures of the world, but instructors who break away into the unknown, and employ innovative teaching methods which reflect innovative eras and support diverse learning styles.
Thus, I look forward to seeing what more can come out of the Italian ‘inbetween’.
🇮🇹 Mio caro italiano, siamo amici per sempre! 🤗