112th Annual Conference - Riverside Convention Center, California
Friday, October 31 - Sunday, November 2, 2014

This page is about the 2014 conference. For 2015 conference info, go to PAMLA 2015.

Teaching Italian: Culture and Stereotypes as Starting Point

Elisa Saturno Paasche, Portland State University

The multidimensional nature of films represents a perfect alchemy to analyze the target language, culture and country. Culture and stereotypes are a direct source of constructive criticism and comparison, which oftentimes lead to amazing results in the oral/written production of L2 students.


Learning a language gives us access to another culture and prepares us with the essential skills to succeed and adapt in a rapidly changing world. The use of film is becoming crucial in the teaching of a foreign language and its culture. Its construction is multidimensional and involves several modes of communications such as image, gesture, music, spatial and bodily codes and it could also contribute to the multimodal ways of meaning-making and knowledge construction.  How to integrate film in the academic curriculum? What are the aspects that help the students the most in the effort of learning a new language?

Since films are so multidimensional they offer a wide variety of aspects: the language itself becomes part of a much larger spectrum of topics. The most important among them is culture. This aspect is fundamental for the students to approach the target language and its world, to reach a better understanding of diversity in this globalized world. Culture and its byproducts such as stereotypes represent a precious starting point of interest, which can lead to in more depth studies of certain aspects of the language, the country/region/city and its people. Showing a stereotyped image of the culture can lead to discussions and stimulate constructive criticism and comparison. The results are oftentimes amazingly surprising.