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Didactics of Modern Languages
Second semester
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Learning outcomes of the course unit

By the end of the course students will have developed theoretical knowledge about intercultural communication and some key soft skills that are necessary to develop good practices of intercultural communication (see below).

- Knowing the interdisciplinary foundations of Intercultural Communication as a research field, as well as the key features of the functionalist and the constructivst approaches
- Understanding the complex relations among culture, mind and language, as well as the main theoretical stances and the advances of the research on these topics.

- Applying the key notions of intercultural communication to reflect upon one's personal experience and the formation of one's cultural identity.
- Applying the tools of intercultural communication to analyze case studies and identify potential causes of intercultural conflict.

- Identifying the differences of the main appraches to the study of intercultural communication.
- Appreciating the pros these approaches, as well as their potential disadvantages.

- Developing strategies for inclusive communication, avoiding bias and cultural stereotypes.
- Developing awareness of the role of emotional competence in the process of interpersonal communication.

- Developing the following soft skills: observation and self-observation, assessment and self-assessment, personal awareness, use of emotional resources to better understand others (e.g. empathy, active listening skills, open-mindedness, pespective shift).

Course contents summary

After a brief introduction to Intercultural Communication as an interdisciplinary field of studies, the course will be divided into three parts. The first part covers the theoretical basis of the study of communication among people with different linguistic and cultural background. This part discusses the concept of 'culture', the different approaches to cultural studies and the complex relations among culture, mind and language. The second part of the course covers the functionalist perspective to intercultural communication. Here, the notions of 'intercultural communicative competence' and the verbal and non verbal variables that can cause intercultural misunderstandings are discussed. The last part of the course aims to develop a critical approach to intercultural communication by introducing the constructivist paradigm and some of its key-concepts, such as 'small culture' and 'grammar of culture', as well as discussing the role of emotional competence in interpersonal communication.

Recommended readings

Mandatory readings:
Anolli L. (2004) Psicologia della cultura, Il Mulino (capitoli 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10).
Balboni P.E., Caon F. (2015) La comunicazione interculturale, Marsilio.

Critical reading of one of the following books:
Canetti (1991) La lingua salvata. Storia di una giovinezza, Adelphi.
Deutscher G. (2013) La lingua colora il mondo. Come le parole deformano la realtà, Bollati.
Hoffman E. (2021) La lingua del tempo, Il Margine.
Lahiri J. (2016) In altre parole, Guanda.
Mantovani G. (1998) L'elefante invisibile. Alla scoperta delle differenze culturali, Giunti.
Said E.W. (1978) Orientalismo. L'immagine europea dell'Oriente, Feltrinelli.
Servergini B. (2001) Italiani con la valigia, Rizzoli.

The material used in class is available on the Elly platform.

Teaching methods

Lectures and interactive classes based on practical activities to promote intercultural reflection and critical thinking.

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam consists of a 90-minute written test which will contain questions based on an input (storytellings, advertisement etc.) to be analysed in the light of the contents of the module. The test aims to assess the students’ theoretical knowledge and ability to apply the contents of the course, as well as their critical thinking and communicative skills.
Those students who regularly attend the classes have the possibility to integrate the mark of the written test by handing in a “Learning Diary”, which will contain 6 activities chosen among all the activities in the “Tocca a te!” section of the online material available on the ELLY platform. Further technical details will be available at the beginning of the classes and on the ELLY platform.

A fail is determined by the lack of an understanding of the minimum content of the course, the inability to express oneself adequately, by a lack of autonomous preparation, the inability to solve problems related to information retrieval and the decoding of complex texts, as well as an inability to make independent judgments. A pass (18-23/30) is determined by the student’s possession of the minimum, fundamental contents of the course, an adequate level of autonomous preparation and ability to solve problems related to information retrieval and the decoding of complex texts, as well as an acceptable level of ability in making independent judgments. Middle-range scores (24-27/30) are assigned to the student who produces evidence of a more than sufficient level (24-25/30) or good level (26-27/30) in the evaluation indicators listed above. Higher scores (from 28/30 to 30/30 cum laude) are awarded on the basis of the student’s demonstration of a very good or excellent level in the evaluation indicators listed above.

Other informations

There are no extra readings for students who do not attend the in-presence lessons, as the course is provided in a blended mode.