Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 17

Accepted Abstracts

‘Begin at the Beginning’: Teaching and Learning Beginners Italian in a Blended Environment

Laura Albertini, University of Leicester (United Kingdom)

Maria Guarnieri, University of Leicester (United Kingdom)


When transitioning to a blended learning environment with our 1st year ab-initio Italian beginners’ module in 2020-2021, we were faced with a number of challenges. We had to move from a conventional set-up of 4 hours of F2F tuition to 2 hours F2F and 2 hours online synchronous tuition. In a matter of weeks, all synchronous provision was moved fully online.
The issues we had to contend with ranged from how to integrate effective synchronous and asynchronous materials to promote self-expression, and particularly the development of oral skills in the online classroom, to how to meet the intended learning outcome of exposing beginners to culturally
relevant content and topics, also, how to best guide and support responsible online self-study, while fostering self-reflection, learning empowerment, and community building.
In our presentation, we will look at how tools such as formative assessment, the presence of Italian guests from different walks of life, and the careful scaffolding of materials proved to be crucial in the successful delivery of the module. We will also outline the insights and principles that we believe that we will be able to carry forward as we move towards more “aware” blended language learning horizons.

Keywords: Beginners Italian, Blended Learning, Cultural Input, Oral Skills Development, Responsible Self-Study, Community Building


  • C. Fabbian, E. Zanotti, and M. Grgurović, ‘Lessons Learned: Design and Implementation of Italian Blended Language’ Italica 94, 2 (2017), 314-353
  • C., Johnson, D., Marsh, ‘Blended Language Learning: An Effective Solution but not Without its Challenges’ Higher Learning Research Communications 4,3 (2014), 23-41
  • R. Kaufmann and J. I. Vallade, 'Exploring connections in the online learning environment: student perceptions of rapport, climate, and loneliness' Interactive Learning Environment (2020), 1-15
  • D. Mizza, F. Rubio, Creating Effective Blended Language Learning Courses (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020)
  • P. Shea, S. L. Chun, K. Swan, and A. Pickett, ‘Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses: The Role of Teaching Presence’ Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 9,4 (2005), 59-82.

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