Spunti: Italiano elementare 1
Daniel Leisawitz, Muhlenberg College
Daniela Viale, Muhlenberg College
Copyright Year: 2019
Publisher: Muhlenberg College
Conditions of Use
This book is basically a reference for a beginning level grammar structures, it cannot replace a traditional manual. It does not provide essential elements, such as: a context that contains the structures and vocabulary considered in the chapters;... read more
This book is basically a reference for a beginning level grammar structures, it cannot replace a traditional manual. It does not provide essential elements, such as: a context that contains the structures and vocabulary considered in the chapters; a deductive way to explore the grammar; practice exercises and activities to reproduce the vocabulary and the learned grammar; testing or self-testing opportunities; and finally, an index and a glossary.
The grammar structures provided are clear, concise, essential. It could be a good integration and a good grammar reference in a course.
The content included in the book mainly consists of grammar structures that do not quickly become obsolete. It is presented in a way that changes could be easily made or materials can be added.
The content and material are presented in a clear English.
The terminology is consistently used throughout the 6 chapters and all the grammar topics are at a low beginning level. Although, some fundamental elements typical of a beginning level framework are lacking, such as listing of essential vocabulary, speaking, reading and writing practice. The cultural references are also inconsistent throughout the book.
The book is divided in 6 chapter and the material is not always presented in the same way. The chapters should be organized in sections and be consistent through the books. Sometimes the pronunciation is included, sometimes it is not. Some videos are provided, but not for all the chapters. A quizlet is included for memorizing the verbs, it could be useful to do the same for all the vocabulary explored in each chapter.
The topics are generally presented in a logical way in reference to the grammar structures. The various parts presented in each chapter are random, it is not clear why some videos are introduced in a specific chapter, such as the one about the Italian piazza, and how they are connected to the linguistic topic.
The interface is plain. I would introduce more images and photos for the vocabulary, the content, and the cultural references. I would introduce graphics for the grammar presentation. Also, videos introducing the grammar structures would be useful.
I did not find mistakes.
Most of the people that speak in the videos have a north Italian accent. I would introduce a greater variety of regional accents and a greater variety of towns and cities from all over the country. Italy, today is also characterized by a very diverse population from north Africa or eastern Europe that should be represented.
This book could not be used as a substitute for a well organize and structure traditional manual. A lot of integrations should be made to improve the quality of the book and make it available to a lot of students interested in learning Italian.
"Spunti" is not a textbook, but an Elementary I Italian program developed at Muhlenberg College in order to reduce the cost of more traditional language textbooks. It primarily contains grammar explanations, along with pictures and semi-authentic... read more
"Spunti" is not a textbook, but an Elementary I Italian program developed at Muhlenberg College in order to reduce the cost of more traditional language textbooks. It primarily contains grammar explanations, along with pictures and semi-authentic videos. However, the OER press book does not contain grammar, reading, listening, and speaking exercises. This material is only available on Canvas, which is the platform that students use at Muhlenberg College. Given this limitation, instructors can only use this material as a starting point ("spunti" -as the title itself means) for in class speaking, listening, and writing activities. Hence, if you are looking for a more structured textbook that offers a variety of practical and contextualized exercises, "Spunti" will not satisfy your expectations. Instead, it would definitely be a pivotal tool as a grammar supplement to a more communicative course. Units 1-6 focus on the basic grammar a student of Italian at the Elementary I level should cover in one semester at college level. The text provides an effective index, but not a glossary. Finally, in some units (i.e. Unit 3), there is a link to Quizlet.com for flashcards and some verbs practice.
The text is accurate, error-free, and does not present any bias.
"Spunti" is an unfinished work, which is still in progress. As it is right now, it is more a supplement of grammar explanations than a complete textbook. By not having access to any sort of mechanical, meaningful, and communicative grammar exercises, in addition to speaking and writing activities, it is imperative for an instructor who wants to use this text in class to implement with other resources.
"Spunti" is very clear and straightforward, especially in terms of grammar explanations, which do not present extremely technical terminology.
“Spunti” does not have a consistent framework. Apart from being divided in units (which are also called “Part”), it is not organized in categories. Sometimes it is not clear why a video or a picture is in that specific unit. For example, in Unit 5 there is a video called “Viva il gelato!” after 3 videos referring to Italian family. I would expect to find a similar video in the unit focusing on the use of the verb “piacere” or the –isc verb “preferire.” Maybe there is a logical reason for that video to be there. However, by not having access to the material on Canvas, it is sometimes difficult for an instructor to understand how to effectively use the semi-authentic material.
Overall, “Spunti” is an easy text to read. Both the online and the PDF formats have a clickable table of contents, which is very helpful and time saving. I do not know how the exercises are connected to the grammar explanations and vocabulary charts. I would suggest adding some clickable icons/symbols to connect students to a specific part of the unit while they are completing their homework on Canvas.
“Spunti” is divided into 6 Units and they all start with a grammar explanation followed by videos, photos, and/or realia. Unfortunately, there is no consistency between every unit. In fact, while Unit 1 presents 6 videos and 3 pictures to be used for possible activities, Unit 2 has only 2 videos and 1 picture. I would suggest organizing every unit with the same categories, namely vocabulary, grammar, reading, listening, and culture.
The interface is clean and straightforward. Both the online and the PDF version are easy to navigate and have a very linear and minimal layout. However, in the PDF version some of the charts are "cut" on the right (i.e. p. 87 and 92).
"Spunti" does not contain any typos and only presents one grammar error ("Monterosso a Cinque Terre" instead of "alle Cinque Terre"). For sure, the strength of this text is the precise, clear, and concise explanations of beginning Italian grammar. For this reason, as I already mentioned, it would be a very useful grammar supplement to a more communicative course.
"Spunti" is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any ways. Maybe it would be more inclusive if the chapter about family included videos or readings about multi-racial/ ethnic and same sex relationship and/or marriage. The adapted excerpts from "L'Espresso" only refers to the increase number of Italian people divorcing, separating, and living together with their partner (and the differences between the North and the South of Italy). However, it does not give a more contemporary and diverse picture of Italian society (and family).
I really like the way this text clearly covers and explains crucial grammar points in Italian, for example the Passato Prossimo. I would definitely use it as an extra tool to help my elementary students to better understand some grammar structures. However, it would be difficult to use "Spunti" as a primary textbook since most of the material is not contextualized and there is no access to any sort of exercise.
Table of Contents
- I. Unità 1
- II. Unità 2
- III. Unità 3
- IV. Unità 4
- V. Unità 5
- VI. Unità 6
About the Book
Spunti: Italiano elementare 1 is a unique program for Italian language learning, authored by the Italian faculty of Muhlenberg College (Pennsylvania, USA). Spunti 1 provides fully elaborated course materials for first-semester Italian that college instructors can use and adapt, or students can use on their own. Spunti 1 consists of: 1) an online Pressbook with grammar explanations, cultural material, vocabulary, videos, and self-correcting interactive exercises; 2) printable packets of in-class activities; and 3) complete lesson plans for one semester. Users are free to use Spunti 1 in whole or in part, and are free to adapt it to their needs. Spunti: Italiano elementare 2 and Spunti: Italiano intermedio are the companion texts for second-, third- and fourth-semester Italian, and are still under development.
About the Contributors
Daniel Leisawitz, Muhlenberg College
Daniela Viale, Muhlenberg College