Teaching History Through Italian: Human Geography Realia as Cognitive and Pedagogical Tools in Monolingual Undergraduate CLIL Classes

Moreno Bonda, Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania;      Abstract: This paper discusses cognitive aspects of language and culture education. It tests a number of precepts on which the CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) teaching approach is based. Specifically, the teaching of the history of the Mediterranean region in a monolingual class of learners of Italian as a foreign language is examined as a case study.

The author, basing on Jean Piaget notion that education results from the reflection on previous knowledge, challenges the CLIL content first principle discussing educational models based on the evaluation of students’ preconceived ideas. Correspondingly, the manner and advantages of building a CLIL class around the translation and transposition of culture-specific concepts are discussed. Several cognitively challenging realia debated in the classes will be presented: (a) the perception of vertical spaces – i.e. mountains – confronting the Mediterranean and the Baltic Seas, which is especially relevant for students leaving in a completely flat land; (b) the practice of transhumance; (c) the perception of the borders and (d) that of identity and alterity in relation to geographical boundaries.  

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