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Maria Rita Francia Biasin. Studio italiano. An Italian Course for Beginners.

Maria Rita Francia Biasin. Studio italiano. An Italian Course for Beginners. Perugia: Guerra Edizioni, 2002. Studio italiano. An Italian Course for Beginners. Workbook/ Laboratory Manual. Perugia: Guerra Edizioni, 2003. Studio italiano. An Italian Course for Beginners. 2 CD Audio. Perugia: Guerra Edizioni, 2003.

Dedicated to her late spouse, Dr. Gian-Paolo Biasin, Professor of Italian at the University of California, Berkeley, this first-year Italian program is indeed a fitting tribute to his noteworthy achievements. Studio italiano is a well-conceived program that will engage neophyte students of Italian through its systematic presentation of the Italian language with a balanced approach to listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing skills as well as its excellent selected cultural content. This program is suitable for both high school classes over a two-year period or for college students in a one-year elementary course.

The textbook consists of a preliminary lesson, eighteen regular chapters, and six review chapters. Each one of the eighteen regular chapters follows a consistent format. First, there is a per cominciare component, a series of short conversations at the outset of each chapter, a love story between two graduate students--one Italian (Luciano), the other American (Lucille). The second element is a grammar component with numerous and varied written exercises. Emphasis is on the major aspects of the grammar but not its minutia. Readings and oral practice provide input for more subtle grammatical points. Contrastive analysis of the grammar of English and Italian helps Anglophones to comprehend important differences between the two languages that can be a source of structural interference. Third, an oral component, both formal Parliamo (questions directed to students by the instructor), and informal A voi la parola (group-oriented activities intended to engage students in task-oriented conversational activities) allow students to practice the formal and polite forms of the pronominal system in appropriate contexts. Fourth, Parole, Parole! contains the most important vocabulary and expressions necessary to comprehend the readings and topics contained in each lesson. A noteworthy feature of the lexical section, beginning with chapter four, is the recycling of certain key words and expressions to remind students of what they already know and to reinforce previous material. Fifth, there are two reading sections--Prima lettura and seconda lettura. Initially, these are dialogues, subsequently, however, there are readings by Serrao, Collodi, Verga, Boccaccio, and Leonardo in the later chapters. This pair of readings always relates to the grammar and vocabulary of the chapter and they are followed by appropriate oral and written exercises and activities. Next, there are filasttocche, repeated judiciously throughout the book, and intended for oral practice and grammar review. L'lmlia in miniatura, situated after the filastrocche and prior to the end vocabulary, is another reading that contains engaging material on the culture of Italy, e.g., geography, history, and diverse customs. Finally, there is an end vocabulary with all of the words from Parole, parole! The lexicon reflects each chapter's focus on a particular aspect of daily living such as school, the home, family, food, clothing, and, later on, literature, art, and music. After every three regular chapters, there is a Recapitoliamo review chapter with an excellent variety of oral and written exercises that offer a substantive review of the preceding grammar and vocabulary. A major feature of these reviews is the Cominciamo section with its entertaining features such as readings, proverbs, sayings, idioms, word formation, a nursery rhyme from a preceding chapter, and games. The author subscribes to a basic principle of repetition and reviewing that is effective and consistent unlike many other textbooks claim to do so but, in fact, do not.

Instructors will appreciate the tact that the format of Studio italiano is amenable to any methodology and it does not impose one. The wide variety of exercises and activities in this book will allow the teacher to select those that best fit a particular teaching style.

There is an appendix with conjugations of essere, avere, selected regular and irregular verbs, and a list of those verbs that use essere in the passato prossimo. There are two bilingual dictionaries (Italian-English and English-Italian) and an index. A brief hall-page errata sheet accompanies the textbook.

Two excellent ancillaries, a workbook/laboratory manual and two CDs, accompany this first-year textbook. The former contains well-designed exercises and activities that complement the textbook and help to reinforce the materials contained therein. These carefully integrated materials reinforce the students' writing and reading skills. Likewise, the audio component contains clearly enunciated exercises and activities that allow students to focus on their listening comprehension and speaking skills. This instructional program is one that is worthy of serious consideration lot a first-year Italian program.


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Author:Nuessel, Frank
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 22, 2004
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