You can start by asking
them what they know about Italian songs and singers.
Depending on the response, you can mention a numbers of songs and singers.
They will probably know Pavarotti and perhaps Zucchero, Eros Ramazzotti (students who have been to Italy will know more).
Mention some names -
Vasco Rossi Jovanotti Laura Pausini Giorgia Renato Zero
and if possible play some of their best known songs.
This can be a good cultural
awareness exercise as students may find many differences (or indeed similarities)
between the Italian and Irish interests and tastes.
There are many types of activities that can be done in this area - listening/reading comprehension, grammatical exercises and general cultural awareness discussions.
A first step would be to play a song (or part of a song) once or twice and ask the students to concentrate just on general content. On a third or fourth hearing, you could ask them to concentrate on particular words.
The text of a song, with some words blanked out, is given to the students who are then asked to fill in the gaps.
This is an excellent way to increase vocabulary and encourages the student to listen intently, which will help him/her with listening comprehension. Linguistic difficulty of certain words should not be considered a drawback. The student may be forced to make an intelligent guess with unfamiliar words (which of course they must do in the exam anyway!)
Taking this a step further, when teaching a particular grammar point (especially verbs),
the text can be blanked of verbs in the future tense and given to students to complete.(This can be done for the simple present tense and also for the subjunctive)
A song can also be used
as a reading comprehension exercise. Choose a suitable text and prepare
comprehension or vocabulary exercises based on it.
Songs can also be chosen for their content to provide stimulus for oral discussion, e.g. ÒIl ragazzo della Via GluckÓ by Celentano as a stimulus for a discussion on the environment.
For further activities please see CANTARE L’ITALIANO by Lidia Costamagna Guerra Edizioni Perugia
and for Italian opera L’ITALIANO ALL OPERA by Carresi/Chiarenza/Frollano Bonacci editore