Italian films are a wonderful resource in the classroom and can be used in all kinds of ways to increase the students’ knowledge of Italian and Italy.

Students are probably familiar with "Cinema Paradiso" and "La vita è bella" so you could talk about these films as an introduction to the topic.

Films can be used in many different ways but with exam pressures and overall time problems it can be difficult to find the time to exploit them fully. In this context they might be used primarily to promote cultural awareness and encourage an interest and appreciation for Italian cinema and Italy.

They can of course also be used for listening/reading comprehension, grammatical exercises and stimulus for oral work. Cinema provides an excellent example of how Italian is spoken in the real world and will undoubtedly improve students’ listening skills both for examination purposes as well as for anyone lucky enough to go to Italy on holiday.

Students could be shown a short extract (5 or 10 minutes) from Cinema Paradiso in which the two main characters appear. Then ask simple questions in Italian on what they have seen. This can provide a good starting point for oral expression.

They could also be given the text of the extract and use it as a reading comprehension exercise. As with songs, linguistic difficulty need not be considered a drawback. If the film is subtitled, the English translation will help students recognize new grammatical forms as well as new vocabulary.

There is great scope for discussion in Cinema Paradiso – comparing the young Totò to the adult character, talking about the character of Alfredo, life in Sicily, similarites/differences between Sicily and Ireland etc.and overall is an excellent choice for work in the classrom.

Other films that are very suitable in the context of cultural awareness to mention are:

•La vita è bella (a recent example of a highly successful Italian film, also providing an insight into Italian history during the war)
•Caro Diario (a wonderful introduction to the work of director Nanni Moretti)
•Il portaborse (another film by Moretti)
•La Scuola dir.Daniele Luchetti (excellent background to the educational system in Italy in a most entertaining way)

For further activites please consult the.excellent

VIAGGIO NEL NUOVO CINEMA ITALIANO Continanza/Diadori Edizioni La Certosa

Also consult www.altavista.com (Search for Italian Cinema)