fostering culture through film

A Resource for Teaching Foreign Languages and Cultural Studies

Editor(s):Patrizia Comello Perry, Elda Buonanno Foley
Our contributors share our vision of making the second-language acquisition class a space for reflection and critical thinking, to ultimately create a productive environment to foster student reflection on intercultural reality and experience and the relationship of language, culture, and meaning. Language is the way we are and the way we represent the world and represent ourselves in the world. Film proves an effective tool in the classroom, and instructors choose those films and scenes that pertinently address the issues relevant to their learning community. Beyond the syllabi briefly introduced, these essays represent the commitment and relationship that instructors of all foreign languages feel for their students. While analyzing aspects of global challenges in contemporary life—aspects connected with identity and integration in this mobile world, linguistic identity, and cultural aesthetics—students engage in critical discussions and instructors enhance the communicative approach from diverse perspectives.

The perceived lack of understanding of cultural diversity in the American learning community has led instructors to challenge assumptions and stereotypes while addressing misconceptions. Teachers of foreign languages and cultural studies, in particular, feel the need to redesign curricula and lesson plans to better serve the learning community of the twenty-first century. The common starting point resides in the paradox that exists in today’s connected world; while global access to information makes learners aware of the infinite variety of cultural diversity, it does not, however, make them critical thinkers. For this reason, there is opportunity to reshape critical thinking within a more global perspective, while enhancing the tools to identify, interpret, and compare the different cultural models that learners encounter.


The book demonstrates the theories and practical applications by which instructors use contemporary film to provide insightful readings on diverse local communities, communities that form the basis of global culture. This collection of essays will serve as a pedagogical tool and resource, offering methods and examples of a communicative approach to analyze and integrate cultural diversities, similarities, and problems in the second language curricula, methods that expose students to different cultural models while scaffolding their critical approach to multiple layers of common and specific values.

This work will encourage a dialogue and long-lasting conversation on methodologies and teaching strategies rethought, reapplied, and remolded to the new learning environments.

This book, by offering alternative layers of interpretation, hopes to present to instructors of all disciplines in the liberal arts curricula ways to transform learners from passive global viewers into more conscious and informed global thinkers, by offering them meaningful cultural experience.

In part one, Theoretical Approach, the essays describe theories and challenges in the foreign language class and identify strategies to foster intercultural identities and global communities. Patrizia Comello Perry in her essay shares the process that led her to re-evaluate her role as an instructor and to question the limitations of the talk-for-talk’s-sake communicative method in which the linguistic aspect of beginners instruction omits most of what really matters: culture. Elda Buonanno Foley in her essay describes a lesson unit on film and the different learning objectives and performances achieved by the students within a very diversified community. Ling Luo portrays the challenges in the cultural environment while teaching Chinese in the American diversified community, exploring the linguistic obstacles and the teaching and  learning instrument of film to convey a more cultural and profound understanding of language content. Ana De la Cruz and Marialuisa Di Stefano in their essay investigate the challenges of EFL teachers and their work to provide opportunities to expose the learning community to authentic communicative environments. Fabiana Viglione in her project seeks to establish a cinematic vocabulary and grammar foundation for discussion and analysis in Italian of cinematic techniques and genres, inviting cultural comparison with the American cinematic tradition. Maria Enrico in her essay provides insight and guidelines for achieving global cultural awareness in the classroom through film while promoting the type of cultural interest and understanding that can lead to a desire to learn a foreign language.


In part two, Reconsidering Practice, the essays describe practical examples of teaching a foreign language within a multicultural learning environment. Roberta K. Waldbaum in her essay describes the ways in which literature and film in the language classroom may be used to address the complex issues and urban challenges that city dwellers confront by living, interacting, and integrating with diverse individuals, groups, and societies. Tiberio Snaidero in his essay introduces a compelling perspective on capturing the interest of the learning community by making students aware of the current social and cultural changes in the target-language country—focusing on Italy of the last decades—using a syllabus based on Italian films that dramatize the immigrant experience. Elisa Paturno Paasche in her approach investigates methods and strategies to recognize and overcome cultural stereotypes while teaching a foreign language, to elucidate real cultural content embedded in a language. Anita Fountain in her essay depicts a thought provoking approach to teaching cultural content, using film to convey linguistic and cultural information about Jewish and African communities in Latin America. Alicia Bralove Ramírez in her study indicates the ways in which learning communities (LCs) incorporate a broad range of integrated activities to provide students with further opportunities to flourish scholastically while solidifying the skills necessary to progress in the complex processes of reading, understanding, analyzing, interacting, internalizing, and writing about texts at the college level.

View extract:  fostering-intercultural-teaching-through-film



The Editors

pcpPatrizia Comello Perry earned her Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages at the University of Modern Languages in Milan. Prior to teaching, she worked as a film producer in New York and Milan, producing for Rai television and Telemontecarlo in Italy. Between 2002 and 2012, she wrote for a number of trade magazines, reporting about the media and advertising industry in New York. In 2013 she completed the ESL Certificate Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently a Lecturer of Italian at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, USA. As an independent scholar, her field of research focuses on the representation of the immigrant in Italian cinema, and on film as a pedagogical tool in second language acquisition.

eldabuonanno-3Elda Buonanno Foley is an Associate Professor of Italian Studies at IONA College, New Rochelle, USA. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a BA in Modern Languages and Literatures from the University of Milan, Italy. She also has an online Certificate in Instructional Technology from the University of Maryland. She has published extensively on teaching methodology, on literature and film and organized several workshops on language performance and effective teaching activities. Her most recent book is La Frantumaglia: Elena Ferrante’s fragmented self.



 ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-8916-2
 ISBN-10: 1-4438-8916-4