Beginner Track

*Please note that this track is not available to Middlebury College students.

The Middlebury School in Italy's Beginner track in Florence offers a unique opportunity to students who are new to the Italian language to approach its study in a more immersive context. The Language and Culture course will be taught in Italian so as to allow students not only to study the language, but to offer them an opportunity to use it in an enivronment that focuses on its acquisition.  Area Studies courses will begin in English and increase toward more content in Italian as the semester progresses.  Students will also take advantage of the Middlebury Language Pledge® to help jump-start their Italian language proficiency. In consultation with the Director of the program, students may also be given the option of choosing from courses taught in English at the Università degli Studi di Firenze or courses in studio art taught at the Accademia d'Arte Firenze

The Beginner track is designed for students with 0-1 years of college-level Italian (or the equivalent).

Track Structure

1. Required Course: Language & Culture: Italian Language Course

2. Second Course:
    Content Course at the Middlebury Sede -or-
    Course in English at the University of Florence -or-
    Studio Art Course at the Accademia dell'Arte -or-
    Internship for Credit

3. Third Course:
    Content Course at the Middlebury Sede -or-
    Course in English at the University of Florence -or-
    Studio Art Course at the Accademia d'Arte Firenze -or-
    Internship for Credit

Courses at the Middlebury Sede

Please note that the courses offered at the Middlebury Sede vary from semester to semester.  Please click on the course titles below for more information.

Fall 2017/Spring 2018

Language & Culture: Italian Language Course

Please note that the Beginner Track's Language & Culture course is taught in Italian.

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”  
The more we are able to speak a language the more we are able to not only communicate but to understand the culture that surrounds it. This beginner course is designed for students who are approaching the study of the Italian language for the first time. Studying in country means that as students acquire the language they will be able to immediately apply it and acquire a more in depth knowledge of Italian culture and society . Through the use of authentic and varied materials students will acquire the lexical, phonological and syntactical competences needed to communicate in language, as well as increase cross-cultural and intercultural competency.  
During the course, therefore, much importance is given to developing the students' ability to communicate in Italian.  We will begin with simpler situations gradually arriving at more complex structures. The approach to grammar is functional to the context so that grammar becomes a tool for communication. For this reason, active participation in the classroom is very important both in individual and group work. The objective of the teaching method is to try to highlight the resources and capabilities of each student paying attention to the learning style of each one, because the teacher is not only the person that gives information and corrects errors, but he/she is also a guide to discovering the new language, that must be felt as an encouraging challenge.

Content Course: Contemporary Italian Society

Please note that instruction in the Beginner Track's content courses is given in English at the beginning of the semester and gradually progresses to instruction in Italian throughout the semester.

This course investigates the Italian culture by exploring the most salient aspects of the country from different perspectives. We will start with a historical overview that helps make the intricate dynamics of the present more intelligible. Within a detailed examination of both domestic and foreign politics, significant attention will also paid to the country as a member state of the European Union. Topics to be addressed include economic realities such as the North-South divide and the current Youth unemployment crisis. The course will examine the student protest movement of the 1960s, known as the "Sessantotto", and the social explosions it provoked. We will move on to look at the Catholic Church and its influence on social behaviors as well as the current debate regarding bioethical issues and civil rights. Particular focus will be  placed on the social changes that have affected the institution of the Family, the struggles of women for equal rights as well as their role in the society and gender relations.  The course will also highlight the political, social and economic implications of organized crime on Italian society. Lastly, we will look at Italy’s  transformation from a nation of emigrants to one of immigration and the key-role it plays in the ongoing Migrant emergency.
The multidisciplinary approach to the study of Italy provides students with the tools needed to acquire a broad understanding of the cultural environment around them and thus to be deeply aware of the country's identity and complexity. Students are invited to reflect critically on how Italy’s culture has changed over time, to consider how far similar processes are at work in their own nation and to compare their own culture with the Italian one.

Content Course: History of Renaissance Art

Please note that instruction in the Beginner Track's content courses is given in English at the beginning of the semester and gradually progresses to instruction in Italian throughout the semester.

This course will study the Italian Renaissance through the investigation of its architecture, sculpture and paintings between the 14th and 16th centuries. The opportunity to explore these works becomes a more exciting prospect when we consider that students will have the opportunity to visit the churches and museums that house the works and view everything first-hand. The first objective of the course will be dedicated to acquiring the skills to recognize the more prominent  works that are present in the grand Florentine collections. The art will be analyzed and discussed not only on the basis of technique and style but also in relation to the social, religious,  historical and political context that produced them. For this reason, the second objective of the course is to learn how to read in these masterpieces of the Renaissance the connection between the subject, the intention of the artist and the needs of those who commissioned these works.