In this post, we’ll share an exemplary model of the type of materials and tasks created through Language Pedagogy Innovation Initiative (LPII), facilitated by the UChicago Language Center and funded by the College.

After helping developed an Advanced Language Proficiency Assessment for Italian, Liz Poretto applied for a Course Development grant over the summer of 2019 to ensure that third-year Italian language courses adequately prepared students for the new end-of-year proficiency test. As part of this curricular development, Liz created several brief recordings of interviews with native speakers of Italian, as well as tasks to accompany these recordings:

Tasks that accompany this material:

1. At home students watch a video in which an Italian speaker responds to the prompt: “You are from ______, what are people talking about there at the moment?” and are asked to write down everything they have understood and can remember (to bring to class).

2. In class, pairs of students compare their recall protocols in a discussion of the content of the video; students then interview each other using the same prompt.

3. As a follow-up to the class discussion, students will be asked to find an online article related to one of the topics discussed by the Italian speakers in the video and post the URL to the course blog along with a brief description of why s/he chose this article and recommends it to classmates.

4. Extension (writing): describe a social issue in Italy that we’ve discussed thus far this quarter, including information on its origins and the impact it has on Italian society.

5. Extension (speaking): you are from ______, what are people talking about there at the moment? Record your response.

Some things that make this material + tasks combination a great example of LPII course development:

  • Rather than trying to find the perfect materials for what she wanted to do, the instructor decided to create her own. She used the One Button Studio in the basement of Regenstein Library as a quick and easy way to make a video with decent audio and video quality.
  • All of the tasks associated with this video are proficiency-oriented and force the students to demonstrate comprehension or production at the target (Advanced) proficiency level.
  • Based on the open-ended nature of the tasks, the instructor could easily record a new video in the future if she feels this one becomes out-dated and re-use these tasks with minimal changes, or tweak them slightly and apply them to other videos.

Course development through the LPII aims to integrate tasks like these into the curriculum across an entire course or multi-course sequence, to better prepare students for end-of-year proficiency assessments and real-world language use. For more information on the Language Pedagogy Innovation Initiative, visit