Harvard and Betwyll: Italian is social

At Harvard University, didactic experiments with Betwyll continue. Giorgia Corti shares her social reading experience with her students of Italian.


How did you discover the projects based on the TwLetteratura method and what encouraged you to create an ad hoc project for your students on Betwyll?

I discovered Betwyll thanks to my colleague Chiara Trebaiocchi who already experimented with it. The choice to create a project only for my class was due to the syllabus: I needed a space to comment on the novel Io non ho paura (I’m Not Scared) by Niccolò Ammaniti where students feel free to express themselves as they usually do during an Italian class.

From Italy, we consider American young people as experts of social networks. Which was the reaction of your students when you proposed them to use Betwyll? Did they like it or did they experience any issues?

The reaction of the students was absolutely positive. Among the features they liked more, the possibility to read thoughts and comments posted by their classmates, which made it clear how everybody was using their own writing style. The access to the app and the directions to follow to post twylls, or send feedbacks to others, are also very intuitive.

As a teacher, I liked Betwyll’s interface. The opening page, with blank spaces, as well as the use of icons and chromatic codes are very helpful for students who don’t speak Italian. We didn’t experience any issues, but we hope the app will be available also for desktops in the future.

You focused on contemporary Italian literature during this project: on which aspects of the text did you mainly focus? For which pedagogical aspects do you think Betwyll is particularly useful?

The main purpose of the course I was teaching was to strengthen the reading proficiency of literary texts. For this reason, I focused mainly on the text analysis. The directions provided for the “re-writing” of the text encouraged the students to follow specific narrative styles, such as the fairy tale or the detective novel, or point of views.

Being it an Italian language class, I also encouraged students to twyll about lexicon and grammatical structures. I believe that Betwyll is a very efficient tool because it challenged students to employ synthesis, style and grammatical accuracy with outcomes that, in some cases, were close to poetry. By participating with my students, I experienced how difficult it was to measure the length of every single word in order to convey a complete and correct meaning to their messages.

Would you use Betwyll again in the future? Would you involve colleagues or propose an open project for all the members of the Betwyll community?

Surely! Writing twylls was very enjoyable and enriched my didactic offer. In the future, it is possible that I propose an open project to the entire Betwyll community, maybe together with the students of an Italian class. This would be a unique opportunity for them to interact with native speakers.

Photo credit: Nathan Forget

Giorgia Corti teaches Italian Language classes as Teaching Assistant in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures of Harvard University. Graduated at Università di Parma, she was qualified to teach literary subjects in high schools at Università di Bologna and she taught Italian L2 in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, and Padova. The project #iononhopaura was proposed during the class Ital 20 – Intermediate Italian: Romance! Mystery? Noir.


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