Hamlet : To be or not to be

TO  Hamlet (Act III, scene I).

To be or not to be

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
and by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
no more; and by a sleep to say we end
the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
that flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation
devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
to sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
for in that sleep of death what dreams may come
when we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
must give us pause: there’s the respect
that makes calamity of so long life;
for who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
the oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
the insolence of office and the spurns
that patient merit of the unworthy takes,
when he himself might his quietus make
with a bare bodkin?  Who would fardels bear,
to grunt and sweat under a weary life,
but that the dread of something after death,
the undiscover’d country from whose bourn
no traveller returns, puzzles the will
and makes us rather bear those ills we have
than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
and thus the native hue of resolution
is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
and enterprises of great pith and moment
with this regard their currents turn awry,
and lose the name of action.







Essere o non essere: questo è il problema:
se sia più giusto nell’animo patire
i colpi e i dardi della sorte oltraggiosa
o armarsi contro questo mare di affanni
e contrastandoli por loro fine. Morire. Dormire,
nulla più: e con il sonno dire che poniamo fine
alle fitte del cuore e a ogni infermità naturale della carne: questo è l’epilogo da desiderare devotamente. Morire, dormire;
Dormire? Forse sognare. Si, questo è il punto;
perché, quali sogni possano giungere in questo sonno di morte,
una volta eliminato questo guscio mortale,
deve farci riflettere: ecco il timore
che dà alla sventura una vita così lunga;
altrimenti, chi sopporterebbe il sferzate e i dileggi del tempo,
i torti degli oppressori, le offese dei superbi,
le fitte di un amore rifiutato, il ritardo delle leggi,
la sfrontatezza del potere e il disprezzo
che il merito paziente riceve dal volgo,
quando egli stesso potrebbe star sereno
con un nudo pugnale? Chi porterebbe fardelli,
agognando e sudando sotto il peso di una gravosa vita
se il timore di quel che c’è dopo la morte,
questa landa sconosciuta dalla cui frontiera
nessun pellegrino è mai tornato, non turbasse la volontà
e ci facesse preferire il peso dei nostri mali piuttosto
che volare verso altri ignoti?
Sì, è la coscienza ci fa vili
così la tinta nativa della risoluzione si
stempera sulla fiacca paletta del pensiero,
e imprese e azioni di grande importanza
per questo insabbiano il loro corso
e perdono il nome di azione.


Hamlet enters, speaking thoughtfully and agonizingly to himself about the question of whether to commit suicide to end the pain of experience. He says that the miseries of life are such that no one would willingly bear them; life is one of suffering and humiliation which has too often to be endured. So he wonders whether  the right attitude towards life  is to struggle against the “slings and arrows”, thus showing an active attitude  or  considering death as a most welcome escape from the evils. He associates death with sleep, rest and peace. But he says that the after-death is a mysterious reality that might be good or bad since dreams might be nightmares, and no one has ever come to life again to tell what really happens in the “ undiscovered country”. He finally comes to the conclusion that conscience is what makes cowards of us all and causes our incapacity to act.





Hamlet is perhaps the closet of Shakespeare’s tragedies to modern sensibilities; its hero’s doubts and indecisions are familiar to modern man equally tormented by a lack of certainties and the inability to communicate.

Hamlet’s indecisions must be placed against the background of the “ revenge tragedy”: according to its conventions, Hamlet should have sought revenge with all his forces and as soon as possible. But he does not so; he is full of hesitations, about his mother and King Claudius, whom he supposes has killed his father, and about himself.

The only certainty he has is of the corruption of the surrounding world and is repelled; the world changes its colour, life its meaning, love is deprived of its spirituality, the woman of her prestige, the earth and the air of their appeal. Hamlet sees a contagious disease which spreads from man to the kingdom, from the kingdom to the universe. The apparition of the ghost forces him in the role of the avenger but here, the theme of revenge, which is clear in contemporary drama, is called into question: all the evidence hamlet has of Claudius’ guilt is an apparition ( that of his father’s ghost) and Claudius’ confusion at watching a play that reproduces his supposed crime. This idea is linked to another theme which is honour and honourable actions: any action to correct a wrong should be reasoned, not emotional but this leads to another aspect of the play, suggested by the Romantic critic von Schlegel according to whom “ Hamlet” is the tragedy of will because in it thought kills action.


In his soliloquy Hamlet is concerned with a doubt : whether life is better than death. He is alone but he speaks in the first person plural because he is giving voice to the biggest of man’s dilemmas. He wonders which is the right attitude towards life: whether it is better to live and suffer stoic noble forbearance of adverse fortune or have an active opposition to it. So while the verb “ suffer” means a passive attitude, “ take arms” conveys the idea of an active attitude towards life. In lines 5-10 he introduces an alternative: death. Death as the only way to escape the sorrow and pain of the injustices and miseries inflicted on mankind. Then, in lines 10-13 Hamlet points out that man fears what may happen after death and  in line 28 he says “ conscience” makes us cowards since it is linked to consciousness which produces cowardice preventing us from committing suicide. Hamlet seems to resent his own incapacity to act and to put an end to his life because of his “ conscience”. In fact, Death would be preferable to Life’s suffering if man was not scared by the thought of what there may be beyond it. It is this that makes cowards of men and take s away the will to act.



As for structure and style in lines 1-10 Hamlet uses a lot of infinitive forms which give his speech a reflective mood. In lines 1-5 he draws upon some images such as “ the sling and arrows of outrageous fortune” and “ arms” taken to fight against a “ sea of troubles”.

In lines 8-9 Hamlet views death I as something to be welcomed because of its freeing power and considers it in a medieval perspective, that is, as a liberation of the soul from the “ mortal coil”. In line 24 we can find a metaphor which stands for the after death or the “ undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns”. In fact, no one has ever come to life again to tell what really happens after death.

At the end of his soliloquy Hamlet deprecates his lack of action and his cowardice. Actually, the effect of the whole passage taken from Hamlet, involving Hamlet’s soliloquy, is to make the audience consider what the meaning of “ cowardice” is. The question arousing from his words is whether it is brave to kill oneself or to stay alive. The text revolves around the idea of death by suicide which is here considered in an unconventional manner. Hamlet reverses the traditional idea about suicide seen as an act of weakness, of cowardice, a form of defeat. A person who commits suicide is unable to face problems, difficulties, losses, and decides to escape from troubles through death. To Hamlet, instead, suicide requires courage because it means facing the unknown reality of the after-death. Only few people are bold enough to go towards the unknown, because mystery generates fear; the majority of people prefer to continue to live without conviction or participation, rather than face “ the undicover’d country”. But the discussion on suicide also poses religious implications:  man has no right to take his own life. God has given man life, and God alone can take it.



Headline : Diplomatic sherpas feel the strain in surfeit of summits

 Newspaper headlines are usually written by a special headlines subeditor who makes them effective choosing catchy words, short sentence structures, metaphoric words and other rhetorical devices. These latter often make headlines obscure and difficult to understand but also intriguing, reflecting at the same time our cultural expectations. That’s the reason why headlines can be considered as a self-genre presenting some typical features.

For example, a TOP DOWN approach to the above mentioned headline will be focused on its non-linguistic features as the general layout, the print size and the type.

As for the layout, the first thing to notice is the space occupied by the headline on the page. As we can see, the whole text is inserted in a sort of framework which limits the boundaries of the written characters, so the clause forming the headline has been divided into three lines, each bearing one of its main constituents ( NP+VP+NP). As for print size, colour and type, black bold characters and capital letters immediately identify this clause as belonging to the genre of headlines.

On the other hand, a BOTTOM UP approach will highlight the syntactical structure and the  rhetorical devices exploited to reach a particular communicative goal : to attract and retain the reader’s attention arousing his/her curiosity and interest.

The presence of rhetorical devices accounts for the pragmatic function of this headline which invites the reader to distinguish between what is said and what is meant, between the denotative and connotative meaning of the words.

In fact, understanding the extra-meaning inside this textual genre implies the reader’s ability to go beyond the limits of what is said to infer what is meant. Of course, the journalist uses these rhetorical devices to produce a certain effect on the reader , but he counts on what Grice calls the Co-operative Principle. This means that the communicative aim is reached only if the addressee shares the addresser’s general knowledge which allows him to recognize his intention. Moreover, if we take into account Halliday’s view of language as a system of meaning involving the relationship between its participants, we will see that meaning results from the interaction between them, in what he calls the TRANSITIVITY SYSTEM. Among the micro-functions of language there is the one which allows language to create images in order to visually represent something through words, so that the reader can “see” what the writer is describing. A clear example of this linguistic function in this headline can be found at a PHONOLOGICAL-LEXICAL  LEVEL through the alliterative phonological  value of  the /s/ sound in the initial syllables in strain, surfeit, summits, which activates a metaphoric connection between the sherpas– Hymalayan mountain guides known for their resistance to physical fatigue-, and the diplomatic sherpas, the diplomatic officials who are exhausted by an excess of summit meetings.

 Lexical Level

As for the word summits, we can say that it is a clipped word since it stands for summit meetings. This lets us understand that it represents the key-word used by the media to activate their metaphorical discourse on sherpas and make the headline interesting and catchy.


This headline, taken from The Times in its broadsheet format, is a simple Clause made up of a Noun Phrase ( diplomatic = pre-modifier;  sherpas = head) which is the Subject, a Verb Phrase     ( feel the strain) which is the Predicate, and another Noun Phrase which is also a prepositional phrase   ( in surfeit of summits). In relation to the predicate, diplomatic sherpas and the strain represent the Argument of the verb. The clause is made up of Countable Nouns (sherpas; summits)which present the inflected form of the  plural s ; and a Clipped Word (summits) coming out of  “summit meetings”.

The headof the noun phrase is in the subject position, but sherpas is modified by the pre-modifier diplomatic. 

SYNTACTIC STRUCTURE SCHEME..( see attachement below)

grafico morfologico analysis of sherpas


The pre-modifier “diplomatic” before the head of the NP in the Subject position implies a metaphorical use of the word sherpas. Of course, the journalist uses these rhetorical devices to produce a certain effect on the reader , but he counts on what Grice calls the Co-operative Principle. This means that the communicative aim is reached only if the addressee shares the addresser’s general knowledge which allows him to recognize his intention.

In this case the addresser gives for granted the reader’s knowledge of sherpas as skilled mountaineers who resist to physical strain; otherwise it would be impossible to establish the semantic link between them and the diplomatic sherpas  exhausted by the surfeit of summits.


The body copy of the article we are analysing is made up of four paragraphs linked together by the key-word summits and sherpas which make up the texture of the article.

In fact, a TOP DOWN analysis will highlight how its COHESION  is given by the semantic relationship between the diplomatic sherpas who feel the strain in surfeit of summits in the headline, and the delegates participating to the G7 summit meetings mentioned in the first paragraph. The relationship is established by elements such as :

DEICTIC FORMS                              Anaphoric Proforms : HE referring to One British official

IT referring to W. E. Union anNATO

THEIR referring to sherpas/men

THESE LATTER referring to security specialists

Cataphoric Proforms : HE referring to Douglas Hurd





REPETITIONS                                 TOTAL                 : summits/Helsinki/Lisbon/


PARTIAL              : diplomacy/diplomatic;

weekend/week; day/days; agree/agreed

CONJUNCTIONS                       Despite/ But/ And

The top down approach is limited to the SURFACE STRUCTURE of the text; so, in order to fully understand the message conveyed by the article we will have to go into an in-depth analysis of the linguistic features. To this aim, a BOTTOM UP approach  will allow us to prove how COHERENCE is given by the deep structure unity of our text. In fact, the linguistic items contributing to give it coherence are the morpho-lexical aspects, syntax and semantics.


WORD CLASS                               : prevalence of NOUNS


SYNONIMS                                    :  summits/peaks

OPPOSITE WORDS                                 : today/yesterday


CLIPPED WORDS                         : summits for summit meetings


COMPOUNDS                              : weekend ( week= free radical morpheme; end = free radical


DERIVATIONAL WORDS                        : Surfeit = from French surfeit, rom sourfaire, from

SUR+faire=To overdo

:Verbiage = from French verbier = to chat

It means “ the excessive and often meaningless use

of  words”.

ADJECTIVES                              : invigorating/weary/gruelling

PARALLEL STRUCTURES       : the main burden falls/ but no burden falls

OBSOLETE WORDS                   : to toil up to

PHRASAL VERBS                       : to toil up to/to hack one’s way through

CONVERSIONS                          : Round ( usually used as an adjective, is used  here as a

noun meaning “sessions” (of meetings).

Meeting ( it can be a noun (as in our case) or

a present participle.

AFFIXATION                              : high-ly/heavi-ly =adding the suffix –ly to the noun we obtainthe

( derivational morphemes)               corresponding adverb

INFLECTIONS                            : finished/managed/extended = inflected morpheme –ED

to form the Past Simple Tense;

falls = inflected morpheme s to form the Present Simple

tense third person singular;


communiqués/ directors = inflected morpheme to form the



inflected morpheme to form the present participle;

gruelling = inflected morpheme to form an adjective

But a language lexis is not enough to construct a Discourse and create consensus ; words need to establish relationships between them and to be contained in a framework structure.

The relationship between the elements of our text is given by its SYNTACTIC STRUCTURE



1st paragraph : ClAUSE/SENTENCE TYPE : left-branching structure: the weight of grammatical structures is to the left of the predicate so the typical English language structure SVO has not been respected.

VERB TYPES : Active form ; Past tense (said); Present tense( have)

SUBORDINATE RELATIVE CLAUSE : ( …said one British official, arriving direct from the G7,…);

DIRECT SPEECH : “ This is my third summit in six days”.

2nd paragraph : CLAUSE/SENTENCE TYPE : 1st sentence : hypotactical left-branching structure in which the subject is preceded by several pre-modifiers;

2nd sentence : Subordinate Clause/Relative Clause ( …, which decided,…);

VERB TYPES : active form/past perfect tense/past simple tense/present simple tense/past continuous

VERB CONSTRUCTION : HAD BETTER+ Infinitive base form

3rd paragraph : CLAUSE/SENTENCE TYPE : Paratactical right branching structure

Peripheral dependents in APPOSITION : ( … the sherpas, the men who toil uo to the peaks of diplomacy,…);

RELATIVE CLAUSE : hacking their way…( elliptic form for “who hack their way”)

COORDINATE CLAUSES : (… hacking their way…and removing political boulders…)

VERB TYPES : active form prevalence of present tense; present participle; present perfect( have had).

4th paragraph : CLAUSE/SENTENCE TYPE : paratactical sentence structure : the head of th NP is preceded by an adversative conjunction(BUT) and an indefinite Adjective(NO).

Peripheral dependent in APPOSITION : ( … the political directors, the men who have to agree the communiqués line by line)

DIRECT SPEECH : “ I had a pretty good night yesterday”/ “ we were finished by 1 am”

VERB TYPES : present tense( falls); past simple(had; said); ACTIVE FORM/ PASSIVE FORM

( we were finished).

An analysis of the SEMANTIC LEVEL together with the many metaphoric words will highlight that we are in front of both THEMATIC COHERENCE and LOGIC COHERENCE.

In fact, in the text we are examining we can detect words belonging to the SEMANTIC AREAS of

  1. NATURE                          Peaks/Summits/boulders/jungle.
  2. DIPLOMACY                   delegates/diplomatic officials/political

Directors/communiqués/teams/speechifying/extended talks/summits/round/parliament/treasury men/G7 meeting/western European community/NATO/Foreign Office/European specialists/CSCE.

3.  WEARINESS                strain/weary/gruelling/burden/(to)hack one’s way/(to) toil up to

the words belonging to these three semantic areas continually intermingle in the text to form its conceptual texture and establish an analogy between the Hymalayan mountain guides and the diplomatic sherpas who have to cope with the tiring extended talks of the summer summitry meetings . The alliterative s  sound recalls the alliteration in the headline, thus conveying the idea of physical strain; words like gruelling, burden, boulders, to squeeze in, to toil up, to hack through further reinforce this idea making the two worlds of sherpas and diplomatic sherpas overlap.

Evidence of this can be found  in the first paragraph, where the lexical choice of the adjective weary in the body copy is aimed at establishing a direct link with the word strain in the lead. The journalist’s aim is to convey the idea of physical stress experienced both by sherpas and official diplomats when coping with difficult situations ( burden/jungles of verbiage). Moreover in the first paragraph the positive adjectives invigorating and bright provide a strong contrast with the delegate’s weary look . The 2nd paragraph helps us find a CAUSE/EFFECT relationship, which gives the text logical coherence since we are explained that the delegates are so tired because of  an excess of gruelling talks and lack of time.

But it is in the 3rd paragraph that we can find words supporting the metaphoric structure of the title. In fact, the obsolete verb form toil up to , and the metaphorical hacking their way through jungles of verbiage ( where the verb hacking recalls  the idea of an axe), convey the sense of difficulty in overcoming something dangerous.


The student will be the actor of his own learning process and not simply a passive learner.

To provide a constant feedback, which may help to direct the learning
process, it’s proposed an informai assessement by the teacher to be done
during the lesson, side by side with learning, in relation to what goes on in
the c1assroom. Assessment will be carried out measuring the performances
of students in the normal c1assroom environment, looking at how they
respond to the subaims of activities, their abilities in communication,
expression, cooperation and negotiation, their non-verbal responses and the
progress they make.

 Assessing c1asswork and homework informally at an everyday level is very useful and gives feedback not only to the teacher but also to the
learners, because students, rather than being worried or frustrated by
the threat of examinations and free interviews, can feel more responsible for
their own progress, feel a sense of achievement and acquire a greater and
more intrinsic motivation for learning.

As regards homework, students will be asked to rewrite the steps of
the analysis they have done in class, so to have guidelines for analysing
another literary text chosen by the student himself.

This could be the object of a formal test to be done in c1ass. However ì
setting and marking tests for a more in-depth formal assessment will be
carried out under formaI conditions at the end of the module, reflecting the topic
area covered in the module itself.


More easily they will be able to make comparisons between the education
system in Victorian era and in contemporary age.

Taking into account that kinesthetic students learn best when they
are engaged in activities involving their body (in other words when acting,
touching things and moving around), I planned a final dramatization of the
text through a role-taking activity. It will probably be a useful way to keep
this particular kind of students motivated and to make students in general
have fun while learning. Besides this activity proves effective both for
enhancing the learners’ grammatical competence and for letting some of
their unconscious psychological contents come to the surface. Playing a role
means facilitating the development of the empathic ability: students are
compelled to take on another personality for a while and this process
compels them to see things from the point of view of a certain character,
trying to think and talk like him/ her.

Similarly as for the focus group activity (jigsaw reading) and the
group discussion activities presented in other steps of this lesson plan,
also this activity will be important for students learning how to co-operate in
order to reach the same goal.

As regards more specifically group discussions, they may develop
students’ oral proficiency and their capacity in turn taking in a conversation.
I introduced them also with the aim of enhancing their ability to pay
attention and to listen to what other people say: they accustom students to
confrontation and negotiation, increasing their ability in comparing opinions
with their peers, sustaining their critical point of view.

On the other hand the activities to be done in pairs encourage the
students to interact with one of their peers, giving them the opportunity to
overcome the fear of being judged which often negatively affects, as we know,
their production.

As for the group activities I planned, they might be a little
problematic in a sense. It’s important that groups differ in size and
composition. So, before the activity starts, it would be helpful to divide
students in groups in an organized and principled way, thus according to a
certain balance among members. This will help avoiding groups
made up only of good students or only  weaker students; or groups made
up of good students and only a weaker one, since he/ she will tend to ‘leave
the job’ to his /her mates and won’t produce much. Then, while doing the
mind-map writing activity, for example, the  teacher could ask the weaker
student to write it down. In this way he/ she will be also stimulated by his
peers who will check on his/her production at the same time.

Another problem might arouse from the competition activity since we
might run the risk of creating inadequate or frustrated reactions or
behaviours on the part of the weaker groups who may feel discouraged by
their inferior competence and skill, leading to their demotivation. Again, to
avoid frustration and demotivation the teacher should set up well balanced
groups, where the best students provide help and stimulus to the weaker

During all these activities our role as teachers will be that of a
counsellor who observes, co-ordinates and provides suitable prompts.


We are aware that students learn differently and that, as teachers,
we have to cope with multiple intelligences (in other words with Verbal-
Linguistic students, with Visual and Auditory students and with Kinesthetic
students). That’s why in order to motivate all students and to prepare them
to understand the mental attitude of the Victorians and the way they
considered education  I decided to vary the activities in class and to
use a variety of channels through which presenting the lesson contents,
that is to say an integrated combination of words, pictures and music from
the very Engagement phase. So the teacher, for example, as a first step will
use the traditional blackboard to write anchor-words, evidently belonging to
the semantic area of Education, which the students might need in the
Productive phase. He/she will also use the overhead projector to show
transparencies presenting the characters mentioned in the literary text in
the form of comics. It will be an helpful and funny means to arouse students’ curiosity and attention and a way to elicit their ideas and opinions about the given topic.

Moreover the teacher will appeal to the auditory channel by
proposing the listening of a song, Another brick in the wall by Pink Floyd,
that students will probably know. Of course this famous
song is not randomly chosen, since it deals with the education system in the
60s/70s: Pink Floyd openly criticize some aspects of their contemporary
education in it, such as ‘thought controI’ of people through pre-packed

Moreover the comics and the song will be very good expedients to
lower the affective filter of the class group thus creating a relaxed and
enjoyable atmosphere in the classroom.

In a folIowing step the students will have to direct their efforts in
drawing a mind-map of the text they are analysing and then in writing a
composition connecting all the points highlighted by the map itself. This
kind of activities will improve the students’ ability in elaborating a logic and
coherent text about a given topic: mind-mapping activity, in fact, helps
students to sum up the most important features of the text they have
studied, paying attention to its denotative and connotative message and to
the phonological, lexical and morpho-syntactic elements. Side by side with
the ability in writing a coherent text, they will have to show an appropriate
use of the linking words and connectors and a proper use of grammar items.

Moreover mind-mapping also encourages the students to establish
intertextual links between the literary text and the song they have heard.




The present Lesson Plan revolves around literature. The chosen
literary topic is Young People and Education related to an excerpt from
Dickens’s novel Hard Times.

The lesson is included in a teaching unit belonging to the prose
section of a module titled Education throughout the ages in Poetry, Prose and
This module, which lasts l0 hours, is meant to show how great
writers dealt with this theme at different times and in different literary
genres in greatly different contexts. The teaching unit is carried out in the
first term of the school year.

My planned lesson lasts 2 hours and it is devoted to students
attending the fifth year of a Liceo Linguistico. It represents the Practice stage
of the whole teaching unit, since the teacher will have already presented the
prose situation throughout the different ages in the previous lesson of the
same unit, as the Presentation stage.

The lesson is divided into 3 phases (Engage, Study and Activate
phase); on its turn each phase is furtherly divided into more than one step.

The literary passage chosen for study and analysis is A man of
in which the author criticizes the overemphasis placed on
education and discipline in Victorian England. As for the language items
related to the lesson, the literary analysis will indirectly lead to the revision
of the Past tenses and the use of the Modal verbs; the lesson will also imply
the revision and the extension of vocabulary connected with the semantic
area of Education

First of all I planned my lesson considering that today’s teenagers
are used to TV and Web-sites with a very high graphic quality, embedded in
a multi-media world where stimulus comes from different perception
channels. Moreover adolescents are generally driven by the ‘principle of
pleasure’. For these reasons teachers should always find out modern
strategies to win the challenge and be able to arouse students’ interest and
curiosity for the contents he / she wants to propose. Then he / she should
make efforts in lowering students’ affective filter through pleasant activities
which arouse students’ enthusiasm, especially if related to their personal
experience: teenagers can be particularly involved in learning literature by
playing on their personal emotions and wishes.

Finally the teacher should no longer act as the only source of
information but as a guide and facilitator who exhorts and co-ordinates the
students in the class activities and debates, in order to elicit their opinions
and to stimulate their problem solving ability. The starting points of the ratio
of this lesson plan were these fundamental points.

Then I planned my lesson also considering that students employ
different learning attitudes, so I thought to effectively motivate and engage
everybody by focusing on different learning strategies, such as: Cognitive
strategies (e.g. practicing with sounds and writing systems, transcoding information from verbal to diagrammatic form, using reference materials,
recombining, analysing contrastively, highlighting, etc.); Social strategies
(cooperating with , both with peers and teacher, asking questions,
experimenting with language by taking risks, empathizing, becoming aware
of others’ thoughts and feelings, negotiating, etc.); Metacognitive strategies
(overviewing and linking with already known material, finding out about
language learning, becoming aware of how the language works, predicting in
listening/reading, using selective attention by focusing on key-words and
linguistic markers, etc.); Memory strategies (creating mental linkages,
semantic mapping, using key-words, etc.).


Interculturalità a Scuola

Come può la didattica rendere possibile l’interazione tra individui che non hanno le stesse coordinate culturali?


Il Consiglio d’Europa ritiene importante incoraggiare i multilinguismi ma solo al fine di sviluppare il plurilinguismo, ossia fare in modo che vi sia interazione e scambio tra le varie lingue. In tal modo, queste ultime formeranno insieme un unico bagaglio che dovrà interagire nelle conoscenze dei vari attanti. Alcuni paesi hanno deciso di lasciare ai vari popoli la propria cultura. In Francia e Germania si è visto che il dramma non è quello dei padri ma quello dei figli che hanno comportamenti diversi e differenziati “i figli che incendiano” e “i figli che fanno saltare le metro”. L’intercultura deve aiutare a crescere attraverso il confronto con l’altro e, mentre i Francesi hanno risposto con un’idea che parte dal concetto di cittadinanza e laicità in base al quale in Francia ciascuno è cittadino francese e nessuno lascia emergere il suo passato, l’Italia ha puntato sull’oralità che sia interazione con l’Altro nel rispetto dell’altro e sulla creazione di una nuova identità nazionale. Il punto di vista interculturale dice che le culture non devono essere intese come corazze che impediscono la crescita perché esse sono pur sempre il prodotto umano e il loro compito è quello di sorreggere l’uomo nel suo affrancarsi dalle condizioni di partenza.


Per tale motivo la scuola italiana è stata chiamata a ripensare i propri modelli legislativi e culturali attraverso le seguenti circolari ministeriali inerenti l’ interculturalità a scuola :


  1. 1989: ( 301/1989) Inserimento degli stranieri nella scuola dell’obbligo.


  1. 2.   1990: ( 205/1990) La scuola dell’obbligo e gli alunni stranieri. L’educazione interculturale


  1. 1994: ( 73/1994) Proposte iniziative per l’educazione interculturale.


Come riportato nel documento 73/1994, “L’educazione interculturale si esplica nell’attività quotidiana dei docenti sulla base di una rinnovata professionalità e si sviluppa in un impegno progettuale e organizzativo fondato sulla collaborazione e sulla partecipazione”.

Ciò vuol dire non solo scambiare informazioni, ma vivere e far vivere esperienze, attivare un continuo confronto non solo tra gli operatori della scuola, ma anche tra i soggetti impegnati nei servizi di territorio o investiti di responsabilità sociali.

L’educazione interculturale promuove i valori che danno senso alla vita; non sono tutti nella nostra cultura, ma neppure tutti nelle culture degli altri. Non tutti nel passato ma neppure tutti nel presente o nel futuro. Essi consentono di valorizzare le diverse culture ma insieme ne rivelano i limiti e cioè le relativizzano, rendendo in tal modo possibile e utile il dialogo e la creazione della comune disponibilità a superare i propri limiti e a dare i propri contributi in condizione di relativa sicurezza.

L’educazione interculturale introduce anche una riflessione sulla propria cultura e ne rafforza la consapevolezza per cui tra gli obiettivi dell’educazione interculturale si evidenzia la necessità di insegnare ai giovani a confrontarsi con le differenze sia culturali sia fisiche che, a volte, nascondono un’identità culturale. Gli allievi devono imparare a confrontarsi e a gestire le diversità, occorre insegnare loro ad acquisire la competenza interculturale che consente di comunicare in una modalità diversa.

L’educazione interculturale dovrebbe insegnare a risolvere i conflitti, a lavorare in una società interculturale, a confrontare i propri valori con quelli dell’altro. Essa deve insegnare la tolleranza, perché solo l’apertura verso gli altri  può combattere il razzismo, i pregiudizi, gli stereotipi.

Guardare all’altro con una predisposizione all’ascolto, all’accoglienza e non con rifiuto che scatena anche la xenofobia (l’altro invade i miei spazi, l’altro trasforma la mia cultura in qualcosa di diverso).

Bisogna tener presente che la didattica interculturale non è solo una questione di integrazione di contenuti né tanto meno una materia a sé. L’interculturalità è un punto di vista, una prospettiva che pertanto va fatta nelle ore di geografia, scienze, musica e di lingue, ovviamente. Per cui, ogni singolo insegnante, partendo dai bisogni del discente, può  adattare l’insegnamento a ciascun allievo. Ciò significa ancorarlo ai suoi stili cognitivi, alle sue pre-conoscenze, alle sue modalità e potenzialità comunicative.

Dunque, il buon esito dell’integrazione culturale è legato  alla capacità degli insegnanti di guidare processi di insegnamento/apprendimento in una situazione determinata dall’incrocio di culture. Tutto ciò ovviamente richiede una certa professionalità orientata alla ricerca di  nuove strategie e metodologie didattiche.

Nell’ottica di una pedagogia interculturale, tra le varie strategie che si possono utilizzare vi sono esempi di testualità diverse: ad esempio si può ipotizzare l’impiego di testi pubblicitari, film, cartoni animati, favole, articoli di giornale, barzellette ecc. in cui siano presenti gli stereotipi culturali. Occorre, però, evitare di utilizzare materiali tratti dai libri di corsi di lingue in quanto essi non sarebbero autentici: l’insegnante dovrà sforzarsi di ricercare modalità di insegnamento che non siano scontate.

La pubblicità è un buon esempio in quanto essa è stringatissima, il gioco è tutto sull’immagine che si accoppia alla parte testuale, e i modi di scrivere sono particolari.

Un articolo è già più complesso, si può però tagliarlo, scegliere una porzione che sembra interessante, e calibrarlo in base all’età e al livello di competenza linguistica degli studenti.

Per quanto concerne i film, linguisticamente essi presentano alcune difficoltà linguistiche ma il compito dell’insegnante sarà quello di attirare l’ attenzione degli alunni solo su alcuni particolari.

L’ideazione e la ricerca di approcci nuovi, tuttavia, non deve far dimenticare la grande difficoltà rappresentata dal problema linguistico che influisce sulla situazione psicologica degli alunni. Imparare una seconda lingua comporta dei disagi soprattutto di tipo linguistico, dunque il docente non può tralasciare di effettuare un serio lavoro sulla lingua al fine di aiutare i suoi allievi a superare il divario tra le due dimensioni linguistiche. Il docente che metta in atto un approccio interculturale, dunque, dovrà arrivare all’intercultura usando la lingua stessa!

La comunicazione è un momento per il dialogo ma essa, ovviamente,non si limita alla competenza linguistica: in realtà bisogna saper gestire le varietà diatopiche e diastratiche delle lingue insieme ad altri codici come la gestualità o la competenza cinestesica. Vi sono, poi, altre competenze fondamentali che richiamano il contesto della comunicazione e la capacità di sapersi relazionare al luogo, al momento e agli interlocutori, e con ciò parliamo di competenza socio-comunicativa oppure pragmatica, che è la capacità di saper gestire la comunicazione adeguandosi all’interlocutore.

La lingua, nella sua oralità, non è solo una sequenza di fonemi: il suono della lingua è associato al sistema fonologico e ciò significa sapere associare sequenze di suoni a significati. Ma oltre ad essere associata a questi elementi discreti, la lingua è collegata anche a elementi non discreti come la competenza intonativa. Ogni lingua ha le sue norme intonative e le utilizza in maniera indifferenziata. Questo non è un elemento a favore della comunicazione perché esse inibiscono la comprensione, le frasi variano,una sequenza di parole assume un significato diverso a causa della curva di intonazione.

Un lavoro su questi aspetti non è semplice ma andrebbe effettuato a scuola per avere una visione completa sul funzionamento della comunicazione. Nel C.E.F. troviamo tutte le competenze che devono essere proposte e presentate in classe: competenza di traduzione ed interpretazione insieme alle competenze comunicative che gli alunni devono acquisire di pari passo allo sviluppo della lingua.

Una strategia linguistica nell’ottica dell’interculturalità ci viene fornita dagli stereotipi linguistici: è interessante partire da quelli presenti nella lingua italiana come ad esempio “fuma come un turco”, “bestemmia come un turco”, “vu’ cumprà”, per cercare poi quelli in lingua straniera ( Inglese, Francese, Tedesco, Spagnolo, ecc.) che abbiano delle connotazioni particolari di popoli. Bisogna rendere gli alunni consapevoli del fatto che ogni stereotipo nasce da qualcosa e, pertanto, si sceglieranno delle espressioni in lingua straniera e le si confronteranno con le strutture simili o molto diverse in italiano. Occorre riflettere in particolare sugli stereotipi che richiamano gruppi linguistici, etnici, razziali come “fuma come un turco”, “sembra uno zingaro”, “è tirchio come un ebreo”, “sembra un profugo albanese”, “sembra un tedesco”, “fa l’americano”, “beve come un irlandese”, ecc.

Partendo dalla normativa, al fine di abbattere certe barriere culturali e certe forme di razzismo, si può cogliere un momento specifico del nostro percorso e si può adottare una strategia rappresentata dalla scelta di argomenti da recuperare in riviste o quotidiani di attualità e/o politica esteri e di confrontarli con articoli presenti in riviste italiane. Nel momento della scelta occorrerà  motivare la scelta dei materiali utilizzati, inquadrare il lavoro in una prospettiva particolare, motivare la scelta della tematica spiegando perché vogliamo introdurla nella nostra programmazione didattica; spiegare  dov’è l’ elemento di comparabilità e quale la sezione comparata.

Occorre trovare punti di vista diversi e fare un lavoro sia linguistico che testuale. L’articolo scelto non deve essere lunghissimo ma deve essere reale; il testo comunque può essere anche un testo pubblicitario,un articolo di giornale, di una rivista, può essere una parte particolare di una rivista che andrà messa a confronto con quella italiana. Ad esempio si possono utilizzare le lettere della posta di un giornale italiano e confrontarle con uno straniero. Ovviamente, si sceglieranno quotidiani e riviste dello stesso orientamento politico e/o culturale, e si andranno a recuperare le modalità in cui la notizia viene proposta in base alle differenze culturali per poi presentare una lezione su queste ultime.

Infine sarà opportuno effettuare anche degli esercizi che portino un arricchimento linguistico alla classe.