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Page history last edited by CarmenDell13 9 years, 4 months ago


This pilot has been awarded by the European Language Label 2013 (IE). The ELL is awarded to innovative projects in the field of language teaching and learning. It rewards creative ways to improve the quality of language teaching, motivate learners and make the best of available resources. (To know more about the ELL please visit this page).


This project has taken part in the sixth edition of the call "e-Talents in e-Learning" organized by ASFOR. It is one of the winners among the best PhD thesis addressing the issue of e-Learning and e-Innovation. Click here to know more.




Inton.It@ is a PhD pilot project in Modern Literatures and Philological-Linguistics Studies drawn by Dott.ssa Carmela Dell'Aria from the University of Palermo (IT) in patternship with the National University of Galway (IE).

This project is granted by LLP - Grundtvig Visits and Exchanges 2012.

This study is based on Second Language Acquisition (SLA) in blended courses. It will explore the affordances of new educational technologies in the development of distance education.

The aim is to enhance the oral and intercultural skills through the learners’ engagement, developing authentic social interaction and the intercultural awareness while actively engaging the students’ powers of perception, communication and reasoning.

During the project I’ll carry out the following activities:


  • Supporting language teaching to adult learners, in particular in e-learning and blended contexts;
  • Preparing material and devising innovative activities for adult learners of Italian;
  • Participating in and delivering teacher training seminars in language teaching;
  • Initiating, developing and assisting in the implementation of international language projects.







In this study I will introduce a speech analysis technology specially tailored to pronunciation training, providing relevant and comprehensible visual feedback of all three components of speech prosody-intonation, stress and rhythm (suprasegmentals).              

My study presents an approach to pronunciation that highlights the interrelatedness of various aspects of spoken Italian (among which rhythm and melody).

This approach addresses the individual elements of pronunciation, working together and vitally linked within the framework of a larger system that uses all these individual elements to make speakers’ ideas clear and understandable to their listeners.

A traditional pronunciation training usually focuses on minimal-pair drilling of vowel and consonant sounds, concentrating on individual sounds that are hard for students to hear or produce, in the hopes of achieving “mastery of the Italian sound system.”

Unfortunately, this kind of drilling often produces depressing results and tends to take up a great deal of available classroom time. It is terribly inefficient to teach individual sounds without establishing some basic understanding of the Italian system of rhythm and melody.

For one thing, without an understanding of Italian prosody and intonation, students will end up practicing Italian sounds in their L1 rhythm.

Learners of a second language create an interlanguage and transfer both the phonological rules (the grammar) and the acoustic cues for stress and rhythm identification from their native language to the second language. This is a common problem in many L2 classrooms.

From my point of view, what is much more important to stress is the achievement of a successful communication as the main objective of a second language learner rather than the overcoming of what has been termed “foreign accent”, which can be deemed as a secondary goal: in fact a strong placement of word stress may impair understanding from the listener’s point of view of the word being pronounced.

The rhythmic structure of each language supplies a timing context that makes it easier to reach the target sound. Thus acquiring correct timing of phonological units helps to overcome the impression of “foreign accent” which may ensue from an incorrect distribution of stressed vs. unstressed stretches of linguistic units such as syllables or metric feet.

Correcting the intonational foreign accent is an important component of a prosodic module for self-learning activities, as categorical aspects of the intonation of the two languages in contact, L1 and L2 are far apart and thus neatly distinguishable.

The speech analysis technology can help students to reach this objective, giving a visual feedback combined with the auditory feedback.

As matter of fact this study deals with the problem of improving a student’s performance both in perception and production of prosodic aspects of spoken languages which include the correct position of stress at word level, the alternation of stress and unstressed syllables, the correct position of sentence accent, the generation of the adequate rhythm from the interleaving of stress, accent, and phonological rules, and the generation of adequate intonational pattern for each utterance related to communicative functions.

As stated above, for a student to communicate intelligibly and as close as possible to native-speaker's pronunciation, prosody is very important. I also assume that an incorrect prosody may hamper communication from taking place and this may be regarded a strong motivation for having the teaching of prosody as an integral part of any language course, where the use of computers is important for suprasegmental pronunciation training for non-native speakers of Italian, though most of the statements are true for other languages.

Moreover, the choice of the two languages in contact is determined mainly by the fact that the distance in prosodic terms between English and Italian is maximal, according to general problems related to rhythm: Italian and English are placed at the two opposite ends of a continuum where languages of the world are placed. This is dependent on the two overall phonological systems, which in turn are bound by the vocabulary of the two languages. The phonological system and the vocabulary in conjunction will then determine the phonotactics and all suprasegmental structures and features.




At the end of the project participants, collaboratively and hands on, will have


  • used various synchronous and asynchronous Web tools for learning Italian;
  • interacted through e-mail, text chat, voice chat, voice and video mail, and distribution lists, among others;
  • created podcasts, viodecast and interactive materials related to different language situations;
  • reflected on ways of language learning, either online or face-to-face.


Weekly chats will be held to discuss content and pre-defined topics, build rapport and create a sense of community.

Much of the content derived from the discussions will be made available through our NUIG course site and this wiki, created during the five weeks, which will be kept online for future reference.


At the end of the session participants will be invited to join the "Caffè Italia", Italian community of practice.


Target audience


Students of the Diploma in Italian at the National University of Ireland, Galway.








Have an e-mail account and Internet access, and familiarity with browsers and Web navigation. Have a headset with mic is advisable for the live sessions. 

To have the best possible experience while the Live Online sessions, you should have speakers or headphones; a microphone is recommended but not required. We suggest going through the site (WizIQ/Anymeeting/Google+ hangout/Skype) at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the virtual meeting you plan to attend.




The project started in September 2012 and it will go on until the 30th March 2013. This is a longitudinal study that requires at least 2 terms.

In the first term (September-December) students learnt how to use speech analysis tools (PRAAT) for perception and production of Italian prosody and intonation.

During the second term (7th January- 30th March 2013) they will record podcasts and videocasts to collect them in an online portfolio.

During the semester 2 I'll give a prompt feedback and evaluate their progress.


Interest Section (sponsor)


UNIPA (University of Palermo)

NUIG (National University of Ireland, Galway)

LLP - Grundtvig-Visits & Exchanges



Dott.ssa Carmela Dell'Aria


SEM 2 Content



Unit 1   Getting acquainted with Inton.It@ Group. Introductions


Participants get acquainted with the Inton.It@ Group platform and interact with one another through the mailing list meanwhile they go on working with language activities in B&B.

In week 1 they will record sentences using Praat.

In week 2 They will work in groups to record specific dialogues using Praat.

During the week, we will have our first "f2f session" at the National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway, to show you around our social networks and our virtual world.

Presenter: Dott.ssa Carmela Dell'Aria 

Venue: Arts Millennium Building, Room AM117, National University of Ireland, Galway.  

 A map of the campus can be found here: http://nuigalway.ie/campus-map/


Unit 2 Synchronous and asynchronous communication tools: Text /Audio/Video


Participants will have the opportunity to chat with Italian natives through different synchronous and asynchronous media such as Blackboard, Skype, Anymeeting, Google + hangout, and Second Life.

During these chats they will learn how to use the many powerful features of each of these environments, such as voice chat and webcam-enhanced chat.

In week 1 participants participants will explore several podcasts to create their own podcasts by speech analysis tools (Praat) and add them to their virtual portfolio.  

In week 2 they will work in groups to record specific dialogues using PRAAT or joining virtual classes in Second Life. Podcast and videocasts will be added in their virtual portfolio too.

Presenter: Dott.ssa Carmela Dell'Aria
Virtual Venue: NUIG B&B, WizIQ or/and  Anymeeting, PBworks, Second Life, Skype, Soundclouds, Secon Life, Google+ hangout


UnitBuilding an online presence: Second Life and Social networks


Participants will be introduced to Second Life. They will explore different learning environment.

Participants will also share podcasts and videocasts to create content and add it to our wiki and course site (B&B).

They will also touch on Social Networking as part of building an online presence.

Participants will create an Inton.It@ virtual portfolio to keep track of the activities developed during these sessions.

Presenter: Dott.ssa Carmela Dell'Aria 
Virtual Venue: NUIG B&B, WizIQ or/and  Anymeeting, PBworks, Second Life, Skype, Soundclouds, Secon Life, Google+ hangout 


Unit 4 Developing class materials: interactive dialogues


Participants will have the opportunity to explore different language situations and create their own dialogues as language tutorials for their classmates.

They will then link or embed their materials in our wiki and B&B.

Presenter: Dott.ssa Carmela Dell'Aria 
Virtual Venue: NUIG B&B, WizIQ or/and  Anymeeting, PBworks, Second Life, Skype, Soundclouds, Secon Life, Google+ hangout


Unit 5 Online and Blended Learning: Wrap-up. Conclusions and Evaluation.


Participants will share reflections about "online and blended learning" and arrive at the main conclusions about the online tools explored and their role in language learning.

Participants will also give feedback about the session.

Presenter: Dott.ssa Carmela Dell'Aria 

Virtual Venue: NUIG B&B, WizIQ or/and  Anymeeting, PBworks, Second Life, Skype, Soundclouds, Secon Life, Google+ hangout


Wrap up: Virtual Graduation Ceremony

To wrap up these five weeks, there will be a "Graduation Ceremony" virtual session during which participants will be invited to join the "Caffè Italia" community.

Presenter: Dott.ssa Carmela Dell'Aria 

Virtual Venue: NUIG B&B, WizIQ or/and  Anymeeting, PBworks, Second Life, Skype, Soundclouds, Secon Life, Google+ hangout




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