One of the benefits of teaching Spanish is that, since it’s the most widely-taught world language in the US, teachers have little difficulty finding high-quality resources and curricula for their classroom. Teachers of French, another widely-taught language, can also find classroom resources fairly easily. But world language teachers who don’t teach those two languages are not so lucky. I’ve seen many posts from teachers of less commonly taught languages about how difficult it can be to find ready-made materials in their language.
The creators of Voces Digital recognized the need for resources in languages besides Spanish and French and have recently released a version of their online resources in Italian (German teachers: A version for you is coming soon too!). Currently, Levels 1 and 2 are all that is available, but Levels 3 and 4 will be available by the end of the year. In this post, I will review the Italian version by comparing it to the French version, which I have used extensively for the past two years.
Before I go any further, I want to be completely transparent and tell you that I recently became a Voces Ambassador. My job is simply to help spread the word about Voces Digital at conferences, on my blog, in my district and state language organization, and/or on social media. It is NOT a paid position, so I will not be compensated for this review. Also, although I am not an Italian teacher, I do have decent enough proficiency in the language to understand all the stories in the two levels I reviewed.
What I like about the Italian Version of Voces Digital, Nostra Storia
- Nostra Storia is a comprehensible input-based program.
- The Italian version of Voces Digital offers all the functions found in the French and Spanish version. That means it has stories that can be read and listened to, the ability to assign independent work, automatic scoring for multiple choice, fill-in, and true false questions, the ability to edit and add pages, audio and video activities, and more (If you’d like a more detailed explanation of what Voces Digital has to offer, here is my last blog post about that and here for a list of features from the Voces Digital website).
- The photos are beautiful and are of excellent quality. I especially like the panorama photos.
- The stories are current. You’ll find references to modern technology and social media as well as updated language (my personal favorite word that I’ve seen so far is friendzonato/a, which made me laugh out loud).
- The Italian version is based on AP themes (Contemporary Life, Families and Communities, Global Challenges, Beauty and Aesthetics, Science and Technology, Personal and Public Identities) and has essential questions for each chapter, just like the Spanish and French versions.
- Just like the French and Spanish versions, the Italian version is ACTFL aligned and has Can-Do Statements for each chapter.
- Voces Digital provides resources for teachers on how to implement the program and on how to teach using comprehensible input methods as well as resources for students on why and how to study a new language, just like the Spanish and French versions.
What could be better in Nostra Storia
- Nostra Storia has fewer stories and fewer activities per story than Nuestra Historia or Notre Histoire.
- The Ancora! Ancora! sections do not have embedded cultural readings like the French and Spanish versions do.
- The Assessment sections at the end of each unit do not have Integrated Performance Assessments.
- The units do not begin with a set of “Let’s Visit” activities (If you are unfamiliar with these, they are activities that introduce students to a certain location where the target language is spoken. In the Spanish and French versions, the pages have a series of pictures with captions and then questions for students to answer. They are nice because they introduce students to places that are then used as settings in the unit stories).
- I’d like to see more diversity in Nostra Storia. Yes, you will find a few stories with characters who are Muslim or who are people of color and one reading discussing the inaccuracies of stereotypes about Italians but, as far as I can tell, all interviews are with White people, all religious holidays presented in stories are Christian, and all stories with romantic themes are about relationships between a man and a woman. Luckily, teachers can customize all pages in Nostra Storia and add new pages that can include more diverse story lines and characters if they want to, but I wish they didn’t have to.
One of the nice things about Voces Digital is that, since it is an online resource, the developers constantly update it and add new features. Since the Voces Digital team explicitly states on their website that the Italian series is available as “Early Access,” I predict that they will continue to add new stories, videos, and other features to Nostra Storia over time (but my guess is that this won’t happen until after Levels 3 and 4 are released). But even though the Italian series seems a little light compared to the French and Spanish series, I would most likely still purchase access to the series for the upcoming school year so I could have a comprehensible-input based resource to supplement my classroom curriculum.
Pricing for Voces Digital is on their website. If you would like to test it out, you can sign up for a free 10-day trial and explore Levels 1 and 2. If you have any questions about the Italian series or any other Voces Digital resource, please reach out and I will do my best to answer you as soon as I can. Arrivederci!