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Sample TSM Junior Fresh (1st year) Handout

Disclaimer: The sample information on these pages may not reflect the latest course regulations. Authoritative up-to-date information may be found in the Trinity College Dublin Calendar and in current Italian Department handouts and notices. The current handbook is available on the Undergraduate web page.

TSM Degree


Welcome to the Department of Italian! The Department Secretary, Mrs Mary Keating, is at Room 4087 in the Arts Building (Tel. 8961000 / 6772941, extn. 2062, direct line 8962062).


Make sure that we can contact you quickly, by giving the Department secretary your home address and Dublin address. We sometimes have information on summer jobs, so it is in your interests to be contactable. Please inform us of any changes of address, etc. You will also need to inform us of any absence from class, and if you are absent for a week or more, you should submit a medical certificate. Timetables and other important announcements appear on the Department notice board. Do check it regularly; sometimes changes have to be announced at very short notice. You must spend at least two months in Italy during your undergraduate years, so start planning a visit to Italy in the summer after your Junior fresh course.

Most of the prescribed texts may be obtained from International Books in South Frederick Street. Details may be obtained from the Department Secretary. Titles include: Merlonghi et al., Oggi in Italia; Raminelli, Italiano per stranieri; Harraps Italian Verbs; Rosetta Loy, La parola ebreo (prose memoir); Dario Fo, Plays; Poetry texts (available from the Department). As well as these prescribed texts, you are recommended to consult Adorni & Primorac, English Grammar for Students of Italian, which can be consulted in the Italian seminar room.


Your Junior Fresh course starts with twelve weeks of intensive language study. Eight hours of tuition each week cover grammar, translation, computer exercises and conversation, as well as modern Italian history. A series of self-access assignments, involving vocabulary building, audio and video comprehension, Internet and e-mail communication, will help you to develop autonomous learning skills. The aim is to be able to communicate effectively in spoken and written Italian, to grasp the basic structures of the language, and to develop reading comprehension. After Christmas, we introduce a cultural component. You will begin reading Italian literature, including prose, poetry and theatre. You will also be given a general introduction to Italian verse forms, and an outline of Italian history. Two essays on poetry and/or drama will form part of your assessment. All your assignments during the year will be taken into consideration at the end. Written work must be submitted on time; extensions are given only for serious reasons.


Written examinations are held after teaching ends in Trinity (summer) term, covering language, literature and the Italian History. There are also oral and aural examinations.


Italian is a small Department, with close contact between students and staff; you will receive individual attention and you are encouraged to discuss your progress at all times. We want you to make the most of your first year in Trinity. If you experience any problem relating to your class work, or if you have missed classes through illness or other difficulties, please go at once to see the co-ordinator of JF language, or the Head of Department. An advisory service on language learning strategies is provided by the Centre for Language and Communication Studies. For problems of a more general nature, you can consult the Head. It is also essential to keep in touch with your Tutor and let her/him know how you are getting on.

In some ways, university is like school. The lecturers teach classes, demand regular exercises, and provide personal advice and help. But really, what you learn is your own responsibility, and your personal achievement. You are not a "consumer" of teaching; you are a "producer" of learning. Independent study is the basis of success.

No real understanding of a foreign literature can be achieved without a thorough grasp of the language, and here your personal commitment is vital. Your lecturers will point out the routes and the short-cuts, and help you over the hard patches, but you are the one who has to climb the mountain, and you have to cover the rocky ground. It is hard work, but the sense of achievement is great when you can understand and communicate in a new language.


In the first twelve weeks of your Junior fresh year you are given an intensive course in basic Italian. You should be able to:

  • express yourself orally and in writing, simply but accurately;
  • acquire basic structures and learn how the language "works";
  • start reading literary texts by Christmas.

The seven hours of language tuition each week are divided into three sections:


Basic language structures are taught in four classes every week; new grammar material is explained and practised, and written work is corrected. The regular completion of written work is essential. It is particularly important that you submit the test exercises which are set from time to time; these count as part of your assessment. Language classes are reinforced by one scheduled hour per week of computer exercises; the CLCS network of computers in rooms 4073 and 4074 can also be used for independent study.


Your conversation group will meet for one hour each week, and cover a range of everyday communicative activities such as: (1) introducing people to each other, describing people, identifying them; (2) talking about school experiences, holiday jobs and leisure interests; (3) informal conversation and familiar forms of address; (4) telling an Italian tourist about your town; (5) making suggestions, such as an evening at the cinema, and accepting or rejecting those suggestions, giving your reasons; (6) formal conversation and polite forms of address; (7) finding a job (reading an advertisement, writing an application, checking the relevant vocabulary, attending an "interview"). These are just some of the topics which you may cover in your conversation group, under the guidance of the Language Assistant. Do not worry if you cannot express yourself in complicated grammatical forms; the important thing is to practise communication. If you take a positive attitude, and avoid "clamming up" through embarrassment (or natural modesty), then you can learn a lot in conversation class. The Department attaches a good deal of importance to oral skills, which will be tested periodically as part of your general assessment. As you can see, the language course is intensive and requires a systematic daily work schedule to be successful. Try never to miss class, preparation, written work and revision. Remember to talk to your lecturers immediately if you have problems; it is vital not to get left behind so seek help at once..


Language laboratory sessions are held for one hour each week. You will practise oral grammar exercises to reinforce what you are learning in Language Structures classes. The language lab is also where you practise correct Italian pronunciation, and develop oral comprehension.

After all this talk about hard work (bordering on slavery at times, for staff as well as students), it may seem a little strange to say that we would like you to enjoy your Junior fresh year! This is a lively college, with opportunities for expanding your horizons, making new friends, and developing new interests. Of course examination results are important, but they only reflect part of the value that you can get out of being a student. If you give it your best effort, you will find it a rewarding experience.


Students of the Italian Department are eligible to participate in Erasmus exchanges with Continental universities. Those run through the Italian Department currently include 3 exchange places at the University of Bologna, 1 at the Translation and Interpreting Faculty of the University of Trieste, 2 at the University of Pavia. All are full-year exchanges, normally scheduled during the Senior fresh year - although different arrangements are sometimes made. Applications are invited at the end of each academic year, and offers are made after the summer examination results are published. While studying in the foreign university, students replace parts of their Trinity course with equivalent assignments, which are agreed by each student's two Trinity Departments, and marked by the appropriate Department in the host university. Your other Department's requirements will vary, and it is the student's responsibility to find out what they are. Exchange participants are required to send back formal reportds and agreements on the language and other courses they are taking.

You may also be able to go on an Erasmus Exchange run through your other Department, provided that the host University has suitable courses and that you obtain the permission of the Trinity College Italian Department.

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