SLU Professor Teaches Italian with VIDEOGAMES

Sep 24, 2018 1853

Ciao! Mi chiamo Simone Bregni! I was born and raised in Italy. I lived most of my life in Asti, a Medieval town renowned for its good wines. I have been at SLU for 18 years, and I have been teaching in the US college classroom since 1994. My areas of specialization are in Medieval & Renaissance Italian literature & Culture and in foreign language acquisition. Currently, my focus is on the applications of technology and digital media to language acquisition, in particular video game-based learning (VGBL).

In fall 2016, as a recipient of the Saint Louis University (SLU) Reinert Center for Innovative Teaching, I developed ITAL 1200, Intensive Italian for Gamers. The course, which utilizes games such as Assassin’s Creed II, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, was taught in the SLU state-of-the-art Learning Studio in spring 2017. It will be offered again in spring 2019. I have presented my research and results in workshops and presentations, at conferences and in publications.

My research and teaching practices were quoted in stories about teaching Italian through gaming that ran in Variety, Science Daily, Newswise, Eurekalert, La Stampa (Italian national newspaper), TGCom24 (Italian national TV news/website), IGN Italia, Forbes Italia, Brightsurf, Der Standard (Austrian national newspaper), Movies with Butter, Bioportfolio, PhysOrg, Science Magazine, India Today, Business Standard, The Asian Age, Tribune India, Deccan Chronicle, Hindustan Times, The University Network, St. Louis Magazine, El Mercurio (Chilean national newspaper), Fibonacci, Mastergame, Mid-day News, Multiplayer, Everyeye, the Google News feed, and more. I was interviewed in French by Radio Canada - Channel One, and in Italian by the Italian national private radio station Radio Deejay. I was invited to give presentations at international conferences in the US and Italy, and hands-on workshops in Spain, Italy and Austria.

This semester (fall 2018) I am teaching ITAL 1010, Communicating in Italian I (first semester Italian), and ITAL 3600, Eros, Power & Play: Pre-Modern Italian Theater (taught in English; no prerequisites). Since I firmly believe that learning should be fun, I use a variety of media in my courses to reinforce what is being learned through traditional methods. I use videos, movies, songs, comics & graphic novels, and video games. This semester, both my ITAL 1010 and ITAL 3600 students will learn more about Italy and the Renaissance by playing Assassin’s Creed - The Ezio Collection on PlayStation 4.

The Assassin’s Creed series, with its outstanding re-creation of everyday life and culture of the specific era and geographical areas in which each chapter is set, allows educators like me, in languages and cultures (but also in other fields such as architecture and the social sciences), to enhance students’ learning by their exploring first-hand several aspects of life in those times and places in dynamic, immersive and interactive ways. Moreover, the excellent multi-lingual localization of the Assassin’s Creed series allows foreign language learners to reinforce their vocabulary, grammar and structures in a fun and engaging context, through exciting quests that get learners deeply involved. And that is where the best learning happens! Based on my research and teaching experience, the use of video games such as Assassin’s Creed, both in and outside the classroom, has shown to be a very effective didactic tool for reinforcing linguistic skills and exposing students to contemporary and past cultures of other nations and groups. Integration of VGBL and traditional learning is the key! I have a blog at


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