Teaching impoliteness through rap music in the second-language classroom

01 Jun 2024
Room E1

Teaching impoliteness through rap music in the second-language classroom

As a recent study (Gasbarra & Samu, in press) has demonstrated Italian L2/FL teachers tend to deal with several aspects of pragmatics in class, such as being polite, realizing speech acts like greeting, thanking, apologizing, inviting, requesting, while ignoring some other everyday communicative realities as being impolite, offending and teasing, being humorous and expressing sarcasm, reacting to embarrassment, and using euphemisms for taboo subjects. With a few virtuous exceptions (e.g. Zanoni, 2018; Ferrari, 2019), it is rather rare to find presentations of rude language in the syllabi of Italian language courses or in teaching materials or input offered to learners in the classroom. However, as Mugford (2008, p. 375) states, students have the communicative right to be rude if they want to and teachers should prepare learners to communicate “in pleasant, not so pleasant, and even abusive interactional and transactional situations”. If the goal of teaching is not to limit the L2 learners’ linguistic behaviour to passive compliance with ‘default’ conventions and rituals, norm-breaking becomes important for both comprehension and (arguably) production. The current research focuses on impoliteness, considering that it is likely to be experienced by L2 users in the target-language context and demonstrates how L2 learners can be prepared for such everyday communicative realities. The teaching materials developed, and the learning path, based on Italian rap songs, has been experimented in various groups of advanced and intermediate level adult learners at the University for Foreigners of Perugia. Through the selected songs learners analysed, reused and reflected on types and functions of impoliteness (Culpeper, 2011). The questionnaires administered before and after the didactic treatment demonstrate that the training helps learners to identify potentially impolite practices and to increase their awareness of how to deal with impoliteness in L2 Italian, reducing their feeling of frustration and inappropriateness.



Culpeper, J. (2011). Impoliteness: Using language to cause offence. Cambridge University Press.

Ferrari, S. (2019). Riflettere sulla (s)cortesia linguistica nella scuola primaria. Un percorso di formazione e sperimentazione educativa dedicato alla pragmatica linguistica. Mediazioni, 24, 1-26.

Mugford, G. (2008), How rude! Teaching impoliteness in the second-language classroom. ELT Journal, 62(4), 375-84.

Samu, B., & Gasbarra, V. (in press). Insegnare la pragmatica: conoscenze, credenze e pratiche di docenti di italiano L2 e LS. Mosaic.

Zanoni, G. (2018). La scortesia linguistica in italiano L2 Dalla piattaforma LIRA all’esperienza in aula. inTRAlinea Special Issue: Translation And Interpreting for Language Learners (TAIL). https://www.intralinea.org/specials/article/la_scortesia_linguistica_in_italiano_l2