Sometimes days go by with no interesting emails. But occasionally I write something that strikes a cord, then a bunch arrive, all at once.
I guess Friday’s article must have been one of those, as I spent a chunk of Sunday afternoon writing back to people.
I’m making ragù this morning, so find myself even more pressed for time than on a typical Monday! Hence, I’ll copy and paste a few of my emailed replies, so catching two pigeons with one bean, as Italians say, by giving you a peek in my postbag rather than writing anything new. Recycling!
Jacqueline kindly wrote to let me know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t always understand their bilingual children. And shared how she learns languages, and why. I wrote this in reply:
“Sounds like we have a lot in common with our approach to language learning, as I read articles in French and Spanish (also Swedish) each day, too.
Though I lack your curiosity about linguistic details, or am just lazy, so never look things up in dictionaries unless I absolutely have to. As you say, it’s important to enjoy your learning, and for me the languages are like invitations into someone else’s society and culture. These days, with newspapers radio and TV available on smartphones, you can virtually live in a foreign land without ever visiting it. I’m sure I pay more attention to what’s happening in Sweden or France than I do Italy, where I actually live!
Suzanne wrote with memories of visiting an Italian immigrant community, and an anecdote about dubious teaching, which is guaranteed to wind me up:
“Thanks for writing and sorry it took me a while to get around to replying. Your story about the Italian migrant community is indeed of interest, and chimes with our new ebooks series about the diaspora – we’ve only published one, but I’ve read the other three (Spain, USA, Australia) several times during the production process, and there are similar tales. A lot of migrants would have been illiterate, as well as speaking dialects, which would have limited their horizons to others from the same region.
In Italy, the language is imposed on all kids, like it or not, as part of the political project of ‘unifying’ the country. They don’t say that, as such, but for anyone with any understanding of the processes of political socialization, it’s obvious that the school system was constructed, at least in part, with that end in mind. Everyone has to speak ‘proper’ Italian, as well as studying the same syllabus, which is stuffed with Italian literature, history, and so on, which reinforces the sense of being a unified country rather than a series of culturally and linguistically disparate communities. All countries brainwash their kids in school, of course, but not everywhere does the language play such a fundamental role.
And as regards “online language teachers who claim you can speak Italian fluently by repeating their sentences via grammar lessons”, yes, well… Some of us are actually qualified professionals (unlike language teachers in the Italian school system, who have no basic training whatsoever) and part of the process of learning how to teach is to begin to appreciate that there are as many differing learning situations as there are students, one size doesn’t fit all, and a teacher who’s doing her job to an acceptable level of quality will be able to choose an approach and techniques based on the situation. Those selling some magic method, no matter what it involves, are actually marketers, not teachers, in my opinion.”
Nina wanted to know which part of Italy I lived in:
I live in Bologna, to answer your question. I’ve been here for nearly twenty-five years. Our language school is in the street that runs down the right hand side of the cathedral, but we live right out on the city limits in what was once an agricultural worker’s cottage. Rain comes though the roof sometimes, but we have nice neighbours.
The ragù’s starting to smell good, but still needs another two hours on the hob, at least. So there’s time for some marketing…
This week’s half-price eBoook of the Week is another really low level one, the A1/2 (elementary) Il giocoliere, (The Juggler)
Because it’s intended to be easy and quick to finish, the chapters are very short. As you’ll see if you download the free sample chapter (.pdf).
The recording of the entire story is available for anyone to listen to, no purchase required. The link’s in the free sample chapter (.pdf).
Until Sunday night, Il giocoliere costs just £3.99, rather than the usual £7.99.
A student has her purse stolen on a crowded bus in Bologna. It contains little of value, except a photograph which is precious to her…
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 8 chapters to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at any level
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
Wait, I almost forgot! We have a parallel text ebook version of this one, so I’ll knock 50% off that, too!
Choose which version you prefer, but don’t buy both, as the story is the same!
The ‘easy reader’ version has only the Italian text, but glossaries, exercises and a link to the online audio.
How do I access my ebook?
When your order is ‘completed’ (immediately after payment, normally), a download link will be automatically emailed to you. It’s valid for 7 days and 3 download attempts so please save a copy of the .pdf ebook in a safe place. Other versions of the ebook (.mobi/Kindle-compatible, .epub) cannot be downloaded but will be emailed to people who request them.
And here’s the usual Monday morning reminder to listen to and read Saturday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news, which is completely free, or at least costs nothing directly – the team are paid out of donations received from readers. Which our accountant thinks is ‘weird’, but seems to work!
The donations page is here, by the way, and includes, for the technically-challenged, step-by-step instructions with pictures (scroll down that page to find them.)