Today’s free Italian exercise is on ‘Connettivi e congiunzioni subordinanti‘.
When I had a look at it just now, it reminded me of the time in 2003 when I’d decided to quit teaching and get a proper job, maybe in an Italian company, or better still a multinational, where it wouldn’t matter if my Italian was rubbish.
My (Italian) wife and I decided to invest our savings and sign me up for an MBA program at what is now called Bologna Business School. It was the first ‘distance-learning’ course they’d offered, so it was cheap and fitted well with me having to earn a living, as well as with having three pre-schoolers at home.
The only problem? The course was taught in Italian and my knowledge of the language was no better than A2 (pre-intermediate) at the time…
While I got through the interview without difficulties (I dare say they realised the marketing advantages of having at least one non-Italian student on the course), to graduate I would have to do a number of written exams over the next two years.
Which was going to be a problem. I’d picked up what little Italian I knew from just being here, and had certainly never written a word of it.
Not having any better options, we paid over our savings and I started the course. Predictably, the classroom work was way over my head, though the online component was manageable (sections of it being in English) and I was able to catch up on the lectures I didn’t understand with extra reading at home. Really it made a change from teaching and changing diapers…
But come the time of the first exam and I knew I’d need to do something quick and easy to boost my written Italian.
Without the time and energy to study Italian grammar from scratch and catch up on everything I really needed to know to write coherently, I decided to try a technique that I often suggest to my students…
The idea is to fix just ONE part of your writing, then use what you’ve learnt as often as you can, hoping thereby to give the Professor the idea that your language skills are better than they really are.
A good place to start is with ‘connecting words’ like conjunctions, adverbs and so on. I decided to learn half-a-dozen or so suitable phrases and pepper my exam answers with them.
For a week or so before the exam, I hung around on the class online forum, reading what the other students wrote about the course topics. Each time one of them used a suitably impressive expression, I made a note of it. Later I reduced my notes to a shortlist of essential ‘connectors’, each with an example sentence, and memorized it.
To cut a long story short, I passed the exam and two years later graduated with my business administration degree!
At which point I utterly failed to find a suitable non-teaching job, was let go from the British Council school where I had been teaching English, and ended up starting my own language school out of sheer desperation…
Which brings me back to today’s exercise.
If you’d like a quick way to improve your written Italian, you could do worse than studying the 12 examples you’ll find there.
If you have no idea which of the three answers in the drop-down menu are correct, use the ‘Soluzioni’ button to view the correct ones, check the translations at wordreference.com, then copy out the sentences and memorize them.
To really consolidate what you’ve learnt, come back tomorrow and use the exercise to test yourself.
Repeat as necessary.
But don’t rely on this getting you a job in Italy…
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