I’m travelling today, heading up the motorway to London’s Heathrow airport for an evening flight back to Bologna.
So I’ll keep this short.
I have two things for you this morning: 1.) an exchange of emails with a club member who DOESN’T NEED ‘slow’ or ‘easy’ listening material any longer, and 2.) another canto from Dante’s Inferno.
So first the emails. If you’ve ever bought or downloaded an ebook from our online shop, you’ll probably have had an email like this from me:
Hi, this is Daniel at easyreaders.org.
I’d be really grateful if you would give me some feedback on the ebook you recently received:
I send these out manually, which is a pain but is the only way to get reviews. And, like it or not, reviews are a necessary part of ecommerce – both asking for them and writing them.
People are reluctant to buy a product or service if there’s no evidence that other people have done so. Marketers call this ‘social proof’. None of us want to be wrong, few of us want to be different.
I send a hundred or so requests to get one review, which is a thankless task but tolerable because occasionally people ARE nice.
Lana, for example, who replied (read the parts in bold at least):
I’m sorry, I don’t write the reviews, since I don’t write them well! The other people are usually so much better than my feeble couple of words, so I don’t bother!
To tell you the truth, I’m buying the books just to support your website, I still haven’t read the last 3 or 4 I bought from you and I haven’t had time for the workout books B1 and B2 either (I’m working mother, no time to read whatsoever!). I wish you had an optional donation somewhere on OnlineItalianclub, then I’d donate and won’t feel obligated to buy (if you have one, please direct me!). Yes, I know there is a donation option on EasyItalianNews but I rarely listen to them now, since I can listen to the real news instead.
But your website made a huge difference in my learning and I’m eternally grateful! Let me explain. My classmate in Florence in the school of Italian per stranieri directed me to your website last October (we were not beginners, at B1-B2 level covering more complex grammar, including conjuntivi), but I could barely speak and could not catch most of what was spoken by native speakers, on TV, etc. As you point out always, OnlineItalianclub has more than I could possibly use, but I focused on listening exercises, EasyItaliannews, audiobooks (without buying just listening the whole track, anything B1 and higher). I tried a Skype lesson with Lucia once, but I’ve already had 2 Italian teachers at a lower rate by then, so 3 seemed a bit too much. I began to listen to Rai Radio 2 daily. Oh, and I found Conversation Exchange as another resource at your website too!
So after 9 months of daily listening, weekly practicing with teachers, and about 2 or 3 months of conversing with Italians (non teachers) I no longer need anything slow, I can follow real life conversations, watch TV and actually talk myself! È come un miracolo, ma allo stesso tempo è inevitabile quando fai abbastanza sforzo quotidiano, vero? Sure, I don’t understand everything perfectly or speak fluently, but I am impressed on how much I can understand and communicate.
To make story short, what you say in almost every weekly email (wish it were in Italian!) worked for me! Grazie mille!
Ora dimmi come posso inviarti un pagamento senza comprare nulla? Come un regalo di ringraziamento.
So like, wow! Wish I got more emails like that! Here’s my reply:
Thanks for writing and sorry it’s taken me a couple of days to reply – I’m on holiday with my family, which means that computer time is precious!
Good to hear about your progress with Italian. As you say, IF you do the work on a daily basis, then it is inevitable. The sad thing is that most people don’t, and give up before they reach the point at which progress made reinforces motivation. For that reason, it would be great to be able to share extracts from your email with club members (to encourage others). Would that be OK?
As regards payment, please don’t feel that you owe us anything, or need to buy ebooks that you won’t use. If you wanted to make a donation, doing it through EasyItalianNews.com is the simplest way, but it’s really not necessary. The positive feedback is thanks enough!
And Lana replied:
Sure, you can use my email if it helps anyone!
Self-motivation is a key in any learning, and serious language learning is a life long journey, one just cannot cut corners. Thank you for providing a steady encouragement and promising a light in the tunnel! It is there, I see it!
I’m sure I’ll enroll into your school in Bologna one day and say ‘Ciao’ personally. I was considering it for this fall, but Florence beats everything else for me as a location, so I’m going back a Firenze.
Buona vacanza e buon fine settimana!
Hope you took something away from that exchange of emails.
If you’re not sure why I chose to share this, the key point for me is that materials such as those we offer – the website exercises and lessons, the audio books, the easy news – are designed to support you during the INTERMEDIATE phase.
Not ‘intermediate’ as in the level, though. ‘Intermediate’ as in the part between ‘beginning to learn’ and ‘knowing enough that you can go out in the (Italian-speaking) world and learn from authentic materials and interactions’.
‘Transitional’ would be a synonym, perhaps. Learning resources like ours are supposed to help you on your way. They are a tool, not an end themselves.
One day, like a mother bird who’s raised a nest full of chicks, I hope you’ll fly away!
Like Lana, you’ll no longer need worms dropped down your throat – you’ll be ready to go find them for yourselves.
OK, now what about Dante?
The ‘Italian Literature‘ page has also been added to the menu on the club website, so hopefully making it easy to find.
And that’s that for today.
A venerdì, allora.