Hope you had a pleasant weekend.
We were at the coast, in Rimini, which was nice. Though on Saturday there was way too much wind to get out on the boat, and on Sunday the conditions were rather too sedate for sailing. We ate well, at least. And didn’t get stuck in traffic on the autostrada coming back on Sunday afternoon.
So anyway, this week is going to be a quiet one here at the club – the calm before the storm perhaps, as next Monday there’s the launch of the final (for now) title in our Italian literature series of easy reader ebooks, ‘I promessi sposi’, a saga of love in a time of injustice and pandemic. Bet you can’t wait…
The week after that, starting on Monday 6th July, heralds our long-awaited Summer Sale! Which, as always, means a 20% saving on everything in our online shop – ebooks, online lessons, the works. Mark the date in your diary if you still have such a thing.
Right after the sale, I’ve scheduled the beginning of our free 30-part ‘History of Rome’ series of simplified texts with accompanying audio, which will go on throughout the summer. So masses of new reading and listening practice! I’ve only glanced at these, as the editing was done by somone else, so am really looking forward to learning more about that fascinating period.
For now, though, we’re treading water, marking time, kicking our heels, twiddling our thumbs, and so on. Which is why I had time to take a look at the statistics for the club website, only to discover (not entirely to my surprise) that April was our best month ever!
The chart shows monthly ‘views’ starting from July 2012 when, in an idle moment on holiday with my family, I thought it might be fun, and pass a few hours, to start some sort of, well, club? For people learning Italian?
The final row shows 2020, which as you can see is still in progress. It ends with this month, which is also not finished yet, but nevertheless shows the usual June-August decline in traffic as people find better things to do than learning Italian online.
The green blob shows our best month ever, over four hundred thousand page views, which probably means about a hundred thousand visits, so between three and four thousand comings and goings each day.
Unfortunately, that unexpected April spike in visitor numbers is obviously not due to a wave of enthusiasm for articles like this one, nor even belated appreciation for the club’s mass of free content for learning Italian. Sadly, it’s the covid 19 effect, much of the world having been stuck at home for the whole of April with nothing to do but surf the internet.
Our other websites show a similar bounce in traffic during the lockdown (and decline since it started to ease). In fact, this whole period has been good news for anyone established online and so able to work virtually as normal, and with potentially much more impact.
However, the ‘best’ month ever was nothing to celebrate, I’m sure you’ll agree. Doubtless it’ll be a good few years before there is such interest again, but when that eventually happens (if it ever does), the green blob highlighting April 2020 will shift itself elsewhere. I don’t suppose we’ll forget the spring of 2020, though.
Incidentally, were you wondering which pages all those otherwise-idle visitors to the club website were looking at? This chart shows the ten most popular in the last seven days (our system doesn’t offer the data for April.)
Unsurprisingly, the A1 (beginner-level) index page outperforms the successive A2 and B1 levels (in positions 9 and 10), suggesting that many people who dream of learning a language don’t actually get very far. Plenty viewed Lesson 01: Articles in the last seven days, for instance (position 8). Many, many fewer got as far as Lesson 02…
Which is why I’m always banging on about the importance of listening, and skills in general – so reading and speaking, too. People invariably believe that learning a foreign language is all about mastering the grammar, when in fact grammar is only one component, and not necessarily the most important.
Modern language-learning material and professionally-designed courses include, but don’t prioritise, grammar. It’s introduced gradually over time and in a way that integrates with other aspects of the language – vocabulary, pronunciation, the skills mentioned above, learning tips, and even ‘cultural knowledge’ (so beyond how the language functions, WHAT people actually use it to communicate.)
Just to say, if you read these articles but never got around to exploring the club website (and in particular if you still have too much time on your hands), why not do so?
Or, if you once made a good resolution to learn Italian – perhaps having taken a look at Lesson 01: Articles but not ever getting around to Lesson 02: Plurals – then do consider this as a polite reminder to have another crack at achieving your goal.
There’s a week to kill before ‘I promessi sposi’, after all.
A mercoledì, allora.
Talking of skills-development, so reading and listening, but also of ‘cultural knowledge’ (what people are actually talking about in Italian), you could do worse than subscribe (for free) to EasyItalianNews.com and so get three simplified Italian news bulletins via email, each and every week.
I know of no better way to practice what you have already learned, while maintaining your motivation and interest, expanding your vocabulary, and building reading and listening comprehension skills.
All this in preparation for future situations in which understanding what you read and hear will matter significantly more than whether you have used the correct article or plural.