I’m not a patient man in general, unless I’m teaching, or sometimes with children and small animals.
Roomie and I spent nearly an hour ‘making bread’ yesterday evening, that’s to say I made bread while she plastered herself, and the surrounding area, with flour and sticky lumps of dough.
That took some patience.
But when I had a brief email from a club member the other day, I’m afraid I wasn’t so kind:
“Having just finished a 20 hour Italian class, I’m looking for ways to continue on my own until the next class begins, which won’t be for several months. But there are too many choices. Any suggestions? Ideally something that isn’t too hard. Many thanks!”
That’s my rewrite, as I don’t have the person’s permission to publish their actual words. But the sentiment was that.
Perhaps it’s the not sleeping nights (for nearly ten months now!), or maybe I was just in a grouchy mood, but something about that rubbed me up the wrong way.
Could be I’m too-easily rubbed up the wrong way, but anyway I replied with a link to an article I wrote for the club website, ‘How to learn Italian (or any language)‘.
It contains basically everything I have to say about language learning, which makes it rather long. You could read it, if you were so inclined, in maybe ten or fifteen minutes.
For serious students, and “I say it myself but shouldn’t” (as my mum remarks when something she’s cooked comes out pleasingly well), the article could function as a route map on your journey from zero to language-learning hero.
Print it, annotate it, highlight the parts that are relevant to you in pretty colours, then keep it on your desk, or by your bed, and refer to it often – your language-learning situation, so needs, will change over time.
Minutes after sending the article link, a reply arrived (my rewrite again, for the same reason):
“Actually, I was hoping you could suggest something, as I don’t have much experience and you clearly know a lot about this.”
There’s a universal truth known to those who market ‘courses’, which I do, and you probably don’t. But I’ll share it with you! As long as you promise not to tell anyone, as that would get me chucked out of the Marketing Magic Circle.
It doesn’t matter overmuch what’s IN the course, how GOOD it is, how INTERESTING it is, how EFFECTIVE it is, if no one uses it.
Note I didn’t say, ‘if no one buys it’, because this is equally applicable to free content (such as the thousands of pages of great stuff at OnlineItalianClub.com and the thrice-weekly bulletins of ‘easy’ Italian news from EasyItalianNews.com) and to paid-for products and services.
I’m not interested that you buy an ebook, or a pack of online lessons. I want you to READ THE DAMN THING, and TAKE THE LESSONS.
This not because I’m a nice person, but because I’m a teacher. What’s the point of having a large class of enthusiastic, happy students if they all quit after the first or second lesson? Oh, I changed my mind, I didn’t really want to learn. Oh, but this course seems to involve actual effort – it’s not what I thought it would be…
The whole point of education, is to educate. Money, if there is any, is entirely secondary. But the best teacher in the world, or the most perfect course, or app, will have absolutely no effect unless the students are convinced to sign up, and THEN convinced again, and again, over time, to actually make use of the learning opportunities. Duolingo understands this, and does it well.
Back to marketing then, the trick of selling education of any description, is not to keep all the good stuff in reserve until after people have committed themselves, but more the opposite – to pull out the bells and whistles early on, so as to establish your credibility, and to make sure the potential customers you attract are the right ones.
Thought experiment for you:
“I have a five CD course, which I usually sell for $1000, however for you, if you’re quick with your credit card, I have a special deal, just $199! And better still, there’s a money-back guarantee!! If you complete all five CDs, and send all the tasks for evaluation, and yet still don’t learn Italian, I’ll refund your entire payment!”
Convinced? You shouldn’t be. It’s a scam, as you can see from the condition attached to the money back guarantee. No one who hated the course would ever complete it, and all the assignments.
“I have a five CD course, which I usually sell for $1000, however for you, if you’re quick with your credit card, I have a special deal, just $199! Not sure? Here are the FIRST THREE CDs COMPLETELY FREE! Don’t buy the final two until you’ve verified that the course is what you need. And better still, there’s a money-back guarantee!! If you complete all five CDs, and send all the tasks for evaluation, and yet still don’t learn Italian, I’ll refund your entire payment!”
The money-back guarantee feels like less of a scam this time, don’t you think? And if people use the first 60% of the course, presumably they’ll be in a good position to decide whether the final two CDs would be worth $199. So then, if they drop out for whatever reason, it’s on them.
Genuine providers of services, be it education, food delivery, massage therapy, or whatever, profit when their customers are happy, which means that they are informed, that their expectations are satisfied. They then tell their friends, which keeps marketing costs reasonable. And they’ll hopefully keep buying, too.
The key word there is ‘informed’, which is easy for food delivery companies, but less easy for masseurs and educators, whose clients face confusing choices.
If you don’t know how to use our material or services, that’s OK, I can help you!
But my help will involve some effort on your part, such as actually reading ‘How to learn Italian (or any language)‘ and trying some of the suggestions it contains.
Don’t know how to learn Italian, and can’t be bothered to figure it out for yourself?
Then you’ll need to pay someone to do the thinking for you. An online teacher, for instance.
Will that help?
It might. It depends on the teacher, and on you.
It could be a total waste of time and money.
And the ‘can’t be bothered to figure it out for yourself’ part doesn’t augur well.
This fall, we’ve been busy publishing ‘easy reader’ ebooks based on famous Italian operas.
The first was a simplified text + audio version of Nabucco, one of composer Verdi’s most famous operas. Next we did Puccini’s romantic classic, Turandot, then another Puccini weepy, La Bohème, and back to Verdi, and his Rigoletto.
This week, yet more Verdi, this time ‘La traviata‘, and as always, the first week it’s 25% discounted (offer ends Sunday 11th December 2022).
Beautiful Violetta enjoys a busy life of friends, parties and luxuries, thanks to the support of a rich, older man. She sees no need for true love, at least until she receives bad news from her doctor, and is introduced to Alfredo…
Why not begin with our ‘easy reader’ ebook before seeking out a recording of the opera on Youtube? It’ll help! Or just use this original Italian reading/listening practice material to add a little variety to your study program.
- .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 (based on the act structure of the opera) to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at pre-intermediate level or above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
This being the first week, La traviata is 25% discounted, so just £5.99 rather than the usual ‘easy reader’ ebook price of £7.99.
Do check out the FREE sample chapter (.pdf) before you buy a copy, though. That way, you’ll know whether the level is suitable and that the format works on the device you intend to use it on.
How do I access my ebook?
When your order is ‘completed’ (normally, immediately after your payment), 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.
Have you read/listened to Tuesday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news?
If not, you should.
Also, it’s FREE!