I have a new smartphone.
I expect you know what a hassle that can be: transferring apps, signing into things with long-fogotten usernames and passwords, etc.
It’s taken me several days to get things back to ‘normal’, so I can read my newspapers, listen to my favourite radio stations, and easily check, no matter where I am, emails from anguished customers who can’t find the download location on their iPads and iPhones.
But hassle or not, life’s inevitable disruptions can also be a good opportunity to review how we do things.
And espcially, they’re a chance to focus on our ‘processes’.
If you’re a beginner at Italian, this might not make a lot of sense. You’ll be busy with irregular verbs (vado, vai, va, andiamo, andate, vanno), without which you won’t get very far.
But no one stays a beginner for long – either they quit, or they learn.
So it’s not far down the (potentially endless) road to learning a language that one reaches the point at which focusing on the ‘how’ we’re learning, rather than on the ‘what’ we’re learning, is of increasing importance.
With the new phone, I’ve had the chance to rethink whether or not to receive ‘notifications’ from the Spanish, French and Swedish newspaper, news outlet, and radio station apps that I installed, and wanted to be looking at each day. This with a view to continuing to improve my reading/listening skills and, as an inevitable consequence, my knowledge of those languages.
A simple ‘tweak’ to my process involved deciding to actually READ the notifications these apps send, perhaps a couple of times a day, rather than to just ignore them until they’ve piled up, then delete them en masse.
Anything that ISN’T helpful? I can go to ‘settings’ (‘impostazioni’ in italiano) and choose not to be bothered in future. But the good stuff, the links to recently published articles, the newsflashes? Those are probably worthy of attention.
Assuming I’ll be reading even just a little more each day in the languages I’m learning, the medium-to-long-term result should pay back big time! This because time spent on ‘skills’ gives everything else a context to ‘live’ (be remembered, be used) in.
When you have a consolidated reading/listening habit, words are remembered more easily, as they are read/heard each day. And the grammar that you may have ignored, which is most of it in my case? With repeated exposure, it just sinks in.
This is why I’m always banging on about reading/listening, and why we produce masses of material (both free and paid for) so you can try the same approach.
What about speaking? What’s ‘process’ about that? Surely the important thing is the ‘result’, cioè what you can actually do with the language? How easily, how ‘fluently’, how accurately you can express yourself?
I do four conversation lessons each week, one for each language, excluding Italian because I live in Italy and so can’t escape it even if I wanted to.
My focus, when I’m interacting with my French, Swedish, Turkish and Spanish teachers/conversation partners is not on the grammar, not on all the words I don’t yet know, but on interacting positively. Listening to the other person, responding to what they say, and together identifying and exploring topics of mutual interest.
In short, the objective is to have an enjoyable conversation, which in turn motivates me to continue with the ‘lessons’. The learning follows.
There’s ‘process’ in every aspect of life! Writing these articles, for example, or reading them in your case.
If you think about it, you have an approach, which may be more or less fixed, but certainly isn’t random or casual. Your ‘process’ is based on your perceived needs and/or the decisions you have consciously or subsconciously made.
You might skim through them looking for the offers (scroll down.) Or perhaps you hang on every word? Some people even save them for future reference, or forward them to others they know who might benefit.
But there’s a process, count on it. And tweaking it (unsubscribe, why not, if you don’t find my tips useful) can bring results.
At my end, there’s a first draft (nearly finished that!), followed by a careful read through of the draft, followed by viewing the ‘nearly ready’ article as you will see it, and clicking on the links to check they are correct.
I don’t use a spell check, but I do Google any words I’m unsure about, usually at the final stage. And when people write in about typos, I fix them.
After years of churning this stuff out, while focusing on optimizing my process, what might seem like masses of work, is actually quite quickly completed, so usually done by coffee time, CET.
Ditto with the language learning. Wash the dishes, go for a walk? Headphones on then, and fire up the Swedish/Spanish/French/Turkish radio app! I have a time of day for each.
Notifications? Now, before getting out of bed, between jobs, after lunch, before bed again, I’ll click through them.
And so, yesterday I read articles in Spanish about why the Neanderthals are no longer with us (some of their DNA actually IS), and how come the prospects of men and women visiting Mars are much more distant that Elon Musk is telling us…
Which was both interesting and, in terms of language learning, valuable.
A venerdì, allora.
Don’t forget this week’s HALF PRICE ‘easy reader’ ebook, I Malavoglia, will you?
Giovanni Verga’s classic novel of a struggling family of fishermen is one of the best known works of Italian literature from the nineteenth century.
‘I Malavoglia’, literally ‘the Unwillings’ (an ironic nickname coined, in the Sicilian fashion of the day, by fellow villagers and fisherfolk) are an industrious extended family headed by ‘Ntoni, who fishes from the family’s boat, ‘la Provvidenza’, together with his son, Bastiano, and grandsons.
For generations, hard work and the strength of the family has been enough to ensure survival and respect. But one day, Bastiano’s eldest boy, called ‘Ntoni too, after his grandfather, is drafted to the military. Suddenly the hard-working family is short one set of hands: “nessuno può immaginarne le catastrofiche conseguenze…”
N.b. If your level is significantly lower (or higher) than B1, check out our catalog page, where you’ll find all our easy reader ebooks, listed by type and in level order.
Have you read/listened to Tuesday’s FREE bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news, yet? i