I’ll start today with a reminder about this week’s Free Trial Online Italian Lesson offer.
Odds are you haven’t booked yours yet.
And time’s running out…
The opportunity to try a free lesson with a club teacher ends on Sunday, and is not to be missed!!
Your next chance won’t be until November…
Scroll down and press the ‘add to cart’ button.
Then visit your cart, scroll down, and press the large orange ‘Proceed to checkout’ button.
In the checkout, fill in your details, then press the orange ‘Place order’ button.
And that’s it! There’s no payment stage, it being a FREE offer.
What’s to lose???
Once you’ve completed the above steps, you’ll receive an email confirming your order.
Then, in due course, our teaching manager, Lucia, will contact you by email to ask what your needs are, what your level is in Italian, and so on.
She’ll then assign you to one of our teachers. She also be your contact point if there’s anything you need.
N.B. YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE YOUR LESSON BEFORE SUNDAY – just order it from our shop.
These are the offer conditions:
- The offer ends at midnight on 04/03/18
- This opportunity is for NEW STUDENTS ONLY
- After your lesson, you’ll get a 15% discount coupon to incentivise you to continue
Commercial break over, let’s get to the interesting stuff!
I’m still supposed to be resting my bad arm, so today I’ll copy and paste here (for your entertainment and enlightenment) an interesting exchange of emails I had this week with Alan, a guy who bought one of our more recent ebooks.
I have a feeling this might be a common problem…
Can you help please?
Yesterday, around 9pm, I ordered the Caravaggio easy reader using my Amazon account. I signed through to Amazon and confirmed my acceptance of the terms. However, I have had no email confirmation or email for a download. Have you received or has something gone wrong?
Sorry for not replying earlier – it was night, here in Italy.
There’s no trace of either an order or a payment in our system.
Please try again. And don’t worry – if there’s a problem, we can sort it out!
I send ‘paid-for’ ebooks manually. There’s no download link. But if your order is successful, you should get a confirmation email immediately from the system, which includes an order number.
Then give me a few hours to send out the ebook.
Thanks, I’ll try again later today.
Prego, if you need further help, you know how to find me.
Feb 28 (2 days ago)
I sorted out the payment and received the easy reader on Caravaggio very quickly, thank you.
Some feedback on the book.
The book is well-written and amusing, at a reasonable level and with useful vocabulary. I’ve already recommended it to other members of our Italian class.
However, it is let down by the audio recording, for a number of reasons. There is not enough intonation in the voice to make it more understandable as a story and of its characters but the main thing is the speed. Listening to the story is as important as reading it, particularly when most learners’ skill in listening are lower than reading or speaking.
Any chance of improvements in this area? Are all the audios the same for the other books? Can we have a slower track as well as a fast track?
Feb 28 (2 days ago)
Thanks for the feedback, Alan.
The listenings are read by an expert editor. At the beginning, several years ago, they were weaker in terms of quality and the narrator’s skill. But these later ones, in my opinion, are good. She’s improved a lot and I, personally, think the intonation is just fine.
The problem, as you say, is ‘most learners’ skill in listening’. This is a much neglected area, and one that I am always, always going on about. People ignore my advice to practice listening, preferring to focus on more ‘tangible’ areas like grammar.
And then… they choose a reader that they can easily understand as a text, but find the audio too hard. I admit to finding this frustrating…
1. Our team all work in language schools, I’m a language teacher. Between us we have many decades of experience in ‘grading’ both the speed and complexity of our speech to a student’s level. I can therefore assure you that the speed of the listening is correct for the declared level.
2. A ‘slow track’ would have the opposite effect that you intend. By making life easier for those of you that have problems with listening, we would simply be training learners to expect unnaturally slow texts. What happens when they then need to speak Italian and understand the response? No mainstream publisher of easy readers offers this, as far as I am aware, and for good reason. It’s counter-productive.
All that said, if you have weak listening skills, there is a simple solution. Start with easiest texts (there are hundreds of free ones on our site) and work up gradually, level by level, until you feel more confident. It’s not rocket science. I’ll put it bluntly: put in the work developing your listening skills (I’ve just done an hour of listening to Swedish) and the problem goes away.
I think this would make an interesting topic for Friday’s article – your email, my reply – and open it up to comments. But I won’t use it unless you agree and give permission. Let me know.
11:51 AM (23 hours ago)
Thanks for the reply Daniel, it’s very interesting. I let some other members of our Italian class listen to the first chapter and they all agreed on the speed and intonation. From what you have said we are clearly all wrong.
If I pull back a bit and ask myself of the time spent inside and outside class learning Italian, what percentage do I spend listening to Italian speakers; the answer is less than 10 Per cent. For the activity that I find the most difficult that can’t be right. That’s why I’ve bought the audio book and recently started listening to RAI news videos. My brain hurts after 15 minutes but your feedback suggests I need to push through the pain barrier.
I think that the intonation could be better but there again we are not going to get the Italian equivalent of Stephen Fry for 7 quid.
Feel free to use this in your email to members, it is an important point and I’m sure that our class isn’t the only one in this position.
12:29 PM (22 hours ago)
I’m happy you took it that way. I wasn’t trying to be rude. And thanks for agreeing that I can publish this (saves me a job, tomorrow!)
Regarding the percentage of study time spent listening, let me tell you about my current study routine with Swedish.
I try to do listening every day. My level is A2, probably towards the top of that band.
Listening to and reading the simplified news, 7-8 mins, repeated three times, the final time without the text (20-25 mins a day, 100 mins a week)
Listening to the easy Swedish news broadcast on TV, 4 and a half mins, as above repeated 3 times, the final time with my eyes closed (13 mins a day, 65 mins a week)
3 x online lessons a week – mostly I’m speaking, but I’m also listening of course (so say 30 mins ‘pure’ listening)
If time (maybe once a week), watching an episode of a TV series with subtitles, (55 minutes total)
Listening to the ‘normal’ news at weekends (as that’s all there is), 4-5 mins, repeated several times (say 15 minutes)
Having the TV on in Swedish while I’m doing other things such as cooking or washing up
Any time spent on grammar and vocabulary is incidental and remedial. I look up words occasionally, if I’m in the mood. But prefer to figure things out from context.
Time spent on listening = 80 to 90% of the total?
Listening time a week = five to six hours
I’ve been doing this routine since the New Year, so about 8 weeks. Before that I did self-study from a book, then later Duolingo, both of which I stopped completely to focus on listening.
When I started this current routine, I understood just the occasional word, perhaps a name or a place name. Now I’m at maybe about 50% at the first attempt, 80-90% by the third repetition.
I anticipate moving on to non-simplified listening material on weekdays as well. That will be an intermediate stage.
Later I’ll drop the baby stuff completely and do ONLY the authentic materials, daily if possible.
My purpose is to be able to interact with a degree of autonomy, and to be able to express my thoughts (argue with people…), when I go on holiday in Sweden this June.
After that, I’ll rethink my objective and approach.
Hope that gives you and your group some ideas!