I have another Dante for you, and this one is GORY!
It has disembowelment, severed heads and mutilated tongues.
Who said the classics were boring?
(The previous twenty-seven exciting articles in our series can be found on the Literature page.)
By the way, sorry I’m later today. As always, things are busy, not just work but family stuff, too.
And it’s raining, so the roads were chaos, so I got to school late. People in Bologna don’t cope well with rain…
Besides writing these articles, I also answer emails from people learning Italian (or planning to) all over the world. We have a lot of members in Australia, the USA and Britain, but there are also people learning Italian just about everywhere, from Brazil to Japan, from Russia to South Africa.
I get plenty of questions, I’m sure you can imagine.
Most are easy to answer – “Can I download your listenings as .mp3 files?” – for example.
Do take a look BEFORE writing, won’t you?
The other day, though, I got a question that had me rather at a loss:
“How do I learn Italian using your site?”
That’s a BIG question.
I spent a few minutes wondering what to reply, or rather, just where to start.
Most people have SOME idea of how they would start with a new language, even if what they would plump for isn’t necessarily the most-modern or most-effective approach.
Perhaps they’ll focus on grammar, and tackle the lessons in order.
Or they might begin by trying to translate texts, or by learning lists of unknown words, or both.
Maybe they’ll take some lessons, and so let the teacher decide.
More specific questions are much easier to answer!
“How can I improve my listening?” is one I get all the time, and always reminds me of the old joke:
Tourist to New York street musician:
“Excuse me, how do I get to Carnegie Hall?
Street musician to tourist:
But the more existential questions are hard.
So many things are involved in learning Italian, none the least a student’s preferences, the time available, previous learning experience or lack of it, whether they know or don’t know other related languages, and so on and so forth.
If the person is a complete beginner with absolutely no experience of learning any foreign language, I might reply that they should go find an app that has rave reviews and try that, until they get bored.
“Come back to us in a few months” I’ll suggest, “when you have a better idea what you need.”
In fact, I think that’s what I did this time.
Perhaps the email writer found the answer she was searching for somewhere on the club website?
Or perhaps she didn’t. I never heard back.
But one thing I know – learning any language takes a long time.
In fact, unless you give up trying, it never really ends.
What’s more, at most points on that journey, the best person to know what to do next, what materials and techniques to use, what areas to focus on, is the learner themselves.
Ask me a specific question and you might get a helpful answer.
Ask a very generic question, though, and you might be encouraged to do a little more research on your own account, or redirected to a smartphone app which doesn’t require independent thought from its users.
A venerdì, allora.