(This article was first published at this time last year, during the January Sale. So if it sounds familiar, you’ll know why! I’ve added progress updates, in italics, so you can see how I got on with my own learning over the last 12 months. For your own purposes, just switch ‘2020’ for ‘2021’ and you’re all set to make grand plans for the year to come!)
“How much do you want to improve your Italian in 2020?” (Read ‘2021’, remember.)
Actually, that’s a rhetorical question, for the moment.
So, at this time of year, I’m always thinking about my own language-learning, congratulating myself on my progress in certain areas, but also reflecting on the plans I made which didn’t work out, the areas I intended to work on but, for whatever reason, didn’t.
And of course, I’m asking myself just how much I would like, and can reasonably expect, to improve my Swedish/Turkish/French in the coming year. (This year I added Spanish, which complicated things further!)
And what time/resources I would be willing to devote, what successes to build on, what failures to avoid repeating.
Briefly, I’d like to reach B2 in Swedish, which means increasing the amount of speaking practice (currently I’m doing just 30 mins a week) and following a more structured syllabus to strenghen my grammar, as well as continuing to read and listen each day. (I didn’t do either of these things. But I continued with approximately the same level of Swedish reading, listening and conversation, despite beginning Spanish!)
Half a level, then. With particular attention to the part I’ve been neglecting – the grammar. (Who knows if I’ve improved at all? Probably not. But I haven’t checked. It’s been a busy year…)
Turkish is easy, in the sense that my speaking and listening is coming on just fine (60 mins of online conversation a week, plus radio when I’m in the mood, and starting with the occasional TV program.)
But I can’t read Turkish AT ALL – it’s all ‘backwards’. Which really cramps my style!
I know how to fix the ‘can’t read at all’ problem – put away newspapers and the like, then start again from the easy, easy stuff, ploughing through it, practising each day, even if I’d rather be reading about showgirls and geopolitics, and only stepping up a level, gradually, gradually, when I’m good and ready. (Never got started with this. It’s still on the list…)
The plan then is to consolidate that language, rather than aiming to raise my level, by sorting out my inability to read. I’ll aim for a half-a-level a month improvement, hopefully obtained through regular, sustained use of materials produced specifically for learners. (Zero…)
And the French? I’ve been reading articles from Le Monde for a year now, and they’re getting easier and easier. (Two years, now!) French is very similar to Italian, so it’s just a matter of giving my brain time to make the links between the two variants, and of assimilating the relevant cultural knowledge – pension reform, strikes, and so on.
I’ve recently begun to dip my toes into French radio, so to speak, so that would be another no-brainer for 2020 – build my French listening skills, gradually month by month, until I can follow spoken French approximately as well as I can read it. Which is to say, quite imperfectly, but a lot better than not at all. (DONE! French is now my ‘easiest to understand’ foreign language, after Italian of course, which is pleasing!)
And of course, logically I should also do some speaking, perhaps with the club’s French teacher, or go to France and take a course. Either one would help balance things up, though of course the former would cost less and mean not having to leave home… (ALSO DONE! I’ve been taking a French conversation lesson each week for the past few months, in addition to Spanish, Turkish and Swedish.)
Which brings us back to “How much do you want to improve your Italian in 2020?” (Read 2021…)
I hope I’ve given you some hints as to how to go about answering that question.
A half-level a year should be easily achievable by most people, even just through self-study and online practice.
If you have elements you’ve been neglecting, or skills that you once possessed but can no longer access, then you’d need to address those separately, but could expect much faster progress from focusing properly on one skill area.
For example, if you’ve studied Italian grammar/vocabulary etc. to B1 but can’t speak at all, then focused speaking practice, if it really is focused and you don’t mess about asking silly questions about grammar or unknown words, should rise you rapidly through the levels until your communication skills are more in synch with your formal knowledge of the language.
Say I want to improve my Swedish OVERALL by a half-level this year, but I want to take my Turkish reading from quasi-zero to a solid A2, or my French speaking, ditto, from can’t utter a word to could get by on holiday but not yet intermediate.
The general improvement is likely to be slow, but the ‘fixing it up by giving yourself a slap and doing some focused work’ should be exactly that, a rapid repair-job.
I’m imagining a typical OnlineItalianClub.com member here. She’s a retired person, lives in an English-speaking country, and hasn’t ever taken a course in Italy or done (horrors!) one-to-one conversation lessons with an online teacher.
She’s been doing Italian evening classes for a number of years, has always been assiduous about homework, and has made many friends in the class, most of whom are more confident speaking and listening than she is (not that they get much time to practice during the weekly three-hour lesson…)
She sometimes buys our ‘easy reader’ ebooks, but neglects the listening as she’s uncomfortable with listening online, headphones and the like, and does anyway prefer to pause to look up difficult words.
Nevertheless, it’s likely she’ll keep learning, don’t you think? By this time next year her class will be half-way through the B2 book. Non male!
Alhough we wouldn’t bet our lives on her speaking and listening having improved much…
Unless she gives herself a shake and rethinks her approach, that is.
Don’t forget that everything at EasyReaders.org can be had a fifth cheaper than usual from now until midnight next Tuesday (Jan 5th 2021).
All you have to do to discount the price of anything by 20% is to copy and paste this coupon code into the box in your shopping cart:
N.b. Copy and paste it CAREFULLY – if you miss a letter, or add a space, it won’t work.
Once you’ve pasted the coupon code, press the ‘Apply coupon’ button and then, this is important, SCROLL DOWN.
Allora, what should you consider buying?
Well, obviously that will depend on what your objectives are for your language-learning in 2021.
The ten-pack of online Italian lessons, normally £180 for ten thirty-minute sessions, is the most popular choice, and excellent value once discounted by 20%. (We now have 20 & 30 lesson packs, which cost slightly less per lesson.)
Use the coupon code on that one and you’ll be paying just £14.40 a lesson, that’s £28.80 an hour.
Regular online students wait for the offers to stock up with enough lesson credits to get them through until the next promotion, several months later (in the spring…)
The Easy Reader Multipacks, which are already discounted for ‘bulk’, also offer fantastic value.
And the Self-Study Grammar Workbooks are popular with more traditional learners, especially when there’s an offer on!
When choosing ebooks, always download the free sample chapter for anything that interests you.
That way, you’ll be able to check the level is right for you, get an idea of the length and type of material, and obviously, verify that you know how to open the files on the device you want to use it on.
Find the free sample chapter by clicking on the ebook cover image and looking for the link in the description text.
Or simply follow the Free Sample Chapter link on the catalog page, which has everything we sell listed by type and level.
Here’s that coupon code again: