The Internet is a wonderful thing for language learners… if you know how to exploit it.
Here’s an idea for advanced level students which, in a few weeks, will help you:
- improve your grammar
- expand your Italian vocabulary
- understand spoken Italian better
- read Italian with more confidence
- speak with more natural pronunication
completely free of charge!
Well, with the help of Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Dante Alighieri, Lao Tzu and many others, of course!
Audiobooks of classic, out of copyright, texts are available on many sites ( for example at www.liberliber.it ) and with an audio book you get hours and hours of language practice (listening, reading), plus lots of new grammar and vocabulary, completely free!
You just have to know what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do.
So here, courtesy of OnlineItalianClub.com, are step-by-step instructions, and some links you can click to get started right now with Jane Eyre!
What you have to do is:
- Open the “book” file (link below – read the instructions here first!)
- Open the audio/mp3 file in another window of your browser (ditto)
- Press “play” on the audio file
- Listen and follow the written text
- Stay very calm: at first, you probably won’t understand anything.
Please don’t throw your computer out of the window. It’s normal that your first reaction will be panic.
Trust me: just aim to get to the end of Chapter 1 without stopping.
It doesn’t MATTER if you don’t understand anything. The sound of the language will do you good anyway.
Usually, once you’ve finished the first chapter or section, you’ll feel you’ve achieved something, even if you understood little.
But then, if you choose, you can go back and read the text more slowly, and/or listen to the audio again (with or without the text).
- read and listen to Chapter 1
- read again slowly (without stopping!)
- listen again with the text
- listen again without the text this time
- go on to Chapter 2 and repeat!
There’s one thing you really should NOT do: don’t, ever, stop reading/listening to look up difficult words in your dictionary.
First, because it would take way, way too long, and the effort of doing it would eventually put you off reading and listening.
I can confidently say that there are always going to be more words you don’t know in any given foreign language book than you have time and motivation to look them up in a dictionary and memorise them.
It’s a distraction. And a motivation-killer.
The best thing to do is just chill (man). Let the stuff you don’t know wash over your head, like the sea.
The second reason is that working out the (approximate) meaning of words you read or hear for the first time from the context is an essential skill if you every want to master a language.
That’s what the best language learners do. They stay calm and guess the approximate meaning from the context. 99% of the time, that’s good enough.
So, ready to give it a go?
Here’s Chapter 1 of Jane Eyre to get you started.
The text file is here:
and here’s the audio file to go with it
So, how did it go?
I’d love to hear your experiences! Please leave a comment on this post to tell me if you like or don’t like this technique, and why.
Oh, and for grammar or vocabulary problems, just post your questions in the FAQ Lingua Italiana forum (you have to be logged in to post). I, or one of the staff at our sponsor school, will be happy to help you with anything you don’t understand!