Two things today, so I’ll get the more transactional one done first.
Next week NativeSpeakerTeachers.com has it’s twice-yearly Free Trial Lesson Offer, a chance for anyone who hasn’t yet tried a free thirty-minute online lesson with a native speaker teacher to do so.
For years, the one thing that was missing from my own language learning was interacting with a real person.
Once I figured out that, no matter what else I did, if I wasn’t speaking and listening ‘live’, ideally with a native speaker, I wouldn’t feel prepared and able to do so when the need arose – well, I gave it a shot, not without some trepidation, mind you.
One-to-one online lessons were the missing piece of the puzzle, and for me, affordable. Ok, since I’ve been minding Roomie (and another little animal before her), I’m down to just the one language/30-minute conversation a week – at one point I was doing four!
But chatting in Swedish every Wednesday lunchtime is a good way to maintain what I’ve learnt, and to pile up lived experience of interacting with Swedes in their own language. Next time I visit my wife’s relatives, I’ll be prepared, if not anywhere near perfect.
Personally, I think everyone could benefit from taking 1-1 lessons, even if (especially if) you just chat with your ‘native speaker’.
But you don’t have to take my word for it – that’s what the free trial is for, so you can check out for yourself whether you think it’ll help.
Anyway, more about the FTLO on Monday, and/or go to NativeSpeakerTeachers.com and get on their mailing list.
So, on to today’s main topic, which is also related to my own language learning. It seems I’ve been looking in the wrong place!
A digression – this morning, on the way home from driving Roomie to her petting zoo on the other side of town, I was listening to the news highlights in Swedish – thirty-minutes of listening practice that I make sure I get each weekday by using my smartphone and the Swedish radio app to profit from the commute.
They were interviewing a Turkish man who took a few minutes break from trying to dig his family out of their collapsed apartment building to answer the Swedish reporter’s questions.
So I was listening to the Swedish, with extracts of Turkish, and getting most of both, which was cheering, if not the topic itself.
“On beş” the man said (“fifteen”, the ş with the tag under is pronounced ‘sh’), referring to the number of family members under the rubble of his home, and then proceeded to list them: mother, father, sister, brother, children, and so on. “Childrens!” he exclaimed, in English.
I’d been avoiding earthquake news in Turkish, not because I don’t care, but because the state radio channels I listen to usually have only that, a never-ending stream of uncritical coverage, on every, single government channel. All the same, too. You can flick from one TRT radio station to another without a break in what’s being said.
Heart-renderingly sad though the material is, it’s also carefully-managed propaganda, which I’ve got sick of over the years, so now try to avoid. My former Turkish conversation partner told me that no one ever listens to the TRT government channels, but I did, because when I was starting out I found it helpful. There was a DJ I liked, and could more or less understand.
What I couldn’t do, when just starting out, but still now, is to make any sense of written Turkish, newspapers and news sites being my usual ‘go to’ for reading practice.
Written Turkish has complex chains of grammar that it’s hard to make sense of, unless you start at the end of the sentence and work back, which I never got the knack of doing. It’s also often too formal, or too colloquial, very hard either way.
For those two reasons – that the TRT channels are only propaganda, and that I can’t make head nor tail of the newspapers – I’d rather been neglecting my Turkish.
But Roomie likes the ‘arabesque’-style music, and when I have it on while I’m making pizza, or whatever, she’ll go and get her ballerina skirt, insist that I help her put it on, then twirl around the kitchen making gutteral singing noises.
Which is fun.
Sunday, though, post-earthquake, the ‘turku’ channel we usually listen to (here’s a sample) had no music, only talking heads, same as the other state channels. So I clicked through the other options on my app, looking for an acceptable alternative, before coming across the Turkish iteration of Virgin Radio.
I sometimes listen to Italian Virgin Radio when I’m driving, but am too tired or distracted for foreign language content – it’s basically rock. The Turkish version is mostly local pop music, invece, which turned out to be perfect for swirling (though not as good as this.)
Better still, between the hits there was the usual deejay chat, and lo, a revelation! It was just perfect for listening practice, by which I mean relatively understandable, and fun.
So not just Erdoğan speeches (the ğ is silent, and has the function of linking the vowels before and after) interspersed with tallies of the number of ‘terrorists’ killed or imprisoned that day, and diatribes about how Sweden is out to do Turkey down.
So there, you see! Quite by accident, I realised I’d been looking for learning opportunities in the wrong place!
I’m now set to continue building my listening comprehension skills over the coming months and years, in preparation for my next trip, whenever that will be.
Now, if only I could sort the ‘reading problem’…
P.S. Marconi ebook, final reminder!
Don’t forget to grab your copy of our new ‘easy reader’ ebook, part of the ‘A day in the life of’ series of tales from the lives of famous ‘Italians’.
So far, these have included Galileo, Colombo, Raffaello, Vivaldi, Leonardo, Garibaldi, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Verdi, and, um, Plinio. See them all here.
This time, though, it’s a more modern figure, the ‘father of radio’, Nobel-prize winner Guglielmo Marconi. The story is called Tutti parlano di Marconi, because a hundred or so years ago, everyone was!
The level of this one is B1/B2, so intermediate. Until Sunday February 12th it’s reduced 25% from the usual ebook price – just £5.99. There are full details below, but as always, I suggest checking out the FREE sample chapter (.pdf) before you buy your copy.
That way, you’ll know whether the level is suitable and that the format works on the device you intend to use it on.
An original Italian easy reader by Francesca Colombo
Guglielmo’s mother is explaining to the university physics professor that her son finds school boring, and is, in any case, busy with his hobbies, so she doesn’t insist he go. The professor nods politely – he’s used to wealthy families and their spoilt, lazy offspring…
The woman continues – her son is designing, what does he call it, ‘a battery’ – in the little laboratory they’ve built for him. The nodding stops. Perhaps the Marconi boy really doesn’t need to go to school? Bring him along to the university, the professor suggests. Why not tomorrow?
Improve your Italian reading and listening skills with this intermediate-level ‘easy reader’ ebook:
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 8 chapters to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at intermediate level or above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
Buy Tutti parlano di Marconi just £5.99 | FREE sample chapter (.pdf) | ‘Day in the life of…’ series | Catalog
How do I access my ebook?
When your order is ‘completed’ (normally, immediately after your payment), a download link will be automatically emailed to you. It’s valid for 7 days and 3 download attempts so please save a copy of the .pdf ebook in a safe place. Other versions of the ebook (.mobi/Kindle-compatible, .epub) cannot be downloaded but will be emailed to people who request them.
Yesterday I read/listened to Thursday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news, so I’m all up to date!
Just as well, because there’ll be another tomorrow (Saturday) morning.
I subscribed and so receive each thrice-weekly bulletin (text + online audio) directly in my email inbox, each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Subscribing is FREE.
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