A scary thought, for me, at least.
I was just tidying up today’s free vocabulary lesson, which is on Computers, since you ask.
Click the link if you’d rather be studying Italian than reading my aged witterings.
Back in the ‘eighties, when I was at uni (that’s ‘college’ if you live in the U.S.A.) I remember seeing a word processor in the shop that sold study supplies.
It was in a glass case and cost, more or less, what I had left to live on for the year.
When I started work in a government department a year or two later, there were computers, of course.
But they were the type you see in old movies, with black screens and writing that glowed green.
Fast forward another five years or so and I’d quit working for the man and was an English teacher in Ankara, capital of Turkey.
There was a computer in the school office, but we teachers never got anywhere near it. and wouldn’t have known what to do with it in any case.
Two or three more years into the future, I was ‘Director of Studies, in a new school in Wroclaw, Poland (I’m pleased to see it still exists.)
They had a computer, too, but this time we were encouraged to use it, to prepare and print smart handouts for our classes.
There was even a modem, though I had no idea what that was at the time.
It was an external one, and for the whole year I worked there it sat next to the computer in a box, as yet not plugged in.
This would have been about 1996 – check out Wikipedia’s History of the World Wide Web to see how things were progressing…
By 1997 I was working as a teacher-trainer back in London, where I met a beautiful Italian (you know the rest of THAT story) and took her to a much richer American colleague’s house party.
They were serving cocktails (what were they? Yum, nice!)
In an upstairs room my colleague, cocktail in hand, was showing off his new laptop.
I can’t have been the only person there not to have realised that such a thing even existed.
And, jaws dropped, through some mysterious mechanism it connected to the WWW.
I had to get one!
Unsurprisingly, a laptop turned out to be way out of my league.
A desktop though, plus modem, screen, printer (and an introductory V.H.S. tape), as enticingly described in the full page ads which appeared each week in my Sunday newspaper, would only set me back several months’ salary, and could be put on the credit card!
Many large boxes arrived…
And thus began my modern era – since then, I’ve used computers to write books, run websites and exchange hundreds of thousands of emails.
These days I carry my ‘portatile’ into every lesson so I can use it to write feedback for my students on typical mistakes, unknown words and so on.
From zero to hero, as they say.
I guess you’d have a similar story to tell.
And the ‘scary thought’ that occurred as I was reminiscing?
I’ve been teaching and learning languages for as long as there’s been an Internet!
Talking of computers, I have to get on, because in less than an hour I have my third online Swedish lesson and before that I’ll need to make some coffee, clean my teeth and comb what remains of my hair.
I did the free trial last week, then a paid lesson on Monday, so this will be the second lesson out of my pack of five.
The first two times I met my teacher, I could barely say a word.
I’m convinced she thinks I’m an idiot, but don’t care that much as she’s younger than the W.W.W.
However, I’ve been practising like crazy, on my own and with my wife, as we take our evening exercise.
Most evenings we walk around the block we live on, chatting in Swedish to impress the prostitutes.
Talking of which, did you know street prostitution is legal in Italy (though restricted in some local jurisdictions)?
Check out the Legge Merlin, the Merlin law, named not after the mythical English wizard but after Lina Merlin, the ‘senatrice’ (female senator) who introduced it in order to close down Italy’s exploitative and ubiquitous brothels.
“La prostituzione in sé, volontaria e compiuta da donne e uomini maggiorenni e non sfruttati, restò però legale, in quanto considerata parte delle scelte individuali garantite dalla Costituzione, come parte della libertà personale inviolabile.”
Which translates as ‘the Italian constitution will protect you from exploitation and yet guarantees your right to stand on the corner of my street selling yourself, while listening to passing strangers practise Swedish irregular verbs’.
Back in the day, the center of Bologna, where our Italian school now is, was apparently famous for its houses of ill-repute.
Though you’d never know it now, as it’s all churches, boutiques and chic places to eat.
Where was I?
Ah yes, online lessons.
Not to forget that YOU TOO can try a free online lesson.
Next week we have a trial lesson promotion.
See this link?
The one lesson option?
Which now costs €20?
From Monday that’ll be repriced at €0.
You’ll be able to order one for absolutely nothing.
On me, as the teacher still gets paid.
No credit card details needed, or other tricks, though of course you will need to give your contact details so we can organise your lesson.
More on lunedì.
Buon fine settimana!