I have nothing against apps, and will happily use them for my own language-learning.
But these days we’re so used to solving any problem by clicking on the relevant icon on our smartphones or tablets, that I begin to wonder…
Would you expect, for example when browsing in a bookshop or library, that one book on, say, learning Italian, would have everything you needed?
You’d be pretty suprised, I expect, to find something that solved every problem: from the introductory explanations and practice exercises you need when you begin with the language, to the high-level skills development, and preparation for international exams and professional qualifications, that you might require years later.
And infatti, no app I know of offers this either.
So why do people persist in writing to me with, how shall I put this politely… dumb questions?
Like “does your site use the same levels as are used in international exams, such as PLIDA?”
Can people still READ now they’ve become so dependent on apps?
If you click on the menu item ‘Six Levels‘ on the club website, you can easily find out how we organise our materials.
And with a 3-second search on Google, I found this page about the new syllabus for PLIDA exams.
Now, I’m not in the market for a qualification in Italian right now.
But if I was, I should assume that those two pages confirm that the CEFR system of levels is common to both the club and PLIDA (along with virtually everyone else), and that were I to decide to prepare myself for a PLIDA exam (god forbid), then at least some of the content on the club website would be helpful.
But research? Read? Draw conclusions? Those activities are probably ‘old-school’ these days.
Instead we should probably just log in to our social media accounts and wait for some savvy marketer to promise us the impossible.
Sarcasm aside, as far as I am aware there are no magic apps out there that will teach you a language from ‘zero to hero’.
Perhaps we should think about trying to develop one?
But there’d be no money in it, I’m sure. The bulk of all learners, or would-be learners, are at the first levels and most get no further.
Which is why apps like Duolingo can be completed in a couple of months, whereas ‘real’ language-learning takes from a minimum of a couple of years to a lifetime.
Apps are usually designed to do one thing reasonably well. My Swedish radio app, for example, allows me to choose a radio station and play it, without having to open browsers, search the web and so on. Which is cool.
Duolingo is particulary good at helping people build a language-learning habit (using the app) and stay interested (perhaps to the exclusion of more useful activities…) Less so, in my humble opinion, at providing valid materials to promote sustainable learning over the medium to long term.
But I assume they know that.
Doing better would be 1.) hard, and 2.) of interest only to the few, persistent souls that don’t quit within a week or two.
Which brings us back to the OnlineItalianApp.com.
Oh wait, I mistyped that, of course it should be OnlineItalianClub.com.
Why ‘club’ not ‘app’?
Think of an English pub, or an Irish one if you prefer.
If you stand at the bar and look, you’ll see a range of draft beers and ciders, soft drinks, wine on tap, and so on. Behind the bar, on glass shelves in front of mirrors, there are bottles of spirits – whiskies, gins, and so on.
Personally I’d ignore most of the available options and look for a nice real ale at a modest price. My wife prefers cider. The kids too. Grandad might have a G&T or, if granny isn’t around, a scotch.
Insomma, the pub has a range of options, which are appropriate or otherwise for different customers. Some of them might be horrible, sugary crap, but some people like horrible, sugary crap.
E poi, you don’t go to a pub simply to drink, or eat for that matter. Supermarkets sell food and beverages too, which you can consume at home.
Perhaps you go for the company? Or just to get out of the house? Or to watch the people? Or to listen to the landlord moaning about taxes and Brexit?
Whatever, the club is like that. It’s a place to ‘go’.
Or at least that’s the theory. We’re not an app, and don’t try to be.
“Today’s Special!” is Canto XIII of Dante’s Inferno, produced especially for our discerning regulars and available nowhere else!
But we confidently predict that of our 13,000 members, only a few hundred will be interested, if that, perhaps only a few dozen.
Like an unusual malt whisky, Dante is rather niche. But what sort of pub would we be if we only sold coke and lager?
A profitable one, probably, and full of drunk teenagers…
OnlineItalianClub.com is not an app but a website.
It doesn’t do one thing, but many, and that will likely change in time as we identify what our members are interested in (which is also like a pub…)
You’ll find approximately 2000 pages of free material of various types, some of it of poor quality, some of it rather good.
Plus there are 1120 articles (the pub landlord sounding off!)
Oh, and we’re real people. If you don’t like real people, stay home and use an app.
A real person writes these articles and answers emailed questions, sometimes politely, sometimes less so (if you email asking for help but don’t give your name, expect the latter.)
Similarly, a real person writes the free materials, in return for money to pay her rent.
And a real person organises online lessons via Skype.
Real teachers teach them.
But the actual learning is down to you.
1.) Next week I hope to publish a new ebook easy reader. It won’t be free, but there’ll be a saving on the usual price. Details on Friday!
2.) EasyItalianNews.com now has 3780 subscribers, who receive a free bulletin of ‘easy’ news three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Saturday’s bulletin has an image of an attractive female with a large weapon, plus an exciting sailing picture! Click here to take a look.
Then why not subscribe, so as not to miss future bulletins?