Everyone knows that handwriting is an obsolete skill.
Mine has always beeen terrible, but these days I only ever pick up a pen when I need to write something on the shopping list stuck to a fridge with a magnet:
Young people still seem to communicate in text, and extremely rapidly, using only two thumbs and a predictive algorithm.
(I turn those off – I HATE that Google or whoever knows what I’m going to write before I do!)
Good luck to them, I say.
And to hell with elementary school teachers everywhere who insist that learning how to write with a pen will be worth the effort and somehow make you a more valuable member of society.
Correct spelling is another thing that, as a child, I found not to be worth the effort.
And yay! I am finally vindicated – now we have spellcheckers on every possible device.
Surely that’s not becoming redundant, too?
After all, what’s the point of being able to move your thumbs in a blur on a crowded bus or subway train if no one is interested in reading what you hope to communicate?
Call me grouchy (surprisingly, people do) but it gets on my tits when people phone or write to ask something that’s easy to find with a simple Google search, or that’s clearly referenced on a website:
What does CEFR mean?
What counts as ‘full time’ language study?
How much do courses at your school cost?
It’s not that I mind answering questions like that, or not in particular, anyway.
If typing the four letters C, E, F, and R into your favorite search engine is beyond you (perhaps you have no thumbs?), I will happily explain that they refer to the Common European Framework for understanding the idea of levels in language learning, and that the CEFR provides very useful checklists with which you can self-evaluate your level in Italian, or other languages, in various skill areas.
My worry, anzi FRUSTRATION, is that there’s no point in providing basic information about what are in fact fairly complex issues to someone who is unwilling to READ.
Knowing what CEFR stands for is of little use unless you can actually be bothered to read the checklists and use this textual material to enhance your understanding of your current or future progress in language-learning.
The ‘what’s full time when it comes to learning Italian?’ question invites different answers depending on why one is asking, and that I cannot, a priori, know.
Are we talking for the purposes of applying for a study visa?
Or for obtaining college credits?
Or with regard to the way language courses are usually organised in universities, or in the private sector?
Or as regards how fast you can expect to reach level X? (It might depend on what exactly you spend your hours of study doing…)
Insomma, why you want to know matters.
“How much is the course?” drives me into a frenzy, I admit.
“I don’t know. What are the options?”
“They’re on the website, and are all explained in detail there.”
“I didn’t look. Can you tell me?”
“Well, you can choose between standard, intensive, evening or individual options, depending on your needs.”
“How much do they cost?”
“That depends on how long you decide to study for.”
and so on, and so forth.
To be fair, many people do manage to read the website(s) and find out what they need to know.
Often people will write or phone just to check that there are real people behind the site, and to get a feel for how things are run.
For those, there is hope.
Learning a foreign language is a slow, complex and potentially costly process.
Getting the best results from the time (and sometimes money) that you invest will depend on you being willing to learn ABOUT the process, and optimise the way you approach it.
Yes, there are apps that will do some, or all, of the work for you – no need to read a single explanation, the GUI (look it up) makes that unnecessary.
For a while.
But the apps will only take you so far.
Sooner or later you will need to start making decisions for yourself.
And people, making good decisions means being informed!
And while asking a question is one way of finding out what you need to do, if you only do that, you are VULNERABLE!
“How much is the course?”
“It’s €200.” (There’s the option to save 15% if you read the website but I’m feeling grouchy so won’t tell you this on the phone.)
I have two teenagers at home these days (it used to be three, but one’s now in her twenties).
One of the things a parent notices at different ages is how kids, in gradually gaining autonomy, learn to check things out for themselves.
It’s satisfying to see that someone who was once dependent has become INdependent.
Functioning members of society know that avoiding mess-ups means putting in some time checking how things work BEFORE begining a new project.
You’d do it before renting an apartment or a car, presumably. So why not before planning a course of studies?
The answers you need are out there, if you look for them.
Here are a few places to begin:
- How to learn Italian (or any language)
- Italian Levels: What’s my level in Italian?
- “Best of” OnlineItalianClub.com
Our school in Bologna
I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve replied “I never read news” to my suggestion that they use EasyItalianNews.com to boost their comprehension skills (reading and listening), learn new vocabulary, and consolidate the grammar they’ve been studying.
Only between a quarter and a third of club members have subscribed to get this FREE material emailed to them three times a week.
You know what I READ on a marketing website some place once?
That someone has to be exposed to your marketing message ON AVERAGE 13 TIMES before responding.
It’s true, I swear!
(Which is why I often finish articles with a P.S., like this one.)
And it’s a big ‘but’…
There are people who are paying attention and respond the FIRST TIME, or the second, or the third.
They see the ‘free’, they take a look, they realize the extraordinary value they are being offered, and they sign up.
Wanna be a successful language learner?
Handwriting skills and spelling are optional.