For those who are enjoying the ‘Roma’ series, below is the link to no. 3 (out of 30!)
If you’ve been putting off beginning, you’ll find the previous two ‘episodes’ on the History page of the club website.
E invece, over on the Literature page of the club website, we’re reading Manzoni’s classic blockbuster of sex, corruption and pandemics ‘I promessi sposi’ (some of us more slowly than others…) There’s a dedicated book club page, where you can read how other club members are getting on, and share your own progress, if you wish.
The comments are at the bottom of the dedicated book club page. Just keep scrolling down – the most recent ones are at the bottom (it’s very primitive… sorry!)
The reason I mention that, though, is that Lynne F. wrote this overnight:
With ‘Easy Italian News’ and La Storia di Roma I decided to finally throw away my “safety net” of first reading while listening. I just listened and surprised my self how much I understood. Then I listened again while reading, and then a third time.
I’ve been telling people this for years – basically that listening is a skill that you have to practice. It’s not something that just ‘comes’ when you have studied all the grammar and memorised enough words.
Also that, while reading is an important skill, too, and definitely something you need to practice, it’s not a good thing to get those two learning processes mixed up.
Reading fist, then listening, helps with comprehension, of course. But it’s not very natural. Real life doesn’t have subtitles, and it’s often the case that you won’t know what someone’s going to say until they open their mouth.
Listening first, then reading after, is of course much harder. But life is hard, so it doesn’t do any harm to get used to it.
I’d argue that the road to understanding runs through hundreds (or thousands) of hours of NOT understanding, and that if you avoid situations in which you’ll ‘fail’ at listening, that’s likely to make the day when you actually succeed a much more distant prospect.
That’ll get you through the text quickly. More quickly than you are able to understand what you’re hearing/reading, probably. But as I said, you need to get used to that.
Part of learning to understand is learning to not understand, and so develop strategies to pick out the nuggets of meaning that are available, in order to try to reconstruct what the speaker probably intended.
Next, having practiced not understanding with your first attempt at the text, take another look, this time without the audio, so just reading. If your priority is learning new words and so on, then use a dictionary.
But if your objective is to improve your reading comprehension skills, then better not to. Either way, take your time at this stage.
Reading stage completed, assuming you want to squeeze as much juice out of the material as you can, I’d normally suggest stage 3 should be listening again, but this time WITHOUT the text as a support. Invariably (having had time to read and absorb the text during stage 2), you’ll understand a lot more this time.
Lynne F. was listening and reading as her first stage (as recommended above), but is now beginning with just the audio, no transcript, which suggests that she is both a fairly advanced learner of Italian and an appropriately confident one. Good to know we have a few of those in the club!
You’ll know you’ve arrived with a foreign langauge when you can listen to it and NOT feel the need to read the transcript afterwards (or put on subtitles, if it’s TV or a film.)
That doesn’t mean you’ll understand everything, of course. Just that you’re getting enough to check the box ‘done’ and move on to the next thing on your ‘to do’ list, without needing to devote further time.
That’s me with Italian most of the time, and to some extent with Swedish and Turkish. But with the languages that I’ve only recently started out with, such as Spanish, or am very rusty at (French), I’ll try to find the time for the approach I’ve outlined above:
Listen and Read > Then just Read > Then just Listen
The only problem is getting suitable materials, that is to say audios with transcripts that are at approximately your skills-level (how well you currently read/listen). And in quantity, because with this approach you can get through quite a bit of text in a relatively short time.
The club website has a Listenings index page – look for the ones that have a transcript if you want to practice what I preach above. Or go straight to your level (from A1 thru C2) and work though that until your confidence improves. And/or, for the really nervous amongst you, start a level or two BELOW your current level and practice with baby steps before returning to your actual level, which will now seem more doable.
As mentioned, there are EasyItalianNews.com and La Storia di Roma, both of which may seem hard at first but should get easier with practice. You don’t have to ‘understand’, remember? The road to the scenic town of ‘understanding’ runs through the grotty metropolis of ‘not understanding’.
And of course, there are the easy reader ebooks in our online shop! That’s how we pay the bills for the other, free materials. If you fancy helping us out, buy something, or donate what you can afford towards the cost of EasyItalianNews.com.
Così. I’m out of time.
That’s because this week I’ve been busy working on our Italian school, specifically trying to convince people that now would be a great time to come and study Italian in Bologna (it would! Really!)
The virus, you ask? What virus?
Only kidding. Actually, Italians are on top of the situation, more or less. We wear masks, we sterilise our hands, we social-distance.
Read more here: Covid 19: How we’ll protect you during your Italian course
And yes, we have students.
Pochi ma buoni!
A lunedì, allora.