If you’re a regular at the club, you’ll know that I’ve been taking online lessons myself these last six months.
But not in Italian. I’m married to an Italian woman and live in Italy, so no need.
I’ve been learning Swedish, and the eighty or so hours of lessons I’ve done have made all the difference to my speaking and listening skills.
Yesterday, for instance, I had a lesson with a Swedish teacher who lives in Croatia. He’s a manic soccer fan and has a soccer-playing son. Croatia had just beaten Denmark, which he told me all about. And I was able to FOLLOW what he was saying!
Tomorrow I’ll be having my second online Turkish lesson. It’s a language I used to speak and understand well, but that was nearly three decades ago. So I decided to take some lessons in the hope of reactivating what I knew.
The first lesson was hard, but really effective at getting me hearing, speaking and thinking in Turkish again after so long.
At least when it comes to online lessons then, I know from personal experience how well they can work. I’ve also taught online so can see things from the teacher’s point of view, too.
Hence today’s topic, ‘Questions about Online Italian Lessons answered’.
We’ll cover the ‘why’, the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, so you’ll have enough information to know whether studying online with a club teacher could work for you.
Why take online Italian lessons?
Above all, because working one-to-one with a teacher gives you lots more time to speak.
To develop ‘communicative competences’ in Italian (that’s to say, the abilities you need to speak, understand and, in general, ‘manage’ the flow of conversation) your brain needs time.
It’s not about grammar, it’s about ‘neural networks’ and ‘behaviours’. But the important point is this: your brain is DESIGNED to learn whenever it’s put in a position in which it’s surrounded by stimuli that need to be made sense of and responded to.
Given the right environment, and enough time, it’s an automatic process. You’ll learn because that’s what people do in these situations.
You may learn faster or slower, but given the ‘input’ (in Italian, of course) and the need to respond with ‘output’ – so listening and speaking in situations which are meaningful to you – learn you will!
How long does it take to notice a difference?
Well, think of other situations as a comparison.
How long did it take you to pass your driving test, or learn to dance, or feel like an ‘old hand’ at your local gym or golf club?
These things do take time.
But the difference, say, between never having got behind the wheel before, and how you felt once your first driving lesson was over, is likely to be significant.
I remember my first driving lesson, and learning to use the manual shift (gears, clutch – it wasn’t an automatic car). I got up to third gear and 40 miles an hour. In just one lesson!
It was VERY satisfying, though it was only the first step in a process that lasted months, if not years.
If it’s a question, then, of doing no ‘live’ speaking and listening at all, or of doing online lessons with a club teacher, there’s no doubt that the later is likely to be a better option for you.
Not using your Italian ‘in real time’ means not learning, or at least, not learning to speak, listen and manage interactions.
Whereas doing something, talking about your day, listening to someone telling you about the match, is likely to move you along some.
It’s common sense, really.
What will I study?
In a group class, say an evening class taken in your home town, or an intensive course at our school in Bologna, there’s likely to be a syllabus, which has been designed to take people at your level gradually, step-by-step, up towards the next level.
There may be some flexibility but the lesson likely won’t be personalised towards your specific needs. At best it’ll be a compromise – some middle way between what you want, what others in your class want, and what the teacher thinks is best.
With individual lessons, that’s not true, or at least less true. What you do during your online Italian lesson will depend on what your needs, preferences and objectives are.
Assuming the teacher is competent, she or he will find out (or just know from experience) what approach you will respond well to, and go that way.
This is, of course, harder for the teacher than simply following a book. It requires building a relationship with the student, listening to them, encouraging them and motivating them.
An unhappy client won’t continue, so online teachers learn to be supportive and friendly fairly quickly (or don’t survive…)
As part of our enrollment process, our teaching manager will ask you what your current level is and what your objectives are. Which brings me to…
How are the lessons organised?
I’m buying MY lessons from a competitor, which uses an automatic system. You choose a teacher based on a brief description, book a lesson with him or her (to my utter surprise, I prefer male teachers…) and via!
There’s customer service, but you won’t hear from them unless something goes wrong, the teacher oversleeps, say, and you need to get a credit.
We don’t work like that.
When I get an order form and payment for online lessons, I forward it to Lucia, our teaching manager, who treats it just as she would a booking at a ‘real’ language school.
She’ll find out (by asking) what the client’s needs are, when they would like to do their lesson or lessons (day/time/time-zone), and then put them in touch with a suitable teacher.
Lucia knows which teacher has availability, who is good at what, and so on. She’s been doing this for years and, I presume, is pretty good at it.
If, for whatever reason, the student is not happy with a teacher, Lucia will arrange an alternative.
All this isn’t instant – it might take a few days to sort out, especially during a holiday period. But it is professional – it’s exactly how a language school works, and in fact, Lucia used to do the exact same work AT our Italian language school.
How much do lessons cost?
So how much would you pay a plumber, car mechanic, dentist, doctor, vet or other essential professional, per hour?
One-to-one Italian lessons will cost you substantially less than that.
Which is especially true if you buy ten at a time, and take advantage of our regular sales.
Ten 30-minute lessons are currently £150. That’s £15 each, so £30 an hour.
Our family doctor wants as much for issuing a certificate. Hairstylists down our street charge double that.
And with the 20% reduction, the cost of 30-minute lessons reduces further to just £120, which comes to £12 each, only £24 an hour!
Buy ten lesson credits now, during the sale, and you could be doing a lesson a week until September.
Pick up some more credits in our Autumn Sale (late September) and they’ll last you until Christmas-time.
And then there’s the New Year Sale, see how this works? And the Easter Sale…
So by this time next year you could have done perhaps forty or fifty lessons and will be USED TO chatting away in Italian.
Which, I suppose, is more or less most people’s goal.
To be familiar enough with the language that, despite still having an imperfect knowledge of it, it no longer holds any terrors.
To be able to hold your end up in conversation, or at least not to feel completely excluded.
At 30 minutes a week, that could take a few years. But if your budget can bear it, there’s no reason not to study more often. I do.
As I said, I’ve done around 80 hours of Swedish lessons (in six months), which would be 160 of our 30-minute lessons.
This week I have ‘only’ three hours, plus self-study.
It’s been a fairly major investment, mostly of time, but also of cash.
But the results have been as I’ve described…
Taking lessons has been massively better than doing nothing, which is what I was doing before.
I’m now ‘used to’ the language and can manage basic conversations with native speakers on a range of topics (including the soccer World Cup – this afternoon Sweden plays Switzerland!)
With this week’s Summer Sale you can save 20% on everything in our online shop – online Italian lessons with a club teacher, self-study workbooks, Italian easy readers (including our ‘Day in the life of..‘ series and our Classic Italian Movies series), and of course Italian-English parallel texts, of which we have 19, at different levels from near-beginner to strong-intermediate.
The coupon code you need to get your discount is:
First, make your selections from our online shop.
Then visit your shopping cart and copy and paste the coupon code ( 2018-Summer-Sale-20%-Off ) into the box where it says ‘Apply coupon’.
Press the ‘Apply coupon’ button.
The 20% discount is applied to the cart total, not to each individual ebook or online lesson package.
Scroll down to check that the cart total has been discounted before you proceed to the payment stage.
Problems? Just email me!
- Coupon code 2018-Summer-Sale-20%-Off gets you 20% off everything!
- The sale ends at midnight on Sunday 8th of July 2018
- There’s no minimum or maxium spend
- So use the coupon as often as you wish, while the offer lasts
- The code will work on items which are already discounted, such as ebook multipacks
- Though it can’t be used together with other coupons
- Choose from a range of payment options (Amazon, Paypal or bank transfer)