As promised, the Summer Series of free articles (with audio) begins today!
This summer we’re following on from last year’s Summer Series on the Romans by taking a sceptical squint at the thousand or so years of much-neglected (by me, anyway) history known as the Middle Ages.
There are thirty articles in total and I’ll be publishing three a week, each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for the ten weeks between now and mid-September. Each article has been recorded by an Italian native speaker, so you can listen as you read, or just listen if you wish.
They’ll all be free to access, no registration etc. required. So if you’re a teacher, or participating in an Italian class with others, do spread the word for us.
OK then, before I give you the link to the first article in the series, here are two questions that I imagine you might be asking, and my answers:
I want to learn Italian, not history! Why should I bother with this?
Well, there are various reasons. Let’s assume that history isn’t your thing, but if you’re interested at all in Italy and plan to visit, having at least a vague idea of what happened in the past can’t do any harm, right?
E poi, you’ll be getting approximately a hundred A4 pages of text, written for learners and recorded by an Italian native speaker. For free. That’s not to be sniffed at…
But the main reason, at least as far as I’m concerned, is that doing stuff IN ITALIAN (reading and listening to history, for example) is an extremely effective way of learning the language, or improving your level if you’ve already studied it.
Heard of CLIL? There’s a definition on the MIUR (Ministero dell’Istruzione, Ministero dell’Università e della Ricerca) website:
CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) è un approccio metodologico rivolto all’apprendimento integrato di competenze linguistico-comunicative e disciplinari in lingua straniera.
I Decreti del presidente della repubblica 88 e 89 del 2010 disciplinano la normativa che prevede l’obbligo di insegnare, nel quinto anno della scuola superiore di II grado, una disciplina non linguistica (DNL) in lingua straniera secondo la metodologia CLIL.
Italian high school kids might, for example, end up studying chemistry IN ENGLISH, the idea being that they get to improve their English while doing science. It’s very trendy.
So think of this as CLIL – you take a free Medieval history course, and get to improve your Italian at the same time. What’s not to like?
The text and the audio seem much too hard! Why should I even try?
Life is hard – as I tell my kids and students – and then you die. So get used to doing tough stuff, it’ll stand you in good stead. See what an antipatico father/teacher I am? Be grateful you don’t have to listen to me at the dinner table each evening.
But anyway, yes, the text is hard. It’s also long. As is the audio, Episode 1 is seven minutes long, so listening to it multiple times will take a while. And there are twenty-nine more where that one came from. Oh, and did I mention that the recording is also at more or less normal speed? It is.
So why should you even try???
Because you’ll understand something, at least, especially if you read/listen at the same time. You may only get a few words, some names, some places, a few basic concepts, maybe the general idea of what you’re reading and hearing. But you’ll get something, I promise.
Because by doing ‘long’, ‘hard’ and ‘fast’, other stuff will seem easy by comparison! Texts from your Italian course book, for example. After thirty episodes of the Middle Ages? You’ll be scornfully turning up your nose at them. Take away the kiddie texts, you’ll say, hit me with something authentic!
Because by doing ‘long’, ‘hard’ and ‘fast’ here with us, for free, you’ll be opening doors to other sources of Italian – reading novels for example, or history books, why not? Watching TV documentaries or Italian Youtube, you have a whole country’s worth of content to consume! For that reason, it’s never too early to start getting used to ‘long’, ‘hard’ and ‘fast’.
Because you’ll vastly improve your reading and listening skills, compared to doing nothing. Free practice is scarce. Don’t let it pass you by, even if it feels like the wrong level.
And last but not least, you’ll learn lots of new words and get masses of examples of the grammar that you’ve already studied, or haven’t studied yet but can work out from the context.
To learn a foreign language, your brain needs to see and hear it. Our Summer Series, as well as being interesting, as well as boosting your confidence, as well as opening doors, is basically a hundred A4 pages of examples, with added pronunciation!
Stick that lot in your head, via your eyes and ears, then come back and tell me it made no difference to your confidence or your level.
Ready to give it a go?
You can find the material as I publish it on the club’s History page, which is in the main menu of the club website. Scroll down to the end of the Romans and there you’ll find it, the Middle Ages!
The link to Episode 1 is live already, the others will go live only as I publish them, but are there so you can see what’s coming and which bit of history we’re up to.
Così. Give it a go. If you’re not sure where to begin, press the audio play button and follow along in the text with your index finger.
Personally I would NOT stop the audio, and NOT look up words I didn’t know, or you’ll be at it all day. If any of the words are so vital that you feel the urge to look them up, just think that you’ll probably see them again and again, so will have other chances to figure out, from the context, what they mean.
N.b. If I remember (if not, someone write to remind me, please), I’ll open up these pages to comments. That way, club members can ‘chat’, ask questions, point out mistakes, share reading and listening strategies, link to other resources, etc. Comments will be moderated, so don’t be surprised if yours isn’t visible immediately.
Gotta go close down the summer sale, which ended last night. Sweep out the shop, stock the empty shelves with fresh ebooks, that sort of thing.