It’s been very hot and humid here in Bologna for the last couple of weeks.
To the extent that I was chatting to a Brazilian girl at our school the other day, who was mopping her forehead with a tissue and moaning about the heat.
“Surely you must be used to it, coming from Brazil?” I enquired. “Yes, but not like THIS!” she insisted.
It’s true – this part of Italy has the most unpleasant climate, both in the summer and the winter. Spring and fall can be lovely, though!
For that reason, the school has air-conditioning/heating in each classroom, which is nice. Yesterday, I escaped from a sweaty house full of adult children and dirty dishes, with the excuse that I needed to go to work. When I got there, I switched on the air-conditioning at reception and, lying back in the receptionist’s swivel chair, took a siesta.
Anyway, Sweden’s disappearing bookshops?
Because it’s been so hot lately, I’ve got into the habit of getting out of bed a little earlier and going out for the daily, cardiologist-mandated, 30-minute-minimum walk, while the temperature is still bearable.
There’s not much to look at in an urban park at eight a.m.. Though we have a nice lake and the sun is shining, the sweaty joggers that pass me are only so interesting. I’ve therefore taken to wearing my headphones and listening to the Swedish news headlines, pardon me for mentioning this yet again.
This morning for some reason, as I listened, I was berating myself for all the words I had forgotten, all the listening practice that I used to do that I no longer had time to do, and of course the long sections of the (real, not simplified) news stories that I wasn’t getting at all, that I simply had no idea about.
And then there was a piece about how many regions in Sweden no longer have booksellers (the translation from Swedish might be something more like book-traders, or maybe bookmongers, which I think is cute.)
Why? Either they didn’t go into the whys and wherefores, or I didn’t understand or didn’t hear that part – perhaps having been distracted by a pretty jogger.
But it got me thinking – how nice it would be to run a bookstore!
And right after that I thought – hang on a minute, but I already AM running a bookstore, at least a virtual one, with ebooks instead of lumps of paper. I too am a bookmonger! At least of sorts.
At which point it occurred to me, tangentially, that I was being foolish to lament my Swedish listening comprehension skills given that:
a.) My level is probably not better than B1/B2, and
b.) I was listening to authentic material, once only, and yet still managing to get the gist of some articles and understand at least something of others.
“You, of all people, should know better than to expect to understand EVERYTHING that you hear or read”, I told myself.
“Dumb, dumb, dumb to get demotivated by what you don’t know, rather than to take strength and encouragement from what you can understand!”
It’s human nature, though.
As we progress with a language, we forget the joys of understanding anything at all, and our expectations switch to hoping to understand everything we hear or read.
It’s sort of a tipping point – one minute we’re proudly boasting that we passed a B1-Intermediate listening test, and a few days later we’re beating ourselves up for not understanding C2 material, an improvement which would normally require three years of part-time study.
Take heart, then. Even those who should know better get down in the dumps sometimes about not undertanding what we hear or read.
Then we give ourselves a slap and tell ourselves to keep listening every day, and keep reading, even when it’s hard! For if we do – we’ll get there in the end.
Which means it should be easy to find something that will suit where you currently are with your Italian (also other languages!)
Use the free sample chapters (linked to next to each title in the catalog) to check the length and level of the material. Whizz down through the free sample chapters, not forgetting to also listen to the audio, which might be easier or harder than you are used to, until you find something that is stimulating but not too difficult.
I’d always suggest thinking of reading and listening in the language or languages you’re learning primarily as ‘skills practice’, also ‘strategies development’ (i.e. how to deal with the parts you don’t get), rather than ‘study’ (so NOT looking up every word or unfamiliar grammar structure.)
Most students get enough ‘study’ already, but lack opportunities to practice understanding, in preparation for real-life situations, such as conversation, or reading authentic materials. One day, though, you will need to do these things.
Our ebooks are designed to bring you gradually up through the levels to the point at which you will have a fighting chance!
Take a look at the ‘bulk-buys’ / ‘multipacks’ section of our online bookstore, for instance.
See the ‘Three for Two A1 Easy Readers‘ product? (Top line, second from left.)
Each pack of three simplified stories (with audio) is graded, fairly approximately, to a half level.
The idea being that you build up your comprehension muscles on level X, before stepping cautiously up to level X1/2, then 2X, then 2X1/2 and so on.
Until you are the Mr or Ms Universe of Italian listening and reading comprehension! And so ready to kick sand in the faces of your fellow U3A evening class participants.
Some people go the whole hog and buy eighteen easy readers, ranging in level from A1 to B2, all in one go, perhaps with the idea of forcing themselves to progress with their reading/listening.
There are eight chapters in each, so were you to do a chapter a day except at weekends, that would be something like six months’ worth of practice material – at a 50% saving on the cost of buying each ebook individually!
(N.b. Use the Summer Sale coupon – see below – and everything in our online shop, even the bulk-buy/multi-packs, costs 20% less!)
Bologna is nice in the fall and the spring, hint, hint.
And don’t berate yourself about not understanding – look at how far you’ve come, not what you still can’t do.
2020 Summer Sale!
- Use coupon code 2020-Summer-Sale-20%-Off to save 20% on everything!
- This promotion ends at midnight on Sunday 12th of July 2020
- There’s no minimum or maxium spend
- Use the above coupon as often as you wish while the offer lasts
- The coupon code is valid for items which are already discounted, such as ebook multipacks or packs of online Italian lesson credits
- Payment options include Amazon, Paypal (they process credit cards for us – you don’t need to open a Paypal account) and bank transfer (only advisable if you have a UK bank account)
- If you experience problems at the payment stage, email email@example.com for help and reassurance!
Tuesday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news is here.
Reading/listening to it is an excellent way to do what I was writing about above, without spending any money.
EasyItalianNews.com is free to use because it’s funded by its readers.