This is an experiment. Bear with me.
What you have to do is follow the instructions below, though as it’s a thought experiment, you can just imagine yourself doing it if you prefer:
1. Turn on your TV
2. Pick a channel
3. Decide if you want to watch what’s showing and, if not…
4. Pick another channel and repeat 3.), that’s to say make a decision if you want to watch what’s showing and, if not…
5. If you find something you actually want to watch, the experiment is finished. If not, go to a source of TV listing information (in a newspaper, online) and find something you DO want to watch, making a mental note of which channel and what time
And that’s it, you’re done. The experiment’s over.
And now I have two questions to ask you, or more realistically, for you to ask yourself:
a. On a scale of 1-10, how FAMILIAR was that process (i.e. turning on the TV and finding something you want to watch), where 1 = “What’s a TV?” and 10 = “I went straight to my favourite 24-hour news program to see what Trump’s up to today”.
You should now have a number. For example mine is 2, or maybe 3, as I almost never watch TV.
I know that TV comes up on the screen for a few moments when I’m firing up Netflix (which I do know how to do, more or less).
But I wouldn’t know which button to press to flick through the available Italian channels. And I’d have no idea which channel to choose first or what to look out for that I might like.
If you’re a regular TV watcher, then your number should be much higher than mine.
Whereas if you’ve just moved somewhere foreign, say Italy or China, you’ll likely have a small number as your answer.
With me so far? You’ve now got a score for your familiarity with terrestrial TV-broadcasting in the country you live in.
OK, so here’s the second question: b. On a scale of 1-10, how FAMILIAR would you be with that same process WERE YOU TO TRY IT IN THE LANGUAGE THAT YOU’RE STUDYING?
For me the answer’s slightly higher, say 4. While I never watch Italian TV, I do follow the easy Swedish news on SVT each weekday.
Which means that, finding myself magically transported to a hotel room in Sweden and with nothing better to do (it’s probably snowing outside), I’d know which channel to select on the remote and I’d have some idea which programs to look out for. At 17.15, I’d watch the easy news, just like at home!
I’m not going to hypothesize publically as to what scores you gave yourself for the two questions. But let’s return to the term ‘terra incognita‘, the title of this article.
If you click the link above and decipher the Italian, you’ll learn that the term was first used on 16th century maps to indicate land which had not been explored and was therefore unknown.
Which brings me to the point.
There is, certainly, ‘land’ (that is to say, broadcast media) which you have not yet explored, material that could be of huge value to your learning with which you are not familiar.
For those learning Italian, there are apps which will play you (for free) innumerable live-streamed Italian radio stations.
And if you were OK with circumventing the rights protection software that guards Italian TV channels (by using a VPN – Google it), you could be watching whichever live or recorded Italian TV program you chose.
If you could made listening to Italian radio or watching Italian TV programs a habit, then fast-forwarded a year or two, you would certainly notice a significant improvement in your listening skills and knowledge of Italian culture, ‘veline‘ and so forth.
So why not do it?
Well OBVIOUSLY, because it’s ‘terra incognita’, the blank area on the map of which you have no experience.
You might fall off the end of the world, be eaten by lions, or burnt up by dragons!
That said, you might come across a metaphorical mountain of gold. Who knows?
Some people are explorers, though most of us aren’t. We like to stick with what’s already on the map.
But you know something?
Maps can be improved – the discoveries scribbled by intrepid explorers in their notebooks can later be inked in where previously there was only parchment-colored space.
And where no chart exists?
There’s no law that says you can’t make your own.
Stride out, but don’t forget to record what you find, so as to be able to locate it again (or avoid it) in the future.
Survey the previously-unknown world, assess what’s of value and what’s not, highlight the features and curiosities of the terrain.
I’ve had in mind for a while now the idea of making my own ‘radio map’. Perhaps I’ll make a start over the weekend…
The idea is that, once I have my navigational aid, I won’t be just clicking on one of the few stations that are (so far) familiar and listening to whatever happens to be on at the time, but actually choosing from a range of programs that I already know will interest me.
Most radio shows are now available as podcasts, so there are thousands, perhaps millions of hours of interesting content out there – enough for years of listening!!
It’s just a question of working out where it is, so I can find it when I want it.
The provisional idea is this:
a.) I’ll pick out a few channels that I already know and take a closer look at the programing, especially the times of day that I don’t usually listen
b.) I’ll make a long-list of programs that might interest me, perhaps with URLs, so I can go right to them when I’m in the mood
c.) And I’ll work through the long-list gradually, checking out what’s on offer…
d.) … with the goal of creating a shortlist (map) of things I wouldn’t want to miss – the consumer rights program, the morning news show, the philosophy discussion panel, and so on
Hitherto I’ve been an explorer, one of those Victorian ones that were always getting lost in Africa’s darkest jungles.
Now I’ll be a pathfinder, if only for myself, and a cartographer!
N.b. This is from the club’s ‘Other resources’ page:
- RaiNews24 – news, no rights protection
- Raiplay.it – all RAI channels, blocked if you’re outside of Italy
- Raiplayradio.it – all RAI radio stations
Might be a place to start? And if anyone has suggestions on what we could add to that list, do let me know!
A lunedì, allora.
Final reminder about ‘La commediante’
We’ve sold thirty-three copies of this week’s new easy reader ebook, ‘La commediante‘.
Thanks to those of you who’ve helped us out by buying one. We need to sell forty copies to break even, so if there’s anyone else interested?
The -25% discount ends on Sunday night, remember…
Thursday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news was a humdinger, and it’s free, so what’s not to like?
Funny, I’ve started bumping into students at the school, and Italian teachers, who’ve never heard of OnlineItalianClub.com but, when I mention EasyItalianNews.com, they’re like, Oh sure, I listen to that all the time!