I am by nature a contrary person, but bear with me.
So I was listening to a Turkish radio channel on Saturday evening. The program was for the youth audience but, though I’m long past my teens, I stuck with it because I like Turkish music.
It makes me want to dance, which is surprising as I hate dancing.
Also because the DJ fascinated me – the young woman introducing the tracks and taking calls from listeners around Turkey spoke so incredibly fast!
I could get bits of it: good evening, where are you calling from, welcome, thank you, and then…
Her vocal style was like a heavy machine gunner on a battlefield – rhythmic, unremitting, impossible to overcome.
I swear, the callers barely got a word in edgeways the whole time I was listening.
I could only hazard a guess as to what the, rather one-sided, conversations were about.
Was it a game, perhaps? Could it be that the callers were attempting to answer a question?
The presenter seemed to cut people off so abruptly, I hypothesised that maybe she was trying to take as many calls as possible so someone would get the right answer.
But that was just a guess. I freely admit, beyond the formalities, I got virtually nothing of what was being said.
But that was engaging. It held my attention.
The evening before, when it came to clearing up after dinner, I switched on my Swedish radio app.
The program had already started and there wasn’t much information on my smartphone screen to tell me what I was listening to.
Missing the beginning of something definitely makes it more challenging.
Anyway it was a political interview. That much was obvious.
But with who?
And what were they talking about?
I listened until the end, around thirty minutes in total.
As the conversation progressed I picked up clues.
Would the interviewee be supporting the new government?
Yes and no. It depended on the policies being put forward.
And definitely not THAT policy!
I won’t bore you with the details, but I’d read about the proposal in question in the newspaper earlier that day.
So that narrowed it down a lot.
I was listening to a party leader who wasn’t going to be in the coalition but whose party’s votes would be essential to maintaining the new government in power.
And he was unhappy about the liberals’ influence on the policy agenda.
His party’s function, he explained, was to HELP the poorest members of society. Not to make things harder for them, as this policy would inevitably do.
Long before the end of the interview I was convinced I knew who I was listening to, so when the interviewer thanked her guest for his time, using his name and (unpronouncable) surname, that just confirmed it.
I was pretty pleased with myself!
And the point is?
Today’s ‘Blue Monday’, the supposedly most-depressing day of the year.
Because it’s January, it’s winter, and of course, it’s Monday!
But if every day were a Friday in spring?
What would be the point of that?
You have to have the boring days in order to better appreciate life’s Fridays.
People often complain about listening in Italian:
“I don’t understand!”
And I’m like:
And they look at me like I’m an idiot.
But it really is good news that they don’t understand.
Sure it is!
That way there’s Friday to look forward to – think how great you’ll feel when you do understand!
And if it was easy to learn a foreign language?
Then everyone would be doing it!
It would be unremarkable, banal, like drinking a cup of coffee or using the toilet.
How boring would that be?
But here and now, and you just don’t get it!
Your brain will be running at maximum revs.
Your engine is hot. Sinews are tense. Blood is pumping. You’re on high alert.
Reserves are being rushed to the front to meet the challenge!
Insomma, it’s these situations when something is HARD that makes learning a challenge, and success something worth celebrating.
You have to be BUSY NOT UNDERSTANDING to get the desired result of, at some future point, pushing your understanding to the next level.
By the way, try not to think of understanding as an absolute: you do, or you don’t.
It’s not like that.
Understanding is always going to be partial, a question of how much.
Suppose you switch on the radio and you hear a woman speaking Chinese.
Do you understand?
Of course you do!
You understand that it’s a woman speaking, and that she’s (probably) speaking Chinese.
You may know that it’s a young woman, or an older woman.
You might be able to work out the type of program – say a radio quiz, or a phone-in, or an interview.
Beyond that, of course, you don’t understand, that’s true.
Beginners rarely do.
But stick at it and you won’t be a beginner forever.
Here’s something to think about: the prospect of understanding EVERYTHING is so remote you may as well forget it as an objective.
And concentrate on understanding MORE.
And on enjoying the fascinating process of building your skills, your experience, your cultural knowlege, and so on.
You don’t understand?
Have at it.
New Easy Reader – last day at 25% off
I published our latest easy reader ebook, ‘Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto‘ (Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion) last Tuesday, so today’s the final day of the launch offer.
Get it today and save 25%!
- Buy Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto, just £5.99!
- View others in the Classic Italian Movies series
- Browse ebooks for learning Italian series
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Or make your selection from our catalog of materials for learning Italian (and other languages!)
Susan Villiere says
Note to the head of the group.
I don;t have time right now….but I would love to do an Italian/French barter with you sometime…..on Skype….
My French is good I speak it naturally so would not be able to answer any questions about the grammar.
My father was French so lived in Paris until I married an American Mother was English.