It’s Day Four of the Autumn/Fall Sale.
And so what am I going to write about that most club members haven’t read many times before?
Yesterday evening I was conscripted to do a short English conversation class, during which a student asked me that perennial question: did I think she should watch ‘Friends’ in English with Italian subtitles, or would it be better to watch it with English subtitles?
What are you watching ‘Friends’ FOR? I asked.
To improve her listening, she replied, the rest of the class nodding. Well of course!
OK then, I suggested, what about trying it with no subtitles at all?
After all, in life, when you have to actually speak to people (or share a flat with five weird Americans), there are no subtitles.
But… she exclaimed… That way, I wouldn’t understand ANYTHING!
You’d probably undestand SOMETHING, I encouraged her, even if it was only a little bit at first.
So why are you listening to ‘Friends’, again? I asked.
I told you, she said. To improve my listening.
You mean to understand BETTER? I asked, innocently.
That’s right! (The others in the conversation class are nodding wisely.)
Well then, I replied, shouldn’t you be starting with material that you DON’T UNDERSTAND?
Or at least, stuff that you understand only PARTIALLY?
Isn’t the point to train your brain to understand BETTER?
Which means, by definition, NOT UNDERSTANDING, at least some of the time?
Ah… she began to see the point.
So how will Italian subtitles help, then? I persisted.
If you understand anyway, from reading the Italian subtitles, what’s your brain doing when you’re listening to the English dialogue?
I summed it up for them:
1.) If you’re watching ‘Friends’ because you like watching ‘Friends’, and if not understanding will detract from your enjoyment, then go ahead – use the Italian subtitles. But don’t expect to learn anything…
2.) If you’re watching ‘Friends’ to improve your English in general, to learn new words, to consolidate the grammar and so on, then English subtitles have to be the way to go. No doubt about it. And when you don’t understand, suck it up. After all, it’s not a test, is it?
3.) But if your stated objective is to improve your listening, then first and foremost, you have to be listening, not doing something else such as reading subtitles.
Understanding, if it happens, is nice. But isn’t the point.
Understanding MORE, understanding BETTER, developing STRATEGIES for understanding, is the point.
Hours and hours and hours of NOT UNDERSTANDING should, in all likelihood, raise the odds of understanding at least something in the future, when it really matters – when you’re out there in the field (so to speak), using your language skills in real time, with real people.
At this point, everyone’s looking depressed.
But! I told them, getting out of my chair and bringing down a pile of ‘easy readers’ from a shelf.
If you use SIMPLIFIED MATERIAL… (see? there’s the story and there’s also audio, so you can read AND listen).
And if you pick out something that’s intended for students at your level…
That way, you’ll understand something, at least.
And you can work up gradually, only moving up to the next level when you feel confident.
See the logic?
They did. Or at least, I hope so.
N.b. We don’t sell ‘easy readers’ made of paper, with an audio CD scotch-taped in the back, like the ones I showed my students yesterday evening.
But we do have a good selection of Italian easy reader ebooks in our online shop.
They all have free sample chapters waiting to be downloaded, so you can find the level that matches your existing reading skills.
And there’s a free audio recording to listen to online (the audio link for the WHOLE STORY is in the sample chapter – no need even to buy anything if you just want to practise listening.)
Second N.b. There’s a special ‘bulk buy’ pack of 18 ebooks, three each at the first six half-levels. It’s half the usual easy reader price, and gets even cheaper with the 20% Autumn/Fall Sale coupon code (see below).
The idea with the easy reader ebook ‘bulk buy’ pack is that you start from the really easy stuff, then do more really easy stuff, then step up a half level, then keep going, ever onwards and upwards, building reading and listening skills, expanding your vocabulary, consolidating the grammar you’ve studied, and so on.
There are three books at each half level, so call it a chapter a day, an ebook a week, a half level a month, so in six months you’ll have built your comprehension skills from A1 (beginner) to B1/2 (intermediate). At a cost of less than £50.
Ragazzi! If someone was selling me stuff like this for the languages I’m studying, I’d buy it like a shot and make a habit of using it every day.
Third N.b. There are smaller packs of 3 x ebooks per half-level on our Bulk Buy page. The pricing is two-for three – reduce it further with the Autum/Fall Sale coupon code (see below.)
Or you can pick your own titles from our Catalog, and pay the full price, less this week’s 20% discount.
A domani, allora!
Autumn/Fall Sale Reminder
Here’s your Thursday of Autumn/Fall Sale Week reminder: save 20% on EVERYTHING in our online shop, assuming you get your act together by Sunday night…
Online Italian lessons with a club teacher are a steal!
And 20% off ebooks for learning Italian is irresistible!
Coupon code Autumn-Sale-2019 will get you a fifth off the prices in the shop.
Stock up on CHEAPER THAN NORMAL online lesson credits and ebooks here.
- Use coupon code Autumn-Sale-2019…
- … by midnight on Sunday 29th of September 2019…
- … as often as you wish…
- … even for things which are already discounted, such as ebook bundles
- …but not together with other coupon codes. Sorry!