People often write to me that they “don’t know enough words” to express themselves in Italian.
And that they therefore feel reluctant to speak.
A complaint which seems a little back to front to me.
Well OF COURSE you’re not going to be able to communicate in your second language as well as you do in your mother tongue.
Not at first, at least. Maybe not ever.
It’ll always be harder, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not practicable, or enjoyable!
One mainstream of modern communicative language teaching is to enable beginners to deal with situations in which there is uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of the communication (that is to say, most situations!)
And I can assert from recent experience as a learner that it’s really helpful, when you’re taking your first steps in speaking a language, to have a few key phrases handy:
- I’m sorry but I didn’t catch that.
- Would you mind saying that again?
- Sorry but what does (this unknown word) mean?
And my favourite, an expression I use ALL THE TIME when practising Swedish with native speakers:
- How do you say (this unknown word) in (the language you’re practising)?
In Swedish that’s:
- Hur säger man (unknown word) på svenska?
I say that literally EVERY DAY, as there’s always something I want to say but don’t know the word or words for.
And the better I get at expressing myself, the higher my expecations rise about what I can communicate and the more often I lack the words I need.
In Italian this useful expression would be:
- Come si dice (this unknown word) in italiano?
Google it. One of the suggestions that Google comes out with to complete the search enquiry is:
“Come si dice ciao in inglese?”
which I hope makes you feel better. There are plenty of Italians who are even more uncertain speaking English than many club members are when speaking Italian!
That said, ‘Ciao’ could be both ‘Hello’ or ‘Goodbye’, remember…
Of course, “Come si dice (this unknown word) in italiano?” is only of any use to you if you have a reasonable expectation that the person you’re talking to will know how to translate it for you.
But for day-to-day conversation, lessons with an online teacher, or practice with a cooperative friend or classmate, that’s a reasonable expectation:
“Come si dice (It’s a very useful expression) in italiano?”
“E’ un’espressione molto utile.”
So, if you do just one thing for your Italian today, memorise that.
Then you can practise as you make breakfast:
“Come si dice (toaster) in italiano?”
“Come si dice (grapefruit) in italiano?”
… and so on.
Another free, fun thing you can do for your Italian today is listen to Saturday’s ‘easy Italian news’ broadcast, which you’ll find on the new website:
The recommended approach is:
- Click the link
- Press the ‘play’ button
- Listen and read the supporting text
- When you get to the end, scroll back up and repeat
- And if you still have time, listen to it a third time while looking out the window or painting your toenails i.e. NOT looking at the text
There’ll be another edition of ‘Easy Italian News’ on Tuesday (we’ll finalise it and record it this afternoon), Thursday and Saturday mornings – Italian time, of course.
To get them automatically, fill in the little form in the top left-hand corner of the website.
N.b. There’s been a degree of confusion about how that will work…
Fill in the form on the website right now, say, and you’ll get a ‘please confirm’ email (if not – check your spam) but then….
At least until I publish the next edition of ‘easy Italian news’ (Tuesday morning, Italian time).
At which point you should get an email automatically almost immediately afterwards.
Around 500 people have already signed up (it’s free, so why not?)
A couple more have had problems – they’ve filled in the form several times but received no ‘please confirm’ email, and are SURE they’ve looked everywhere for it.
There’s a slight possibility that your email provider will screen out emails of this type, though it’s not very likely.
In which case, the only solution would be to try again using a different email address, a free Gmail, for example.
Most people have more than one email these days, and you can always set the less-used one to forward messages that you want to read to the account you check regularly.
So there, that was something free to do, as promised when you joined our club.
But now, we have bills to pay.
New ‘Book of the Week’!
NEXT week we’ll be having our autumn sale, which means a pleasing discount on everything in our online shop – ebooks, online lessons, the lot!
More about that on Friday.
It’s Il sorpasso, our ‘easy reader’ retelling of one of the masterpieces of Italian cinema, directed by Dino Risi.
Now this may, or possibly may not, be your sort of thing.
It’s a bit, come si dice in inglese?
Back in 2016, Stefan gave it three stars out of five, commenting:
“The Italian is easy to read but the main character is wet beyond belief- having said that you can have fun getting annoyed with him and the vocabulary is useful.”
This year, Lisa gave it five stars, though, writing that:
“the book does a better job of communicating the emotions of the characters than the film.”
Like I said, existential.
Download the free sample chapter (.pdf) to take a look for yourself.
Listen to the audio, too. As always, there’s a link at the top of Chapter 1, which should take you to the audio for the entire story, available free online at Soundcloud.com.
The text for the remaining seven chapters will set you back a modest £3.99 if you buy it this week (the normal price is £7.99).
I send ‘paid for’ ebooks manually, via email, which also means I can answer questions, deal with probems, and so on.
But if it’s night time in Italy when you order, don’t be surprised if your ebook doesn’t arrive until breakfast time…