This morning I’m continuing my recent effort to ‘tidy up’ the clubhouse by ‘recycling’ some ‘waste’ pages in our vocabulary section.
And yes, you guessed – today’s topic is ‘L’ambiente e il riciclaggio‘.
What you get is a list of words and approximate English translations.
So far, so banal.
But what you DO with that list of words is up to you.
Which is potentially much more interesting.
You could, for instance, look for example sentences in a dictionary or search engine, and write them up.
It’s a lot easier to remember a sentence than it is to remember a word or phrase in isolation.
I still have Duolingo’s Swedish examples (‘Grandfather likes fish and lemon’, ‘The bear sleeps from November to April’) zinging around in my skull.
Whether today’s vocabulary list it’s actually worth your attention, though, is another question…
Do you NEED to spend the time on these words?
Or could you more usefully be doing something else?
Beh, in this case, there’s a way to find that out.
I suppose the obvious approach is to start with the list, then test yourself with the exercise.
But there’s no reason you shouldn’t do it the other way around – begin with the exercise, then study the list of words only if your results on the exercise suggest that it would be a good use of your time.
Back in the mists of time I remember reading about something like this during my initial training as a teacher.
It was called ‘Test-Teach-Test’.
Organising your learning ‘back-to-front’ in this way can be a useful time-saver, in that you immediately get diagnostic information (is your Italian ‘healthy’?), which you can use to decide how to proceed.
Language-learning doesn’t have to follow a linear path (and indeed, is unlikely to).
There’s a lot of jumping around involved, going back and forth, from one set of materials or technique to another, as our priorities change.
Rather than following a straight line, I prefer to think of my own learning as being like someone ‘parascending’.
Here’s a useful phrase for you.
Italians would say here, ‘Hai presente…?’
Literally it means ‘Do you have present…?’, but the equivalent in English would be something more like ‘You know…?’
As in ‘You know those parachutes, not the basic ones for escaping from aeroplanes, but the ones that people sort of glide around with on sunny days?’
Well that’s a parascender, I think.
‘Hai presente’ someone parascending? (‘Can you visualise…?’)
It’s a sunny day and, while they may look like they’re just pottering around up there, what they’re actually doing is trying to find a rising column of warm air.
They know when they encounter one because they’ll start to rise, which is good if you don’t have an engine handy.
But of course, once they fly out the other side of the updraft, they’ll begin to glide downwards again.
If they’re deft with the controls, though, they can keep turning back into the ‘thermal’, and by describing a fairly tight circle, rise with it, up and up!
Until, of course, it peters out and we rise no more.
The energy in a thermal is limited, so any one can only carry us so high.
To keep flying we’ll likely need to use the altitude we’ve gained to fly off and look for another warm spot.
That’s how I see my own language learning.
Gently spiralling up, going around in circles, with lots of trial and error, and always the risk of crashing to earth again!
But on a sunny day, it’s satisfying!
In part because I make my own decisions about where to fly…