At the end of today’s free Summer Series article (with online audio), there’s a link to a video on Youtube.
It’s about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, is mostly black and white, and reminded me of my school days when – very rarely – the teacher would walk into the classroom and announce, to general delight, “We’ve got a film today, children.”
Films of any description, back in the days before VHS, then DVD, then streaming, were few and far between, and certainly preferable to an actual lesson!
I recall the whole school being assembled in the gym to watch a movie on the dangers of trespassing on construction sites. I must have been about ten years old, but still remember the images of foolish children of about my age who – in search of entertainment – were crushed by earth-moving machines, electrocuted by dangling live wires, or buried alive, when the trench they were innocently playing in collapsed on their heads.
When I was a few years older, and enrolled in my high-school’s cadet force (a sort of junior military club, which occupied half an afternoon each week with marching practice, plus occasional weekends away), almost as much fun as shooting off actual weapons was getting to watch the training films – presumably intended for real young soldiers – which showed, in bloody detail, what might happen if a weapon was left loaded, then accidentally or deliberately discharged.
Films selected by teachers for the purposes of giving themselves time to catch up on their marking – or whatever the reason was – were usually less fascinating, but welcome all the same.
TV is, after all, TV. So always better than actual work, right? Hence, when you’re done reading/listening to today’s article, do check out the Youtube link at the end.
That material, unlike ours, isn’t intended for learners of Italian, it being the history lesson equivalent of an ‘oops, your best friend just got crushed by a five-ton digger because you ignored your mom and dad’ video. Fascism is BAD, kids, even if you do get lots of guns to play with.
The documentary is fast, with talking heads, so don’t go into it expecting to understand most of what you hear. You’d have to be super-good at Italian for that.
However, it’s a film! So, by definition, there are visuals. Africans merrily going about their primitive lives undisturbed, while evil dictators scheme, and poison gas is stockpiled. Oh why does the world stand idle while such awful things happen??
If you’ve got forty-five minutes or so to sit through the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, even if you don’t understand a SINGLE WORD, I guarantee you’ll learn a lot!
Language-learning is like that. People learn from not understanding, which is to say from participating in a community of people who use the language that the learners themselves aren’t (yet) competent in.
Traditional education has got this back-to-front, in my opinion. Teachers! More films, please!
Sit the kids in front of something gory, and go do your marking. Or stand outside the fire exit and smoke your pipe.
You’ll do less harm, that way.
For those that don’t have 45 minutes, just read and listen to today’s episode, which’ll take you about 5. And again, there’s no point fretting about the parts you don’t understand. It’s not a test. It’ll do you good anyway.
N.b. The previous twenty-two episodes in this series can be found on our History page, along with the ninety Summer Series articles from previous years. Scroll right down to the end to find the latest ones.
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