I was planning to have finalised my ‘new look’ study program by today and so write about that.
But hey… Life got in the way.
So instead, here are some extracts from emails I’ve had from club members in the last few days, with suggestions or recommendations.
A week or so ago, Anne from Chicago wrote:
Today’s noun finally prompted me to look up the difference between “il tavolo” and “la tavola,” something I’ve been wondering about.
I had no idea there was a difference, as I mostly try to pretend that the gender of nouns doesn’t matter in Italian, as in English.
But, thinking I really SHOULD try harder, I wrote back to ask what the difference was. Anne answered:
Here’s a link to a good explanation I think: https://blogs.transparent.com/italian/tavolo-or-tavola/
Liz from TEXAS, another old friend, wrote to describe her approach to learning:
One of the learning things I do, I don’t recall being mentioned in your messages.
Admittedly, I’m using Duolingo as part of my study plan. But I’m also using the listening exercises on the Club site.
Writing/copying: I copy down the sentences by hand and also type the sentences. (I have the international keyboard installed on my computer.)
Dictation: I listen and try to write what I hear.
When there is a choice of normal or slow speech, I do the normal speed first several times, then use the slow to check. After I’m satisfied with my result I finally check with the answer. The context in the sentence helps me get the words I hear.
I’m NOT writing individual words over and over again. I’m concentrating on sentences, but also do the same process with paragraphs and the Club Easy Readers.
By copying sentences I automatically get grammar and word order practice.
I think the writing exercises helps me listen. They also helps me learn spelling.
To which I replied:
All of that is true, Elizabeth, and I have no doubt that those activities are valid in themselves, though I’m sure you’ll admit that there isn’t much call for dication these days…
What is missing with the dictation approach, though, is the necessity to develop strategies to deal with all the stuff you miss in ‘live’ listening, when you hear things just the once.
I’m talking about the ability to fill in gaps AS you listen in real time – to guess, to hypothesise and confirm, to manage uncertainty, to ask for clarification, etc.
If you’re listening to learn grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and so on, then so be it. Listening and writing what you hear will focus you on those elements of the language.
But without a range of different listening skills, including those that help you to deal with the parts you are bound to miss, your performance in an exam or in real life interactions will likely be limited.
Given that for most people speaking (and so also understanding others) is a priority, that’s why the dictation approach is not usually first and foremost in language courses.
Sherry wanted me to share this:
Daniel – in case it is helpful to your other students I pass along a great website I just found:
What’s unusual is that in addition to providing full conjugation in every form, if you hover the cursor you can find the translation into English.
I took a look, and there’s certainly a lot of it. Swedish too!
Careful with the translations of tense forms, though. Some of these really DON’T correspond in English and Italian, no matter what it says.
This type of A.I.-generated website is great for providing lots of real-life examples, but doesn’t handle grammatical ambiguity very well.
Erika, remembering a previous article about the listening material being too fast, sent a link to a song on Youtube which really IS fast.
I revisited the newsletter from a while ago and really enjoyed the last one with the song suggestions!!
So here is something challenging from this year’s winner of the Sanremo Festival:
Alan also had some musical suggestions for me:
Abiti in Italia e non conosci Ligabue?? Come è possibile?? Lui fa la migliore musica! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVvkZJuiM1s
I took a look, but had to reply:
That one didn’t do much for me. Amazing, isn’t it? But I’m a professional Englishman, so I rarely speak Italian at all. Plus, since I’ve been here we’ve had three kids, so not much time for anything else.
But I listened to the song and… Beh.
Maybe you have something else to suggest that I might like more?
He did, of course:
Mi dispiace, ma se non ti piace Liga, there’s no hope for you.
OK, what else do I have in my collection aside from every album of Liga…
Alessandra Amoroso. I like most of the songs on her Vivere A Colori album but particularly Comunque Andare, which is the ultimate driving song. If I have to do a road trip to Canberra (by myself) I make sure that that appears in the playlist and belt it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q-TkT3RwJw
An oldie but a goodie, Alex Britti’s Solo Una Volta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDR6pEGI3uo
Or perhaps his more recent collaboration with Bianca Atzei, Non è vero mai: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIlvHpt4MnQ
Even more recently, Annalisa’s Il Mondo Prima di Te : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZGGmO9dXxs
But perhaps given your Socratic leanings, you would prefer Il Prof, (Lorenzo Baglioni) whose album “Bella Prof” I picked up just recently. Being a physics nerd I like how he has transformed things like the theory of relativity or Kepler’s laws of planetary motion into boy band extravaganzas. In your own case you may prefer his linguistic anthem Il Congiuntivo, which I could not laughing at from beginning to end in a “It’s funny because it’s true” way.
OK, so this has been a very lazy article…
Thanks to everyone who helped me avoid having to write much.
Hope you have found some of their suggestions useful.
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