I’ve had my hair cut twice since 1997.
The first time was in London. I don’t remember how much I paid, but it wasn’t expensive, given that we were living in some crappy inner-city zone at the time.
I never went to the barber’s because I didn’t know what to ask for, so I never liked the result.
Besides, I always had better things to do with my day.
That Saturday, I let myself be convinced by my new (Italian) girlfriend, who had correctly recognized that I needed a little tidying up.
But I hated sitting in the barber’s chair so much that my now wife gave up nagging me and instead bought me a home-barber kit for Christmas.
What a buy! I still have it.
The second time was a few years back, here in Bologna.
The Chinese had arrived and were transforming the local barber’s shop market by offering cuts so cheaply that my wife insisted I just HAD to try it.
It still wasn’t expensive, and I still hated it.
Why pay for something that you detest?
And in particular, why pay someone else to do something that you could easily do yourself?
If you just took the time to learn?
I admit, I’m probably the exception when it comes to haircuts.
But there are plenty of people around who have a similar approach to, say, learning Italian.
These days you can, absolutely, learn a foreign language for free.
There are masses of options online, including conversation exchanges, free materials such as the ones we offer on the club site, or just through reading the Italian press, or streaming Italian TV, radio and so on.
That said, cutting my own hair hasn’t always brought the best results.
The back of the head is particularly hard, as I can only see the front and the sides in our bathroom mirror. It’s necessary to sort of feel where the hairline is, then guess where to put the clippers.
One time recently I got distracted, and shaved one side of the base of my skull almost to bare skin, instead of to the same length as the other side.
Nobody, including me, noticed for a couple of days. When they did, though, it was embarrassing.
So I suppose hair-care professionals have their uses.
But so, also, do Italian teachers.
And just as some weird people LIKE getting their hair cut, taking online Italian lessons can be fun.
The Skype video-calling software we use is free, and simple to install.
And a good teacher will adapt his/her approach to your needs and preferences, so no time is wasted on things that you don’t think are important.
How would Sir/Madam like it cut today? Just a trim? Longer round the ears, Beatles style? No problem!
Italian lessons are flexible and can include conversation, grammar, coaching for an exam, or whatever.
Unlike at the salon, though, if you’re not sure what would be the best look for you, just let the professional decide.
The teacher will probably know better than you do what you need, and can be trusted to tell you.
Moreover, you can organize your online Italian lessons for whenever is most convenient for you.
And enjoy one as often, or as infrequently, as you wish.
Arguably then, the most effective approach to learning a language would be a combination of lots of self-study, plus sessions with an experienced teacher.
Let’s talk about money.
The Chinese barber down the street charges ten euros.
He’s also fast. A haircut takes him maybe ten or fifteen minutes, so he’s probably grossing forty euros an hour.
An online lesson, without any discount, costs twenty euros for a thirty-minute session.
But if you buy ten lessons, that falls to just fifteen euros per half-hour lesson.
And with the coupon code januarysale2016 it would be EVEN LESS THAN THAT.
But let’s do the maths.
We’ll assume you might want to take a thirty-minute lesson each week from now until the beginning of the summer.
Say to supplement your online study, or to prepare for the oral component of a university exam, or for a summer trip to Italy.
Something like that.
January to May, call it twenty lessons, for the sake of simplicity.
A package of ten x 30-minute lessons in our shop is usually €150.
You select ‘Add to cart’.
Then, in the shopping cart, you change the quantity from ‘one’ to ‘two’.
So now you’re ordering twenty lesson credits, for €300.
Now copy and paste the discount code januarysale2016 into the box, where it says ‘Coupon Code’.
Click the ‘Apply Coupon Code’ button.
Finally, scroll down the page to see the revised ‘Cart Total’, which is now just €252.
€252 divided by twenty is €12.6.
That’s under thirteen euros for a lesson.
For not much more than the cost of a Chinese haircut, you could be taking regular lessons with a pro Italian teacher.
Working one-to-one on your spoken Italian, or on whatever aspect of the language you need help with.
What to click next
The 2016 January Sale ends at midnight on Thursday 6th of January.
Find out more about online Italian lessons.
- Select the lesson options (or ebooks) that interest you from our online shop
- In your shopping cart, copy and paste the coupon code: januarysale2016
- The coupon code will discount everything in your shopping cart by 16%
- The coupon is valid until Jan. 6th 2016
- Use the coupon code as often as you want until that date
Or go browse our e-books for learning Italian, especially the extensive range of Italian easy readers.
(To download free sample chapters of e-books, go here.)