Sometimes I feel guilty about not ‘studying’.
That’s to say, not sitting down with my Swedish course book or Turkish grammar book and working my way through a pre-planned syllabus of material that should, in theory, improve my level in the languages I’m learning.
But then I say to myself, hey, I’m improving anyway, just by doing lots of reading and listening, and with weekly conversation practice.
And looking back over the last few years, there’s no doubt that not studying has been working very well for me!
So perhaps you too should quit ‘studying’ and do something more useful?
Or if you haven’t actually started with the grammar books, then stop feeling bad about it and work on developing good ‘learning habits’?
1. A structured ‘syllabus’, such as you’d find in (for example) Duolingo, or on an Italian course, should, in theory, take you from A, to B, then on to C and D. But…
2. YOU didn’t decide the content. Maybe it isn’t what you really need? Maybe your time would be better spent focusing on, say, speaking rather than grammar? Or learning to read the newspaper, or following a TV series, or reading recipes, or whatever?
3. Italian, like any foreign language, has a mass of stuff (grammar, vocabulary, ways of pronouncing things, different text types) that may never be relevant to you, or useful.
4. In the medium-term, and certainly in the long-term, the elements of the language that you do learn, will need to match the situations in which you expect find yourself. For instance, few people ever learn to effortlessly write or speak formal Italian, but loads of students spend time ‘studying’ the grammar, such as the ‘congiuntivo’, that would one day enable them to do so…
5. …while missing out on the common, day-to-day phrases and words which make comprehension of recorded or live speech, and expressing yourself appropriately, possible.
6. A final reason: if your aim is to, at some future point, speak ‘perfectly’ and understand ‘everything’, then sure, you’d better start from A and proceed to Z without skipping bits (or rethink your objectives…)
7. … but if you’d be happy just getting by in normal conversation, or picking up a newspaper and managing to get the gist of an article without using a dictionary, then the sooner you start devoting serious effort to actually DOING THOSE THINGS the better!
Insomma, I tell myself, I could be ‘studying’, but would it get me there any quicker?
For those of us who are no longer complete beginners, my personal answer is, “I doubt that.”
Coda: If you move to Italy with the plan to, say, get a job (hah!) and live your life here, then you WILL likely benefit from investing in a structured, professional language course, such as the ones we run at our Italian school.
But otherwise, keep in mind that ‘studying’ and ‘learning’ are not synonymous. You can do the former without the latter happening, and vice versa!
Don’t forget this week’s half-price ‘Book of the Week’ offer, which is selling like hot cakes (just the thing for the cold weather we’re having in Europe right now…)
Un viaggio nel tempo is level A2/B1, so relatively straightforward. Why not give it a try (instead of ‘studying’)?
If you’re unsure, there’s a free sample chapter (.pdf) so you can check the level is appropriate for you.
And read what other club members think, of course.
Un viaggio nel tempo is 50% off until Sunday night some time, so just £3.99 instead of the usual ‘easy reader’ price of £7.99.
N.b. Check our online catalog to find easier or harder material that might suit you better.
And finally, don’t forget to listen to and read Tuesday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news, will you?