Sunday, July 26, 2015

Studying like a boss

If you've been bored to tears with my recent entries, don't feel bad, so have I. But guess what? The light at the end of the tunnel is getting pretty bright these days.

So what does it feel like to almost actually speak Italian? Well, strangely, it feels an awful lot like barely speaking any Italian. I thought I would hit this magical moment where speaking Italian was as natural as speaking English, but apparently that day is somewhere in the distant future because I still notice every bit of effort that goes into making a sentence. On the bright side however,  the end result of all that work is apparently a respectable approximation of the real thing - impressive when you stop to remember it's only been 5 months since language training started.

For lack of any better ideas, I thought I'd use the blog to pass along my favorite study sites on the unlikely chance that one or more faithful readers wants to learn Italian too! Might come in handy if you plan to visit after all.

First, there are obviously the papers. Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, La Stampa, etc. and once these get too easy, try the editorials at L'Espresso - they are the class 'gold standard' for high level (i.e. harder than we students would like) reading practice.

Next we have Rai - source of all things listening comprehension related. I prefer the 'ultime edizioni', there's a good twenty minute edition that I listen to every morning.

Also, while we're talking listening comprehension, I like the short videos available here. The site also has tons and tons of grammar excercises. This site was where I would spend most of my study time in the second (of three) terms of the program.

For speaking, well, that's tough. You basically can't practice that on your own which is why FSI gives us native speakers to talk to for five hours a day. If you want to try at home, the best advice I have is to use a website like this one to respond to speaking prompts.

For vocab review I use Quizlet - I also put short phrases and grammar points on the app and you can use it on your smartphone too.

Italian films and books are pretty readily available online. (Nothing like when I was trying to get my hands on Serbian language material way back when!) I don't really know how effective these sources have been from a language standpoint though. I know people like to watch movies and call it studying, but compared with actual studying I would guess that for me the effectiveness was basically zero. But hey, fun serves an important purpose of it's own - motivation!

Finally, resources. I like Wordreference as a solid Italian-English dictionary and ItalianVerbs to help me with complicated congujations.

Obviously not all languages will have the same resources, but the best advice I can offer is to use everything you can get your hands on. If nothing else the variety will keep you from going crazy, right?

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