What About Our Listening?

Italian grinds CorkAs many of you know I’m constantly thinking about how to help with your learning, improving and perfecting your Italian. As I started to learn English 10 years ago, I know what learning a language as an adult means… it is a great challenge, sometimes very frustrating, but a great journey, indeed.


The skill we exercise the least in our limited classroom time is the one that we need the most when we go to Italy: listening. We are ok to ask for information, food or a drink, but we might not be able to understand the answer. I remember when 8 years ago I was leaving my cv in all Cork shops, bars and restaurants. I couldn’t even understand the answer they gave me… a real adventure, trust me! 

When someone is talking to us in a market or in a pub or when we are watching a movie in our mother tongue sometimes we don’t get all the words, sometimes our brain (unconsciously) makes up the bits we missed. When someone is talking to us in our mother tongue we can go on ‘autopilot’ and answer what the other person is expecting… our cognitive unconscious is so good at it!

Everything changes when we are having a conversation in a different language. I don’t think pubs are the best places to have a conversation in another language… unless we start drinking a lot! Italian Conversation Cork

Here is the good news… we can educate our ears, we can get better at listening even if we are not living in Italy. We can use graded books which come with audio books. If a book is not graded, we can get very frustrated when we have to go through impossible grammar constructions to understand something essential to the story. These books are quite thin (they are not scary), they have comprehension exercises to help us remember the new words or constructions and we can find one we like. In our own time we can listen to the audio and start recognizing words and sentences and their meaning. The more we understand the more we are rewarded and the more we want to listen… and the more we learn!

You can find graded books + audio books here www.blackcat-cideb.com/108-italian-catalogue (I got 5 of them). They are about €9.20 and €3 for the shipping. I couldn’t find the Italian e-books, so I emailed their customer service a couple of days ago and I haven’t received an answer, yet (it usually takes about 4-5 days). In the meantime, I found another place where you can find graded e-books + audio books onlineitalianclub.com/product-category/e-books/ (I haven’t ordered anything, yet). The e-books are €9.99 with the audio books included. No shipping needed. Both websites offer a sample of the book you may be interested in and a sample of the audio. To save some money you can swap books and audio books with other students…

I hope you’ll find it useful and that you’ll be soon rewarded with great improvements.

Ciao 
Carolina

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