Upper Intermediate Italian Lesson 6

Phewwww I made it just on time (and still the first!). Still got my positive attitude, also got a lot of tired because of how intense last week was. I managed to do my homework, amazingly. I wanted to do it enough to make it happen on Sunday, but I did it on my tablet so it has no accents yet <edits furiously while the others arrive> Yet another tech-related thing haha.

Homework: Quest’anno a gennaio, 582,538 persone di 209 paesi sono iscritte a uno sfida globale – Veganuary. Questa sfida richiede a ciascuno che l’accetta di evitare l’uso di ogni prodotto animale, cioè, provare di vivere vegan. Lo scopo di questa sfida e di proteggere sia gli animali che l’ambiente e, faccendo cosi, migliorare persino la salute dei partecipanti. Questa volta la gente pensano anche a Covid perche vogliono anche evitare altri pandemici. Un gran parte di loro continuano a seguire uno stilo di vita vegan.

We started with the newsletter thingy i.e. homework. Turns out Zoom is like Blackboard in that participants only see chatbox content sent after their arrival into the room. So there was a bit of confusion as the teacher hadn’t realised that.  Then I had to read mine from last week aloud, not sure why. Now we are going through one of the other students’ homework, which has given me some welcome breathing space, in between answering questions. That done, we establish that I and two others now have stories in the class newspaper and the teacher asks the remaining two (both of whom are here tonight) for their contribution. We review the 5 w’s again. Major communication issue with the student who was absent last week and doesn’t understand what we are doing – I feel you, student! Eventually we have moved on to something else instead. I’m not sure if the student understood in the end or not because I had a slight concentration lapse as the whole thing took a while. My homework was not required, after all that effort!

Now we are continuing with the grammar point from last week.

Congiuntivo trapassato + condizionale passato.

We use the rest of the exercise that we started two weeks ago and I did as review between the two weeks ago class and last week’s class (so that was nice and easy for me tonight!).

  1. Se fossimo rientrati più presto, avremmo potuto vedere un bel documentario in tv.

Now we are looking at some pictures. Describing what the person is doing and how they feel.

Oberata – overwhelmed by work

One thing I do not like about Zoom: When the teacher shares their screen, it goes full screen on my screen, meaning my notes window is hidden. So then I have to get it to shrink again. Every time.

We are spending a LOT of time on this activity. I am very curious what it will lead into! 🙂 I wonder how it would be if we had been given the pictures and had to work with a partner to say and/or write something about each one, perhaps in response to prompts to direct our attention to what is required, then share whole class quickly…

BREAK TIME! And we are told we will do some reading after the break so I guess that is what it leads into – the suspense is over!

End of break. We seem to have lost 2 students and the other 2 are still switched off but appear soon after.

Wheee I was brave. Teacher set to having us read aloud directly and I asked if we could have 5 minutes to read quietly first. I then had to then clarify that I am happy to do the read aloud thing if we could do that first, as the teacher objected defensively initially, saying they wanted to hear our pronunciation. Am now quite glad I went with my gut instinct on not giving unsolicited feedback on lack of opportunities for group work! At least this was just a simple request and that was hard enough.

Ho fatto la fame – suffer from hunger (hyperbole)

So we read silently then aloud. We didn’t discuss pron though <shrug>. Vocab, yes. So that is a bit confusing! But never mind. Then we had to write comprehension questions. Actually we did this whole activity from lead in to this point with the other text of this pair a few weeks ago, I just remembered! So I guess we will be retelling the story using the pictures after this.

My question: Che tipo di carattere ha Natalia Aspesi?

Yep, we are doing the retelling the story using the pictures thing. Fair enough. At least this time there are only 2 pages of pictures! Less epic scrolling up and down by the teacher necessary! Yay!  Ohh, also because we didn’t have to do the ordering thing this time so as they are on the page they are in the right order for the text. Everyone had to take a turn doing this. Which I only discovered when I eventually got called on. Confession time, I was splatted on the futon behind my computer at the time. Having one of THOSE evenings. But I managed just fine.

Now we have moved on to object pronouns suddenly, 9 minutes to go. A bit disorienting! And we are reading aloud a grammar explanation page. We have used this book before and it isn’t the course book (as I have discovered since getting the course book). It is aimed at English people. Teacher is explaining mostly in Italian which is nice. Then we made a list of things to take to a party and went through it saying “I will take it” or “I will take them”.  I wonder if this means we have finished with the unreal if clauses now. Next week we will do combined direct and indirect pronouns. No homework. So…I guess we have finished with the newsletter thingy? In which case I did my homework for nothing. On the other hand, if we do go back to it even though it wasn’t reset for homework explicitly this time round, I can use it. We will see…

Reflections

  • For the first time since the course began, I did not put 100% in during the lesson. My intrinsic motivation was outstripped by my fatigue and I didn’t find the lesson engaging enough to balance that out! I am reminded of Dörnyei and Ushioda (2012)

“Motivation is responsible for why people decide to do something, how long they are willing to sustain the activity and how hard they are going to pursue it” (ibid: kindle loc 259, emphasis as per original)

and also the motivation model with its ideal self/internal factors, ought to self/external factors and L2 learning experience as the three contributors to motivation (kindle loc 1852) and how motivation is not static (kindle loc 1903). It is so true. Also, I don’t blame the teacher for it. I found the pace too slow but that doesn’t mean the pace was too slow – it might have been just right for some or a bit quick for others. I feel that my motivation is my responsibility but equally I am not going to beat myself up for not putting 100% in to this lesson. Energy is limited. Good enough is good enough. Nobody died! I think we need to accept this with our students as well. Their motivation, performance, participation will all fluctuate from lesson to lesson and within lessons. And that’s ok. We do our best to create an engaging learning experience but we won’t always be able to balance out everything else that is going on. Even more so when there is a global pandemic going on!

  • I’m glad I finally addressed the reading aloud issue. I thought when he let us read silently before the jigsaw activity in a previous lesson, we had cracked it but it turned out not to be the case. I think it’s important for teachers to listen to student requests and, where possible, if they aren’t unreasonable, fulfil them. In this case, all that was requested was 5 minutes of delay in order to read quietly first before reading aloud, so a very small ask. The teacher wasn’t happy, though. I think we need to remember that a request is not a criticism of us as teachers, it is just something that the student wants/needs in order to learn better. I actually struggled to read the text in five minutes because of how tired I was. Turns out reading in another language is hard when you are tired. Despite the fatigue and struggle, though, I did the reading aloud thing much better having read to myself first. I won’t be addressing the lack of pair/group-work thing as the above response suggests the teacher wouldn’t be open to it especially as it would require a greater degree of change than the five minutes of silent reading request.
  • It’s annoying from the student perspective if homework is set and then forgotten about. I don’t mind that much because I know doing the homework helped me learn more, made me use more Italian. But if I’d known it wasn’t going to be used or submitted or anything, then I might have chosen to just go splat on Sunday (when I did it) instead, because I was exhausted from the work/mental health first aid course combination of during the week beforehand. We’ll see what happens in the next lesson. It may be we do something with it then, in which case I am ready already which could be a score – watch this space!
  • Thinking about homework has also made me think about how I have done very little autonomous learning thus far. I completed an activity we had started in class on one occasion (the one we then came back to in this lesson!) but other than that about all I manage to do is watch something in Italian about once a week (on my NAW day). Why? Because priorities and juggling. Work, obviously. But in my free time, I spend time with my girlfriend and that is important to me because I think quality time is important for a relationship to flourish. It’s not long since I moved in with her so there has been a lot of adjusting to a new way of being. It is (obviously) very different from living alone/with a housemate. I also need to exercise regularly. Plus cooking and cleaning and suchlike. Time is finite and there is a lot to pack in. I suppose also it comes back to motivation. I’m really motivated to do my best in lessons and learn what I can, when it isn’t trumped by fatigue, but doing extra work outside the lessons is an extra time commitment and I lack the motivation to prioritise it. Other things have higher priority as mentioned above. And I don’t mind if it slows down my rate of improvement either, I’m not in a hurry and have no external factors pushing on me for it (e.g. moving to the country, needing a particular level of the language for work or study etc). Yet I remember when I was in Palermo, we had a big expectation on students to do lots of autonomous learning and I did loads of work trying to get my learners to engage with that (which was far from wasted!). I think ultimately it’s about making it clear to the learners that improvement will be quicker if they do engage with autonomous learning and making sure they have the tools and know-how to do it, providing the support, but letting them make the choice as to whether and how much they engage, which will depend on their motivation for doing the course and on what else they are juggling in day to day life and how they choose to prioritise things. It may be the course is a once or twice a week time to do something nice and different for oneself but otherwise not a priority, just a bit of fun and that should be just as valid as doing it for work/to be able to move somewhere else/to get more money etc where autonomous learning may be more likely to be prioritised if the learner is aware of the value of it. As far as my current students are concerned, I am not trying to get them to do any extra stuff at all. They simply don’t have time. They have multiple modules all with a heavy workload (and at least one is attending school in her own country – China – as well!). If they do their coursework, their homework and any flipped preparation, that is enough. There is extra stuff available and signposted but it is entirely their choice how much or if they engage, so that it doesn’t become another stressor for them. They have enough of those filling their buckets!
  • Was just thinking, there are only 4 more lessons left for this course (and even this far in, I come out of it with something new to chew over every time!). This means I should start looking into other courses like I said I was going to… Time, eh. Maybe that will be my homework for this week! Before any more marking comes in on the teaching side of things…

Ok, wittering over for another week! See you next time! 🙂

2 thoughts on “Upper Intermediate Italian Lesson 6

  1. Hi Lizzie,
    That realisation about autonomous learning and homework is so important. We often thing that our lessons must be a priority for our learners, because they are for us, but as you say, life gets in the way so often. This is where a compassionate and supportive teacher is key – providing the tools, but reducing the pressure so that those who want to/have time to access them can, but students who can’t don’t feel overly stressed or guilty about it.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Sandy

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