Upper Intermediate Italian Lesson 7

I arrived first (as usual!) and for five minutes was chatting with the teacher. Was quite nice actually.  They’ve been in the UK for 5 years and are from Rome. Then another student arrived, which was nice too. A relief for the teacher, methinks 🙂 (Well it would be for me if I were in the teacher’s shoes!) I feel quite relaxed tonight. Nice and calm.

Intendersi – to be understood/to be knowledgeable about

Another five minutes, another student arrived. We’re talking about how to find a nice house. One of the students is between houses, staying at a friends.

  • bisogna accontentarsi
  • non ci sarà mai la casa perfetta

Oooo newsletter. My two weeks ago homework, perhaps. Yes…one of the other students has also done it so it seems more likely we will do something with it. Yep. So I suppose this means I will have to do homework this week to make another one in case we do it in a future lesson again.

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

Not bad! Especially given how hastily done it was and how tired I was at the time. We didn’t use the other student’s this time so actually that will likely be for next week, meaning it is less urgent for me to make another one! We gave mine a title Veganaio: come ti salvi il mondo. Wow, turns out one of the other students is vegan too. Another doesn’t have eggs or milk but has meat sometimes.

Cacciatori-raccoglitori – hunter-gatherers

Course we end up having a discussion about veganism hehe. Good fun.

Un essere senziente – a sentient being

As ever, I feel sad that I haven’t been able to CHAT with the other students during this course. Even with just the limited exchanges through the teacher that there have been, I am getting quite fond of them!

Avere a cuore – hold something close to heart e.g. avere a cuore gli animali

p.17

Funnily enough it’s the facing page to the one with the fridges from the first lesson! Short text. No read silently time and I didn’t bother to ask again for it this time. Just cope! Ooops I was so busy trying to get my head around the text I am not entirely sure what the follow up task is – to make questions or to answer the ones below the text!

BREAK TIME

Am back a minute or two early it seems. And it is create questions (I used the time to ask). I thought it was but then I wasn’t sure. I should have more faith in myself!

Qual è il problema secondo Alberoni?

There we go.

My fellow vegan isn’t back yet.  But the other student is so we ask our questions through the teacher. And discuss the topic a bit.

The teacher feeds in vocab (like the above) in the chat box as we go.

È importante avere una diversa percezione individuale.

Ah! Now we are returning to those pronouns that we started at the end of last lesson! We do a series of grammar exercises of the sort that are in grammar books like Murphy’s English Grammar in Use for Italian but with explanation in English rather than Italian. The other student and I are asked in turn to answer. But we don’t do them by ourselves first. Which is ok because this is familiar ground.  Then we have to complete a table in the course book.

P. 92

Not quite the above but similar! The one in the course book has also ce and ne. We actually got some quiet time for that one! But then we didn’t go through it all and skipped to the next exercise of using combined pronouns to replace the nouns in bold. But no time to do it quietly first. But we managed!

We finished with three minutes to go and the teacher asked what we’d like to do so I said talk because there’s no time to start anything new. The teacher agreed, fortunately, and asked us how we felt about combined pronouns. And that took us to the end of another lesson! The third student didn’t attend the second half and the other 2 didn’t show up at all.

Reflections

  • Being relaxed from the outset made a huge difference. Where a week ago it was the Monday after an intense week involving the first aid course, this time I had both shifted the backlog created by the course and had a lovely, restful weekend. I was better able to enjoy the lesson for what it was. And the two students who attended were the two I feel more rapport with (because they attend most regularly out of the total of 4 apart from me in the group), which also helped me feel relaxed. It was also nice when we did the discussion about veganism and I learnt something new about them, which was something we have in common as far as one was concerned. Oh to have done a getting to know you activity involving finding things in common and more personalisation activities throughout! I think, particularly in courses like the one I teach on which are very time-limited and all the more in the context of online teaching where students can’t chitchat at the start of the class while they wait for the teacher or when they finish an activity early etc, it is important not to underestimate the importance of getting to know you activities at the start and scope for personalisation throughout. I will be mentioning it in our imminent meeting about planning the course structure for next year (we are going from three terms to two long semesters). Being comfortable and relaxed makes a big difference to being able to learn and we can facilitate that to an extent (not entirely – some of it also depends what else is going on in students’ lives etc!).
  • You can get used to anything (and it is a lot easier to learn when you have adjusted to a greater extent) but it takes time to adjust. I think that is true of life (to an extent!) as well as language classes! Adjustment takes time. I think changing education systems (/learning in a way that is different from how you have learnt – or taught! – previously) is a form of culture shock. Which makes it make sense that each week I do get a little closer but it also isn’t quite linear. I have already mentioned this idea of adjustment previously but am repeating it because each time I have a sense of “oh I thought I had already got used to it but actually in comparison to today, I wasn’t as used to it as as I thought” or I think I’ve got the hang of it but then something happens that throws me off balance again. More and more I think it would be really helpful for teachers to incorporate an element of transparency around how and why things are done, particularly early on in a course so that students get a clear idea of how things work and why in your lessons. I think that would probably help with the process of adjustment. Obviously the lower the level of the language learner, the harder this would be. I suppose course books provide an element of this if they are used systematically. I think if you only draw on them for the odd activity and jump about, or you don’t use a course book at all, then you need to be more explicit to fill that gap.
  • Doing this course is making me think a lot about course design and delivery. Our course (the one I teach on, I mean), for example, is heavily skills-based and assessment-driven. Students are time-poor due to huge workloads so it is critical for us to make it absolutely clear how each lesson helps to prepare them a) for assessment and b) for university (with the assessments being designed/intended to teach and test skills needed for university study). Our students are motivated by requiring certain scores in order to progress onto their chosen degree course. They will do what is required to achieve that but they mostly don’t have time to go beyond. Which is fair enough. We can help (including to maintain their motivation to keep doing all the tasks) them by making clear links. This Italian course is VERY different, obviously. It is not assessment driven (that I am aware of), there is no particular end goal other than improving our speaking/listening/reading/writing skills in Italian. This means that there is a lot more freedom in the lessons for the teacher to do whatever they want with us. Which is lovely in theory but in practice is, I think, a lot more of a challenge for the teacher to do well. Even in IH Palermo, so another private language school context, there was more structure to the language courses. There was a set course book, or half course-book, for each level and we worked through that with the students. They had mid-course tests to check progress and end of course tests in order to progress to the next level. Of course creativity within that framework was encouraged. For the Italian course, we do have a course book but it is used somewhat randomly so if there is any recycling or progression built in, we lose that. Which means the onus is on the teacher to build it in. Likewise with learning outcomes. I think if I had to teach a course of this nature, I’d use a chunk of the first lesson negotiating learning objectives for the course and topics of interest. I’d want to know the students’ motivations for doing the course as well. So that there would be some framework to work within and so that the students would know about that framework and have a vested interest in it. That could also be revisited, added to etc. I wonder if that would make attendance less patchy. Maybe yes, maybe no. Depends entirely on the reason(s) for it!
  • We have used very little in the way of authentic materials so far. This has occurred to me in thinking about the above bullet point. There was that love song, that’s the only thing I can think of. The course book has some authentic material in it – extracts from Italian literary texts and the like – but we haven’t used those. I think that’s a missed opportunity, given we have a reasonable level of Italian (Upper Intermediate/aiming towards that or within it, in theory) and given there are no apparent course book usage requirements (in terms of how much is covered or in what order or to what end). Again, though, I suppose it is challenging to do that well (though if we have no objectives we need to achieve then perhaps it would be enough to use it in whatever way?!).

Think I’ll leave it there for this time – now managing to fairly contentedly trundle through the lessons yet plenty of food for thought still. It’s been such a learning experience. 3 more lessons left! Still not got much further with investigating a follow-up course… I need to do the IH level test to start with, to know my level according to them, so that I can then find out when courses run. Of course with things opening up, there is a question mark over whether there will be an online course still to join! My gut feeling is yes, though, as schools will want to have a wide portfolio of offerings to get as much business as possible. It’s whether I can do it when I want to do it (Monday nights because Tuesday is my NAW!)! We shall see when I have enough brain to do the test… ! 🙂

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