Category Archives: Italian

Finally back at it…

Over the weekend, I ended up sick.  I’ve been sleeping in and as a result, my productivity has plummeted.  If there is one silver bullet to my productivity is it summed up in the Spanish proverb:

“A quien madrugada, Dios lo ayuda.”

God helps those who are up crazy early.  Or, something like that.

My second secret would be this.  Never start responding to email (my biggest work time commitment) until you have moved the needle forward.  In other words, do something that moves you forward personally, invest in yourself, before responding to other people’s emergencies.

These days, that’s pretty simple for me.  Before starting on email, I have to spend time studying Italian and Greek.

Found this video this morning.  This is more for me than anyone else, by the way.  I use my blog as a way to keep up with my own progress.

Of course, if you are studying a language, and you already know another one, you can double up.  For example, in the following video, she is teaching Latin grammar… in Italian.

 

 

I fight authority. Authority always wins.

Every few days, I receive an email from someone who needs me to grade their work.

Every now and then, I receive an email from someone who really wants to learn Latin, Greek, or Italian.

It’s a bit frustrating.  Grades overshadow everything.  90% of my students only want their grades.  10% actually want to master Latin, Greek and Italian.  It is what it is.  It’s what the modern state, the modern government school system has done to us all.  I hate it.  I fight it.  I will continue to fight.  Doesn’t seem to matter.

I fight authority.  Authority always wins.

I know you guys are stuck.  We all are.  I am doing what I can to help.

I am working every day this to build tools to help students check their own work.   I am creating more quizzes and tests for my site.   Just created another one this morning.  It is my goal to write a quiz/test every day.  Already, there are around 100 quizzes/tests on my site and that number is climbing.  My site will generate an automatic grade for students who take the quizzes.  

I have also loaded my own answer keys to my site, and I will be loading more.  These are free to subscribers. Over the past six, or seven years I have created a massive database of responses to my students.  Compiled, these answers total around 1,000 pages.  These pages I am uploading to my site for my subscribers.  I also have forums where students are able to interact with other students and are able to check each other’s work.

I’m back.

I took the last three weeks off.  Well… from writing a tip of the week.  Just couldn’t find the time.

August is the busiest month of the year for me.   I spend most of my time getting ready for the upcoming courses, answering questions, registering students, and answering questions.  Lots and lots of questions.  Also, I spend a lot of time answering questions.

Then, in September, classes begin.  The craziness stops.  My site stats drop from thousands of hits a day to hundreds of hits a day.

Back to writing the “Tip of the Week”.

This one is more of a reminder, actually.

Lately, my 14-year-old daughter and I have been having conversations in German.  I did not teach her German.  To my own shame, I admit that I have not had the time.

She taught herself.  We have enrolled her in no classes.  We have never taken her to Germany.  And, there are no German foreign exchange students in our house.

So, how did she do it?

DuoLingo.

My 16-year-old daughter watches movies from time to time in French.  Same story.  She taught herself.  How?

DuoLingo.

Incidentally, neither of them are all that interested in Latin.  “I’ll show you, Dad.  I am going to teach myself a modern language!”  Rebellious teenagers.

I am teaching myself Italian and modern Greek.  I am using DuoLingo.  It’s working.

My students are used to hearing me talk about DuoLingo.

Parents aren’t.  Learning a foreign language just can’t be that simple.  There must be a course.  There must be a syllabus.   There must be a course description.  There must be high-school credit.  There must be grades.

Guess what?  Schools provide all of that.  Syllabi.  Course descriptions.  Credits.  Grades.  Schools provide it all.  Only one thing is missing.  The ability to speak the language.

I don’t speak French, so I really do not know how my 16-year-old daughter is doing in French.  But, my German-speaking daughter is doing well and she is getting better.  Conversations are becoming more and more fun.  No syllabus.  No course description.  No credits.  No grades.  Just the ability to switch into German with me when she doesn’t want other members of the family to understand.

DuoLingo is the most powerful language learning tool I have encountered in the last ten years.  It feels like a game.  It looks like you are playing on your smartphone.  It looks childish.

Don’t be fooled.

DuoLingo. is a serious language learning system.  Use it.

I even have a couple of classrooms I manage on DuoLingo.  You can join.

Greek: https://www.duolingo.com/o/pdhxqm
Italian: http://duolingo.com/o/uftpsz

=================================================

Have a Saturday, everyone!
Dwane

P. S.  There is a big music festival going on in my town (Franklin, Tennessee) this weekend.  If you are coming, please behave yourself.  Don’t trash the place.  We like it here.  And, if you are from New England, don’t honk at all of us on the street.  We just don’t do that around here.  Thanks.

=================================================

Every Saturday, I send out a tip of the week.  I also include announcements, upcoming classes, and so on.  If you would like to hear from me every weekend, sign up for my weekly updates here:

Would the Italian class be appropriate for my young children?

I received this question:

I have a 7 and 8-year old that are learning Italian. I lived in Italy for 6 years and speak, so I would like them to learn that as their first foreign language since we could practice together at home. Currently, we are doing Rosetta and Duolingo, but I don’t love the way they teach. I’d like them to learn verb conjugation rules and have masculine and feminine explained (perhaps better than I can do it). Would this class be appropriate for them? And since it’s an online class, I assume they would each need to sign up. Thanks much for your time. 

Here is my reply:

Well, first of all, I’m jealous.  Six years in Italy?  Sigh.  I’d love to do that.

Second, I’m intimidated.  I’m fluent in Latin, but just starting out in Italian.  I started learning Italian because I was sick of people correcting my Latin pronunciation.  I figured I would learn to speak Latin with an Italian pronunciation.  After all, that’s what the Italians do, or so I’m told.  And no one knows exactly how Latin was pronounced.

I should tell you, this is not a class in which I teach Italian per se.  This is a class in which I invite students to learn with me.  That said, we will be reading through a book together. The book begins with a very simple text and ends with complicated Italian text. 

I will definitely be teaching the grammar as we go. I will be relying upon DuoLingo and other sources for pronunciation.  I will not be admonishing the students to imitate my pronunciation.  🙂 

Since the book starts out so simply, I think it might be okay her children as young as yours.  However, since I have never taught this course, it is hard for me to say.

Of course, if you jump in and realize it’s not for you, you are welcome to cancel at any time.

By the way, every Saturday, I send out a tip of the week.  I also include announcements, upcoming classes, and so on.  This is the main way I keep up with students and parents.  If you would like to hear from me every weekend, and if you haven’t already signed up… sign up for my weekly updates here:

 

On the road…

I will not be responding to email this afternoon and I will not be responding on Tuesday, August 1.

When we flew to Athens, Greece we flew out of Miami, FL.  We left our car parked there.  We were going to fly back into Athens later and drive home.

Then, when my son’s accident happened, we skipped Miami and flew to Denver, Colorado.

We never did go pick up our car in Florida.

This afternoon, I am flying down to Miami.  Tomorrow, I will be on the road all day as I drive home.

It’s not all bad.  It is my plan to catch up on Coffee Break Italian.   I am really looking forward to the drive, actually.  I could use some intensive Italian training.

Latin Lite

I received this letter:

I am a 17-year-old high schooler (homeschooled) taking your Visual Latin course (I just finished VL1 and will soon be starting VL2). To start, I would like to say that your course is a lot of fun, and I am thoroughly enjoying learning Latin. Before your course, I didn’t think much of learning a new language beyond what I have to for high school, but given how much fun this course has been you have inspired me to try to continue learning languages beyond my required high school course and see how far I can get.

My first question is one of reading Latin. I have been trying to read one of the Latin primers designed for this task, Carolus et Maria, however, I am having trouble with a specific part. Verbs going at the end of sentences often makes it difficult for me to read a sentence well because I won’t be able to tell what’s going on until the very last word. I was wondering if you had any advice, tips, or tricks when it comes to being able to read more comprehensively and hopefully be able to read faster. Is there a shift in mindset? Is it because the endings aren’t memorized yet? Is this something you delve more into in Visual Latin 2 or in any of your other courses? Does it just require more practice? Any help here would make my Latin reading experience much easier.

My second question to you is a bit broader. Like I have said I hope to continue practicing Latin and learning other languages, my current plan is to start Spanish after I have finished the bulk of Latin and work my way through many of the Romantic and other European languages before I take on a language with a completely new alphabet such as Greek. I was wondering what you thought of this plan and was wondering if you had any other advice as I move ahead in my adventure.
Here is my reply:

Continue reading Latin Lite

Which Latin pronunciation?

I get this question all the time.
Do you think it would be confusing for a student to do both pronunciations? My kids (age 11 and 13) will be doing a class next year that uses Classical pronunciation but I would love them to be able to use some of the resources that are Ecclesiastical. From my (mostly uneducated) perspective it seems that there are only a few differences, mostly the c, v, i/j? Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks again for your blog it has been very encouraging to me!
Here is my reply:
It’s the same language, different pronunciations. There really should be very little confusion for your kids.  I switch back and forth all the time.
Naturally, I much prefer the ecclesiastical pronunciation.  It has a tradition going back at least 700 years.  The classical pronunciation was “restored” several hundred years ago.  No one really knows what ancient Latin sounded like.
To fully train myself in Ecclesiastical pronunciation, I practice Italian as often as I can on the site DuoLingo.  And, I listen to these guys often as I read the Bible: http://www.bible.is/LTNNVV/Matt/1.
In the end, I wouldn’t worry much about pronunciation.  People fight over it, but the fights seem pretty silly since there is no definitive answer.
Just keep this in mind. It’s the same language either way.  I don’t think your kids will be that confused.  They will only encounter trouble when they encounter academic purists.