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What IS your problem?

One of the main problems with learning English, is, I believe, a weird idea that you can speak and write it in Italian! What I mean to say, is that people think, if they do actually think about it , that it’s enough to use Italian grammar systems, translation ( Google and Reverso and all the other sites that give advice have something to do with this!) Probably the very worst thing that happens is this: the student used to instant gratification meets a word s/he doesn’t know, looks it up, and bob’s your uncle! There is no guessing through context, no deep processing of the vocabulary item, seen and immediately forgotten! I know this because if the student finds the same word later in the lesson S/HE LOOKS IT UP AGAIN. SEE? I am still seeing kids with Vocabulary word lists….. which mean? I asked a student once “What are you supposed to do with this?” “Learn the words” Yeah,well……a word by itself with just a translation, IS WORTH NOTHING, there are so many other things you need to know before being able to use it

There is also a belief that you can simply transfer spoken English onto an Italian intonation system. And why is the English spoken by the majority of Italians so ugly, although I have to admit that this is now beginning to change and I meet many first-class speakers. Strangely, they are the ones who are so worried about their own pronunciation. The majority however, are basing it on their own sound system, syllables, not stress and that gives you that awful choppy language full of gaps, hesitations or “er’s”. I remember a future teacher of English ( with a university education) telling me what an ugly language English is ! Red rag to a bull! I couldn’t contain myself I’m afraid and lost all my British aplomb “Well quite sincerely the way you speak it, it is!” Friendship ruined forever, but you can’t always take things lying down, especially if your language is one of your life’s great passions! Listen to Sir Ian McKellan reading Wordsworth and you’ll have to agree!

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