Supporting “The World Speaks!”

Recently, I announced that I am publishing my language guides on Amazon, with 25% of the proceeds going to the Akshayapatra Foundation, which sponsors school lunches for underprivileged students in India. This prevents children from dropping out of school early in order to make money for their families, and makes sure that they don’t go hungry.

I’ve decide that I’m going to put the guides back up for download for free. But, as I continue to publish material, I ask that you please purchase the guides from Amazon, not only to donate to Akshayapatra, but also to fund this project. The money helps support the site, as well makes sure that you all have access to more language-related content. I write these guides completely on my own, and I do my own research to bring the content to you. Also, I’m going to be university student soon, and that will take up more of my time. Please be patient with the production of new guides; I’m doing the best I can.

I hope you enjoy using this site to further your own language learning goals, and please buy the guides, either physical or Kindle copies, to support The World Speaks! and the Akshayapatra Foundation!

5 Activities for Foreign Language Teachers

Having been a language student for six years and a language teacher for two years, I have seen both sides of the language learning experience. Even though I haven’t been teaching that long and I don’t exactly have credentials, I think I have an idea or two of what helps language students. Sometimes it just isn’t enough to give grammar drills and give lessons on new concepts every day. You need to change it up a little and give them a way to exercise the concepts they’ve learned. So, in this post, I’m going to elaborate on five classroom activities that I’ve come across and personally created, all of which are included in my book, Scoprendo l’italiano!: An Accessible Guide to Learning Italian. Please note that these assignments can be edited as needed to suit different needs.

1. Personal Discussion Project – For Intermediate Classes and Beyond

The students will work together in groups of three or four. Every group will create their own PowerPoint or Keynote Presentation. The instructor will choose one topic, and each group will base their presentation on that topic. This project can also be made smaller and assigned to individual students.

Classes, School, and Academic Goals

Each student will discuss the reasons they take certain classes and what university they plan to go to and why. Then, they should discuss their plans for study at a university, and what job they plan to take from there.

Foods and Cooking

The students will pick a semi-difficult recipe, talk about it with the class, about its significance, what certain terms mean if new vocabulary from outside the text is learned.

Literature and Reading

Each student picks a novel, and they will discuss them with the class. Summarize the plot, and pick two symbols and explain their meanings (This topic should be expected to take some time).

Culture and Family Traditions

The students will talk about their cultural values, where they come from, and important family traditions. They should explain why those traditions are important.

Talents and Skills

Each student will pick a talent or skill they consider significant to them. They will then discuss how they came to do those things, and why they like doing it so much.

This project should be graded upon accent authenticity, focus on the given topic, how well the project is presented, and if vocabulary and grammar are used properly. For advanced classes, this should be presented in the target language. The instructor may choose to require additional criteria.

2. Novel Report – For Advanced/AP Students

Students will read novels in the target language, and must be at least two-hundred pages in length. A four paragraph essay will be submitted by each student in the target language, discussing theme, plot, and symbolism. A well-constructed thesis should be included. Grade based on use of vocabulary, understanding of grammar and syntax, and comprehension of the book. If assigned to intermediate classes, the use of a dual-language dictionary is highly suggested. If the instructor so desires, shorter books, books originally written in English, or other familiar stories can be assigned, and a shorter essay can be written instead.

3. Writing Poetry – For Upper Beginners and Beyond

Students will write poems in Italian, in order to foster an understanding of Italian poetic language. The students will turn in three one-page poems. Classes of all levels are advised to consult a dual-language dictionary and also poetry in the target language.

Students will then select one of their poems, read it aloud, and then discuss it with the class. For languages in which there are more than simply present, past, and future tenses, in which tense is distinguished differently, with forms such as the aorist, conditional, non-past, or non-future, the students should discuss the relevance and effect of using certain tenses in the poetry. The discussion should be lead by the author of the poem, who will ask questions, and other students should participate.

4. Learning History – All Levels

Consult an article about cities, monuments, traditions, or other things in the nation(s) where the language is spoken. The article should be in the target language. Discuss it with the class in English or in the target language for classes with sufficient knowledge to understand. Afterward, have the students discuss it with each other in the target language. It is recommended that instructor repeat this exercise several times, each time about different topics.

This exercise allows students to use authentic materials to exercise their knowledge and obtain new knowledge from such a source. This gives them an idea of how natives read, understand, and use the written language.

5. Timeline Project

This project will have the students present a timeline made from cardstock, or cardboard, with pictures or photos to represent events they did in the past, and/or those they will do in the future. They will present a script, which is to be followed by an instructor or listener, in order to check that the student has memorized it. Grade based on pronunciation, accent authenticity, fluency, and poise when speaking in front of a group. For advanced classes, permit the audience (including the instructor) to ask questions, which the presenter should answer in the target language.

I hope this helps some of you, and don’t forget to share this on Facebook and Tumblr! Feel free to leave comments and suggestions!

My Experience in Learning Italian

It was really in the summer before 8th grade that I actually started learning Italian, but for whatever reason, I stopped until the second semester of 10th grade. I was going through my documents, cleaning out unwanted junk, and saw all my old Italian notes, which I decided to look at. I thought to myself, “Hey, this looks pretty similar to Spanish, and I’m sort of familiar with it.” And with that, I started researching all the grammar topics and compiling the vocabulary lists that now make up Scoprendo l’italiano!. The cultural information was added quite a bit later, after I went to Italy for a second time. In Rome and Florence (not so much Bologna), I got to practice a lot of spoken Italian, because neither my parents nor my brother spoke a word of Italian. It was a pretty fun experience, with people correcting my sentences every now and then. I was complimented on my relatively good Florentine accent (which is the accent taught to most foreign learners of the language), especially considering I had been self-taught. One waiter at a restaurant in Pisa asked me why I was even learning Italian, because he thought it was useless outside of Italy. I’ll admit, even though I’m very much a believer in practical application, I learned Italian largely for fun. I mean, that’s not to say I didn’t have practical uses for it. In fact, it helped me out on my SAT and Spanish, because it expanded my understanding of both English and Spanish by building my vocabulary.

Despite getting as far as I did in Italian, I realize that I still have a long way to go. I took a practice test for the AP Italian Language and Culture Test (for multiple choice), and saw how little vocabulary I actually knew. I was nowhere near having that amount of knowledge. Of course, now I’m trying to read more texts in Italian to improve my vocabulary and contextual experiences with the language.

However, I also have the problem of getting speaking practice. I’ve tried to get sessions with Italian speakers through a bunch of different language exchange sites: Polyglot Club, italki, Interpals (which I’m still trying out), and WeSpeke (which I’ve gotten a couple of audio/video calls on). But it’s not really enough, because the AP Exam has very specific situations, such as telling stories, describing a photograph, or something else. Obviously, I’m not planning on taking the exam, but I am continuing to study Italian to keep myself in practice. Hopefully, one day, I can study abroad, or spend an extended period of time in Italy.

Some of the resources I found really useful for practicing were the WordReference Dictionary, which helps with finding all sorts of words and Duolingo, the famous language-learning application. Hopefully, this post helps anyone looking to practice Italian!

Scoprendo L’italiano! is now free!

Yesterday, I decided to take Scoprendo l’italiano: An Accessible Guide to Learning Italian off of Amazon and Createspace. It’s not so much that it didn’t sell, so that I could give the money to Akshayapatra, but rather that it didn’t really matter to me whether it sold or not, because I already donate with my own money anyway.

So, in the future, I will not be putting up books for sale, and instead will be making them available for download for free on a page called, “Language Guides,” on this blog. By doing so, I can update the file at my leisure if I feel there was something I missed in the document. I hope you all can use the book to learn Italian effectively!

Eventually, I will be posting the documents I made for Hindi and Korean, once I’m able to polish them up in formatting, write exercises and activities, and add cultural notes. There probably won’t be any photographs in the Korean document, as I won’t be going to Korea any time soon, although I have a great number of photos in India for Hindi. Please look forward to it!

Akshay Patra

Akshay Patra is a non-profit organization in India that has collected significant sums of money to donate toward the funding of school lunches to children that go hungry, and then do not come to school. By providing these children with healthy meals, they are encouraged to go to school, and provide not just India, but the whole world with young new minds to improve the future.

My mother has expressed great interest in doing this charity, and I have as well. I have decided that I will donate 100% of the proceeds of the purchases of Scoprendo l’italiano! toward this cause. So, if you wish to purchase, know that you will also be helping improve the lives of many unfortunate children.

If you want to know more about this cause, go to http://www.akshayapatra.org.

Book Availability!

http://www.amazon.com/Scoprendo-litaliano-Accessible-Learning-Italian/dp/1495411702/ref=sr_sp-atf_title_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391897837&sr=8-1&keywords=scoprendo

https://www.createspace.com/4650011

If you wish to purchase a print version of Scoprendo l’italiano!, it is available at these links for $39.18 (for Amazon Prime members and $43.78 for non-Prime members) and $43.78 on my Createspace eStore, for which I have a discount code: LZDAWJA2, which should give a $20 discount when applied.

Book Availability!

http://www.amazon.com/Scoprendo-litaliano-Accessible-Learning-Italian/dp/1495411702/ref=sr_sp-atf_title_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391897837&sr=8-1&keywords=scoprendo

https://www.createspace.com/4650011

If you wish to purchase a print version of Scoprendo l’italiano!, it is available at these links for $39.18 (for Amazon Prime members and $43.78 for non-Prime members) and $43.78 on my Createspace eStore, for which I have a discount code: LZDAWJA2, which should give a $20 discount when applied.

Updates on Scoprendo l’italiano! (Part 2) and Other News

Scoprendo l’italiano is now available in print on Createspace and Amazon for $43.78! A bit pricy for the first release, but I will be releasing a discount code in the somewhat near future.

In other news, I’ve begun work on Hindi Sikho!, a Hindi counterpart to Italian, with help from my parents, both of whom are much more accomplished speakers than I am. You should most likely expect to see it available in early to mid-March. I hope you guys purchase my book on the Kindle Store or a print version, if you prefer. 

Scoprendo l’italiano!

My Italian learning guide is now available on the Amazon Kindle Store. It is called Scoprendo l’italiano! You can purchase it for $4.99 in the US. I hope you enjoy learning the language as much as I did!

For people without Kindles, I will attempt to get the book in print using Amazon’s Createspace, and on other e-reader platforms.