Olly Learns Italian – Week 2 Update

Welcome to week two of my Italian project!

In this post, I’ll explain everything I’ve been doing during the second week of this project to learn Italian here in London.

If you’re new here, you should watch the project intro here first, where I’ll explain the aims of the project, and other useful info.

Week 2 Statistics

Here are my stats from LingQ, which I've been using to track all my listening and reading activity.

The key figure for week 2 is 10.4 hours of listening.

That's actually a little down on the first week, but still averaging about 2 hours per day (weekdays).

I had a few events last week that robbed me of my concentration a bit, so I'll be sure to refocus next week, and aim to hit 3 hours a day. I often find that it's smart to aim high so that even if you don't quite reach your goal, you still achieve more than you would if you'd aimed more modestly.

[Note: To follow my stats live throughout this project, check out my LingQ profile.]

How Have I Been Learning?

 

As you’ll remember from the project intro, the aim of the first month is to get as much input as possible.

And this second week of Italian for me can best be described as an “avalanche of input”.

Much like week 1, I've been listening to as much stuff as I can get my hands on (see below), filling up the various free hours of my day with listening.

Since I did a lot of my study this week while out and about, I did mostly listening without reading. This has been great, but it's also made we aware of a potential danger, which I'll talk about a bit later.

It's still surprising to me just how difficult it is to fit in 2-3 hours a day of listening.

I mean… I have the time. Often hours a day of time spent walking, on the train, on the bus etc…

But the thing I find hard is the intentionality of saying to myself:

“Right, when I sit down, I'm not checking Whatsapp, I'm not checking my emails, I'm not listening to any of the 100s of English podcasts that I want to listen to…

…I'm just going to listen to Italian!”

It's a willpower exercise as much as anything else.

And that leads me to the first main difference between week 1 and week 2…

The Search for Compelling Content

In week 1, I was on a tour of beginner/low-intermediate material… of which there is a tonne! (See resource list in last week's post.)

But in week 2, I've already discovered that I can understand quite a lot of the Italian I hear.

So, in order to stay motivated for the 2-3 hours a day I'm spending listening to Italian, I've been trying extremely hard to track down material that could be described as compelling input.

In other words, material that I'm deeply interested in.

And there's a difficult intersection to navigate here…

Namely, the only content that is interesting to me at this point is real, authentic, native-speaker content. But the trouble is that much of that kind of content is too hard for me right now!

So I'm faced with that dilemma of:

Now, what we know about language learning is that you acquire language when you understand what you read or hear. 

The key word there being “understand”.

And so, at this stage, I'm still tending to spend my core study time focused on comprehensible input, which basically means material intended for learners.

Then, later, when I'm out and about, I'm listening to more authentic stuff that grabs my interest.

Luckily, I've also been finding some really interesting authentic material that isn't tooo hard to understand.

I'll share that with you below if you like 🙂

What's for sure is that I've been spending a frustrating amount of time actually searching for that material which I like. So one thing I've been trying to do is, once I've found a content provider I like, stop searching for more, and absorb everything I can from that person!

Anyway, to summarise, here's what my day looks like:

CORE STUDY TIME

I do an hour of listening and reading first thing in the morning when I wake up.

I'm sticking to “comprehensible input” (i.e. still learner material) that comes with text.

REST OF THE DAY

For the rest of the day, I use a mix of the learner material from the morning and authentic material that I'm interested in.

This is the bulk of the day… taking up 1-2 hours of solid listening.

What Materials Have I Been Using?

I'll divide this into two sections – the “learner material” I've been using in the morning, and the “authentic material” I've been using for the rest of the day.

I'm only going to include stuff here that I used and thought was really good.

Learner Material

It's worth saying that many readers have been sending me through their favourite learner resources for Italian, and I've tried a lot of them out. However, nothing really worked for me. It was either too easy, too short (surprisingly common), or just not very interesting.

If you like, I'll share these resources with you in another update.

Authentic Material

Here's the native content I've been listening to that I've absolutely loved. It goes without saying that this stuff matches my personal interests, so you may well hate them.

At the very least, it should give you some inspiration to find other material for yourself.

Needless to say, this stuff was all much harder than the learner material!

However, because I’m really interested in all the content, I found myself drawn to watching it. As a result, I spent more time with Italian.

Over time, I think this will become a key source of input, and hopefully, this content will lead me to more similar stuff on the internet. Don’t forget to check the resources page, where I’ll keep an ongoing record of what I’m finding.

Thoughts On Listening vs Reading

One last thing I've been pondering this week is the relationship between reading and listening, and how these two skills are contributing to my progress.

I've been spending the majority of my time listening… not reading.

And I've been noticing that, while my comprehension is already through-the-roof (after two weeks of solid input), I don't think I'd be able to say all that much at this point.

At least not with much accuracy.

You see, when you listen, you don't have to care about adjective endings, verb conjugations, prepositions, etc… because that detail rarely matters for comprehension.

But when you come to speak, you've got to get that stuff right.

A couple of times over the last week, I've tried reading without any audio.

And it's much harder.

However, I find I notice a lot more detail when I'm reading.

So I have a hypothesis right now that, given my listening is already quite strong, it's reading that's going to help me with my own accuracy when I come to speak.

I might try that out next week and see what happens.

Anyway…

I'm still having a great time learning Italian, and I hope these updates are useful!

Check back next week for the next update.

Do you have any questions about how I’ve been learning Italian? Let me know in a comment below. Want Italian-specific tips and resources that I don’t share in these posts? Sign up for my Italian newsletter below.

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One thought on “Olly Learns Italian – Week 2 Update”

  1. room rentals says:

    hey olly, i’m two months behind you, trying to learn italian before the polyglot conference with lingq and podcasts and other forms of massive input.
    i’m noticing the same thing about listening v. reading. and have the same sense that i wouldn’t be able to speak well at all at this point, although my listening comprehension feels ridiculously high for having 10 days under my belt (entirely due to my french and spanish). anyway, the point you bring up is interesting and here’s my opinion. it’s just intensive vs. extensive. it’s not so much that one is listening and the other is reading. it’s that listening is nearly always extensive, because it’s progressing in time. whereas text is static, and we tend to dwell on every details we don’t understand, basically doing a focused reading whether we want to or not. intensive listening is painful, and extensive reading is great but if you’re anal about getting things, it can be really hard to let go of that part. sooo, maybe they’re a great comlement to each other? not only for the auditory/textual dichotomy, but because they correspond so neatly to intensive and extensive consumption.

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