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What if you listen to, read and speak Italian at the same time?

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 28 aprile 2013

lettura ascoltoI have to admit it, I read more non fiction than fiction books…but what counts is that I read, someone would say. Recently I have “read” a special book. Its title is Lettura+Ascolto[Reading+Listening], by Maurizio Falghera.

Why is it a special book? Well, because it’s a book to read and listen to at the same time, just like most of my books.

What do you need reading and listening at the same time for? That’s what the author wants to explain in the easiest way. And he does it in a simple way, although he still quotes authoritative sources and experiences.

One among many was very interesting for me and I quote it below from the original source found on the internet.

“This study investigated the effects of simultaneously reading and listening to the same text on comprehension and fluency gains for basic-level English language learners at a university in Puerto Rico. The quiz scores and fluency rates of two English lab groups who read and listened to E. B. White’s novel Charlotte’s Web were compared to the scores and rates of two other English lab groups who silently read the same novel. The listening-while-reading group outscored the reading-only group on all eight weekly comprehension quizzes; for four of those quizzes, the difference was statistically significant.”

Another very important point in the book Lettura + Ascolto that could be interesting to you who are learning the Italian language is the fact that “Using audiobooks […] while learning the English language [or any other language, such as Italian in your case] is an absolutely necessary everyday tool in schools, colleges, universities, both in Italy and abroad. And this because it has been proven beyond any doubt that reading a written text and listening to it at the same time increases the memory retention of vocabulary, of grammar and synthax of the language, as well as it adds a remarkable amount of information about culture, history and customs. Some American studies calculate that the increase of the linguistic learning due to this method of listening and reading may even be of 30-50%.

I have always thought that adding a sensory channel (in this case the auditory channel) to what you do, reinforces the experience and speeds up the learning. That’s why I’ve often tried to get the audiobook (the unabridged version) for the books I read. Simply because it gives me a much deeper experience.

And in creating my books, I always read aloud and record the texts, so that you have a multilevel learning experience, a whole-brain learning experience. Yes, because if you use my books in the way I suggest, you will have the opportunity to relax while listening, to read and listen at the same time to absorb their content, words and expressions, as well as the conveyed skills.

Lettura + Ascolto is a nice non fiction book, aimed at Italians (so the level is very high) that allows you to experience what it talks about in the same moment when you read and listen to it (it is available as book with mp3 CD; and audio-eBook versions).

One thing which is not mentioned in the Lettura + Ascolto book and it’s what I consider to be the next step in the learning process. After you have listened to the book, after you read it and listened to it, it’s time to get in the more active phase of the learning. And how can you do it?

Well, you can for example use a technique that many international polyglots use very often: shadowing!

You don’t know what shadowing is? It’s a technique that consists in speaking “fluidily” and (almost) at the same time, by saying the same things that you listen to.

It’s good for you to know that there are several ways of practising it and in any case I suggest you do it first only after listening to and then after reading and listening to the audio you want to practise it with.

Here you have some examples of ways of practising shadowing:

1. The “easiest” way is to practise shadowing (I repeat it: aloud) while reading the text with your eyes and listening to the audio at the same time;

2. When you get good at the first method, you can simply close your eyes, listen to the audio and say aloud what you are listening to (almost) at the same time;

3. When you get good with the preceding methods, you can add some “challenges”, for example you can practise shadowing while walking, or while doing some brain gym (as well as all those movements involving both sides of your body: I like to touch my nose with my right hand while touching the right ear with my left hand as fast as I can… I know, you will feel a bit silly (or crazy) while doing it, but I guarantee that it’s very useful. And I bet it won’t be easy to do it for you;-)

If you asked me why you should practise shadowing, I could answer you with what they write at Prudl.

“Our experience as language learners has convinced us that shadowing is a truly effective method. In a nutshell, it consists of mimicking out loud a native speaker. As many of the learner’s senses as possible are involved. Hence, it encourages proper accent formation and accelerates the rate of vocabulary acquisition. In other words, shadowing creates the optimal conditions for your brain to form good habits right from the beginning.”

This could be translated into Italian like this (more or less):

“La nostra esperienza come studenti di lingue [straniere] ci ha convinti che lo shadowing è un metodo veramente efficace. In estrema sintesi, consiste nell’imitare a voce alta un parlante nativo. La maggior parte dei sensi dello studente viene coinvolta. Di conseguenza, incoraggia la corretta formazione dell’accento e accelera la velocità di acquisizione del vocabolario. In altre parole, lo shadowing crea le condizioni ottimali affinché il tuo cervello formi delle abitudini giuste fin dall’inizio.”

good books italian

Now that you know what shadoing is, you’ll just have to start and practise it with the texts that you like the most. You could even start and practise it with my books;-)

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