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    • A story, many stories at the Polyglot Gathering 2016 16 maggio 2016
      If you want to read this article in Italian, go here: https://goo.gl/Xc5Mo4 As you are reading the following text, from any device you’re doing it, and regardless of your background, I invite you to do a little experiment with me. Imagine for a moment that you are in a beautiful place. What is it? Think about it [...]
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A story, many stories at the Polyglot Gathering 2016

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 16 maggio 2016

If you want to read this article in Italian, go here: https://goo.gl/Xc5Mo4

As you are reading the following text, from any device you’re doing it, and regardless of your background, I invite you to do a little experiment with me.

Imagine for a moment that you are in a beautiful place. What is it? Think about it for a moment. It’s evening. The temperature is perfect for you. There are people with whom you really love spending your time. Maybe there’s a fire in the center and then one of these people stands up and begins saying: “Once upon a time …”

How would you feel as you are right here to listen to this story? But what story?
Or what stories?

It’s been some time that I dwell on storytelling, experiencing a bit here and a little there (if you have followed me last winter, you may know that I wrote a story about Francesca,  who learns to speak a language using a special method, and that I am collecting and mapping different stories).

The first story I could tell you could be about a person, like you, like me, coming from a big city or a small town (maybe Tropea, why not?), who is looking for inspiration in his learning and teaching (foreign languages) path. He is in a stalemate, actually is losing a bit of motivation, he’s less inspired to continue learning German, or to decide once and for all to speak Spanish and French. So, this person is in this situation when one of his dear former students (perhaps this is Conor Clyne), who has now become a friend, tells him about a special event, with the participation of all these people who love to learn, talk and share their passion for languages ​​and foreign cultures.

This person (come on, let’s call Antonio :-)) decided, after much reflection, excuses and second thoughts, to participate in this event and to share with others some of the ideas that he’s experimenting on himself and his students (guided imagery and storytelling). He gets ready to leave not knowing what it will be, what he will face. He takes a plane (maybe more than one) and reaches  a beautiful German city: Berlin.

The unavoidable Alberto

The inevitable and very nice Alberto Arrighini of italianoautomatico.com. Thanks to Dragoş for the photo.

Here Antonio can discover other stories, such as the one of Lydia, who realized that everyone has their favorite way to learn languages, and many, among those who are successful in language learning, use  a different method than the others.

The presentation of Lydia. Thanks to those who took the photo.

The presentation of Lydia. Thanks to those who took the picture.

There are those who learn quickly, there are those who would like to learn more quickly, and those who talk about slow learning, like Caeryc and Santiago, who spoke in multiple languages, managing to involve even those who do not speak and understand these languages, getting even the young Antonio (in heart and spirit :-)) to get moved.  There is also a very young man (Dragoş Luca) who manages to speak publicly in English about something he cares very much, letting a lot of people reflect about the human implications of being able to speak several foreign languages:  knowing the language spoken by a people different from ours can help us understand its culture, maybe so different from ours, can allow us to overcome the barriers (including the walls) and prejudices that each of us can also find within himself.

Along with Dragoş Luca. Thanks to those who took the photo.

Along with Dragoş Luca. Thanks to those who took the photo.

There are so many experiences, techniques, languages ​​that are shared at this event, that each participant is able to enrich himself in the heart, mind and spirit.

SHARING. This is what everyone (even Antonio) can breathe in the air during this event.

Sharing thoughts.
Life stories.

In order to learn, to teach, to live fully one or more foreign languages ​​in the most natural and possible way. Again, for the second year in a row.

Thanks to Dragoş and the people who attended his (Dragoş’s) presentation, Antonio was able to find out that in some cultures it is a grave offense to touch the others on the head, because they consider that it’s in the head that the soul resides. Thanks to Caeryc and Santiago he got moved while  listening to a song in Russian, although he could not understand the words: he later discovered that the song, originally sung by children, was about that age of passage that is the end of childhood. Thanks to Lydia he realized even more that each person learns in his own way, that sometimes maybe it’s better not to teach but to make them learn.

And it’s thanks to Conor, the organizers, and all participants (even those who have not been mentioned in this article) that this young man returns home from a wonderful experience that allowed him to learn, grow, socialize (he who considers himself a “ambiverse” that is a something between introverted and extroverted, as he was able to discover thanks to Julia Barnickle and Alexander Ferguson), have fun, open his mind, tell many stories (specifically the story of the Prince Swordsman, the third part of Francesca’s story, and two other stories that had not initially planned to tell: the happiest man in the world and the Ugly Servant; after all, his presentation was entitled: Storytelling in Language Learning), create many mind maps, and who knows how many other things that he has still not realized.

Guarda le mie slide

Guarda le mie slide

Look at the slide of my presentation: Storytelling in Language Learning

Look at my visual notes

Look at my visual notes

Look at my mind maps and my visual notes: Mind maps created by Antonio Libertine at the Polyglot Gathering 2016

And so this journey ends. Antonio can return to his home, not far from his beloved, beautiful and contradictory Tropea, enriched with experiences, inspiration and enthusiasm, ready to live experiences that may transform him every day, knowing that after living them, he may rest for a while ‘and then start all over again. Now he knows that sometimes you have to accept the call and embark on a new path, knowing that it is always good to “relax and enjoy the journey!”

And the person who tells the story in front of the fire, on this starry night while you are in the company of your special people and you blissfully listened to his stories, he just concludes, paraphrasing Steven Moffat, simply with this:

Remember that in the end we are all stories

Un abbraccio e un caro saluto da Antonio

P.S.: Don’t you think it’s time to read in Italian? https://goo.gl/Xc5Mo4

P.S.: Feel free to reread the article and follow the links… There are tons of resoursces for you to speak Italian better and better!

P.S.3: Here are some impromptu videos at the Gathering 2016. Have fun!


Pubblicato in inspirational | Nessun commento »

How you can use mind maps to speak Italian better and better?

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 28 marzo 2016

If you want to read this article in Italian, go here:  https://goo.gl/9o6uUa

Imagine this scene. You are in a classroom, the teacher is talking and explaining  his subject to you (history, geography, mathematics, whatever). He’s trying to make you understand what he is talking about and you… are doing doodles and scribbles. At least that’s what an external observer can think of what you are doing. Of course, the teacher catches you, and … How does he react? And you, how would you react, seeing me create mind maps?

Mind maps have become part of my learning style. Sometimes I use them more, sometimes less. Obviously, there are times when I can use them and others when I don’t use them because they are not the right tool for that learning situation. And you? Do you use them? And first of all, you know what they are? If you do not, I invite you to take a quick look at this short page in Italian.

Now, assuming that your answer to my last question is yes, you should know that creating mind maps while listening to something, it is a very active way to fully acquire and understand what you’re listening to, even and especially if you are doing that in a foreign language (yes, also in Italian). In fact, by creating mind maps you can take notes about what you’re listening to and, by doing that, you’ll improve your comprehension skills.
And you can go even further, because you can also use mind maps to actively produce language, to speak Italian better and better, or any other language you’re learning now.
During the last months I enjoyed creating different mind maps.
I created some of them live while taking notes at an event called Hospitality rest@rt. And what you can see now are the ones that I created live during that event.

Although some people - who were there at that moment and were watching me! - were surprised, considering them even spectacular, for me they are mere scribbles, but they allowed me to fully understand what the speakers were talking about. Remember that mind maps don’t have to be a masterpiece, you do not have to be an artist to create them… The important thing is that you make them!

Creating mind maps in real-time can be difficult, sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t, but if you use the Internet, and watch some video courses, you’ll have an extra advantage because you can pause the video and create your own mind map. The following mind maps are (a couple of) the ones that I have recently created, while attending a course on storytelling (Intro to storytelling Kevin Allison).

It was a very interesting course, which taught me a lot and that I enjoyed mindmapping. Of course, here I had the opportunity to pause the video and to add a few extra touches.

Let’s go deeper now.


You can use them in different ways.

If you’re just starting to learn a language, you can use them to create associations between words, especially between words that are suitable to be categorized. Think for example about the restaurant vocabulary. You can start from the center, drawing (a symbol for) your favorite restaurant and then start the main branches (antipasti, primi piatti, contorni, dolci, for example) and then from each main branch can start its sub-branches.

If you have already reached the intermediate level you’ll have at least three different ways (or even more if you can think of more:-).

1) You can create one while receiving the input, that is, while listening to something new and interesting. This way, you’ll actively commit yourself to understand what you’re listening to, as you are drawing, writing keywords, using colors to turn on your creative side. By doing that, beside being actively involved, you’ll have the opportunity to indirectly acquire the words and expressions used in the audio you are listening to.

2) Once you have created a map, you can talk aloud while watching the map. I did it for my students of Italian in this video, while telling the story of the ugly servant.


3) If you know well the text or audio you’ve read or heard before or the mental map that you had previosly created, you can talk  aloud, in the language you’re learning at the same time as you’re drawing a new map. This is a quite complex exercise - una piccola grande sfida (a little big challenge) - which helps you be involved with all of your senses, because you’re writing, you’re talking, you are even listening to your voice and you’re seeing what you are creating. I did this in my first experiment here:


The teacher can yell at you and tell you to stop making your doodles, your mind maps (and this actually happened to me at a training course I attended a couple of years ago).

Or, if he knows that what you are doing will help you absorb even at a deeper level what he wants to teach to you, he can be happy for what you’re doing.

I would be.


P.s.1: Don’t you think it’s time for you to read in Italian? Go here:  https://goo.gl/9o6uUa

P.s.2: If you like this article, share it with those you care about! And if you would like to see me in the video, I am here (the video is in Italian and subtitles in Italian and English are available):


Pubblicato in The course | 1 Commento »

Is Using a stick better than using a carrot to learn Italian?

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 16 marzo 2015

Imagine for a moment you had a teacher who uses a stick to teach… I know that this kind of teacher is anachronistic and that he wouldn’t last for long nowadays (he would be probably reported at the first opportunity), but imagine you had a teacher making you feel bad for not being able to learn his subject, insulting you and letting you feel hate against him and the subject… Imagine now that he is an Italian teacher, one of the teachers who still makes lessons of only grammar, grammar, grammar. Pretend that he even wants you to learn only with his method.

Have you done it? Have you imagined this kind of teacher? Now, do you think you would still be motivated in learning Italian or any other thing this imaginary teacher is trying to teach you in such a bad way?

Answer the last question and then use your imagination to “create” a a teacher who is really interested in your success, someone who puts you at the center of the learning process, someone who makes you feel at ease, someone who teaches you how to learn the foreign language and to rediscover the pleasure and the ability to learn on your own.

Between the two imaginary teachers, Which one do you prefer?

Keep in mind that the second teacher is not the kind of teacher who just praises you for the sake of praising. He gives you feedback… He can give you feedback the sandwich way; in other words he would be telling you what he liked about what you did (the bread), telling you what you should be improving (the ham), and finally giving you an overall assessment of your performance (some more bread). This teacher may, if you prefer, give you straight feedback (it depends on you). Or he can even use another way of giving you feedback, that is: telling you what he liked and what you should improve (he would tell you something like: “ecco quello che mi è piaciuto ed ecco quello che dovresti migliorare”). This second teacher would propose you new ways of learning, such as guided imagery, brain gym, shadowing, unusual and fun exercises, he may even use comics books (he has done it for ages), and it’s fun to be with him.

You may be thinking: come on, there’s no such a teacher! Maybe, but keep on playing with  me and you’ll find out where I want to get at.

I’ll repeat the question I asked you before, but asking it in a different way.

With which of the two teacher do you think you will learn a foreign language in a more effective way?

teachers to speak italian magically

I’ll tell you what I think: the first kind of teacher doesn’t do anything but increasing the affective filter of which Stephen Krashen, the famous linguist, talked about:

“The best situations for language acquisition seem to be those which encourage lower anxiety levels”

which in Italian could be translated as follows:

“Le situazioni migliori per l’acquisizione di una lingua sembrano essere quelle che incoraggiano bassi livelli di ansia”

In the light of the latest research this theory has been confirmed by the fact that, when a situation is perceived as stressful or generating anxiety, it activates the fight or flight system. When one’s nervous or stressed, he or she enters in the condition of “combatti o fuggi” that can happen when a lion is running toward us. The possible reactions in this circumstance are two: or we are so strong and bold to fight against the lion (fight), or we are so quick to to run away (flight). Surely it’s not the best situation to learn (consciously) or acquire (unconsciously) a foreign language, don’t you think? Learning and acquiring a language are two sides of learning that can be fun, it’s not about a lion wanting to tear you to pieces or a teacher scaring you! So, I strongly advise you to avoid the fist kind of teacher I wrote about like the plague, if you really want to reach your goal of speaking Italian very well!

As I write this article a story comes to my mind. It’s a story that I listened to somewhere and I’d love to retell you in a different way…

There was this teacher who managed to teach in a whole form, communicating at several levels and he had this student of him, who had been his apprentice for several years. The student couldn’t afford to pay for the lessons, but the teacher was happy to help him out giving him free lessons, letting him spend time with him, to absorb the skills that he had mastered so well.

One day, he even gave the student a gift: the handbook of the masterful teacher, to let him know that the time to separate had come. The student thanked him and accepted the wonderful gift. At that point the teacher asked: “How are you going to repay me? The student stammered: he didn’t know what to say… And the teacher began telling him a story: his own story.

He was a young boy who had health issues, couldn’t work manually, and couldn’t even pay for his studies. So he went and asked help from a wealthy relative of his. His aunt was eager to help him. She paid for his studies with a great teacher and he managed to learn everything he could learn. After doing it, he got back to his aunt to thank her and let her know about his success. The aunt asked him this question:”How are you going to repay me?” He stammered like the student did, but then his aunt told him: You can either repay me with money or… you can became a great teacher!”

The teacher, with a moving tear, chose the second option.

I don’t know why this story came to my mind, what I know is that I also, like the main characters of this story, chose the second option, knowing that this means that I will keep enjoying  a process of constant improvement, day after day, knowing that there are things of my acting as a teacher of Italian for foreigner that I can and want to improve, moving daily toward the direction of the second kind of teacher I talked about today.

I am telling you this because I am really convinced that anyone who is in the teaching position, whether they are coaches, doctors, or humble “teachers”, should enrich and empower all the people they meet during their lives. And this is worth for all people we meet, even through the pages of a blog, letting them feel better and.. so, it’s important that you who are reading me, feel better and more responsible of what you are or aren’t able to do, trusting that if you apply yourself constantly, you’ll succeed, taking a step at a time!

Good, you have read all the article! Thanks for doing it, but, now, “How are you going to repay me?”

Perhaps you are smiling now, or you are stammering like the characters in the story I told you. In any case, know that you can repay me in two ways: you can either repay me with money, or… you can become better and better in what you do, even Italian!


P.s.: this is an adaptation of a former article of mine, published in Italian here. Enjoy!

Pubblicato in inspirational | Nessun commento »


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