Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

I was quiet sceptical about writing a post to describe my Christmas celebration before reading the comment to my last post, but now that I'm sure there's at least one's going to read me, I can't avoid!

This has been a very lucky Christmas, I had marvellous presents, such as time to reflect on what this Christmas means to me, chance to look into my friend's eyes wishing them a merry Christmas... I've seen my little cousins opening their presents as if there is nothing else they want, I've made some of Christmas presents by myself, and I saw how surprised was who received them, while I was afraid they could consider them too poor as presents...

It has been a Christmas full of joy, and I managed to organize what I usually have to do for this celebration in order to have time enough to do everything! And that was the great present I made to myself! I've seen so many people around me to remember me that I'm so lucky!

I wish all my Christmas could be so full of joy and laughing!

And I wish you are spending great time during this holiday!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

What about Christmas?

I was wondering around the blogosphere, and of course reading many posts about Christmas, when I started thinking about writing my own post about Christmas... Then I realized that I 'm supposed to use English to write in this blog of mine, and I was considering how hard it could be to write down all my thoughts about Christmas (my feelings towards this celebration, what I'm doing for it etc, etc...).

To use a second language to express yourself is not that difficult, if you're not describing the way you feel; then you have to make an effort to find the right words, and it always seems to me that there are no words to translate exactly what you mean, because there are so many shades of meaning you're aware of when you're using your mother tongue, that you inevitably feel uncomfortable translating them!

On the other hand, that forces me to think before start writing, instead of writing whatever comes into my head! Which is of course an advantage for people who read my posts, they could never find a subsequence of words that means almost nothing... I hope!

I know that it has not a lot to do with Christmas, but it was thinking about Christmas that I made this sort of thought! So, I'll write something about the celebration during Christmas Holiday!

Friday, 14 December 2007

Our last activity... or just latest?

Hi guys!

Have you seen Sarah's post? We're going to work hard during Christmas Holiday!!

Anyway, she suggested us to get peer feedback before sending the papers, so... probably it would be useful to know our e-mail addresses!Thinking about it... you can send a comment on this post with your e-mail address, as you now perfectly know I read them before publishing (moderazione dei commenti is active on my blog), so I can read your addresses, then I'll send you an e-mail with our group's e-mail, and then I won't publish your comment, so that I'll be the only one able to read them!

Hopefully it will be easier to do than to explain!

Let me know whether you agree or not!

Saturday, 8 December 2007

My personal learning environment

This idea of environment where you learn is.... amazing! I've never thought of it, but actually I'm learning more from what I do in my everyday life than from the number of lessons I attend, and attended in the last years. I'm not saying that those lessons were of no use to me, rather I spent more time out of those lessons, so it is important to define a Personal Language Environment in order to keep on learning!

Let's start identify my Personal Learning Environment at University: my formal education consists of mainly two kind of language lessons at University, one is normally called 'lettorato', where we are supposed to train our language skill, and then there are Language Lessons in which we reflect on the grammar and its rules.
The first are occasion of speaking, and also writing in English, we did activities such as translation, or peer revision, so you can learn from your mates, you can collect suggestions and you learn also correcting them (we make almost the same mistakes...). Our mother-tongue teachers indicate us the best tools to improve our English even outside the lesson.
The second are the classical idea of an English lesson, where we learn the general rules and how to apply them when we're writing and speaking.
Another important part of my formal education are literature lessons, the aim of these lessons is not to teach us anything about the language, but of course they are a way of learning a lot about the culture of the language we're studying, and considering that, mostly in the final years, our teachers speak in English during the lessons, they are surely a way of improving our listening skill.

Then we can go and see the things I do to improve my English... First of all related to those Literature lessons I was talking about, I read a lot of books, and many of them are in English, for example I read all the seven volumes of Harry Potter in English, and that caused me the impossibility of talking about Harry Potter with anybody who read it in Italian, because many of the names of the characters, and of the places are translated (try and guess how many of my friends read it in English...). Normally I like to read in English when it is the language in which the book is written, I would never read any italian book in another language it would sound too strange to me!

Sometimes I read articles from English newspapers, my favourite is The Independent, because it has an easy site to navigate and it is not as formal as others like The Guardian, or full of rumours like The Sun.
I like listening to the music, and of course many of the songs are in English... I'm not convinced that listening to English songs help you that much to improve your language, but surely you update your knowled
ge because they contain a lot of contractions or informal use of the language!
I'm not forgetting my blog, and all the tools that this first semester provided me, but they are the latest! First of all my blog, where I write once a week to do my homework, but that would be part of my formal education, the thing is that I'm really enjoying this activity, and I started wondering the blogosphere or reading other blogs, and I even subscribed those blogs with Bloglines, so that I track them!
I'm not using so much podcasts, but I'm watching different videos on YouTube and some of them are in English, but that was an activity I did before my latest discoveries on the net, because sometimes I like to watch films in their original language!
Unfortunately I've no great opportunities
to travel, but sometimes I go abroad, and those are the best occasion to test your use of the language, and to improve your ability.
I wish I could test my ability more often!

P.S. my personal computer is... in the hospital now, so I couldn't use my scanner to graphically write my PLE, I'll do it as soon as possible!

Friday, 30 November 2007

Don't judge a site by the cover

Reading the three web pages that Sarah suggested us (1, 2, 3) I realized that the criteria with which I decide which webpages are useful to my research are not strict enough!

The very first thing I value is the lay out, how easy to read and to "handle" it is. That's basically because I don't like to waste my time, and because even though I'm quite skilled at Internet, I'm not exactly an expert, thus I need pages easy to navigate through. But perhaps this is not the only thing to consider...

The other thing I realized is that in the last five years I did very few researches in a library, and many on the Web, without thinking that it is quite different! When you pick up a dictionary, an encyclopedia, or anything similar from a shelf, you're automatically sure that what you're reading is reliable, and you don't need more proofs! But when you open a webpage looking for information, you should ask yourself who's providing you it. And you should also decide what kind of information you need, if you need facts and find opinions... well, it could be a problem when you then go and write what you found out...

Reliability of your sources is a serious matter when you're writing your thesis, or even anything you want to publish on the Web, stating something you don't know where it comes from could create more problems than what you imagine...

What I found interesting in the pages I read about it is that when I have to search some information for a paper or an essay the only place I look in is the Web, and I never ask myself "Where would be a likely place to look?". The other think I never pay attention to is the updating of information, I'd never take anything from an encyclopedia printed in 1990, or at least I'd take it reminding that the information is not particularly updated (which could be of no importance for some matters, or of great importance for others...), but when I open a webpage I never go and see ths kind of think!

There are several things we don't consider properly when we're using the Web, different tools need different reguards...

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Go and see on YouTube

I'm not here to explain what YouTube is! Just try to see if it can be a useful tool to learn English.
Well, I don't know... I spent a lot of time looking for a video (that's why I'm late with my post!!) that could show that YouTube could be useful to learn a language, and I didn't find that much... Anyway it's almost obvious that providing many English videos it can be used to learn a language, but what is the difference with watching a film in its original language? I was looking for a deepest reason to use YouTube instead of a normal dvd...

Well, eventually I found those "Did you Know" video (I'll post one of them...) and I realized that some kind of communication are more effective than other! In this way YouTube can be a great advantage, because when you need to explain something a video can be very impressive (Think about the Web 2.0 video that Sara showed us...). But that's not learning a language, maybe it's teaching...

Well, probably we need to practice a bit more these new tools to understand how to use them properly, so...

Go and see on YouTube!

Why should you learn English?

Really funny!! Don't mind if you don't understand few German words in the beginning... You'll clearly understand all the rest!

Friday, 16 November 2007

Listen and Learn

Before doing our latest activity I had a vague idea of what a podcast is, now I even know how to use it in order to improve my English! I spent a couple of hour navigating and I found many interesting site that provide these files, some were of no interest to me, because the level was for beginner, or the topics were not interesting...

There are several thing you can improve in your language-learning thanks to podcasts, first of all your pronounciation, but you can also enlarge your vocabolary. In one of the sites I visited I found some everyday-life dialogue that could teach me many words of common use in English.

Once you found what you're interested in you can easily download these audio-files, and then it is quite easy to bring them with you wherever you want!

The podcasts I chose are:
Introduction to podcast
Free English Lessons

I chose these because they provide example of everyday life in their dialogue, and also some explanation of particular terms used.

I must confess there is something I don't like that much in all this technology... When you listen to them you suddenly realize that they are somehow "fake", if you see what I mean... The way people speak, it is slowly and clearly, which obviously help you to understand every single words, but which does not resemble a real situation! I mean, nobody speak so slowly! Anyway, to solve this problem, you just might look for an intermediate level podcast, or for something that is not created for learners, but the thing then is to find something interesting...

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Social Bookmarking

That is one of those tools you can obviously say "It is helpful", because it helps you to find quickly exactly what you are looking for. When I look for a particular website or web page I usually go to GOOGLE, but sometimes I spend a lot of time checking in the huge amount of results that google provides, without finding what I was searching. Using, I can see how many people have chosen that site, how they labelled it, and I can read some description of it before even seeing it! I spare a lot of time!

Searching for websites that could help us to learn English, I chose dictionaries and particularly slang dictionaries, because it is something that must be updated continuously, and the web gives you the opportunity to update information, and consequently to find updated information!
Many of my mates chose websites similar to mine, or the same as mine, and that's of course because we're interested in the same kind of things!

Some of course were different, and I particularly appreciate one where you can test your level of English, or another where you can see some typical errors. Serena marked a very "peculiar" web page about Beowulf, I found it strange because I don't relate it immediately with language learning, but of course literature, and culture, are part of it! Laura chose one about quotations, it could be useful when you're translating from Italian to English, if you are supposed to render a particular expression.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

And finally I succeded!!

I spent a lot of time to understand what a feed aggregator is and how to use it (and still now I'm not sure of it!). There are mainly two reasons:
the first is that I didn't attend our last lab lesson;
the secon is that I don't like to read instuctions!

I know what you're thinking, if I don't want to read the instructions properly why am I complaining? But the point is that even when I decided to read the instructions I found some words that had no meaning at all to me!!

Anyway I eventually decided that I couldn't be overwhelmed by a machine, and exploring the site after my registration I managed to do it!!

What is the moral? Next time first read the instructions, then turn on the computer... (but the instructions are on the blog, well, I'll think about it next time!)

Friday, 2 November 2007

Should Halloween be imported to and celebrated in Italy or not?

I cannot stand those little boys and girls going around, shouting in the streets, pretending to know what Halloween is! I know that it could be unpopular as a position, but we're not importing and celebrating Halloween, we're just looking for another excuse to waste some money...

I think that importing tradition is a completely different matter. The reason why a culture usually import someone else's tradition is that two different culture share the same ground (not only physically), and they obviously begin to share part of their culture.

I perfectly understand that those people who came to live in Italy from that Anglo-saxon world that feel Halloween as a tradition continue to celebrate this day! But all those Italians who want to dress strange clothes to resemble someone else should remember that we do have our own traditional celebration of Carnival in Februar!

Friday, 26 October 2007

Two weeks exploring blogosphere...

Two weeks clicking on blue and green words, new windows that showed me what I was looking for, or that showed me something completely different from what I was looking for... I have seen a lot of curious things, and I could not imagine that it could be so... huge?
I found interesting going to see those blogs, and sometimes I left a message, just to say "I've been here, and I like your blog, and I want you to know it..."

What I found extremely difficult is to write something in my blog! Before deciding what I could put in, I thought "would it be interesting, or is it just boring, and nobody would read it?!". That is probably because I did not decide myself to make a blog, and so I have not a precise idea of what I want it to be (for example I think I will change the title as soon as I found something striking and not banal...).

As a language activity I think that could be helpful! Going around to read something from native speakers is surely a good way to improve your vocabolary, but of course you should be careful, there are many wrong or "unpolite" uses of the language you should avoid rather than learn!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

welcome to my blog!

Hello everybody!

This is my very first blog, and my very first welcome message!
Our task in the English course this year is to create our blog, and that is a completely new experience for me. I like navigate the Web, but that's the first experience of a blog I do!
I've been looking around in other student's blog to see what they wrote, or how they organized their blog...

There are some websites I visit very often: one is obviously that of the university (, I have to check information about the courses and so on; then I often go to read some news on the website of The Independent, I like reading some news from a different point of view, and sometimes it is interesting to read how other countries see Italy.

The picture I chose represent one of my great passion: I like mountain, and most of all I like to go walking in summer time when there is no, or little, snow. When you've been walking for an hour or more the way you look at the landscape is different...