Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Teaching English...

Foto from Flickr

…is a serious matter! I’m not only a language learner, of course, I’m also a language teacher. I said ‘of course’ because when you start to study at University, people start to have a different consideration of your knowledge. You become somehow an “authority” and when they need help in your field, they come and ask.

But studying English at Uni you understand that rules work a bit differently from what your teachers used to tell you at liceo. And here starts your dissidio interiore. You want your students to be part of this truth that has been revealed to you. You want to tell them the whole story. For instance, you don’t want to tell them that ‘some’ is used in affirmative sentence, while any in negative and interrogative, but you can’t provide them an alternative rule… You don’t want to show them schemes for MODALITY where it is said that can translate the Italian ‘potere’ and HAVE TO is used when it is not possible to conjugate must and so on.

But if you try to do something like this your students will start to look suspiciously at you. No more rules in English? And what about all the things that have been said so far?! What about books written that way?! Those books that provide you few simple rules to use and understand English?! And you, as a teacher, give up and provide them those schemes and rules that make them feel safe (because that’s what their asking you).

Sometimes, you give them a different example, nevertheless, an exception that could convey to what you know is the4 whole story! Who knows, it could even create some… doubts…

Saturday, 14 March 2009

How do you usually judge a book?

I must confess I do judge books by the cover, if it somehow strikes me, I'll give it a chance. When I say cover I mean the title, or the colours of the cover, or...

The author. I usually give a second chance to someone who told me a beautiful story. (but no more than a second chance, when it disappointed me...).

Then I start to handle the book, and if it smells of love story, I'll give up. I read love stories, but not when that's the main point. Love ( and death and other few topics) occurs in everybody's lives, so you don't need to consider it the main point when you're telling a story. Have you ever read a story without finding love in it?!

So far the book is in my hands...I read something about the author (if I don't know him/her) and then I read the back, usually there is a summary of the story, or something like that (the italian "quarta di copertina"). And that's the final phase, the most critical, now there must be something that strikes me, that intrigues me...
And, of course there is a very final thing that I consider, but it is just a little thing: the price. Of course I don't give up because of money (sometimes I can look for another edition), but when I didn't work, and consequently I had no money of my own, I used to go to bookshop, decide what I wanted and then I went to the city library to take it. This system never failed, and if the book was good I used to buy it.

I've been disappointed very few times by this method that I could say it is almost scientific!
And you?! How do you usually judge a book?!

The photo has very little to do with the post, but last time I went to London, instead of the city I visited Notting Hill and Portobello road... and of course I could not but snap a pic of the very famous travel book shop!!!