Updated Italian flashcards for week 1

I’ve updated the flashcards for Teach Yourself Instant Italian, week one: I hadn’t included the flashcard sentences in the deck. Whoops.

This shows you how far I’ve got since the start of the year. In part, the problem is because I don’t have a deadline. The other problem is it’s just so close to Spanish. I’m finding it really hard to keep the two different sets of words apart in my mind: is it siempre or sempre in Italian? That’s the kind of problem I’m having. Maybe I’ll switch over to Welsh, just to try a language that’s really different to Spanish.

Where are the teachers going to come from, Gordon?

Following on from my little rant about Gordon Brown’s new plan to force immigrants to learn English, this particular item of news from Private Eye came to my attention today:

“Since November, immigrants wanting to take the UK’s citizenship tests must be able to demonstrate an ‘acceptable degree’ of skill in the English language. But how are people supposed to learn it?

”An interim report from a study by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education has uncovered ‘enormous problems’ with the availability of English classes for speakers of other languages (ESOL). As demand for the classes has risen (by 65 percent in the past two years), little has been done to boost the number of courses and there is a national shortage of qualified ESOL teachers.

“Many areas have long waiting lists for courses and the inspectorates looking after colleges and adult education services say ESOL is ‘probably the weakest curriculum area’ in the whole learning and skills sector.”

So not only has Gordon come up with a policy that is really just an extension of an existing one, albeit a stupid extension that couldn’t possibly work in practice (how exactly are unemployed immigrants going to be able to afford these English lessons? etc, etc), he’s overlooked the fact that there’s no one to actually teach English anyway. Assuming this isn’t pointless posturing to attract the Daily Mail vote but which he’s never going to actually implement.

It’s his hands on the economy, folks, and soon he’ll be looking after the whole country…

Force immigrants to learn English?

The Beeb is reporting that everyone’s favourite potential PM, Gordon Brown, is trying to win the “psychotically racist” vote by suggesting that not only should all potential immigrants to the UK have to learn English, if they refuse, we should force them to learn it.

Wow. Whose exact benefit is that for? The immigrants? Could be, but why force them if it is? They’ll do it of their own volition, surely.

If it isn’t, who wins from this plan? TEFL teachers and precious few others, that’s who? And how do you force people to learn a language?

“You! What’s that called? Tell me… No? It’s a ”loaf of bread“. Are you going to remember that? Are you? If you don’t get 100 out of 100 on your next vocab quiz, I’m going to send you back to where you came from! Now here are your flashcards.”


But here’s a question: why are we stopping with immigrants to Britain and English? How about people who relocate to other parts of Britain? Should we make Glaswegians who move to the home counties practice a slightly posher accent to make them more intelligible to the sheltered shire classes? Should we force surfers who move down to Newquay to learn Cornish? How about anyone who buys a holiday home in North West Wales being forced to learn Welsh? And let’s not get started on forcing the Northern Irish to learn Gaelic…

Welsh speakers told to breed

Well, it’s one way to get more people to speak Welsh, isn’t it?

Still, given the teen pregnancy rates in Wales, isn’t the advice a bit superfluous? This may sound like a joke, but this conversation really happened to my (Welsh) wife when she was back in Wales just before we got married:

Person: “Oh, you’re getting married then? When’s the baby due?”

My wife: “It’s not”

Person: “Oh there’s posh then!”

More than just parroting?

There’s a parrot called N’kisi that apparently has learnt 950 words. Impressive, huh? He probably knows more by now, actually. I’m not totally convinced by the claims made for him, though, with word fabrication being one of the simplest claims and telepathy being the most extraordinary. If I weren’t for the telepathy bit, I’d be more convinced…

Tom and Katie: whoops

What is it about celebrities? They pick some foreign-sounding name for their kid or get a tattoo in a foreign language, and every time they get it wrong. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes chose to call their baby Suri and guess what? It means nothing like what they thought it meant. Is it really so hard to call someone before making these life-ruining choices? It’s all thoroughly amusing, anyway…

The Umlaut is artistic

Möben, the Manchester-based kitchen appliance maker, should be able to keep its Umlaut according to the Advertising Standards Authority. Apparently, some people thought that they were trying to mislead consumers into thinking they were a German company.

Möben’s stout defence: the Umlaut doesn’t represent anything – it’s artistic.

Do you believe that for even a second? Me, neither. But fair do’s to them. If the most research you’re going to do before buying a product from a company is to check to see if there are accents on its name, you’ve only got yourself to blame if your purchase isn’t as good as you thought it was. Besides, if you’re going to go after Möben, you’re going to have to take down Häagen Dazs as well.