This IAP I took Italian I, and it was basically awesome.
You might be wondering about MIT’s language department, considering that….it’s MIT, and languages don’t involve math and all. First of all, I can reassure you that MIT does have humanities classes, and a lot of them are pretty awesome. In fact, MIT has one of the best political science programs around. For example.
But this entry is about languages. Unfortunately, MIT’s selection is pretty limited, but the classes are still great. (We only offer Chinese, ESL, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, and only one level of Italian is offered, and only over IAP.)
The very first humanities course I took here my first semester was 21F.716, Introduction to Contemporary Hispanic Literature. We read a different book each week (Bodas de Sangre, La Nada Cotidiana, La Plaza del Diamante, El Beso de la Mujer Arana, and a few others) and discussed them. As you might have figured out, the class was held entirely in Spanish, so it was pretty advanced, but I enjoyed it a lot.
Knowing Spanish has made learning Italian both easier and more difficult at the same time. It’s easier because Romance languages have a lot of similarities, so I’m already used to conjugating verbs and making nouns and adjectives agree in number and gender. Plus, Italian and Spanish are even more similar than almost any other pair of Romance languages. There are words which are identical except for the spelling, conjugations which differ only slightly, and very similar idiomatic expressions. At the same time, this makes it difficult: because a lot of things are so close to each other that I often forget which is which. A perfect example: the word “and” in Spanish is “y” (pronounced like a long E), while the word “and” in Italian is “e” (pronounced like a long A). You can imagine that I mix these two up quite a lot. Throw in de/di, se/si, and so on, and you can see how this might get annoying.
But, the class was still awesome, and I will hopefully be using my knowledge when I visit Rome for 2 days this spring. Or, maybe I should say, hopefully I learned enough to get around Rome for 2 days this spring….
Anyway, like all good language courses, there is a listening component. And like all introductory language courses, there’s that awful video series of 2 people (one male, one female) traveling around the country where the language originated making overly dramatic but grammatically simple statements. But we didn’t use these materials in class- they were part of our homework assignments. So how did we access them?
The LLARC- the Language Learning and Resource Center is a familiar place to all who study language at MIT.
Right outside the LLARC there’s a lounge, which is obviously cool because it has laser discs on the walls. I mean, come on. That’s awesome. Also, there’s a television which is always set to some foreign language channel or another.
But by far the most awesome and class favorite video was Lunapop’s 50 Special. It’s about a guy who wants a Vespa. It’s amazing. Watch it once, and you’ll be hooked. Promise. I mean, it’s Italian pop music! What’s not to love?
Who ever knew YouTube would be such a great learning tool? (Don’t tell Snively. He’d never see the sun again.)
Plus, completely not related: This is totally going to start up a huge gender/affirmative action war, but dude. Hilarious.