FAST Italian is what you need to prepare for your trip!
The course shows you how to communicate in the most relevant situations.
In Volume One you are taught how to navigate through the airport, the exchange office, the hotel, taxis, sightseeing, appointments at the embassy, stores and restaurants. Volume Two explores situations at the office, at the cafe, dining with an Italian family, an invitation, hiring help, talking about a trip, emergency calls, car problems, renting a car, stops at the gas station, and providing information. Lessons include cultural notes, dialogues, exercises, vocabulary, language usage notes, additional vocabulary, and listening comprehension. The Digital Edition comes with MP3 audio files (equivalent to eight CDs) and a copy of the text in PDF format (equivalent to one book).
The Italian Familiarization and Short-term Training Course (FAST) consists of thirty lessons that have been prepared with accompanying audio recordings. The Italian FAST course is designed as a survival language course with emphasis on developing the necessary language skills to handle the most frequent situations encountered while traveling in Italy. Instead of a structured, grammatically-sequenced set of lessons, the course stresses communication in everyday practical situations of a social, logistical and workplace nature.
The course is divided into two volumes comprising 30 lessons, plus a preliminary lesson before lesson 1. Topics covered in volume 1 are: at the airport, at the exchange office, at the hotel, going by taxi, getting around, at the embassy, shopping for clothes, and eating out. Topics covered in volume 2 are: at the office, at the cafe, dining with an Italian family, an invitation, hiring help, talking about a trip, emergency calls, car problems, renting a car/at the gas station, and providing information. The learning activities for most lessons are: cultural notes, dialogues, exercises, vocabulary, language usage notes, additional vocabulary, and listening comprehension.
Students are urged to use whatever language they have at their disposal without being unduly preoccupied with grammatical accuracy. They should make this effort even in situations in which they are exposed to practical language considerably above their level. They should remember that they must learn to cope with such language but not reproduce it.
The method underlying these lessons is guided imitation, and the aim is automaticity. Language learning is over-learning. Through memorization of whole utterances, and substitution within and manipulation of these utterances, a student achieves the fluency and automaticity that are necessary for control of a language. Language learning involves acquiring a new set of habits, and these habits must become automatic. Just as the experienced driver performs the mechanics of driving unconsciously - turning on the engine, shifting gears, applying the brakes, etc. - and concentrates on where they are going, so the fluent speaker of a language is concerned with what they are saying rather than the mechanics of how they are saying it.
The student should note the following general suggestions and warnings:
Before Lesson I, one should study three important sections:
1. Lesson Introduction
2. Before We Begin (a section dealing with Spelling - Pronunciation features and useful classroom expressions)
3. Preliminary Lesson (greetings and salutations)
Interspersed among lessons are:
(a) useful information about the different administrative regions of Italy (from lessons 1 through 20)
(b) recipes of regional Italian dishes (from lessons 21 through 30)
Additional information is provided in appendices following Lesson 30:
Appendix A - Grammatical Tables
Appendix B - Answers to Reading Exercises
Appendix C - Household Expressions
Appendix D - Other Information
Following the appendices are:
Index A - Language/Usage Notes
Index B - Glossary for Recipes
The following steps are set out one by one for the sake of clarity. The order given is the recommended sequence for having students obtain the language skills and confidence they need to deal with in a given situation. In class, of course, things do not always go so smoothly - nor should they.
It is important that the basic order of events be followed. Inverting the order, or skipping steps, will seriously diminish the pay-off to the lesson. Self-confidence is the ultimate goal of a FAST course. How the student comes to the language is as important as how much language is learned. The sequence indicated in the steps below has proved successful at the Foreign Service Institute. Students find this approach more natural, less arduous, and at least as productive as other approaches - it is worth trying.
Prior to study, it has been found beneficial to give students a chance to become familiar with the new lesson. If the new lesson has Cultural Notes, they should be read as informational background first. Then, with a sample dialog on recordings to listen to, students "get acquainted" with the new situation and the new language they will be studying. Although the term "get acquainted" means different things to different people, it should, at a minimum, include listening to the dialog, understanding what is being said, and reading the language-usage notes.
Notice that the native speaker's part in the dialog is often somewhat fuller and richer than the American's part. This has been purposely done since students will be expected to interact with native speakers in conversations in which the latter use a level of speech higher than theirs and one which needs only to be understood rather than repeated.
Words and phrases are easier to understand and more easily recalled if they are learned in a "use" context The setting described in this section will help students imagine where, when and with whom they will use the language they are about to study. Students take a moment to read the description in this section silently.
Now with books closed, the student listens to the dialog. If they have not had a chance to do the Preliminary Step, they should try to guess what is going on. The student should listen for familiar-sounding words, trying to relate them to one another in a meaningful way. Eventually, the goal is to find out the answer to the following questions: What is the dialog about? What is the American trying to do? Do they succeed? Does the native speaker understand? What is the native speaker doing ? How are they reacting ? After the first time, the student may listen to the recordings as many times as needed, still with books closed.
Many students learn well by sight.
If the Preliminary Step was not done, the recording is played again, this time with students looking at the dialog as they listen. After this listening session, students may try to guess at the meaning of some of the new items. Also, they may be made aware of 1) cognates that have the same origin as English words and which resemble the latter in spelling and/or pronunciation and 2) contextual clues.
In each of the "Fill in the Blanks" exercises, the student hears the dialog one sentence at a time. After each sentence, the student writes in as best they can however many of the missing words they can remember. The purpose of these exercises is to help students begin to "fix" the language in their minds. Whatever blanks remain may be filled by redoing these exercises again at a later time. Afterwards, students may check the spelling by looking at the printed dialog.
Vocabulary - When an instructor is present, they will pronounce each of the items listed, with the student (s) repeating, always paying attention to the English translations given. After this repetition, the instructor pronounces each item again, but this time students are called upon to repeat individually. Then the instructor selects Italian words at random and asks for translations. Afterward, as a memory exercise, the instructor asks students to cover the Italian side and translate the various items selected at random, following the instructor's oral numerical cue.
Language - Usage Notes - After working with the vocabulary items, if the Preliminary Step was not done, students study the notes on grammar.
Additional Vocabulary - This section can be worked on if time and interest warrant it.
Pronunciation Practice - With book closed, the student repeats the American's lines after the recording.
Restricted Rehearsal - If an instructor is present, taking the part of the Italian, the instructor enacts the original dialog with each student; otherwise the student may use the recordings. This activity continues until students feel comfortable doing it and they can do it fairly easily. It is important that roles not be reversed.
Working with the Language - This section consists of various sets of stimulus-response items that are designed to illustrate certain grammatical patterns. Ideally, each exercise is to be done in the following manner:
Variants - If an instructor is present, students hear variants of the Italian's lines as read by the instructor. These variants may differ in meaning from those of the base dialog lines. Students guess at their meaning with the instructor's help. Then students enact the dialog with their instructor, who will be using these variants wherever possible.
Variants Requiring Different Responses - Students now hear other variants of the Italian's lines. These variants require different responses. Again, students guess at their meaning with the instructor's help. Then students repeat the possible responses after their instructor. Finally, students enact the dialog, with their instructor using the new lines wherever possible, and themselves using the possible responses accordingly. Note: The lines of the dialog to which the variants refer are always indicated by a number (e.g., line 7).
Role Play - When an instructor is present, at this point, further role-playing with variations takes place, with instructor and students free to use variant lines or whatever fits the role-playing situation.
Interpreter Situation - Students practice interpreting back and forth between Italian and English. One at a time, students play the part of the interpreter. With book closed, the interpreter puts into English what speaker A (the instructor) says and into Italian what speaker B (another student) says. Note: If there is only one student in class, s/he plays the part of the interpreter with book open, but the Italian side covered. The interpreter puts into English what speakerA (the instructor) says and into Italian what imaginary speaker B says (i.e., what is on the printed page).
Readings - This section presents a reading, sometimes only in recorded form for listening-comprehension purposes and sometimes in written form for other purposes. The readings occur in a fixed sequence for each set of six lessons, as follows:
Listening Comprehension - Students hear a narrative once, after which they do an English multiple choice-exercise based on the narrative. Finally, they check their answers using Appendix B.
Reading for Pronunciation - Students look at the written text while listening to the narrative read by the recording. Then they take turns reading it aloud, trying to imitate the model's pronunciation, intonation, and rhythm.
Reading for Content - Students study the entire text for a few minutes, after which they do an English true-or-false exercise based on the narrative. Finally, they check their answers using Appendix B.
Reading and Translation - Students study the text for a few minutes, trying not to be blocked by unfamiliar items. Then they answer questions based on the reading. At this point, students take turns translating the sentences into English. Finally, with books closed, students retell the story in their own words.
Everything that has happened so far has been aimed at helping the student learn to do some new things with the language. It all leads to this critical step, where he or she applys what they have learned to other situations. For the first time in the lesson, the communication becomes real. Depending on the content of the lesson, students engage in various activities which call upon the language they have learned. They may ask the instructor questions, or provide the instructor with some information, or set up a situation that could involve them in doing the kinds of things they practiced during the lesson.
Except for a role-playing situation, the information exchanged should be real information, not imaginary. Neither the instructor nor the students should know what the other will say. However, if a question is about personal history, the answerer may provide some real information - or make up an answer. The reality from which this information is drawn may be world geography, practical or cultural information, personal history or preferences, or something else. The object is to leave students with the feeling that the lesson has done more than help them swallow one more chunk of language. It has enabled them to do something worthwhile.