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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Sorry to beat to death the topic of the Ipod Touch and Iphones -- I know that they are not the "be all and end all" of mobile devices, but I know that a lot of people have them so it's why the focus is on that (also, I have an Ipod Touch). So, if you know of other mobile devices that use some cool apps that you think might be useful for improving and learning Italian, let me know so that we can let others know.

With that being said...

I want to bring everyone's attention to one of my favorite apps, ooTunes. ooTunes is a great app that contain over 15,000 radio stations from all over the world. The great thing about this app is that it's reliable, and it works! So many apps in the Itunes store have disappointed, at least in the area of transmitting Italian radio station reliably. You know much of a fan I am of practicing your listening and listening comprehensions skills in Italian. Radio is a great way to do this for many reasons, the most important being is that the Italian spoken will introduce you to a lot of words and expressions as well as get you used to hearing how Italian sounds outside the classroom. Using apps like ooTunes is a great way to connect with Italian content that is current and contemporary.

In a classroom setting, the Italian spoken is not often spontaneous. Listening to the radio with ooTunes (or your favorite radio/listening app) can help your ear process Italian as you might encounter it on the street or while meeting with friends. It's real, it's live, and it's a great way to train yourself. Remember, the point is not to translate every word that is being said but to understand what is being said. It's okay that you don't know every word or every other word. As you listen, pick out the words and phrases you know, and you will see over time that as you practice listening, the words you already know will register immediately allowing you to focus on the words you don't know which will help you understand what is being said. The best part is that there are radio programs and stations for all tastes, from sports to politics to cooking and current events.

ooTunes has a huge list of Italian radio stations! The Rai family of stations, Radio 24, Radio Italia and a host of others are listed, and I'm sure that you'll find many more that you weren't even aware of. You can also search and sort geographically, too, which helps in sorting through the stations. If you enjoy radio, then you can even listen to stations in your home country and around the world, too! There's also a great "buffer bar" that shows you the strength of the connection, and how well the signal is buffering. You can also save your favorite stations, use the app as an alarm clock, record your steam for playback later and a host of other options.

If you see a station that is not listed, send them an email and let them know. They have great customer service and respond pretty quickly to questions.

At only $4.99, you can't really go wrong with this app!

All opinions expressed in this post and about this app are my own.
I was not paid or compensated for my opinions by any party.
Any and all views and opinions that are expressed are my own and
are based on my own experiences.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Improve Your Italian With "Stitcher"

The past two weeks, I've been on vacation, so I've had a lot of free time on my hands to surf the net and fiddle with my Ipod Touch. The other day I looked at it and realized that I didn't have many applications on it - since I use it basically for checking email and listening to music and podcasts. While browsing through the App Store on Itunes, I stumbled across "Stitcher".

I was immediately intrigued and struck by usefulness and potential of the application. I became even more excited about the app when I saw that they also had a desktop version that you can play straight through your browser that syncs up with your app, so as you favorite items in the app, they appear in the desktop browser version, and vice versa.

If you're a frequent reader to my blog(s), you know how much I rate podcasts in learning Italian. For many of us who don't have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in Italy, podcasts can be the next best thing. While at work, doing household chores, shopping, driving around in you car, heading to work in the morning...there's always time to listen to a podcast or two, and listening to the language is important in understanding other, making yourself understood, understanding the grammar and building your vocabulary.

So what does Stitcher do? Stitcher is a very clever podcast aggregator. String together a dozen or so of your favorite podcasts, and you've got yourself you're very own custom made radio station. Each day, the content is refreshed so you don't have to remember to download anything -- it's always "on", either using your Ipod Touch, Iphone, Computer or other portable device (they support many others). As the FAQ on Stitcher says:
Stitcher is your source for portable and personalized news and talk internet radio. From business to tech news, from politics to comedy, we “stitch” the content you want into personalized, always-current stations that you can easily listen to on your iPhone or computer. Each day, the latest segments stream to you automatically, without you having to manually refresh anything. Stitcher lets you hear your world anywhere, anytime, on the go.
I searched for about a dozen podcasts and found all but one that I regularly listen to. I sent them an email and asked them to add it, and the next afternoon, they emailed me back and told me that it was now there! Wow!

One drawback that I haven't been able to work around is for podcasts that update more than once per day, for example Repubblica TV Audio Podcast -- the only podcast that ever displays is the Newsroom podcast. Perhaps they will address this in future updates. Apart from that, I think that it has exciting possibilities, and it's a great way to keep current with Italian news and programs but also with your language listening skills.