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User guide

Real Italian may sound fast
Understanding spoken Italian
Throughout La Mappa Misteriosa you'll hear Italian spoken at different paces:
1. The actors in the dramatic scenes perform at typical native speed, but take care to speak clearly during key learning scenes
2. The real people, such as the shop assistants or the waiters, play themselves in their everyday jobs. They speak at their usual pace, which may sound fast and unclear to a beginner, but you have the opportunity to replay and, eventually, develop the skill to understand them. This will stand you in good stead when you interact with native Italian speakers
3. The audio icons will allow you to replay key words and phrases. They are spoken slowly and clearly to help you learn them
Video player guide
Video player
1. The green scene bar allows you to skip to or go back over individual scenes. Hover your cursor on the round scene markers to reveal the scene title and select to go there. The vertical lines mark the interactive moments. To skip between these use the arrow icons either side of the scene bar
2. Skip control: click to jump forward one scene
Broadband connection
Interactive learning
As the episode plays, key words and phrases will appear on the right of the video. You can listen again to these words and phrases and see a translation. Sometimes you will be asked to choose an answer or say something out loud.

Click on the question mark icon along the top green bar for more specific instructions about what to do in each interactive situation.
You can turn subtitles on and off, and switch between English and Italian, by selecting the S along the bottom of the video screen. Please note that you may notice a small delay when switching between languages while the episode is playing.

The English isn't always a word-for-word direct translation. For example, the word order may be different in each language. Some expressions just don't translate, so an equivalent in the other language is used.

Due to current technical limitations, accented characters don't display in the Italian subtitles. When the available technology does not allow special characters, it's acceptable in Italian to use an apostrophe next to the relevant vowel, as a substitution for the missing accent. However, throughout the rest of the site, we've used the appropriate characters which you should use when writing. For accented character keyboard shortcuts, please see Type Italian Characters (external website).

As this is a beginners' course, the more advanced Italian isn't explained, just translated. If you're learning the language from scratch, you may want to use the Italian subtitles to get a feel for the language at a higher level. If you already know some Italian, you may find them useful for picking up new expressions.

Lei, La, Le with an initial capital
In Italian these words are used in certain contexts with the meaning of 'you' when addressing someone formally. In this case they're written with an initial capital even when they're not at the beginning of a sentence and also when they're part of another word, eg 'arrivederLa'. There's a video lesson that explains this point in Episode 7 - Grammar: Formal and informal.
Colour codes
Grammar and vocabulary
The grammar and vocabulary sections of each episode start with a video lesson, followed by one or more exercises to practise. If you need to watch the lesson again while you're doing an exercise, select the button with a question mark in the green top bar at the top of the exercise screen.

The exercise titles are colour coded:
  • For exercises that improve your reading skills the title is yellow
  • For those that improve your writing, it's green
  • For listening, it's blue
  • And for speaking, pink, when you're expected to speak out loud
Score and feedback
Sign in
Throughout the interactive episodes you'll be reminded to sign in. Although this is an optional feature, it will allow you to keep track of your learning progress. If you choose not to sign in, you can still watch the episodes and also complete the exercises and get a score, but it won't be saved. You also need to sign in to unlock the final episode.

Score and feedback
At the end of each set of exercises you'll see a percentage on your screen: that's the score you've received for that particular exercise. You can check your overall score by clicking the 'Check Progress' button on the bottom right of the lessons menu. Once there, click on each individual title to check the feedback on your performance and some useful language learning links related to each topic. Click on 'Overall score' for an overview of how you've done in all the activities.
Loading time
Loading time
La Mappa Misteriosa uses the same technology that is behind BBC iPlayer to deliver the video. Amongst other things, it means that the video will adjust if your internet connection slows down. You may also experience a small loading delay between scenes in some of the interactive episodes or when switching subtitles.
If you are having trouble loading an episode, you can try the following:
1. Close the windows of any other episodes you may have open before starting a new one
2. Close any other video players or stop any other downloads that may be happening in the background
3. Close and re-open your browser and start again
4. The problem may be related to high demand on your local network or exchange, especially over a shared internet connection. In this case, it's worth trying again at another time
If all of this fails or you experience any other glitches or problems, please let us know.

Broadband connection
As an online video-rich experience, La Mappa Misteriosa requires a broadband connection.
You can find out more about broadband on BBC Webwise.
If you don't have a broadband connection, our other beginner courses, Italian Steps and Talk Italian work on dial-up connections.
Also make sure your speakers or headphones are plugged in and working. Although at times you have to say things out loud, you don't need a microphone.
La Mappa Misteriosa on TV
La Mappa Misteriosa on TV
There's a version of the drama made for TV which is shown periodically on BBC Two Learning Zone. To find out when the programme is broadcast, please subscribe to the BBC Languages newsletter.
You can also watch it in the clips section of this BBC Two programme page.

Downloads and DVDs not available
We are not able to provide video downloads for La Mappa Misteriosa and there are no plans to make the series available on DVD. However, it will be available to view and use online for as long as you need. We have no plans to take it offline.

Not available outside the UK
Unfortunately, at present any of the video content of La Mappa Misteriosa is not available outside the UK. You can still use the grammar and vocabulary exercises, but without the video lessons.
Explore the episodes
Explore all twelve episodes in this Italian drama for beginners
Syllabus and exercises
See a full breakdown of the episodes' learning topics and exercises