Friday, September 30, 2005


So there's an episode of Firefly on in a minute; afterwards, I'm going to see Serenity. I like sci-fi, I like whoop-ass.... and yes I like character and plot... but mostly I like the whoop-ass. No, I'm not expecting the ballet dancer to have the best kung fu, but character will fill in where whoop-ass is lacking.

Yesterday I went to my first Italian class with my friend A. We both decided to join the Advanced class as a brush-up.

When we walked in, there were no two empty seats together, so A and I split up, sitting on either side of a dude in the front row. There were two empty seats in the second row, on either side of a prominent local tv anchorman (retired). A wanted to sit in the front row.

So we did. The professoressa blew in a few minutes later, apologizing for her hoarse voice. She immediately recognized some of her former students, calling out their professions--Avocato! Ingeniere! Giornalista!

Then she had us introduce ourselves, starting with me. I said, in Italian, My name is jp, I'm a Spanish teacher, I haven't spoken Italian in a long time, what, 10 years now. I want to be able to speak better, to maybe get back what I've forgotten.

The next guy, who had his grammar book open, said very... carefully... said that he wanted to learn the conditional and subjunctive tenses.


A explained eloquently and fluently that she needs to get back into Italian, that it's been quite a while, and she kept using the word "ormai" just to show that she was extra fluent.

Some of the others spoke well, especially the younger women who were more recently out of college and wanted to continue their language studies. Then there were the people, the former students, the retirees, who didn't speak so well, not even in more elementary verb tenses. Giornalista, avvocato, inginiere... And then there were the women who couldn't stop saying "avec... I mean con!"

There was a paragraph in the textbook about how Italy is becoming more and more americanized, starting with film and music, but then now with fast food and stores that don't close for siesta. We all read a sentence, and then explained to her what we read. I had a hard time; not with reading, but with explaining, because I understood the sentence perfectly. Also, I was first, so I didn't really know the drill. Anyway, I restated the sentence in other words, and then the next person did the next sentence.

People have different levels. Also, they have different language learning habits. Bad ones. And language negotiation strategies... zero.

When we got to giornalista, he wanted to make a comment about Perugia. In closing...they...two o' Perugia.... I think he was used to people giving him their undivided attention. they... trainstation...there's a co-op...he does not close... at the hour of... in the perifery... downtown... they...

It was excruciating. The teacher did what I would have done; waited him out and then moved along. Others were excruciating as well, especially the dude who was whispering answers to struggling speakers... WRONG answers.

A and I laughed about it at work today. Then we both asked if we could transfer to a more advanced class. Stay tuned, we'll sit in on Advanced 2 on Tuesday.

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