My first Italian language class at the Sprachcaffe was Thursday, January 18. I’ve been going Tuesday and Thursday at middayish. They’re short classes, for me; I am simply coming in for the second half of the class.
I decided to forego the individual lessons after I tried out the class. The composition of the students is slightly reminiscent of WWII: U.S., Russia, Germany. Italy, of course.
The instructor, Franco, a droll Tuscan in his sixties, is really, really funny. And educated. His asides range from high cuisine, to Tuscan and Italian and Florentine history, to literature, and politics. He does not hesitate to quickly correct: “No! No! Signora! LO stato lo stato lo stato!” after I said il stato about ten times in a presentation about Seattle.
The class has typically completed an exhaustive grammar workout by the time I arrive, and so I tend to get more of the free talk lesson plan (peppered liberally with Franco’s quick and well-humored corrections). It’s nice to be older as a language student. I have so little ego in this. I am happy to speak up, to stumble and bumble, to try to explain something complicated, or to relate an anecdote for the good of the class’s grammar learning.
I take tons of notes in class. Many, many points large and small are clarified for me. It is such a relief. I am finally getting a handle on this, and, to be fair, meeting Italian on its own terms, rather than as the stray dog or surprise caboose of my acquired language family that tend to crowd in my frontal lobe.
I did decently on a geography quick last week. My errors consisted of an inability to properly locate and name the maritime provinces of the Adriatic, and (incredibly) labeling Sardegna as Corsica. I’ve got Corsica on the brain as we are welcoming Ellen and Avalon at the end of this week, but eek. Sorry Italy, sorry Sardegna. I did properly label its capital on Sardegna as thought it had just been overlaid, one island atop the other, in an insular usurpation.
I’m going straight up high school with verbs. Avere and essere, written out by hand. If/then clause tense formulae paired in quick algebraic shorthand. I consult my hand-me-down 501 Italian Verbs, and feel both pride and remorse in my Spanish accomplishments in the 80s and early 90s. So hard did I hit those Spanish verbs then that I never needed such a tome for Spanish. “Why don’t people just learn the verbs,” I would think in my teens. Ugh. Linguistic sins of youth. I did used to often joke, when people asked me how I remembered so much, that this was the brain that memorized the irregular pantheon of the irregular Spanish preterite. And they’re still in there.
|Work work work. Homework.
I’m happy to be in class, and I think they’re happy to have me there. I am happy to answer when called on, and never hide when volunteers are requested. Not like I can, really – the class is so small. I do enjoy Franco’s good-natured grump persona, as he reminds me so much of other teachers I know and from whom I have learned well – and who have taught me well.
I’ll keep updating on this topic, but note also that the Sprachcaffe has extraordinarily accommodated me, partly because of the time and money I have spent to work there in the shared space, and partly because I am sure my enthusiasm can be sensed at a distance.
I’m just so happy to report that the classes are already paying day to day dividends in confidence, although I still have not idea what the WhatsApp thread from the mothers in Victor’s class is referring to. I should bring it to Franco for scrutiny.