Friday, November 14, 2003


We can’t say enough good things about our language school, Comitato Linguistico ( These are the most patient and supportive people you will EVER find!!! No matter how many times I screw up, mispronounce, or use the wrong tense, they gently nudge me towards the right answer, and when I finally give the correct answer, they praise me as if I had mastered the entire language in one day!!

We begin at 9:20 each morning with the grammar class. Even though we are native English speakers, and consider ourselves to be of at least average intelligence, I couldn’t conjugate verbs in English to save my soul. That was a LONG time ago! Now I have to conjugate verbs in Italian, without a solid reference base, and I also have to contend with the masculine/feminine thing! When the grammar class is over at 11:10, it feels as if a weight has been lifted. The fact that I am the only student who is mono-lingual hurts me a lot. For anyone out there who has children who have the opportunity to study a second language, please encourage and support them! For you it might not seem important, but with our world growing ever smaller, it may come in handy one day. Additionally, who knows where your kids will end up? They may be like us and just love to travel, or they may have job opportunities in other countries.

During our 20 minute pausa, we usually walk to the coffee shop. This is strictly for Art…if it were up to me, I would just wander the streets and look in all the shops. Although I am not your typical love-to shop female, I am decorating and furnishing our house, so I need lots of ideas and lots of resources. I found two great fabric shops and hope to buy more fabric for table covers etc., once the furniture arrives.

When we return to the school at 11:30, we have a conversation class. This is where we learn practical tings like the names of rooms in the house, articles of clothing, body parts, etc. I can now describe all my bad personality traits to you in Italian, as well as describe myself, my hair color, etc. We also learn about shopping…the names of the various specialty shops, and how to order food or ask for 5 tomatoes and 3 apples. Usually this class is more fun than the grammar class, because there is more interaction. Our teacher, Marilena will ask us questions…of course everyone else understands the question long before I do, but I just keep asking until I finally get it. We play games and do crossword puzzles in Italian. We ask each other questions. Yesterday, we had to ask each other “come si dice….. in inglese?” (“How do you say ….in English?”) We were leaning the names of the various parts of the body in Italian, and several of us couldn’t remember the corresponding English word! Needless to say, I felt like a complete dummy…now I was stupid in not one, but TWO languages!

The conversation class ends for us at 1:10. For the people taking the intensive course, they return after lunch for 2 more hours of practice. We decided not to do this right now for two reasons. Number 1, we need to be here in San Venanzo while the work is going on. There is always a question that we have for the workmen, or they have for us. And of course, I just like to see each step…today the hall is being painted, the kitchen floor was grouted, the caldaio arrived, and work has begun in the backyard in preparation for the new steps. Reason number 2 is that it would just be too much for our brains to hold right now! Perhaps once we get a better grasp of the language, the intensive course would help us to perfect our skills. Now we are still learning the basics, and any more new information just wouldn’t fit in our heads.

Next week is the last week of our four week course. The classes are set up in two week segments, with absolute beginners starting at the first of each month. Because Art was more advanced than I, he has been in the next level, but next week he will move down to my class to learn some basic grammar rules before he moves on. We plan to return in February, and we will probably be in the same classes that we have been in this time. Hopefully the next time will be a little easier and will make more sense. In addition to the masculine/feminine thing, Italian is phrased differently than English, so I have to think long and hard about how to phrase each sentence. Of course I probably still get it wrong, but if I can just manage to get my point across, for now that will be enough


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