|My classroom set-up: dictionary, homework, fan, & cappuccino|
My internist in Nashville, Dr. Gary Smith, once told me that I think too much. (Actually, he also added that I worry too much.) He's right. I do both. I have a hard time letting to of things and constantly think and rethink a situation or idea or decision. I can take your indecision and beat it into the ground. ;-)
When I decided to take an Italian class, I thought that I would sign up for one week. Then I worried that one week would really be too little, so I did a little online research of people who took language classes elsewhere. All who had taken only one week thought it was not enough time, and most thought four weeks was great. After thinking about it for almost a week, I signed up for a two-week course at Cultura Italiana. There are a lot of language schools in Bologna, and this one just seemed right for some reason (as I mentioned yesterday).
When I walked into the grammar class on 4 agosto, two things made me wonder whether I should have signed up for language school after all. In the first place, at CI, they start talking to you in Italian from the minute your feet hit the foyer floor. Not sure of a word? They prod you along in Italian. (That is the absolute best way to learn a language because it forces you to think in the language. The person who taught my previous Italian class taught it in English most of the time. Not good.) I understood a lot, but I tripped over a lot words that morning.
Secondly, the grammar instructor, Marina (walking in the door in the photo below) immediately handed Beatrix and me copies of the homework the other students had had over the weekend. They had studied reflexive verbs, and she expected us to be part of the class from moment #1
|Marina (entering), Monika (Germany) & Ricardo (Brazil)|
In addition to the English problem, the Italian class I had taken in Las Vegas did not include studying the reflexive verbs. I do know them in Spanish, but the reflexive pronouns are different in the two languages.
I was horrified when Marina started to go around the room having each student give answers on the homework sheets. HOLY CRAP, I thought. What the heck have I gotten myself (Please notice the reflexive. ;-) And, in honesty, I thought something a bit stronger that.) into this time? Luckily, I was at the back of the class and had a little time to figure out the correct pronoun for my question before she got to me. We had, of course, more than 50 sentences to do, so everyone had o answer more than one. I was so tired from jet lag at that point that I hardly remember anything other than being nervous.
|From left: Violeta (Spain), Venus (Turkey), Shima (Japan), Rémy (Switerland), Monika & Ricardo, Katyja (Germany) & Annette (Switzerland)|
After two hours, we had a break and started the conversation class with Maria (below). The one thing that stands out in my mind from that class was another bit of Holy Crap. She didn't want us to use dictionaries and would act out the word so we could get it on our own. I found that helpful in that you remember more when you have to think about it. Both Marina and Maria gave us a lot of homework every night, and I'll admit I cheated and used a dictionary when I didn't know a word. (Sorry, Maria.)
On the first day, the school director, Massimo, said that there would be a day at the end of the first week or beginning of the second when we would feel discouraged. "It happens to everyone," he assured us, "but do not give up."
It happened to me last Thursday or Friday. The alarm went off, and I had to get up. Italian pronunciation rules are crazy, and Italian grammar is even crazier. I did not want to get up and face another class of gagging my way through chiacchiere, svegliarsi, ringraziamento, sfornire, and scioglilingua, which, by the way means tongue-twister. (Example: See that first word? Think it's pronounced chee-a-chee-air-a? NOPE. key-a-key-air-a.) But, I don't give up, so I obviously went. I was fine after that early morning (although I will admit that doing homework and getting up for class did continue to drive me a little crazy).
And then I thought about having time to sit and think and write and visit other places. Something clicked in the little brain of mine, and I thought, "Are you crazy? No more school for you. Move on."
It's time to turn the page on that adventure, and I have.