La mia classe privata

Well, mi manca la mia classe della settimana scorsa. Now I’m the only one because no one this week is on my level. I feel like a creature from another planet: not a beginner, but not yet ready for the intermediate class I got to visit yesterday. Now it’s just me and Alberto, my teacher from four years ago. It was a difficult morning. I botched every other word in every sentence I tried to speak. I had extreme performance anxiety, and while my previous teachers let me get away with throwing out words and phrases, Alberto makes me speak only in complete sentences. Of course this is good practice, but molto difficile per me. I also get “brain freezes” where I feel like a deer in the headlights.  Perhaps this experience will give me more compassion for the students at our school who are slow learners. I’m also on a different schedule than the other students in terms of the pause (breaks). Still, I stayed afterwards to complete my homework. Now I won’t have to do it in the morning. This afternoon I go back to school to watch Cinema Paradiso in Italian! : ).

One thing that keeps me from total despair and worrying if I have a brain tumor: Jhumpa Lahiri, one of my favorite writers, tried to learn Italian as an adult, and it took her years and years and years. Even after years of classes, she couldn’t speak well. Only after living in Rome  and reading and writing only in Italian did she grasp the language. Still, my listening and reading comprehension skills have greatly improved. I lag in speaking, which everyone says is normal, but it’s difficult for someone as estroversa as I am. I want to speak but can’t.

I raggazzi Americani nella scuola

These are the eight contrade (neighborhoods) of Montepulciano

Sandra and I have a hard time with the plexiglass because even if it protects the art, it completely obscures it.

When I first saw this man’s wood mosaics, I thought they were kind of cheesy. Richard liked them, and I have to say they are growing on me.

La mia classe di sola!


About ssteven2

I'm a reader, writer, swimmer, and school librarian. I love my summers so I can travel.
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6 Responses to La mia classe privata

  1. Sara, don’t be too hard on yourself about your Italian speaking abilities! You are miles ahead of most Americans visiting Italy. Maybe after you retire you will be able to spend enough time in Italy to become truly fluent. What a joy that would be!

  2. ssteven2 says:

    Da vero! This afternoon we watched Cinema Paradiso in Italian with Italian subtitles. I hadn’t seen it in almost thirty years, but it speaks much more directly to me the age I am now. Oh nostalgia! Thanks for the encouragement. I asked Alberto if I could at least just sit in on the other class after ours ends early, and he said that our class was più intenso, and so, no. So, this week I’ll get out of class every day at 11 instead of 1:30. Did you all go to Gattavecchi for a meal, just down the street? I’m going there with a teacher from Florida, Donna, that I met in class. Thursday Maria is taking me to another organic farm for a tasting. I’m thinking next year might be my last as a librarian at O. Henry. That all seems like a past life. So loved your photos of all the different types of berries in Portland. The Northwest has the perfect summers!

  3. jmkennon says:

    Sara–I just read what you wrote to Sandra–you are thinking of retiring after next year? Wow! You know though, I totally understand what you mean about life in Austin being part of the past. I so feel that way right now, and actually, it started for me even before we left. Isn’t it strange? Something in your life, whether it be travel, situations, people, etc. just suddenly tells you it’s time to make a big change. I say go for it! Would you still be based in Austin? Would you spend more time on Whidbey Island? I am guessing you would spend more time in Italy. Maybe we could have a standing time to visit each other–you could come here, I could go to Montepulciano when you are there. I am imagining all sorts of adventures for you!

  4. jmkennon says:

    Okay–I am going to respond to your blog post now. I agree with Sandra that you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. I did think, however, that your description of what you are feeling in class with Alberto is exactly how I feel now, when I am in Italy, and when I was in class at Freestyle. I can only imagine how stressful it would be one on one with Alberto–I would probably need that roll of paper towels or whatever they are in the photo of your classroom because I’d be blubbering. But, Sandra makes an excellent point–you ARE miles ahead of most Americans who travel to Italy. AND, you REALLY want to learn the language–you will get there! Matteo told us the same thing as Jhumpa Lahiri–it took him 10 years to really be good at speaking Italian.

    I am going to re-watch Cinema Paradiso–I think I too would appreciate it more now, although I did love it when I first saw it as well. Just a different perspective now that we’re older and know some Italian. Your photos as always are lovely–I enjoyed the one of the American kids learning Italian. Oh to have that young, unfettered mind once again, ready to be filled with knowledge like the sponge it is!

    • ssteven2 says:

      Sandra and Jana,
      Thanks so much for your responses. Class was much better today. I will write about in the blog, now that I have more time to be reflective. Rather than being ashamed of my mistakes, why not be proud that I can speak with Alberto for two hours in ONLY Italian.? He won’t let me speak any English. So, I’m going to stop being so hard on myself. Plus, I was more comfortable today, and I show him photos to go with my stories. Phones are amazing.
      About the future, non lo so, but I do know I’m so happy and relaxed in the summer. I love my my job, but it’s stressful and takes up most of my life.
      When I retire, whenever that is, we will spend more time on Whidbey and travel more, not being limited to the hot summers, if possible. 😊

  5. sandra062013 says:

    I actually wasn’t the one making those insightful comments, it was Elizabeth Newell, see above, but I agree with all of them ;-). It was such a treat to be in Italy with an extrovert like Sara, who has no fear about speaking the language, and asking questions of any and everyone. As a deep introvert, I can only stand back and watch in deep admiration! How I admire Sara’s enthusiasm, dedication, and discipline. The more I struggled with the language (being self-taught with the help of Duolingo), the more I admired Sara’s acquisition of the language.

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