Private Lessons 8.26.05
Since we finished school in May we have discussed finding someone who could give us some private lessons. We tried checking the board in the lobby of the Universita per Stranieri with no success and just asking around. One day we ran into one of our former teachers, Chiara, and asked if she knew anyone. At first Chiara, who teaches at the Stranieri and is the mother of an adorable 2-year-old little girl thought we were asking if SHE could teach us. Her eyes became very large and she absolutely declined in a most emphatic way! We explained that we did not mean that SHE should teach us, but that perhaps she might know someone who could. She said she would try and also asked Federica, our other teacher and between them, they knew someone. Her name is Roberta and it took about a week for us to dial the phone correctly to call her back and tell her that yes, we were definitely interested in having her give us private lessons and we arranged to meet, to see if we liked each other and wanted to continue.
We liked her right away. Her friendliness and easy manner was disarming and we felt that we could both be comfortable with this arrangement, which is for her to come to our house once a week on Thursday at 5:30pm and spend two hours with us. Some lessons might be separated with one hour for Bob and one for me, or we might just work together. We think she is going to be great and we have been working harder just in this past week than we had for a while. Partly it is too easy here. Too many people speak English and most of the people we have met are English-speaking foreigners like us. We have gotten the hang of talking with the grocer and the fruit and vegetable guy, in buying bread and ordering coffee. But we want to be able to speak to Italians about regular every day stuff and have meaningful conversations. Plus, we believe it will be even more critical that we learn more before we go to Sicily, where we don't expect as many English speakers. We're improving, but we're confident that with Roberta's help we will begin to make more rapid progress.
She gave us a bunch of homework, which we worked on diligently. One part of it entailed looking at 5 or 6 different photos and saying who the people were, where they were and what they were dong. And, what they would be saying. This is a perfect example of the differences between Bob and I. I looked at the pictures and created these little scenarios, each complete with names and a little background (like, the couple in the picture are married, they are going into the bank to borrow money so that they can buy a new house, they are nervous, etc) and made up a little dialogue of what they would say. Since Bob and I did not share with each other what we had written I was astounded to see that he had simply said, for instance, "this is a photo of a man and a woman. They are going into a store. He says "You first." Each of my answers took half a page. His were just a few lines! It was hilarious!! Our next-door neighbors, Doug and Esther said it was a perfect example of "women are from Venus, men are from Mars!" We had to agree!
One day we tried playing Scrabble using only Italian words. It was pretty painful and we didn't get far before we got frustrated. Then we decided another day to try just doing it the regular way (I won! - Bob says I cheat, but it's not true) but we had to look up or translate the words we made into Italian. That was more fun.
Mostly we just try to talk to each other as much as possible in Italian. We are always trying to figure out how to say in Italian whatever it is we want to say. And we watch Italian television (I've told you about the game shows!). It's amazing to me some of the really bad American films they have dubbed into Italian. Like the dreadful one we watched the other night about this crazy electrical storm that was wreaking havoc in a small American city. With Gary Sandy, and John Schneider (from Dukes of Hazard fame if you can believe that!). It was so dreadful, I had to keep making comments as if I were the guys in Mystery Science Theater (I hope you get the reference) making fun of the whole movie all the way through! A really bad film but somehow more amusing in Italian!
After our lesson we went over to Il Segretto, one of our favorite restaurants and had dinner (grilled chicken and potatoes for me, a pasta dish for Bob and we shared a mushroom bruschetta and a half liter of red wine).
Now it's after 11pm and I am fading fast. No rain today so we were able to do some laundry. I spent some time this morning cleaning the house while Bob went off to run some errands. A gelato was in the cards for this afternoon and we spent some time just wandering around and sitting on a bench in the sun in Piazza Italia. All in all a very satisfying day!
Rosemary and Robert