Friday, April 11, 2014

Bambi
And so it turned out that the no-show student boy did in fact show up on day two for the English lessons in the stunningly, frescoed classroom at the headquarters of the associazione degli industriali in Lucca. He was late. But you can't have everything. The thing about all the sh*t we talked about him behind his back calling him a mammone and so on, made me unclear whether I should hope for him to show up or not. He turned out to be just the sweetest kid. I was expecting this surly, uncooperative guy and then I saw him and my first thought was: Hi Bambi. Given the set up, it was an excruciatingly awkward first meeting. When I started speaking in English, he responded in Italian saying, "Oh no, you are not really going to expect us to speak English the whole time," in such a sincere way that it broke my heart to speak English to him. This is a bad thing. Especially bad since I got the job by saying that even though I am know grammar scholar, I can convince anyone to talk to me. I went over his assessment test with him to show him that he really had done a good job on it.

Who I was expecting.
Who I got.
My whole idea of engaging him about art did not go over well because, despite the fact that he went to the artistic high school, he is really interested in being a sports trainer. He doesn't want to work in a gym, though, smart boy that he is. But that knocked out a lot of conversation possibilities. I asked him how much he hated English on a scale of one to ten and he said that he really did want to know English, but that the words didn't come out of his mouth. This is a huge problem in Italy. Everyone studies grammar books and they know the grammar, but no one ever practices actually speaking English. The longer this goes on, the worse they feel about themselves. I blame the teachers. Anyway, his pronunciation is actually fabulous. He has none of the five most common pronunciation problems. I told him that we would need to start speaking in English about whatever and that we just needed to find a film or a book or something that we wanted to talk about.

That's when I found out that we have nothing in common. He doesn't like thrillers, science fiction or reality television. (Gasp!) Forget fashion and art. I think there is a lot of Sports Center in my future. The only thing I have found so far is an Italian movie called Calcio Storico about these crazy guys who play a gladiator style soccer with no rules in Florence and proceed to kill each other on the field. I found one version with English subtitles. The main thing is to get him to speak in English and to speak English for the entire next lesson, no matter what his Bambi eyes implore me to do. It's for his own good.
Calcio Storico
Before I play death soccer, I march around looking intimidating. Got a problem with that?

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