Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Do you speak English?
Life back in Lucca has been weird. I feel a lot healthier physically coming off the vacation, despite the fact that this family has turned into night owls and our schedules are all messed up. I have been meeting every day with a girl whose entire future depends on me. Well, not really. But kind of. She is trying to graduate from a University tourism program and her thesis is done. All she needs to graduate is to pass an oral exam in English. And for some reason, one that I'm sure is very Italian, the exam is on economics. Her American professor was "sent away" because she wanted to fail the whole class. Now the new professor in charge of the oral exams is the Economics professor who is also American, but who has a reputation for being kind.

 My student is lovely, shy, and has, like her classmates, for some crazy reason, only studied three months of English since middle school. The exam is on eight articles and four videos that have to do with globalization, corporate social responsibility, government's role in the business cycle and you get the drift.

Given the fact that she can't actually speak English on her own, although she can read and understand it, I have come up with a crazy plan. I mean it is hard to improvise at an oral exam on Economics when you don't know what the word "believe" means. I threw a question at her and asked her what she believed and then was a little bit taken aback when she asked me what "believe" meant. Oy.

So my plan is that she memorize four statements that can basically answer almost any question that they throw at her. I am trying to teach her how to parrot back the question to form the initial first words of the answer and then use the memorized statements as filler. I have made flow charts, cheat sheets, vocabulary lists, and every kind of memorization tool that I could dream up. Fingers crossed.

We hope she doesn't have this kind of moment:

And has this one, instead:

Now I would like you to meet Molly Stone. She is a Canadian lady who made a series of videos in 2004 that have held the test of time, at least for me. She has one of the most grating voices ever, but after watching thirty of her videos in actual time, that is to say v e r y s l o w l y, I have come to want to eat cookies with her at her favoritie Canadian bakeries. What? She said she has a sweet tooth. Basically, I am using her lessons as a basis for my lessons.

I have made a Power Point presentation to get me through a month of daily teaching gigs. You can imagine that I practically had a heart attack when my boss called me to say that she had designed a curriculum for the course that she wanted me to stick to. But with a few tweaks here and there, I think it will work out that I just have to add some lessons on office stuff like make appointments over the phone. I don't know what people, especially English teachers, did before the Internet, but what I have discovered is that there is a whole crop of slow-speaking twenty-something girls out there on youtube that have seemingly picked up good grammar rather recently and who are reading it on-camera in lieu of getting their dream jobs at E entertainment network or The Weather Channel. Thanks girls! I'm going to knock off your shit like it's an imitation Louis bag.

If this all wasn't tedious enough, our dear, sweet restauranteurs below casa mia have saved up dozens and dozens of wine corks so that I could finish my art project. Without thinking (Gee, maybe I need to start speaking slower so that I can think first or at least become a youtube ESL sensation), I opened my mouth and offered them a piece of artwork for their restaurant as a thank you gift. I never want to see a wine cork again in my life, and I don't know if they are just being polite, but that is the kind of situation in which I continually find myself in Lucca.

Don't worry. I've since decided to make it into a wine bottle shape. . .

Part of the reason I am so anti-wine cork is that it hurts my arthritic hips to sit on the floor for long periods of time. To that end, I am considering taking some kind of hip-hop class at that school where my hip-hop English student Andrea goes and where I considered having the hip hop party last year.  I don't know about taking class with a female teacher (it's an Italian colleague thing) where my gorgeous twenty-something English student Silvia has friends, so I found this class with a male teacher called Crazy Groove. After stalking the teacher on facebook, I found a video of his class performance at the saggio that I attended last May when I went to see Andrea perform. My back hurts just thinking about it, but it is so darned blog worthy . . . .

I can't steal the video of his FB page just a photo, but here he is pictured with his lockin' buddy (he's the one on the left):
You can check it out on Claudio Clock Moriconi's FB page without having to friend him. . .

Tempting . . . .

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