Thursday, March 05, 2015

According to F, there is a kind of English language student that will stop at nothing to get in his own way. I hadn't met any until this week. It was . . . impressive. I went to school to meet with my new student, this man who is going to retire soon. He has some family who have lived for many years in Perth, Australia, where there is a large immigrant community. When he retires he would like to spend more time there and get to know some of his nieces and nephews who don't speak Italian. He is a friend and/or colleague of my boss and so I felt like it would be good if he liked me. I took it as a bad sign when he didn't introduce himself or look me in the eye when I first walked into the room.

I tried to teach the greetings and he attempted to sell me on the fact that in Australia "bye" is an inital greeting. "I am pretty sure that comes at the end," I said. No, no, he insisted it means ciao and so you can say it any time.  In Australia, that is. Um, okay. Like shalom, I guess. Well, I know they have their seasons all screwed up so I entertained the notion for about twenty seconds that being down under they might also start their conversations at the wrong end, but then I decided to hold my ground. Finally, I got exasperated and told him that the only way Australians start a conversation with "bye" is when they walk into the room backwards.

In the end, I skipped the greetings and thought it best to begin with the alphabet. You have never seen a person have a stroke that didn't end in paralysis until you have heard this guy try to spell his six letter name in English. I gave him hints. I told him the answers. F was right, he would not get out of his own way. Or should I say effe, was right, he would not get out of his own way.

It was a great victory that I made him laugh at the end of the lesson when he admitted that he might have been a bit nervous about learning English when I told him my famous (infamous?) condom story. You remember how I told everyone in Italian at the hair parlour that I lost weight because I had stopped eating preservatives -- except preservativi in Italian means condoms. I told him that he was not allowed to ever worry about making mistakes in front of me. The condom eater.


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