Sunday, March 22, 2015

Teaching myself English
I never realized how random the English language was until I tried to teach it to unsuspecting and trusting Italians who don't know how clueless I really am.

Last week at the paint company, all of the employees came to the same one hour class because they were having Safety Day at work and had many events to attend that same day. Little did they know that my attendance book or registro would be audited that day.  In fact, some of them engaged in the duplicitous act of signing the entrance and exit boxes upon entering the room right under the auditor's nose. I wonder where in the world they could have gotten the idea to do that. Oh yeah, I told them to. I gave one lady a huge fake scolding for it. Now that I think about that, I hope she knew it was fake.

Yup, Italy is the kind of land where they come and audit your attendance books. I had to have my attendance book spruced up by my boss and the guy who is in charge of this bureaucracy they day before. My attendance taking is not to be trusted, you see. Then my non-existent poker face led my boss to buy me a coffee afterwards because I looked so grumpy about the whole thing. In reality, I just wasn't feeling well. Everything is drama when you are physically unwell, don't you find? At the coffee place I struggled for the millionth time with pronouncing my favorite drink orzo. As a distraction, I asked the bar owner about the photo of the military pilot behind him and his eyes got all twinkly. He asked me how I could not know who Graziano was. I tried to explain that I am from New York, but then he burst out laughing and said that he was Graziano. I have since listened to 49 youtube videos on how to pronounce the word orzo, but I continue to order something that sounds like an orso macchiato which is a bear with spots on it. Ahhh, that explains the funny looks.

Anyway, back at the lesson, the auditor called me over to his side just when I was doing partner work with one of my students who was left partner-less due to English class no-shows or as I call them --safety day casualties. It was an adorable lesson in which my students paired up to discuss the topics they are preparing for the Trinity English exam which is all about conversational skills. I snuck away from him while he blathered on about attendance issues so that I could go back and do my real job. Before I skulked away from him while he was in mid discourse, I gestured to bureaucracy guy to make sure it was okay, and he gestured to me that it was. I speak Italian sign language now, apparently.

Sometimes, it turns out, I am just clueless about people. It turns out that the dear, older gentleman who signed up for 40 hours of lessons with me and sometimes cannot repeat hello, how are you? after me has been a widow for less than a year. Every third lesson he is present and able to learn and the other times he doesn't make any sense and can't follow me at all. It turns out, and I am grateful that he shared this with me, that he is just too damned sad. Well, of course, he is. I had no idea that his loss was so recent. As soon as he told me, I complimented him for getting out of bed. My friend Patrizia told me that after her husband's heart attack she couldn't get out of bed for about a year. So now I know how to work with him. I hope that I can, if nothing else, be an enjoyable distraction for him. If feel like a total stronza for not having realized it sooner.

I also had a little butting of heads with the mom of one of my students who invited her son's friend to join in the classes. F approved the new arrangement while I was home sick. He was sweetly distracted and didn't mention to the lady that the son's friend's English is at a much more beginner level than her son's. They are well behaved boys but when they are together it is much more tempting for them not to speak in English and they want to do things like play hide and seek/nascondino and run around pretending that it is okay because they yell ready or not, here I come! in English every so often.

Anyway, she was taking money from the parents of the boy for the lesson but didn't increase our sliding rate for having two students instead of one. According to our scale, she would pay less, not more, for her son's lesson because there are two kids in the class. When I brought both issues to her attention, she scolded me about it and the whole thing annoyed me. I suggested that her son have private lessons even though it would, in theory, mean less money for us just because it would be better for him and she didn't even grasp the kindness in my gesture. There are some people who I can't seem to relate to in either language and it is so frustrating. I bumped into her on the way to my grumpy attendance book and she told me that her little daughter had been ill and that next week we wouldn't have lessons because they were on vacation. I tried to say something lighthearted in Italian about it being better to get sick before vacation time instead of during, but I think it came off like I was a callous witch. I am pretty sure of that, actually. So everything is really my fault. Blogging is therapeutic. Don't let them tell you it isn't.

Here is the cool video game that F made the boys. (Dropped octave not included) :

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