Buon Giorno a Tutti!

This is how my first Italian class began last Friday. For quite a while I have been gathering up my nerve to learn another language. All the research on aging suggests that, while push-ups and cardio exercises are crucial for healthy bodies, learning a second language is a very useful mental exercise. Got to keep those synapses firing! I regularly play solitaire on my phone along with many other people on the subway, and do the sudoku in the newspaper until the difficulty level gets over 3 stars. But then what?

My first thought was to expand on my cereal-box French. That’s where, as young children, we picked up our first French words. “Tony le tigre dit, ‘ils sont um um bons!” In high school French we learned mostly grammar. Hardly anybody speaks with the precise sentence structure and verb endings we learned in grade 10.

Then I remembered – I live with a walking Italian dictionary! Furthermore I already know a lot of Italian words: lasagne, panini, spaghetti al la Bologese, picked up at favourite Italian restaurants. I can spell Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli especially with the help of spell-check. And I know other common expressions such as Ciao! and Salute! Mama Mia I am almost fluent!

But, when Peter, well actually Pietro, and I go to visit his relatives, somehow these words do not seem to be enough. Often I am left sitting silently wondering what they are saying and if they are saying it about Me. (Behind my back but in front of my face, so to speak). Then someone will say something that catches my attention, like “piano” and I just know they are not talking about music. The context doesn’t always help.

So it’s off to Italian classes. This is not my first time. I tried an Italian class when we lived in the country, but it was quite a long drive from home, and it always seemed to snow on class night. After a few classes the teacher switched to Italian Cooking Class. We learned to say a few things like “aggiungi il sale al risotto” as we cooked and tasted the food, along with a taste of chianti on the side. This class was worth the drive! But then we moved to the city.

It was pretty easy finding a class here. The “Instituto di Cultura,” a few blocks from a subway stop, offers classes every day of the week. There are cultural events there as well. Many private schools offer classes too. Then I found an adult learning centre within a couple of kilometers that offers beginner Italian on Friday mornings. I signed up.

Signora Campisi met us at the door on Friday with a welcoming “buon giorno!” She gave us bright red folders, and stickers so we could put our names on them and not lose them. Hmmmm, I thought, maybe this is TOO beginnerish. But soon we got into the lesson. We spent time on pronunciation and some verbs. She talked about supplementing our weekly practice with CHIN radio and TLN tv programs. She gave us homework – to practise rolling our “R’s.” Then it was “arrrrr…ivederci” until next week.

When I told one friend about my new class, she asked, “Why do you need to study Italian words and phrases anyway? Isn’t Italian all hand gestures?” Peter laughed uproariously at this question, as he waved his hand in a gesture of dismissal. Good thing there was no stemmed wine glass nearby.

If you have found an interesting way to keep Your synapses firing, send us a comment.


5 thoughts on “Buon Giorno a Tutti!

  1. Si, estoy de acuerdo. I study Spanish and have for many years now. And I am learning to play the clarinet. And when I have enough oomph, I take a free on-line university course. So, Sue, I am with you all the way. And Italian is most emphatically not all gestures, ‘Though they help. Blair


  2. I’m finding the language of bridge is a challenge for me. 2 clubs means what?!! Thank goodness there is solitaire for that. What an embarrassment. I’m sure I’m not playing with a full deck. Ha. Nancy


  3. I take French and it really does help your synapses to fire. Now I want to go to France and
    stay for 3 months taking French classes and touring and practicing the language. So Susan
    good for you! Cheers, Ruth


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