Speed Dating with Grammar

After 7 weeks in Italian classes (9 if you count the 2 when I was here in May) I have been presented with just about all of the Italian grammar rules that exist.  Note that I did not say I had learned them all.

It has been a quick introduction, not unlike speed dating.  We are presented with a grammar concept, do a few exercises, then it is on to the next.  It is a lot to take in and at this point my “subjunctive mood” and my “conditional tense” are starting to blur into one another.  It is enough to make one tense and moody (sorry, couldn’t resist the corny joke)

I have mixed feelings about this method, on one hand I think it would be better to present a concept, practice it for a longer time and let it sink in a bit before moving on.  On the other hand, I think maybe it is a good idea to get all of the grammar over with at the beginning so at least there is a vague familiarity with the structures and then let the rest come with practice.  My opinion seems to depend on how tired I am and how difficult the concept that I am ‘learning’ that day.  I have pretty much reached my grammar quota so am glad that most of the main ideas have been presented. Next month I will be changing schools, hopefully for a slower paced class that will reinforce the grammar that I have ‘seen’.

My current level of Italian grammar and comprehension is about the same as my level of French grammar and comprehension was when we bought our apartment in France 5 years ago.  But I have noticed something different in my reaction to speaking the language.  In France if I had trouble getting a sentence out correctly I would get very nervous and try to get out of the situation as quickly as possible.  In Italian, I don’t seem to mind that it takes me forever to get through a sentence and that I make the other person wait until I am finished.  Today I went to a little sandwich shop just across from my apartment and bought lunch.  I wanted to complement the two nice gentlemen who work there so I started out, “every time…(pause to conjugate verbs – and to add a bit of suspense)…I come here…(more suspense)…you are…(lots of suspense)…very nice.  During my pauses, they try to guess what I want to say, but I ignore them and continue, making them wait until the very end to know whether they will receive a compliment or a complaint.  And for some reason this does not bother me at all, maybe it is because they don’t seem terribly bothered by it either.

Pane del Pescatore
I buy these large biscotti with raisins, from the nice gentlemen at the sandwich shop next door.

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Margo Lestz
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  1. margo, first I think you are very brave to park yourself in Florence for 3 months to learn Italian..and you are doing so well! Wish I had more time to visit you but am off on my trip next week. I have tried every method out there..and they all work..depends on how you learn. Good that you are trying another school. Take a look at British Institute in Florence…excellent!!! Maybe if you decide to come back for more..we can go to the same school. For now I will gets lots of practice in Sicily and Puglia..however the dialects work..I wiill try my best at “crisis Italian”

  2. Thanks Margaret, I don’t know if it is brave or not, but it is fun. I like adventure. And I will be looking forward to reading about your adventures – it sounds like great fun and your Italian will probably improve along the way.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more. Allowing myself the freedom to speak slowly (even at the inconvenience of the listener) is the best thing I’ve learned to do.

    Great post.

  4. Hi Katherine, I would encourage you to follow your dreams. There are lots of French courses in villages all over France and I’m sure you could find one that would meet your needs – maybe even one that combines language and cooking. It would be a wonderful experience! Keep me updated. 🙂
    All the best ~Margo

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