Posts Tagged ‘learning Italian’

I love it quadri

Tip #1:    Point and grunt.

Tip #2:    Always have Google Translate open on your phone and a copy of the “Alfabeto Fonetico” in your wallet. My name spelled out this way is Torino-Otranto-Napoli-Imola. Domodossola-Empoli-Bologna-Empoli-Livorno-Livorno-Ancona.

Tip #3:    Never make eye contact on public transportation – it invites people to speak to you.

Tip #4   Don’t engage in conversations with Italians under the age of 5…it’s just soo00 humiliating.

Tip #5:    Avoid initiating phone calls – send emails or text messages because you’re less likely to sound stupid in writing.

Tip #6:    If you must answer the phone, pretend you’ve got a bad connection. “Pronto? Mi senti? Mi senti? Boh” and then hang up.

Tip #7:    Respond to questions (even if you don’t understand them) with phrases such as “Certo” (sure), “Si, Si” (yes, yes), “Va bene” (okay) and “Ho capito” (understood) as you start to walk away. People won’t think you’re rude – just late for an appointment.

Tip #8:    When all else fails…talk with your hands.


And speaking of speaking Italian..I recently participated in a podcast with Cher Hale, the brains behind the “Iceberg Project.


What’s the Iceberg Project,?

The Iceberg Project is based on the theory that most of what you learn about culture when visiting a new country without speaking the language is just the tip of the iceberg. To learn more about The Iceberg Project go to click here

by Toni DeBella


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The information I was given at the education office of the centro sociale (community center) was that the Italian class commenced at 3:25 on Thursday afternoons.  The photo is of the scene on Thursday at exactly 3:24 p.m.  Oops, apparently the class actually begins at 4:30 p.m.  I located the teacher and she recommended I come, instead, to her class on Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m.  Okay, I’m game.  I’ll be back on Tuesday afternoon…

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

If I hadn’t experienced it myself, I don’t think I would have believed it.  My friend, who attended class with me, was witness to the casino (mess) that was my first public funded italiano per stranieri (Italian for Foreigners) course.

It was a blast from the past – reminiscent of the glory days of flying spitballs, pimple-faced awkwardness and hallway passes alla “Welcome Back Kotter”, the iconic television sitcom about a street-wise teacher saddled with a class of overzealous, unruly misfits.

This afternoon’s cast of characters: a pretty blond, if not somewhat scattered teacher; a macho hooligan who passed out our text books while making wisecracks with a unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth;  a skinny, greasy-haired and sullen boy who interrupted class to take a call on his cellphone; a dull-witted, sloppy adolescent surfing his Facebook page during the lesson; a painfully shy North African women who refused to  speak if asked a question – she just sat there until the teacher moved on; a young Eastern European couple who sat so close together they almost became one person and, my favorite, the know-it-all teacher’s pet who corrected your answers before the instructor got a word in edgewise.

The class was disorganized, the overhead projector didn’t function and the audio CD was scratchy and unintelligible. However, I did learn some things I didn’t know before – the words l’orario fisso (fixed schedule); lo stipendio (salary), and turni (shifts).  Also, silenzio! (be quiet!);  No, non si può fumare qui dentro! (No, you cannot smoke in here!) and Spero che tornerai la prossima settimana (I hope you will come back next week).

I believe “sweathog” translated into Italian is sweathog.

by Toni DeBella

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