Tell it to the Mothertongue


As I enter into my last six weeks of teaching, and my last six weeks in Brescia, I realize that I have left this blog painfully neglected on the subject of my students. Here for you in convenient listicle form, a summary of what I’ve learned in my three Italian schools.

  • Italians will never be able to pronounce -th, much like how I will never be able to roll my R’s. This makes navigating the pronunciation of Meredith a fun challenge for everyone involved.
  • If you’re talking about one of Italy’s favorite American cities (New York City, Los Angeles, Detroit, Miami) and you want the students to have even the foggiest conception of where you’re from… you’d better have a map on hand.
  • Teaching tongue twisters makes for a better party game than a school lesson.
  • I have learned, if at all possible, to avoid all-male classrooms; it’s probably gonna smell like BO and farts.
  • Sometimes your students are the same age as me. Sometimes they have beards. Sometimes I see them on Tinder. Sometimes you just gotta deal.
  • In response to my writing assignment, “Describe your favorite place in the world,”my favorite is the student who wrote about American Jewelry and Loan from the inexplicably popular-in-Italy series Hardcore Pawn. 
  • In fact, learning to recognize the Italian title, Banco dei Pugni ended up being one of the most necessary skills I’ve acquired. It’s quite time saving if you don’t have to make a student explain the entire concept of a pawn shop.
  • I never should have been afraid of vending machine coffee.
  • I should never try to defend American pizza.
  • Even if I’m not sure about the answer to a question, the best bet is just to make something up. Usually nobody questions it.
  • If questioned, the best excuse: “That’s probably different in British English.”

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