What a difference another day makes!
Yesterday I was quite distressed! I arrived at school to find out that we all had to take a test to determine if we should advance to the next level or repeat the level we just completed.
We were all put in a room and given our various tests, depending on level completed, and we were given three hours to finish. Three hours! Not only was that intimidating in itself, but it also meant that we weren’t going to have class today which I wasn’t happy about as I want to learn!
The test consisted of fill-in-the-blanks and writing complete responses to questions and finally writing a lengthy letter to a friend describing our experiences in Italy and/or why we are in the country learning the language, where we are living, etc.
Marina, my sexy Russian friend, and I finished at about the same time so we went to have a cappuccino. I was very preoccupied about the whole thing as I had quite enjoyed being with Marina last week. She is very entertaining and I was picking up a lot of new words from her as she has been studying Italian for two years so has a very good vocabulary. We meet every morning for coffee before school and also spend our morning break together.
We were asked to return to the school at noon, and when we did we found that there was a little “social” in one of the rooms for all the new students to get to know the rest of us.
To back up a minute, what has happened in every school I have attended (this is the fourth!) is that students that don’t know any Italian at all can only start every other week whereas those of us that have studied can start any week we want and we just get slotted into some existing class after completing an on-line test and being interviewed (in Italian) for about 10 minutes on our first day. Yesterday was one of those ‘brand new student’ Mondays which is why they had the social.
During the social, Marina and I asked our l’insegnante, Enrico, what the results of our tests were and he very politely described that we would not continue in the same class together. He was very delicate in describing that Marina possesses a very strong vocabulary and comprehension of what is said and is not in any way timid about speaking up while grammar is my strength. He seemed to have a lot of positives things to point out about Marina and certainly didn’t want to focus on our weaknesses.
I was very bothered by this and left school in a funk and had two glasses of wine with my lunch!
Well, what do you know, but when I went into school today I was the one that advanced while Marina is the one to repeat! I was very surprised by this! The Japanese woman that was in my class, Sumire, is also repeating (and the fourth woman, Cornelia, returned to Germany on Saturday).
Apparently grammar wins out, which I am thankful for as I didn’t want to relearn something I already understood. Then I started to think about things Enrico had said during the week and it began to make sense. For instance, he mentioned that neither the Russian or Japanese languages use articles (ex. “the”, “that”, “a”, “an”) and I can’t recall if they use pronouns, but these are extremely important elements of the Italian language and every noun is either singular or plural and male or female and the pronouns are just ridiculous!
As I thought about it, I don’t think I ever consciously recall hearing Marina use an article or pronoun. I have been so mesmerized by her vocabulary that I never noticed that she wasn’t preceding any of her words with articles or pronouns.
I am still not happy that we were split up, but at least I feel better about myself than I did yesterday! Meanwhile, Marina seems fine with it all, so that’s good! I suppose the conversation we had with Enrico was his way of keeping Marina from being discouraged.
My class still consists of just four women and my l’insegnante remains as Enrico (students and their teachers advance together). The others in my class are:
- Annie, an American from Wyoming. She also has a boyfriend that she met on the internet (!). He is Swedish and I think he still actually lives there so I am not sure how that works.
- Justine, a young girl (22) from the German speaking part of Switzerland. She has a tiny little diamond like thing adhered to one of her teeth. Initially I though it was just how the light was hitting her tooth! I have never before seen such a thing.
- Ursula, a much older woman from Munich
So, we’ll see how this week goes! I still worry that my pronunciation is getting me places I shouldn’t really be going yet!