In many years of teaching Italian to non native Italian speakers I have accumulated a great deal of understanding about my students’ learning process. In fact, there are some mistakes which are common among native English speakers, others to Spanish and so on, and they are due to the intrinsic nature of their own language which is the starting point on which they build their knowledge of Italian. I am preparing a section on this website dedicated to overcoming these stumbling blocks, as it is better to get rid of them sooner rather than later. There are also many little ‘Memory tricks’ which are very helpful in order to remember verbs and grammar rules and I am delighted to share them with as many learners as possible. The majority of these tips come during my lessons, therefore I will update my blog frequently with new suggestions and tips for those who attend my classes, but anyone can benefit from them.
You might find it interesting to know that during my Classes, depending on our topics, we explore many Italian expressions, sayings, proverbs and other Italian ‘Chicche’ or ‘Gems’. Those are intrinsic to an Italian native’s cultural background, but they can be explained and, of course, learned. I would love to share them with those who are interested; you will find answers to many questions and discover so much about our language’s background. In fact, our expressions come from the most incredible and disparate sources and they are part of our daily conversations. For example: we say that ‘Una situazione e’ fantozziana’ when a situation is incredibly ridiculous. The adjective ‘Fantozziano’ comes from a series of comical movies which were very popular among Italians in the 80s. The movies are neither masterpieces nor particularly educational, but everyone in Italy knows what ‘Fantozziano’ means. Other words, such as ‘Lazzaretto’ have a more elevated cultural origin. In fact, the Lazzaretto was the name of the place which, between 1403 and 1630, housed a hospital which cared for people during the plague epidemics as a leprosarium. This is mentioned frequently in the ‘Promessi Sposi’, the first Italian novel written by Alessandro Manzoni in 1827. Therefore, as it is read and studied in many Italian secondary schools, we use the word ‘Lazzaretto’ when we talk about a house were everybody is a bit sick, for example: ‘Io ho il raffreddore, mia mamma ha il mal di gola, mio padre ha la tosse… insomma casa mia e’ un lazzaretto!’–> ‘I have got a cold, my mother has got a sore throat, my father is coughing, in short, my house is a lazzaretto!’. My students are always happy to come to know these little interesting stories about my language and it is even more fun when I show a piece of the movie which ‘enriched’ our language!