I had to take a test. After finishing one third of a page on page one, I was whisked away for the oral section of the placement testing. I could hardly speak. I was placed in the Beginners Class which was fine by me. I was in that class for ten minutes when I was whisked off to the second floor and placed in a class with four men and one other woman. My first thought was “I have been demoted to lower than the beginners class, ” but as it turned out there were so many beginners we were separated into two classes. I could hardly call my classmates beginners. Two of the men knew a great deal of Italian, but wanted to be more comfortable speaking it at random, in different settings, off the cuff. A great deal more complicated then practicing from a book. We would get plenty of practice doing that. We had two teachers a day, each for two hour periods. Day one we learned the alphabet and how to pronounce it. Who knew that an A is not an A. A would be Ahhh. I would be EEEE. It was a wonder I could say anything in Italian. R was erra. S was esse. We would have worksheets to do, all the while the teacher speaking and teaching in Italian. If you did not understand something the teacher would look at you and say, do you understand? The reply and phrase I knew very well the entire time of my studies was Non lo so. I don’t know. She then would try to show by writing pictures on the chalkboard or explain it over and over until you got it. The teachers had the patience of saints and a very good sense of humor. One morning after studying the mercato and all the fruits and vegetables we could buy there, the afternoon teacher came in and in groups of two, the students went to the front of the class to do a skit. One student was the buyer and one student was the vendor and we bought and sold practicing our hellos and how much do I owe you and everything in between. It was fun, practical and nerve-wracking all at the same time. This was our routine everyday. With compiti almost every night. Homework, not a lot. Just enough to remind you to think about what you learned or would be learning the next day. So the classes consisted of work from a workbook, working with a great deal of extra printed material and speaking either in small groups or in front of the class. And of course answering the questions the teacher asked you, in Italian. It was challenging, fun, practical and I met several new friends from all over the world and in different levels of education. Many business and governments send their employees to Il Sasso to learn or perfect their Italian skills. The second week all but two students had finished their course and Andy and I moved up to Elementary 1 Level and joined other students. New teachers, new students and new material to learn. We learned a great deal, there was no loitering and we moved along at a fast pace. After the morning classes, there were options of private tutoring or field trips. Cooking classes, tours of the historic towns, and walks in the countryside were just some of the many choices to make your stay memorable. In the evenings the students would meet up at the local restaurants, trattorias, osterias, enotecas and bars, so we became good friends and learned from each other. The third week I had my third set of teachers. I liked having the rotation. The teachers were fantastic, humorous and very caring. They wanted you to succeed and have a good time. It was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life and keep me studying Italian. To all my Italian classmates and teachers, ciao, ciao!!!
On the next to last evening the class went to Acquacheta to dine. A small osteria, family owned that specializes in steak served family style. Steak cut to serve.
If you would like more information about Il Sasso, Scuola di Italiano contact:
Via di Gracciano nel Corso 2
1-53045 Montepulciano, Italy
Facebook: Il Sasso- Italian Language School
If you would like more information about Osteria “Acquacheta”
Via del Teatro, 22, Montepulciano, Italy