Monday I’m going back to school. Have pity on my teachers. I’m going to be quite the troublemaker.
Here’s what I want from the school
- Conversation – not grammar
Guess who doesn’t work very hard without a schedule? Yeah, that would be me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been completely slacking. But I haven’t been putting in 8 hours a day of language study. I might do three hours between my flashcard app, reading an italian novel, and writing in my journal. Plus maybe an hours worth of conversation at a meetup or a bar. Not exactly a demanding schedule.
On the other hand, it’s been good to be stress-free for two solid months. No one freaks out around me and no back-to-back meetings.
And I’ve learned a lot about Italian art and architecture. I’ve seen cities and buildings I had only read about. And I’ve got a set of photos that will take me a lifetime to organize. If I ever get around to it.
And it’s not just a schedule. It’s also a place. I need a desk or classroom that I don’t have to search for. I spend too much time trying to figure out what coffee shop or wine bar I want to go to, and whether they have any room, and is their WiFi working. I need to pre-decide, so I can just go there and use that mental energy on learning.
So now I’m willing to trade away the complete freedom to sleep in until 10am. I’ll accept a schedule – for a whole two weeks. I’ll give it a try and see if I can turbocharge my Italian.
OK – it’s been lonely here. I don’t know anyone I can go do things with, like go to a museum, or see a show. Or even get dinner with.
Sure I’m on friendly terms with the waiters at a couple bars and restaurants. But we’re not hanging out after work. Some of them don’t even seem to have an after work.
So I have high expectations for making friends with the other students at the school. They should be in a similar situation – living here without their social group back home. And they should be open to practicing Italian outside of class.
Conversation, not Grammar
And here’s where I’m going to be a pest in class. I’m going to make it very clear that my mission is to be able to speak. I will soak up the grammar and the vocabulary that I need for my conversations. But I’m going to balk at anything obscure.
The best part is that I know what it’s like to be the teacher. I’ve been one. I’ve taught English to non-native speakers. I’ve read about how to learn languages, and I’ve applied a lot of it. My masters degree included teaching adults.
That means I’m not stuck in the normal teacher-student hierarchy. I view myself as a peer. And it’s a two-way street. I’m willing to redirect the teacher to focus on what applies to my mission, not just their default curriculum.
So tonight I’m setting my alarm clock, packing my backpack, and laying out my first-day-of-class outfit. It’s exciting!