Brexit

I voted to stay.

I wanted to remain in the European Union for many reasons, and whilst the Brexit camp did have some valid points, on balance I thought common sense would prevail and the nation of the UK would vote to remain part of he EU. Continue reading “Brexit”

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Venice airport tips and vocabulary

 

My holiday is nearing so I thought I’d share some useful vocab and tips for your future travels to Italy!

I’m going to talk about the two Venice airports are they are the ones I have used the most (on this trip I’ll actually be flying into Bologna so if I notice anything noteworthy I may share it in a future blog post!)

Tips: arriving at the airport Continue reading “Venice airport tips and vocabulary”

“You speak with a German accent”

I offer conversational practice in both English and Italian, and at the end of my sessions I sometimes ask for feedback on how the call could’ve been improved or changed in some way, especially if the student is new.

I am getting paid to offer a service and if I am doing anything that should be changed, I want to know about it!

Also, after each call students are prompted to give me written feedback and so far I haven’t received any negative criticism, which is both quite nice but also a bit frustrating because I know I could improve, I am not perfect.

This was the case until a couple of weeks ago, that is!

I had a call with an Italian looking to practice their English skills, and as always I made sure throughout he could understand me clearly and I wasn’t speaking too fast.

I have quite a strong Northern Irish accent, and whilst I don’t make it a secret (I wrote this on my online tutoring profile and I also have a video of me speaking in both Italian and English) I always worry it will catch people unaware.

It turns out, to this Italian’s ear I speak English with a German accent (queue smiling emoji).

I have encountered this before, with my Italian cousins. They always tease me and my husband for not speaking the Queen’s English, and I know the Northern Irish accent can seem fairly harsh at times when compared to the stereotypical English way of speaking.

I really appreciated his comments as they did make me smile. I can’t really help it, the student did acknowledge I speak very clearly (a piece of feedback I regularly get, so it’s hopefully true) but he found my German accent strange.

It’s really interesting how people from different countries can perceive other accents, I wonder if anyone else has experienced anything similar?

Italian gestures

I’ve lived in the UK for almost 13 years, so I no longer speak gesticolando (using hand gestures). I used to get teased in school for being so animated, so I tried to suppress a lot of it and now my default-mode is gesture-less, so to speak.

That is, until I start speaking in Italian or about Italy!

This YouTube video made me laugh,  I’ve never used some of the gestures since they’re not as prevalent where I am from (the north of Italy) but I still know what they mean.

Take a look and let me know what you think (the rap, whilst slightly cringy throughout, does get better after a minute, just stick with it)!

Italian Hand Gestures RAP

A bilingual’s quandary: forgetting words

This week I had a pretty embarrassing situation arise during one of my tutoring sessions with a student.

They asked me how to say “school grade”/”school mark” in Italian, and my mind couldn’t have went any blanker!

I sat there, shocked at my own forgetfulness, and incredulous this was happening right. during. a bloomin’. class!

This isn’t a recent development. Anyone that is bilingual or can speak several languages will have encountered the exact same situation. It’s so incredibly easy to forget words whilst speaking one language and wanting to say them another!

Likewise, some expressions simply don’t exist in other countries and you may find yourself constructing a whole sentence in Language A without realising you are about to use a saying that only exists in Language B.

A very simple example in the English language is the word “fortnight”.

This word does not exist in American English, but is commonly used in British English. If such differences exist within such similar languages, you can only imagine what it’s like with other completely different ones!

Back to my original quandary: I had to (gulp) Google how to say “school marks” in Italian. The shame.

According to the Internet, the word I was after was apparently voto, but I’m either still drawing a horrible blank or the internet lied to me. Then, Wikipedia came to the rescue. Valutazione scolastica. Valutazione. That’s more like it!

It’s been days and I still don’t remember us ever using the word voto when talking about school grades.

It won’t be the last time something like this happens, and it won’t be any less embarrassing!