This post is not about actual Italian sign language or stereotypical Italian hand gestures. No, this post is about my first-hand experience, during grades 2-6, learning Italian. In my elementary school, grades 1-6, the only language they offered was Italian (during my brother's time it was Italian and Spanish, but they cut it down to just Italian). So starting at second grade, I took Italian once a week for 5 years. One might think that if you took Italian that long you would be able to communicate decently and actually have a conversation. Nope. I learned Italian from this odd French lady (yes, French) out of this funky textbook that we stayed on for all 5 years. Five years on the same textbook. I'm not complaining, I learned some very important stuff in that classroom, such as various farm terms (sheep, shepherd, etc; thinking about it now, it could have been a religious book too), locations (not like Venice or Florence, but 'the mountain' and 'the desert'; in case I happen to find myself in a desert in Italy), and 'to wake up' (MI ALZO!). With every useless word or term we learned, we would also learn a hand gesture to go with it. And we would string theses symbols together to create a sentence and later, a story. It was actually quite amusing because she would scold us, for speaking English, in rapid-fire Italian, all while her hands were moving just as fast in various symbols.
Here's a list of our most frequently used vocabulary in Italian class, try chaining some together to create a sentence, for example: La pecora abita en la montagna. ('The sheep lives in the mountain.)
|Extra Italian: 'wake up' is mi alzo and the symbol is like a tree sprouting; hunch your back and scrunch your arms in, then stretch up with your fingers toward the sky.|
|One of my many Italian vocabulary sheets; note the doodles on the pictures.|
|My wonderful 5th grade doodles to illustrate 'La pecora dice, "La roccia non é intelligente."' ('The sheep says, "The rock is not intelligent.")|
|Did I mention we also used to sing in Italian?|
|Il lupo vede il capello. (The wolf sees the hat.)|
|This is the most advanced vocabulary we got during those five years. But I am grateful for the class, even if the most it did was give me a good laugh every now and then.|