She Teaches Italian
Sheila Wright is
a Canadian Journeywoman who taught English to teenage boys in a school
in Sorrento, Italy. All they ever wanted to learn was 'how to get
foreign women to talk to them.' Sheila tried her best to understand
Italian culture and to teach her students how to be gentlemen. In
the process she met her Italian husband. Sheila writes...
classroom of young men...
"I'm an annoying Italian
man, please just ignore me," were the words I planned to teach
my English language class made up solely of young men from
the Naples area. Since the day I had arrived, I had seen such
men in action. "Where are you from?" "Where are you going?"
"Do you need some company?" were the phrases they recited
by heart as they followed foreign women through the streets.
In the classroom, they
were attentive, polite students, eager to learn. "Why do you
feel English is important?" I asked. Receiving a unanimous
response involving the seduction of foreign women, I realized
that English wasn't the only thing they needed to learn; they
needed to be brought up to date on the workings of the female
interested in chasing women...
years of language study at university and two years of TESL
training, I felt ready to do some serious teaching. At a small
private school in Sorrento, forty kilometers south of Naples,
I planned to put my expertise to the test. The key to successful
language teaching is using topics of interest to your students.
My students were only interested in chasing women. (Great.
The possibilities for field trips are endless!)
(or fortunately), I wasn't able to delve into this subject
in the classroom since the school's method of teaching didn't
allow for much conversation or creative interaction. The thirty-five
year old system involved asking questions from a yellowed
book with a broken spine in order to elicit grammatically
correct answers from the students. Bo-r-r-ring!
all a big game...
the classroom, I inquired informally about the hard sell pick-up
method. I explained that, in North America, a woman who is
followed relentlessly and badgered by incessant questions
(grammatically correct or not) is unlikely to warm to the
perpetrator. I was told that, although a southern Italian
expects an initial negative response, he believes that persistence
is the key. And the fact that he rarely gives up easily must
be an indication of some rate of success.
there is an Italian comedy sketch where a man approaches a
woman alone on a beach and asks if she would like some company.
When she answers "yes," he doesn't know what to do. It's all
a big game.
a woman who wants to be alone on a beach in southern Italy,
you can forget it. You may find a few initial moments of peace,
but then you will sense a presence just behind you. It will
move in to your left or right and sit down at a distance that
says, "I'm in your space--you have to notice me." After a
period of anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes, he will
speak--whether eye contact has been made or not. I became
adept at judging the situation and would either chat (if his
language was good and I could learn some Italian), or move
away and hope not to be followed.
love and learning...
good news is, not all Italian men are annoying. I met my Neapolitan
boyfriend at the beach, but it was only through mutual friends
that we dared to speak to each other. He wouldn't have approached
me, for fear that I would walk away, and my conservative North
American background combined with a good dose of solo female
traveller defensiveness would never have allowed me to approach
him. (Don't cultural differences just make a relationship
I taught English in Sorrento for five months, it was I who
really did the learning. The male-female relationship is only
one of the many intriguing aspects of a cross-cultural experience.
There's also the role of the family, the woman/mother, politics
and economics, to name a few. But those are other stories...
are writers, too...
Italy? Here are a few book titles that will be fun for you
to investigate. Each is about Italy, each is lovely and passionate
about its subject and each is written by a woman who is part
of the Journeywoman Network. It's my pleasure to introduce
these women and their work to all of you.
My Father Came From Italy
-- written by Maria Colletta McLean (ISBN 1-55192-356-4)
A joyous and poignant memoir
of an immigrant's homecoming. This book tells Maria Colletta
McLean's intimate story of her disheartened father's return
to his Italian village -- 64 years after he left it for a
new life in Canada. Maria buys a house in the village of Supino
(sight unseen) as a means of reigniting her father's memory
of his youth. Publisher: http://www.raincoast.com
Italy Fever -- 14
Ways to Satisfy Your Love Affair With Italy -- written
by Darlene Marwitz (ISBN 0-9664998-2-4)
This book is both a memoir
and a pre-travel companion. Darlene first travelled to Italy
as a graduate student in architecture. Now more than 10 years
later, the author renews her post-forty spirit by following
a passion and indulging in engaging ways to feed her Italy
fever. Read more at her website http://www.italyfever.com
(Source: Evelyn Hannon, Journeywoman Editor)
Back to GirlTalk
The articles in GIRLTALK Italy
have been independently researched by Journeywoman Online.
We thank the Italian
Government Tourist Board and Air
France for sponsoring this female-friendly information.
Together it is our aim to inspire women to visit Italy
and to travel safely and well.
P.S. Did you know
that Charles-de-Gaulle's airport in Paris is Air France's
hub? And from Paris, Air France can connect you to 10