Intensive Italian for Gamers – Giorno 6


So, there I was, in my Graduate student office nerding out with my fellow linguist friend. I had just come out of Italian lecture, and had a few minutes to kill before heading over to Tavola italiana. We both had just the perfect amount of time that was too long to just grab a sip of water and continue along, but also too short to hunker down deep into any new projects or embark on hyper focused hours of studying. So, we spent 20 minutes practicing our Españliano (Español 🇪🇸 + Italiano 🇮🇹).

Of course, it wasn’t too long before the topic of my avatar creation came up…which I had secretly been hoping would soon resurface.

All of a sudden- the most gleeful, linguistically nerdy creation struck us as we burst into giggles, and there was even a split second of awkward guffaws, from which only we, would ever understand its true origin…but let me go back.

We have our 1° quiz on venerdì, so we are practicing and reviewing for that. And, naturally, today we learned about un milione 1.000.000 new things.

🎮 lingua:

🥶 freddo e caldo 🥵

I’m sorry, but why is ‘ti piace il freddo?’ even a question? Of COURSE I don’t like the cold. Absolutely, 100% percento do I not like the cold. Assolutamente, when the screen says ‘Saint Louis Coudy 16°’ of course, non mi piace. Certamente, non mi piace when the weather app displays ‘martedì oggi 28…-4‘ (language: italiano, display: Fahrenheit. #letsnotgetintothatnow).

The only time ‘freddo‘ is ever acceptable is when I am ordering a ‘Venti iced coffee no sweetener, small splash of soy, color Beyoncé’. Only in that exact moment when I am ordering an iced coffee to please perfectly match the sweetness of the singing goddess herself is using the word ‘freddo‘ 🥶ever okay. No, no, no. No, thank you.

#diva101 • I am definitely being a diva. I am simply stomping around in my perfectly sturdy boots, grateful for my lovely warm classrooms, hot coffee, and cozy homemade hat and scarf, and just wishing and willing, that the cold would forever seek refuge in another location.

🇮🇹 cultura:
Today we were talking about what we liked food wise. Seems straight forward enough, right? Well, when you ask, ‘Che cosa ti piace?”, the responses were…’mi piace la pizza‘, ‘mi piacciono i cereali‘, o ‘mi piace il cioccolato‘. But when the question came to me, of course I wanted to try to be honest, not only because I am an honest person, but also because making education relevant to your life is motivational and helps you remember it better.

So, what do I say? “adoro il fagiolo’. Apparently, I love one bean, just one bean…So, after some feedback about why it is important when talking about legumes to make them plural, I tried to correct with ‘i fagioli‘, but the mistake had been made, and that was okay. Because, a) we are all adults here, 2) you cannot teach or learn language without culture, and d) I am happy to be the one to make mistakes. We will all learn. The last time I was embarrassed was when I was in 7th grade and I had laundry 👙 stuck to my clothes while walking to gym…

So, I tried to correct and say, ‘let me try something else! Mi piace fare esercizio’. 🏃‍♀️

But, this was an opportunity to learn a little bit about culture. Thus, when speaking Italian all legumes, vegetables, and fruit must be addressed in the plural form, otherwise…you may or may not invite some unwanted jokes of genitalia, both masculine and feminine. And, we’re not just talking about nouns ending in /o/, /a/, or /e/….

Note to all of my future selves, Dottoressa or not: discuss fruits, vegetables, and beans in the plural form!

* * *

So, we’re building on our knowledge and putting things together in meaningful ways. Today we were reviewing the identification card.

screen shot 2019-01-29 at 8.56.32 pm

The example of an Italian ID card is quite surprising in the fact that it asks for your ‘stato civile‘. Exqueese me, baking powder?

**Flashback – Spring 2016, ‘SPAN 5322: Spanish for the Professions’ , we are working on revising our resumes based on CV standards in Spanish-speaking countries. I was so surprised to see that the majority of them had you put your photo on them! So, here we are putting our photo on CVs and our marital status on our ID cards…

Well, what am I always saying ‘you cannot learn or teach language without culture’? Well, these funky nuances are part of the culture. So, we learn, accept, and move forward. And, if you, Italian Identification Card, want my stato civile on it, you got it.

Which is how we arrive to my favorite part of today, the name of my Avatar….

polly glotAllora, there are so many ideas brewing about Polly’s life fighting crimes of monolingualism, which will not be shared at this point…but stay tuned for more adventures!

👨‍🏫 Simone:
Welcome to Italian through signs”.
As language teachers we are constantly encouraged to utilize Total Physical Response whenever possible, because of how meaningful physical gestures are in long term memory when learning an L2.

Every day I look forward to the composition of Simone’s Italian orchestra. Not only is it fun, but it really does enhance the learning experience, not only on the linguistic side of things, but also culturally as well.

👁 osservare:
It might not be a rivalry, but there is definitely a decision that L2 learners and teachers make between:
a)…do I visit and see the exact translation of the word?
b) do I visit > type in my word > go to images and form the association of the image in my brain while focusing on the new word?
Raise your hand if you opt for b) 🙋‍♀️

Of course we’re all guilty of our WordReference habits. (It is a good resource!) It is helpful and satisfying, why not?

Simone reminded us today how powerful it is for long term memory to use image association with new words and  concepts while we were looking up a random assortment of vocabulary and images such as carnavale, confetti, etc.

👩‍🏫 Note to future teaching self aka “Almost-Dr. Jones”:
“Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man to Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime.”

Is the ‘fish’ an immediate word-for-word translation?

Is ‘knowing how to fish’ an image associated with your new word?



Intensive Italian for Gamers – Giorno 5


So, all of this talk about ‘routine’, and warming up students into the language classroom, repetition, and maximizing input in the TL that students already know, like focusing first on cognates, is well, exactly what we’ve been doing. Huh. 🤔

For the past few classes our routine has been, although sometimes with slight variations, to have some kind of video game playing in the background in Italian as we enter class, and then….

  1. We visit and…
    …practice reading comprehension and vocabulary.
    Simone guides us to a single article title like…’Torniamo a Raccoon City dopo ventuno anni per vivere l’avventura de Leon Kennedy e Claire Redfield’.
    First, we review the words we know. Sometimes we know them because we have learned them in class, or others because they are cognates.
    Second, we learn the words that we don’t know.
    Third, we put it all together, and pat ourselves on the back for understanding an entire article title by the second week of class.

screen shot 2019-01-26 at 6.22.07 pm

What I already knew:
avventura – cognate in both English and Spanish.
per – similar to ‘por/para‘ in Spanish
• ‘a‘,’e‘….thank you Mother Latin for your Romance Language offspring.
• ‘ventuno‘ – due to having been practicing numbers in our “quanti anni hay?” lab practice, within the past 2 weeks I have learned ‘ventuno‘ [21]….
• …and, oh, hey, fun fact –  due to having been practicing “quanti anni hay?“, within the past 2 weeks I learned ‘anni‘ is the equivalent of “años” in Spanish. #repetition

What I thought I knew:
vivere – I thought perhaps this was ‘to live’ based on the Spanish equivalent of ‘vivir‘, and that turned out to be true.

What I learned in the moment:
tornare > return or go back > volver 🇪🇸 
dopo > later; afterwards; after > después 🇪🇸 

So, what a motivating experience to be just 2 weeks into a language class, and realize that we can actually break down an article title enough to understand almost all of it. #motivation in Second Language Learning.

2. Next we hop onto YouTube and watch a sort of informal news blast (I guess you could say)/commercial Shenmue…
…and practice listening comprehension.

We watched the clip a couple of times. Between each viewing Simone asked us a question, about something we should be able to answer by now. For example, ‘Come si chiama il protagonista?
> Come si chiama?’ – a new phrase we have learned and practiced in and outside of class.
> ‘il protagonista‘ – cognate.

Then, ‘Che genere di gioco è?‘. 4 out of these 5 words we have already learned in class, and genere, well that’s another cognate right there. So, we are listening to the announcer and realizing that we can understand him, more than just a little bit, and we can answer the basic comprehension questions our instructor is presenting.

3. After some interactive work in small groups, and large, we had 3 minutes left and we closed out the class with a spelling game using a Speak & Play app in Italian.

I may or may not have been a giddy 12-year old girl gleefully clapping for the triumph of my scuadra as we spelled out simple 4-letter words. Simone typed the words into his cellulare 📱 and they appeared on the screen with the digital Speak & Spell.

A little friendly competition never hurt anyone and it was a fun way to bring the students a little closer together. #teamwork


🎮 lingua:
Each day we are introduced to more verbs. In Italian there are three kinds of verbs, those ending in –AREERE, and –IRE. We did a quick little lezione or rather, review, of the 3 English equivalents to Italian verbs in the present tense.

For example,
• Lavorare
> to work > trabajar 🇪🇸
1. I do work – habitually all the time, i.e. Ogni giorno lavoro nel campus.
2. I am working – right now in this moment, i.e. Lavoro proprio ora.
3. I will work/I am going to work, i.e. Sabato lavoro.

♻️ In the proper coaching to “save the planet” we are encouraged to ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’. A proper language teacher takes this phrase to heart, and that is exactly how I feel these first weeks of class have been. So, much in fact, quite a few words are becoming engrained in my Italian interlanguage:

sempre > always > siempre 🇪🇸
andare > to go > ir 🇪🇸
anche > also > también 🇪🇸
alora > then > entonces (I also think this might be like the way I use ‘vale‘ in class) 🇪🇸
presto > soon/speedily > pronto 🇪🇸

We must also not forget about our “false friends”.
classe in Italian is not equivalent to the Spanish ‘clase‘, but rather the actual physical space in which we are learning, like ‘aula‘ in Spanish.
lezione in Italian is not equivalent to the Spanish ‘leccion‘, but rather the ‘clase‘.

🇮🇹 cultura:
Today was very animated! Literally. Simone was doing a rain dance of hand gestures. I think some airplanes may have even been directed off course from their path on the tarmac… First, we learned a gesture to indicate ‘go away’ or ‘stop pestering me. Apparently the situation will indicate what type of emphasis to employ on the gesture. There is no appropriate emoji for this gesture, nor will I be able to imitate it via words….but it has to do with taking your right hand out at a 90 degree angle and then hitting the underside of it with your left hand.

👨‍🏫 Simone + 👁 osservare:
I need to do this.
I have seen a few professors do it.
I do it with little kids when teaching them verbs with TPR.
I have heard it on both the Italian and Spanish Coffee Break Podcast.
Simone does it every single time.

When practicing verb conjugations and their corresponding subject pronouns, every single time Simone guides us in

io                  noi
tu                  voi
lei                  &
lui                  loro

he largely points to himself “io“, then directly at a student “tu“, then at a female student “lei“, then at a male student “lui“, and with an inclusive wrangling of both arms indicates “noi“, and finishes by pointing out the door to indicate ‘those folks outside’ with “loro“.

Whether we’re running down the list of conjugations of a verb or just the pronouns, almost every time Simone does this rain dance of hand gestures.

I am finding this extremely useful in memorizing the pronouns.

👩‍🏫 *Note to future teaching self aka “Almost-Dr. Jones”: Remember to direct your class as if you are directing a plane for take off or landing ✈️  🙌 👐 👈 👉 🛩


Intensive Italian for Gamers – Giorno 4

In the 90s the D.A.R.E. campaign showed us what our brain would look like on drugs. 💩

In the 2000s, upon entering the realm of world languages learning, I found that educators and scholars were showing us what a bilingual brain looked like. 🌏

In 2008, when I graduated with a BA in Spanish, I learned that, thank goodness, the feeling of “information overload” was actually a scientific, or rather, ‘official’ term. 😌

On the 23rd di gennaio, I could have shown you what your brain looks like on ‘input overload’ (aka – 1 hour Data Science Workshop on ‘R’, 1 hour Italian Lecture, 1 hour Italian Lab, and a 45 minute presentation for students of Spanish gearing up to volunteer at the local immersion school).
giphy (2)

But very soon, all this newly acquired information seeps in, finds its home, and nestles up, nice and cozy with its new buddies, and your brain is even stronger than before.


👨‍🏫 Simone + 👁 osservare:

The best kind of educational input, well maybe not the best, but a very effective kind of input is the sneaky kind. The kind of input that creeps up on you and all of a sudden you realize you’ve been zapped with new knowledge.

When I walked into class today, I literally thought an Italian movie was playing. Alas, it was an American student playing a video game, in Italian. Simone had “Rise of the Tom Raider” playing on the front screen. I could not see that that student in the front row was holding la console🕹, and being me, well, I am not exactly accustomed to the advances made in video game graphics and audio, since I haven’t really played anything since Mortal Kombat in 2008. And really even then, I was just ‘smooshing’ the ⬛️ ⏺ 🔼✖️.

I watched the clip for longer than I would like to admit before realizing it was not a movie. Quickly, I became intrigued, and almost nervous for the woman trapped on an icy cliff, as well as hopeful for the man who was trying to save her (I think that’s what was going on…?). Within these 5 minutes of watching, the repetition of the actions, of the dialogue, and the story line, all seamlessly blended together, quickly forming many linguistics connections. It did not take long before the input slide into intake.

So, here we are, coming in to our language class, all totally enthralled in the ice pick hiking, shouting, vocabulary in context, and even the occasional cuss word…It was really quite a brilliant way to begin class.

As a profe-to-be, I am constantly reminded to first provide contextualized input, and follow with perhaps explicit examples or inductive grammar instruction, for example, then facilitate opportunities for students to practice in pairs or small groups, then bring the class together and engage in large group work (< or various patterns of this structure).

I feel like this isn’t your first day, profe. No, I know it’s not because I have heard “I have been teaching for 25 years and I have seen everything in the classroom, at least twice.” 👨‍🏫 What was awesome about this input strategy was that I became interested in what was going on on the screen (visual and audio), before I realized, ah! Sneaky, sneaky, Simone. 🤣 #digitalrealia

In my own teaching, my Spanish classes (almost) always begin with what I call the “rutina diaria“. This daily routine welcomes students to class by playing a song in Spanish. We listen to the song, discuss the song title, artist’s name, origin, potential grammar or culture tid bit, and follow up with la “frase del día“. Full disclosure – although it has since been modified and I continue to finesse it, I stole this routine from my high school Spanish teacher, Mr. Bailey. There are many incentives behind starting class this way: warm up into Spanish class, incorporate Hispanic culture, highlight a grammar or culture point, energize the students (especially if it is right after lunch), establish routine, etc.

Simone has a good certain number of years on me, and he employs this tactic by no accident. I definitely realized so many more educational intentions of welcoming us to our lunedì, mercoledì, venerdì Italian class by having a subtitled video game he is just not-so-accidentally playing in the background.

🎮 lingua + 🇮🇹 cultura:
Between our 50 minute lecture and 50 minute lab today, my brain was…well, perhaps, how can I say this in Italian terms….#FettuccinediMare

E perché? Because look at this mess of random ingredients below.


In fettuccine de mare you might find olive oil, onion, and garlic…and salt, anchovy fillets, tomato paste, and tomatoes…and of course basil, red pepper flakes, and clam juice…when you swirl your fork around you will gladly discover clams, mussels, shrimp, and scallops; and without knowing it, your mamma has even managed to sneak in some baby spinach leaves. The best part is when you bring it all in for the tasting, the fresh fettuccine drops on your tongue like…wait, what am I talking about? I am not writing some amazingly witty, and slightly crass, food show abroad (RIP my dear, Anthony Bourdain ❤️), but rather I am trying to explain how one day of input overload, upon arriving to your brain, and being swirled up with all the proper ingredients, aromas of new linguistic structures and knowledge will form, and forever flavor your polyglot palette.

We are learning so. much. more. than. just. ITAL 1200.

We are learning ITALian0!!!! We are learning about the many (20+) Italian dialects…about the many, many, many, many, cultural tidbits…about history, vocabulary, geography, .it websites, names of video games, video game vocabulary, and linguistic tools for introducing ourselves, describing who we are, asking about other people, etc.

Now, that is a language class. “You cannot teach language without culture” (Dr. Diana Ruggiero, Asst. Professor of Spanish, University of Memphis). If you are a world language teacher this is your essence, I just remember her quoting this last fall when she visited us to for her lecture, ‘Spanish for the Professions’. It’s true though, you CANNOT teach language without culture, and so far, 2 weeks into #IntensiveItalian4GamersSLU, I feel like our language+culture is coming hand✋ in hand ✋, as it should be.

 – – – – –

I feel like we are really getting set up for success. We have learned, and continue to reiterate on introductions, greetings, good-byes, formal v. informal settings, verbs, conjugations, numbers, pronunciation, subject pronouns, and how to discuss origin, as well as our ages.

And today in lab as we move towards our first project, we had the opportunity to apply our linguistic tools to discuss people in 3rd person. The examples used were Link, Zelda, and some female robot character…

So…lab homework for next week…

  1. Create un avatar
  2. Be as creative as you want!
  3. Make sure to respond to…
    Come si chiama il tuo personaggio?
    Quanti anni ha?
    Di dov’ė?
    È un/a umano/a, un/a alieno/a, un/a elfo/a, uno/a gnomo/a, un/a gigante*, o…?

🤗 I’m excited. I really wish I could do this all day and weekend…I mean I chose my Bitmoji in about 3 seconds, but I’m thinking this avatar, who I am going to use, maybe all semester, will need some extra creation time. I am thinking she will wear a cape, take on the persona of Wonder Woman, and maybe her super power will be to speak all the languages in the world…vedremo.



Intensive Italian for Gamers – Giorno 3

18 venerdì, gennaio


“Google- ‘What is Italian trap music?'”
💻 “10 Italian rappers you need to know”…”everything you need to know about the Italian trap scene”….”How trap is taking over Italian music”….”Top Italian trap artists”…and so on.

So, okay, I didn’t hear this word wrong. I was expecting Google to reply with something like “Did you mean… “Italian rap music” or “it’s a trap” or even perhaps, “did you mean “orality mudslide””….But it turns out that “trap” is a thing. The “Vu vu vu” provided results such as “Italian Trap Music – The Music of Italy’s Post-Millennials” and “How trap is taking over Italian music”. So, now I know the term ‘trap music’.

According to Italian Enthusiast, as well as Wikipedia, trap music ‘originated from southern hip hop dating back to the early 2000s in the United States.’ However, in Italy, Trap music arrived in approximately 2011, with the real boom beginning in 2014 when the Milanese rapper, Sfera Ebbasta, entered the scene in a big way.’

So, I am jazzed to have a whole new (to me, yes, I am late to the party) genre of music to explore. Honestly, I have never been a huge fan of Hip Hop. My speakers mostly sprout all styles of Latin music, really any kind of electronic music whether it be EDM, electro swing or electro cumbia, 80s classics, and 90s workout jams….so, I am intrigued to dive in and see what happens. So, Spotify I look to you….”Trap Italiano” here we go. 🎶. I hope it’s not a “trap”. 🤔

Today, review of our basic phrases and introductions was interspersed throughout the exercises in ‘Capitolo preliminare‘. We continued to perfect our skills of pronunciation and spelling, useful expressions for keeping a conversation going, and cultural and even geographical knowledge. We’ve looked at basic gaming vocabulary, and enjoyed opportunities to practice these new skills with partners, as well as in larger groups.

🎮 lingua + 🇮🇹 cultura:
“You survived!” • Today we earned our first linguistic badge:
🛡 Level 1:  ‘Ammunition for basic conversation in Italy”

We have now learned enough fundamental language skills to engage in a basic conversation, should we ever find ourselves lost in (or simply enjoying) the pleasant chaos of Rome, cryptic labyrinth of Venice or tranquil bewitchment of Manarola, we have earned our first badge of achievement:

“Scusi” > “Buongiorno” > “Parla inglese?” …. “Arrivederci” > “Grazie!”

Armed with the above we should be able to gracefully, and respectfully, ask for help, directions, or where to find a delicious caffé ☕️.  Or really, just to find out if our interlocutor speaks English.

*Bonus: ‘Che?’, ‘Che cosa?’ and ‘cosa?’, can all be used equally to ask “What?” / “What did you say?”

👨‍🏫 Simone:
“If your lasagne has ricotta cheese, it is not authentic Italian lasagne. That is because true Italian lasagne is made with béchamel and a ragù sauce”.

I am now going to expect that in every single Italian class we discuss food at one point or another. I mean, that is absolutely okay with me, it has been in my experience in official Italian instruction (which has just been 3 days) that some how food always manages to sneak its way into conversation. Whether we are discussing points about language, including grammar and vocab, or culture, food is there and always makes for a great example. 🍕 🍝

Not being a pasta nor pizza eater, when I was in Italy I did make sure to savor the flavor, and I’m not just talking about experiencing the addicting and vibrant culture. In Milano I ate pizza 🍕, in Manarola I had a love affair with my 🍝 fettuccine di mare 🍤, and I was only in Pisa for 30 minutes, where I simply just sipped un caffé ☕️. However, upon arriving to Firenze I definitely marveled in the most delectable gelato 🍦 of my life, and in Venezia reveled in Pesto Penne 🍝💚 #worthit

👁 osservare:
Today my “take away” for my own teaching practice was how much our profe repeats previously learned items, and how it does not feel forced or boring. Especially during the first week of learning a new language, it is utterly important to fully equip the students with the most fundamental and useful aspects of the Target Language. When I am teaching my undergraduate Spanish classes I do a fair amount of repetition, but I am thinking I definitely need to incorporate more. Personally, I have been extremely appreciative and grateful for the amounts of repetition this week. Although it has only been one week of classes, we have learned many new linguistic and cultural concepts, and every day we have also managed to review items from the day(s) before. 💯 A+

👩‍🏫 *Note to future teaching self aka “Almost-Dr. Jones”: incorporate more repetition and review into the first days of class, specifically for novice learners.

Another useful observation was how our professore provided suggestions on how to actually learn and how to study. 🤔 What a concept. Honestly, I am not sure if my undergraduate professors did that, but that was a certain number of many years ago and I may just not be remembering correctly… I do remember crying on my way to school one day my Freshman year, feeling so behind and lost. Later on, during a phone conversation with my Step Mom, she asked “Well, Lil, are you reading the book before class?” 🤦‍♀️ 💡

Simone has also demonstrated ways to leverage and actually navigate the many wonderful aspects of WordReference from the perspective of an L2 learner, as well as ideas on how to study, learn, and acquire this second language. Well, isn’t a that a good idea? Perhaps that is how beginning language classes are taught now, and I hope this is a standard practice across the board.

👩‍🏫 *Note to future teaching self aka “Almost-Dr. Jones”: remember for the first- or second-year students they also may need support in “learning how to learn” specifically  in the language class.


Intensive Italian for Gamers – Giorno 2

16 mercoledi, gennaio


My addiction and adoration for caffè ☕️ basically means I am fluent in Italian. While there is no truth to that whatsoever, what is actually accurate is that by being an avid coffee drinker I learned today that I know more Italian words (and pronunciation) than I initially thought I did!
cappuccino, espresso, doppio, granita, latte, macchiato, americano

So, this morning I thought I would try out some of my newly acquired knowledge on the barista at Starbucks.

Me (after ordering my drink): “fun fact! Did you know that ‘latte‘ actually means ‘milk’ in Italian? Isn’t that cool?” (It also helps if you imagine my “I-am-a-super-cheerful-early-bird-and-love-the-mornings-face 😁 )
Barista (stares blankly): ‘huh?’ 😶
Me: ‘aren’t languages fun?’
Barista: your drink will be out at the end of the bar.

*Okay, I fabricated that last two sentences, but the first part of the exchange was real. I guess I should have saved sharing my new #nerdalert knowledge for a different audience.

(*Disclaimer – Italian coffee drinkers, before you judge me too much about my visit to Starbucks, please know I am on campus at a small university in the Midwest and finding authentic and perfectly crafted cappuccinos and espresso is not exactly convenient.)

Cosa abbiamo fatto oggi?
As it is the first week of class, the lectures have been centered around housekeeping items, such as reviewing the syllabus, class policies, course calendar, projects, quizzes, etc. We are also learning and practicing introductions, and basic concepts, phrases, and pronunciation. In lecture we did a bit of review with introducing ourselves, and discovered our Italian name, which for me is the same in Spanish, Liliana.

“Mi chiamo Liliana Jones, Jeans-Otranto-Napoli-Empoli-Siena” 

We were also presented with multiple tools to enhance our learning and/or satisfy personal interests, such as the WordReference app for our mobile devices, AppSwift, and RPG Maker.

I laughed a lot today. The energy in the classroom is vibrant and fun, and our professor is always making silly jokes, chuckling, and encouraging us to use Italian whenever we possibly can.

After lecture we moved into our hour of weekly lab and had the opportunity to expand on our basic conversational skills. Il nostro professore gave the input, discussing his origins, showing pictures of his family and hometown, and providing example sentences in the Target Language, after which we had the opportunity to practice a bit with our classmates. After the warm fuzzies of “this is who I am and where I came from” (i.e. this is why you should trust me as an authentic teacher) which almost all World Language teachers do, we learned, and practiced talking about how many anni we have, and we even had time for likes, dislikes, what we may collect, plural v. singular endings, and pronouns. All the while our examples and themes stayed strongly linked to videogioco vocab such as consoles, verbs, and phrases.

(Io) collezino console e giochi!
E tu, che cosa hai?
(Io) ho un PC/un Mac.
(Io) ho una…e (anche) una…
 – Past – (Io) ho avuto…

Mi piacciono + plural noun > Mi piacciono i computer portatili 💻 💻 💻 
Mi piace + singular noun > Mi piace la tecnologia 📱

🎮 lingua + 🇮🇹 cultura: 
I experienced an input overload on words, phrases, and cultural tidbits today! In a good way, though. I have had to choose just three to share today, otherwise I would be here all night writing…which wouldn’t be the worse thing I suppose.

The one thing about selecting which words to include in the lingua and cultura section is that many of the words and phrases I wrote down today are so closely connected to culture, so they really belong in both sections. Which is perfect! Because we all know we cannot teach language without culture 🇮🇹

🥇 Uno – ‘www.’ The pronunciation of ‘double-u‘ just cracks me up. I found myself humming this all-too-familiar set of letters later on that afternoon. 🎶 ‘vu vu vu’ 🎵 I sang as I walked to lab. 🎶 ‘vu vu vu’ 🎵 I hummed as I walked home. 🎶 ‘vu vu vu’ 🎵 my feet pounded out as I walked on the treadmill.

So, the book says “doppia vu“, but I guess when you are reading out a web address you can just say ‘vu vu vu‘ and I am going to do just that. I will probably also be singing most Italian web addresses from now on. #sorrynotsorry

🥈 Due – ‘Bella figura’
The discussion around this concept noted that it can be understood as ‘doing something in public that makes you look good in front of people’. Profe says the opposite of this concept exists in English (‘Brutta figura‘ – when someone makes a poor showing, appears in a bad light, or makes a fool of herself), however ‘Bella Figura‘ does not. We know that not all words can directly translate across languages, and it is important to remember that concepts often cannot either, due to their deep cultural roots. Although it does pain me a little that in American culture we lack a cutesy little phrase to encompass the idea of doing a beautiful deed in the public eye.

🥉 Tre – ‘magari!’ (and of course with a hand gesture) – My understanding of ‘magari‘ is  equivalent to ‘ojalá‘ in Spanish. Which is like ‘let’s hope’, ‘hopefully’, or in a religious sense, ‘God willing’.

👨‍🏫 Simone:
Profe: “I am not stupid in Math, I am just good at other things”
I am in the right place. I hear you loud and clear. He continued on to “joke” 🤔 about still counting on his fingers, well that is no joke for me. Once I was counting in my head and my Grandfather looked at me, quite confused, and asked “do you need to take off your shoes?” Har har har.

👁 osservare:
While there were many amazing items I noted for my own teaching practice, today’s highlight came from a film made in 1982 (before every single one of us was born, except our professor. (See? I can make age-related jokes too 😉) Simone does a really good job off contextualizing concepts in our new Target Language based on our previous experience and knowledge. Take the movie ET for example, most of us have seen that movie, and hopefully most of us like that movie. We were discussing older video game consoles, as well as educational consoles from the 80s and early 90s and, all of a sudden we are watching a clip from ET in Italian, learning about the Speak & Spell toy/learning game, which followed up with a TV commercial in Italian (but of course via YouTube) for the Atari console (I think it was?). Anyway, the realia chosen and the flow of the input, was fun, the class connected with the content, and we were engaging three of our basic language learning skills: listening, reading, and cultural awareness. (A few of us shared our “ET watching experience” in English, which did employ a wee bit of first-week-of-class-bonding).

At the end of lab, if I heard correctly, well our teacher was speaking in English, so I do hope I heard correctly, that we are going to start designing our own avatars on Friday. I’m not gonna lie, I am pretty jazzed about that.

If it’s anything like my Bitmoji, that is going to be a hoot. She gets into all kinds of adventures, all in a very fashionable way of course….(< Simone was right, Avatars are good for practicing using the 3rd person…)



Intensive Italian for Gamers – Giorno 1

* * *

14 lunedi, gennaio


This seems to be the magical word in Italian. It appears to be a powerful word, in such that it can open up a conversation, as well as bring it to a halt. Just by existing, Ciao! seems to be able to control the mood, rhythm, and mere existence of a conversation.

I have been looking forward to this class for many reasons. My motivations for enrolling in the class were primarily the sheer joy of learning another language, and the culture enveloped in language. Secondly, I have heard and read many wonderful things about this specific class , in person from students who have previously taken the class, articles in the media, and fellow colleagues and faculty.  I will forever and always be a student and will never cease to take advantage of learning opportunities.

Having said this, how could I have overlooked one of the most amazing benefits that being enrolled in this class would fulfill? I suppose I was oh-so eager for my own learning of the Italian language and cultural awareness, that I had not yet focused on the fact that in front of me was an entire semester of classroom Foreign Language classroom observation. 👍 #winning | I always say I am going to take time to observe this professor and that professor who I admire, and would love to observe their tactics in a live setting, but there always seems to be something that takes priority, like lesson planning and teaching my own classes as a Teaching Assistant, essay writing and submitting my PhD applications, completion of my Master’s thesis, and remembering to take care of me and keep pursuing my healthy lifestyle, inside and out. So, needless to say, how ecstatic was I, when I was sitting there, the most eager-beaver of the group probably, when I realized this incredible occasion, to not only gain a stronger awareness of the Italian Language and Culture, but also enhance my own foreign language teaching skills through observation.

Prof: “I am 12 years old inside”
I am in the right place. Phewwww! Me too. Although, perhaps my 12-year old self gets a kick out of elementary jokes and bad puns, and loves to intersperse runs with the random cartwheel here and there. Either way, it sure was good to hear that.

I am in the right place. As an instructor of Spanish, I also open up my first few classes telling my students that Spanish is a “What-you-see-is-what-you-get” language, aka, in the biz, I suppose they refer to it as a “phonetic language”. Either way, I have never heard any other language instructor refer to a phonetic language as WYSIWYG and I was quite happy to see that. I think I heard that term first when I was working reception at Capital Factory (Tech Startup Incubator in Austin, TX). In that moment, I probably just smiled super big, bobbled my head, and said “oh yeah, totally”, ha ha” 🤨 🤔 and distracted my interlocutor with “oh hey!  I think the Python meet up left some free pizza in the kitchen?’….Safe. #fakeittillyoumakeit….yes, maybe for a little bit, but then over time, you really do learn and you are no longer faking it; you are doing and you are doing it well.

On one hand I was in exactly the right space. On the other hand, not at all. And that felt, in a strange way, kind of perfect.

🎮 • lingua: my language highlight of today’s class was the phrase, “Non ho una console“, to which Simone said “that is absolutely fine, because we are going to play here.” Phew! Even though as the students went around the room proudly sharing which console they currently owned, had owned, or just wished they owned, I of course, was thinking about when I was 13 playing 600 rounds of Mario Kart on a Nintendo 64, that of course belonged to my friend. Then when I was 21, I became extremely skilled at Mortal Kombat (when I was living in an old frat house with 12 guys)….but those were phases and I really have no idea about this world, but I am happy to learn. I was also happy to learn I was not the only student in the class that did not currently own a video game console.

🇮🇹 cultura: “In Italy, if you were not watching Anime, or had never seen any episodes of Anime, then YOU were the geek”. 🤔 Well, isn’t that a twist? I honestly a) have no idea about Anime, 2) had to even look up the spelling before writing this post, and d) loved learning about this fun, cultural component of Italian life. Note to self – watch some Anime before returning to Italy.

👨‍🏫 Simone: “I am Simone for everyone at SLU”.
Piacere! 👋 He is engaging, his hands gesture wildly about, as if directing an orchestra. As language instructors we’ve learned about Total Physical Response and the power of incorporating movements with our words to foster binding, but this is a whole new level. With every hand flicker to indicate “repeat after me” or raises and drops in the arm to indicate good feelings and perhaps poor, it’s as if each gesture drags the words through the air, leaving a powdery trail of Italian script.


👁 Osservare: How has he gotten this entire class (of almost all beginners) to feel like we can carry on a beginning conversation in Italian already? In 50 minutes he has introduced us to greetings, a few basic phrases in introducing ourselves, and has gotten us all to speak.

Not only speak, but I noticed within the 50 minutes I had engaged in all of the four skills necessary for acquiring a language: reading, listening, speaking, and writing.

I also became aware of the situation that there were various levels of language learners in this class. First off, I know my own level, which is an advanced learner of Spanish, novice Italian; there were others who had previously taken Simone’s first level Italian course; and there appear to be others with native Spanish-speaking backgrounds, as well as other heritages and native languages. The thing I was really focusing on was, what an excellent experience for myself, as a language instructor, to get to experience being immersed in a group of learners where some may have zero foreign language background. Getting to experience this class from the perspective of a novice learner of Italian, as well as a professor in training (Spanish as an L2), is really quite amazing and unique.

I am a graduate student, obtaining a MA in Spanish, with no official training in Italian, no background in gaming, in a beginning undergraduate class, and I find myself sitting next to one of my previous Spanish 1010 students. What an amazing and humbling experience this is going to be. I am ready.

Ready for tomorrow, which is the 2nd day of class…and lab.


Intensive Italian for Gamers (Spring 2019)

Did I change my major to Italian? Did I go back in time and kick off another undergraduate degree? No, but as I prepare to graduate with my Master’s in Spanish from Saint Louis University, this semester I have the opportunity to take an Intensive Undergraduate Italian class.

How did I get here? Let’s go back…back to where I left off, August 4th, 2017. I was preparing to embark on yet another adventure, this time to a city which some people call the mid West and others determine to be in the ‘South’. Either way, I arrived from Austin in approximately 2 and a half days by car.

More on my experience at SLU – St. Louis to follow!

But for now…I am about to head out to an extremely uncomfortable situation. 🤣 But it is really when we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations, and when we make mistakes, is when true learning can occur.

I say uncomfortable, but really mean ‘new’ and ‘different’. First, I have not been in undergrad classes since I was one, 11 years ago (I really just dated myself then, huh?). Second, I am not a gamer nor do I have much passion in becoming a life-long player of video games. What I am passionate about however is learning and experiencing things which I would normally not have the opportunity to do.

The most out of my element I would say I ever was in February 2008 when my female friend and I took a ferry across the Straight of Gibraltar and spend a weekend exploring Morocco together.

I am looking forward to being out of my element, interacting with people with whom I might not have the chance to otherwise, learning about video-games, and above it all, to gain knowledge of Italian, and Italian speaking cultures!

I do plan to use my Twitter @Lily_Jones20 to share bits of the experience for those that might be interested in #allthethings related to…#Italian #italianlanguage #italianculture and #VideoGameBasedLearning. Follow the hashtag #IntensiveItalian4GamersSLU for a look into “Intensive Italian for Gamers” at Saint Louis University from a Master’s Spanish student with no video game background.