??Journey or destination??

Exploring life experiences at home and beyond – Destination Happiness

Il tavolo e marrone and other tales of Anna!


Browsing through the Daily Prompts on WordPress, today’s prompt caught my eye.

If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?

I come from Italian heritage. My paternal grandfather came to Australia from an island of the northern coast of Sicily, when he was 12 (in 1880). In 1915 he married my grandmother who had come to Australia a short time before that. I guess being an immigrant at that time was not a popular thing and so my grandfather apparently insisted he and my grandmother spoke only English. My grandfather died when my dad was nine and consequently he and his siblings spoke only English (though my dad and brothers knew some very choice sayings in Italian). I remember my grandmother speaking Italian with her sisters and relatives but I was more intrigued by the twigs (bayleaves) she had hanging to dry in the kitchen corner – not to mention the fact they went in the food she prepared!


Several years ago my daughter thought she would like to learn conversational Italian with a view to one day using it in her travels. I decided to join her, not because I had dreams at that time to travel there but because I thought it would give her someone to practice with and I knew no other language than English. I had done a little bit in high school (sure, a million years before). “How hard could this be?” I thought.”It’s in the blood,” I thought. “The intonation will come to me from that corner of the brain that houses special memories”. Not so, on any count.

cooltext1423796187link to doing these cool texts 🙂

Instead I copped the wrath of the teacher. Turns out Sicilian is not Italian as such. Turns out counting to ten and doing greetings and colours is not conversational Italian either. “What kind of Italian name is Kerry-Anne – you will be referred to as ANNA!!” she screeched in good Italian mumma tones (I remember the tone). This didn’t make for a good experience. Often I missed my questions in class (there were only about 8 of us), only to be berated for doing so- I forgot I was Anna and was looking around trying to see who should be answering the question.


I tried very hard but I was definitely a remedial student. I tried to complete my homework. One time it was so hard I typed up my daughter’s HSC assignment in return for her completing the homework for both of us – it came easy to her- and I was more successful in my typing. My daughter was dragged down by my inabilities and we laughed in class the day the teacher said my daughter had to complete the remedial lesson with me while the other students got to play fun games. Many times my daughter would whisper answers to me just so I didn’t get into trouble in class but we were often caught out and that wasn’t a nice experience.

I learnt very little to have a conversation with, but I did learn other things. I saw classroom dynamics as they are primary school – yet these were adult women and men. I found one student  (other than my daughter) was more supportive of the slower one (me) while others enjoyed making fun of me to elevate themselves. I learnt that if a teacher doesn’t like you the classroom isn’t a pleasant place to be. I learnt that bright red lipstick isn’t a good look when smudged on teeth of a snarling teacher (in fact it’s never a good look really). I learnt if you aren’t good at something you should just give up (well I got the message but never adhered to it, finishing my 10 week course proudly). So , the course wasn’t wasted time in one way.

I also learnt ‘Il tavolo e marrone’,

800px-Wooden_Table_-_SketchUp‘Dove (insert each family member’s name here)’


and ‘Caffe latte’.


I’m actually planning a trip to Italy with my family in the not too distant future. So hopefully I will have a chance to tell someone that the table is brown and I want a coffee with hot milk while I look for my family. You just never know!

Author: Travelling Macs

A mum to 2 grown up children who always make me proud, a wife and a full time school teacher. I love eating great food but am not motivated to cook. Love traveling around this great country in which I live. Often found traveling with my husband Brian. I write for pleasure and if it's read (and enjoyed) by others then that's a bonus! 2014 saw me begin the 'new' me. Working hard at leaving the fear of 'what if' behind and replacing it with YOLO adventures. :)

4 thoughts on “Il tavolo e marrone and other tales of Anna!

  1. Hello Kerry-Anne. I have just happened across your blog via clicking a link somewhere in the evil vortex that is the interwebs. I am really enjoying your writing and commiserated at your evil Italian teacher. I would so love to have LOTE skills. Without an evil teacher though.

    In 2007 we took our 11yo son and 8yo daughter to Europe spending just over two weeks in Italy. It was fantastic, I can’t decide if Florence or Venice are my favourite Italian cities. The children learnt Italian at school and our son showed a flair for the language (further travelling has demonstrated that he appears to have a flair for all languages, I am so jealous). Being able to hold conversations with shop keepers, bus & boat drivers (people who didn’t necessarily have good English), he ordered all our food and could confidently ask for directions and, more importantly, understand the answer. Our daughter was less interested in practicing the language however she is very organised. Prior to leaving she wrote a list of words and questions that she thought she needed to know and got her Italian teacher to put down the correct words and grammar for her to refer to. The list included all the things important to an 8yo, “may I have a milkshake please”, “may I pat your dog please”, chocolate, coffee (for Mum!), toast, dinner and then other useful things like train station, toilet, hotel. What she doesn’t have in language skills she made up with numeracy, every morning she would check the foreign exchange rates on the news and was able to tell you how much AUD your euro spend equaled. That made my head spin!

    Apologies for the very long comment. Enjoy your Italy trip!

  2. I chuckled reading your post. I can so relate to you trying to learn a new language. I did a long time ago and soon forgot most of it. I enjoyed your story. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I think your daughter had the right idea and I will follow that, adding to my list. I’m hoping my daughter has remembered some of the lessons to help us. It is a gift to be able to learn a LOTE as your son did and it truly would add to the pleasure of overseas adventures. Glad you found my blog and left a comment. Hope you visit again soon. The web is an amazing place . 🙂

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