Have you ever written one of those stories that just sticks with you? Back in 2007, I got a wild hair and decided to take an Italian class at my local community college. I am already fluent in Spanish as well as my native English and thought, what the heck! I’ll learn Italian too.
(Ok, ok, so there was a guy involved… The dating didn’t work out but I had fun learning Italian!)
For a little class at the local college, it was a lot of fun. There was a great mix of for-enrichment students, going to Italy on a vacation students, and 18 year old college kids. All was fun and games until one day, our professor, Mario, announced that he’d be missing a class. We could either make it up (no fun) or do a writing project.
I’ll bet you can guess that I was one of the few who thought the writing project would be fun!
It could be about ANYTHING. It had to be two pages, written in your best Italian. Which, at the time, consisted of very limited vocabulary and verbs in the present tense only. Hey! It was eight weeks into an Italian 101 class, what do you expect!
Beyond the writing assignment, each student also had to give an oral presentation. Eek! Well, actually, with my background in Spanish, the grammar wasn’t scary and I knew my way around a dictionary and a 501 Italian Verb book like riding the Madrid Metro. But to actually SPEAK Italian. Well, I speak Italian to this day like an American with a Mexican-Spanish accent butchering the language. Sorry!
From that assignment was born:
What better use of beginning language than to write a children’s story, geared towards beginning readers. For the presentation, I sat on the desk with a HUGE picture book I’d illustrated myself and “published” by turning brown paper grocery sacks inside out. It was just like the books we used to read as a class in Kindergarten. For a “snack” I gave out little baggies of farfalle (bowtie) pasta which features in the story.