As the sole English teacher in a town of 16,000 halfway down the heel of Italy, it’s hard to get a break from my job. While I’ve made Italian friends, great ones at that, if I had a euro for every time I heard someone tell me to correct them when they make a mistake while speaking, I’d be able to solve Italy’s economic woes singlehandedly. When I’m not impaired by such restrictions, I usually just listen, nodding through any minor grammatical mistakes. Though my TEFL examiner might disagree, understanding and basic comprehension are both more important than proper grammar, though no excuse for native speakers who can’t tell the difference between their, they’re, and there.
And as for pronunciation, this is Italy, so take it from an English teacher; if you’re going to try to correct every mispronounced word, you’re in for a positively biblical ordeal. If you’ve had any real experience dealing with Italians, you know many tend to try to end every word with a vowel, such as: “how-e you-e today-e!” I blame the British in large part for this, really just because I like blaming them for things (I jest!), but that’s another story. The point I’m trying to make in this one is that Italians do by and large sound like the red-hatted, blue-overalled Mario from everyone’s favorite video game (possibly a slight exaggeration). But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, if you ate all the gigantic mushrooms you came across, your voice would be bound to sound more animated too!
So the point of these, ahem, “lessons” isn’t to educate so much as it is to entertain. While I like to think of myself as educational, if you want to gear up for a nap, better to pick up a copy of a Cambridge English textbook.
Note: I have recently relocated to Rome which, as of this writing, has slightly more than 16,000 occupants but which nevertheless offers ample opportunities to pointing out the peculiarities and particulars of teaching the English language.