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Intervista al prof. Terrence Agneessens
Andrea Quinci | Interviste | 16 ottobre 2010 alle 18:55:44

“An American in Paris? No, in Ita-ly. And still loving it after 25 years.” This is the way he loves to descrive himself!

A lot of students all over the world think that English is a difficult language: do you think so too or do you disagree? Why should anyone learn English?

Well, like any language, English has its pros and cons. For me it’s easy, as it would be for any native speaker. In terms of grammar, it’s much simpler compared to Italian for example. Instead, as far as pronunciation is concerned, it’s quite difficult since there are no hard-and-fast rules. Sometimes the same word, in a different context, is pronounced differently (like the word “read” for example). In the end you have to memorise how to pronounce a lot of words and that takes more mental effort. Everyone should learn English for one very important reason: it’s used around the world in a myriad of sectors, from telecommunications and economics to tourism and computer science.

Every year this school organises summer holidays in Britain or in the USA to learn English and to discover cultural differences: what are the main differences?

The first thing that comes to mind is history. Italy is much older, historically speaking, than the USA (England also has quite an extensive history). In fact Italy is considered the cradle of humanity: this implies that its cultural heritage is much more extensive than that of the “youngster” known as America.

Another diversity is the cuisine. There’s no doubt that Italy has much more to offer in terms of traditional gastronomic delights, food and drink, than either the USA or Great Britain.

Another cultural difference involves personal interaction. In the Latin culture people tend to get closer together when they talk and are more open about expressing their feelings. Instead in Britain people keep their distance when talking with each other. A good example is when people say hello or goodbye. In Italy it’s not unusual for men to hug and kiss each other (on the cheek of course), while it is just not done in America or GB.

And what about schools? Are there differences?

There are lots of differences between the 2 school systems. First, the time schedule. American students attend school from 8 am to 3 pm, Monday to Friday (instead in Italy you go from 8 am to 1 pm and even on Saturday). Then there’s the size of classes. In urban American schools the average number of students per classroom is around 35! (In Italy I’d say it’s more like 25). Another big difference is that in America teachers stay in the classroom while students move around every hour. Students also have electives, meaning they can choose some of the subjects they would like to take. In Italy you have only 2 hours of physical education a week, while in America students have 1 hour of gym every day! There are many more but you’d need a lot more space to describe them all.

In the U.S.A. a lot of people are overweight because they eat junk food. Do you think that this is the result of inadequate information about the damage it may cause? If not, what are the reasons behind this problem?

I think Americans are quite aware of the risk of eating junk food. The problem is that it’s so easy to find affordable junk food just about everywhere…and not just in an actual eating establishment like a MacDonalds or a Burger King. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you went to a Foot Locker to buy some shoes. Next to the cashier there is a stand with things like candy bars, potato chips and other junk food. The same applies to a bookstore, sporting goods store or a drugstore (similar to a little supermarket but also with a pharmacy). There’s even a place like this in Savona. Don’t believe me? All you have to do is go to the Blockbuster movie rental store. Seeing is believing….

The new president of the U.S.A., Barack Obama, is trying to put a national health reform package into effect. Everyone knows that the American health system is different from the Italian one where you only have to pay a small fee to receive medical assistance. On the contrary, in the United States you are provided medical assistance only if you can pay for it. If not you’re refused treatment… Is this morally correct?

I’m extremely happy that Barack Obama is trying to correct a situation that has been wrong for quite some time. Medical treatment, like the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink, is essential to life and a right that everyone is entitled to. Making it available only to those who can afford it is totally absurd.

Why did you emigrate to Italy?

After getting married in Savona and living two years in Los Angeles I decided to return to Italy so that my wife (who was born and raised in Savona) wouldn’t lose all her Italian social security contributions (she is a kindergarten teacher). I decided to leave everything in America behind and dive headfirst into this adventure of learning a new language and a new culture and now, 25 years later, I’d say I was able to meet that challenge rather well.

Here is a survey called “100 things to be happy”. Tell us what your favourite thing is for each category.

a. Food: anything with fish and/or seafood.

b. Home: anywhere surrounded by nature where I can “listen to the silence”.

c. Travel: discovering everything I can about places I’ve never been before…

d. School: junior high school, where I was close to a lot of classmates.

e. Books: science-fiction and adventure stories.

f. People: good observers, meaning anyone who uses all their senses to try to understood others.

g. Fun: playing/listening to (good) music.

h. Personal item: a chain with a silver and turquoise bear claw I got as a present when I was 16.

i. Clothes: polo/T-shirt, jeans, tennis shoes.

j. Love and/or sex: sex becomes even better when you’re with someone you love.


21346 visualizzazioni | 3 commenti | |
EGGVode James
22 giugno 2019 alle 13:32:43
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