Roberto is playful and wants to talk about sex in cars
and gear sticks. We lose ourselves in body parts:
engine, carburettor, vroom, vroom.
Carla likes cooking, the gnocchi
her grandmother taught her how to make - a whole day set
aside, potatoes in piles, all the family peeling.
Her fingers forgetful of typewriter keys.
Giancarlo bicycles twenty kilometres every Sunday
(we imagine his overfed thighs in lycra and laugh).
He lists all the cups he won when the weekend was just
one long white road, his podgy hands making circles,
his moustached mouth the whirring of spokes.
Gianni goes back to his village, kisses his seven
little sisters, loves checking his row of reddening tomatoes.
He wears different shoes, screwing his face up at
buckled black leather. No briefcase. No boss.
Francesca likes going to the mountains, the lakes, the sea -
wherever her friends have houses. We are all invited.
When you open the windows all the houses have
beautiful views, and there is panettone for breakfast.
Franco plays cards in the bar with his friends.
Same bar, same friends: every evening playing poker
at Vittorio's place. He counts the years on his fingers
as if he had never counted before.
Lucia says she cries all weekend, every weekend -
since Massimo left her. She sits in the flat and cries.
There is nothing else to do.
The silence pulls at her words, dangling cut-out and
foreign on the air, begging to be mistakable:
a disappearing trick against the classroom's white walls.
Then Roberto claps his hands. He meant to say
he likes practising English. We all groan.
With kind permission of the poet, previously published in Poetry as a Foreign Language, edited by Martin Bates, White Adder Press, 1999
"We are doing Chapter 6: Hobbies, I like doing..." Robert Seatter has been an English teacher, an actor and a journalist. This poem takes us into part of an English lesson for adult learners.
Do the Preparation task first. Then go to Text and read the poem or story (you can also listen to the audio while you read). Next go to Task and do the activity.
We suggest you do the vocabulary activity below before you read or listen. Then read and/or listen to the poem and do the task to check your comprehension.
Decide if the statements are true or false.
Using the poem as a model, write a list of hobbies and pastimes, either:
(a) what each of your friends likes doing.
(b) what you like doing at different times and in different places, for example, in winter...., in the city...., and so on.
Add notes to each pastime: what do they or you do? How do they or you feel about it? Now turn your notes into a narrative, trying to express the feelings. Can you make a poem?
Log in and send us your own poems or your opinions and comments below.
Hello, I'm Sora, maybe, I'm like Giancarlo, I ridding bike every day but I'm not podgy nor professional, only I'm amateur, and I haven't moustach too, hahaha. With my family and some friends likes hang on to walk for 4 hours and more for roads in the outdoor, take a pictures and make the dinner in the flame.
I hope receive my errors, Thanks
Isn't it a paradox to try and learn and improve our English using poetry? I have appreciated the text describing these hobbies, some fun, selfish, enthusiastic and finally terribly moving! I think poetry is not straight understandable, so, quite a challenge to learn English with! Why not? But embarrassing because (imho) reading a poem is getting a strange feeling, often good, but sometimes far from the reality, built by yourself. My English teacher would have told me, my dear boy, you are still dreaming! you have completely misunderstood! Thank to your programme, but I must confess that trying poetry is a bit daunting! But I will carry on!
hi every one
nice but i want to understand what this meaning please???? i mean poetry, if some body explain to me?? talk about what
The poem is about an English class, in fact!
The poet - who is maybe the teacher - is telling us the things his Italian students talk about in class.
Each of the students talks about their hobbies.
The first student, Roberto, talks about cars.
The second, Carla, says she likes cooking, and so on.
To help you understand the poem better, remember you can read the poem as well as listen. Just click on the 'text' tab to see the words.
Hope that helps!
The LearnEnglish team
I am so exciting that i find a good place to improve my English .
Mistake makes us perfect,so i am not's afraid.
hello, im fiona from albania. im working in a project about the rules of behaviour in UK. Would you please help me?? or do you have a site for thr rules of behaviour in UK?? i really need some help. Wuold be so grateful, if u help me. thank you.
What sort of rules of behaviour are you looking for? We have a video series called UK Culture and another called How to which might be useful for you. If you have some specific questions, feel free to ask them.
The LearnEnglish Team
It's really a wonderfull reading...the author talks about the characters in a soft and realistic way, as if they in fact represent us, people who study hard to get a good level of english, but have at the same time a personal life full of good and bad fellings, dreams, changes, ideas, fears and more than anything, experiences.
Although I don't understand poem very much, but I can feel the great beauty of poetry, it makes my mind quiet and peace. Thank you.
it s fine when you make your mistakes.
© British Council
The United Kingdom's international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.
A registered charity: 209131 (England and Wales) SC037733 (Scotland).