Italian conversation

The important bit!

The Italian conversation group meets weekly – on Mondays at 10 am.  We normally meet at the Owls Roost Café, Minehead.  Please remember to check the Calendar in case of any late changes to schedule.

Our group is led by Bettina Grieser Johns, and she may be contacted at 07405 035063, or by email at

Image shows group members playing scrabble

Italian conversation at the Owls Roost. Photo by Cherrie Temple

Latest – 2022!

Not much new on the Italian front – we are still struggling through the difficult grammar of chapter 4 in our textbook (pronouns, no less!), while distracting ourselves with the mouth-watering descriptions of the Italian food.  Having read a chunk of our current book (Hunger Games) we ask each other comprehension and grammar questions, which sometimes results in interesting discussions.  To celebrate Christmas, we played a new Italian game, “Parolandia dei Piccoli”, where we had to make up sentences (see picture), which meant that the noises coming from our corner in Owls Roost were even more raucous than usual!  Looking back over the year, we definitely feel we are making progress while still having fun.


Owing to the road closure at Carhampton, in October we went back to meeting on Zoom.  The initial reactions of members to Hunger Games were positive overall: although the book has a lot of vocabulary that we need to look up, it has greater depth than an easy reader, and questions about the contents can be more rigorous.  We started Chapter 4 in our textbook, which is all about the lovely Italian food – it makes your mouth water just thinking about it!

May.  We had our first in-person meeting on May 24th and enjoyed it very much. Although we had brought our textbook along, we actually spent most of the time catching up on news – always in Italian, of course! We did do some listening exercises from the textbook, which is more fun than doing them on your own, because you can discuss whether everybody heard the same thing (unlikely). Future in-person meetings will be a mix of talking, working in the textbook and discussing the book we’re reading at the moment, “In other words” by Jhumpa Lahiri. Looking forward to the next time!

April.   Our group is always looking for a slightly different approach to learning Italian to ensure that we don’t lose heart.  We have now started a new book, ‘In other words’ by Jhumpa Lahiri, which has been described by Tessa Hadley (who you may remember spoke at one of our coffee mornings) as ‘revolutionary.’ The author is American and she writes in Italian of her love affair with the language, after having moved with her family to Rome.  The book recounts her full immersion in the culture and is autobiographical.  It is presented in a dual-language text, which enables the reader to concentrate on the details of the language.

Light relief between our two Zoom meetings is as usual provided by Italian Scrabble!

March. Cherrie Temple, one of the Group’s members writes: “Incredibly, it is almost one year since we went into the first ‘lockdown’.  At that time, our group moved to twice weekly Zoom sessions.  For a short while we were able to return to the Owls Roost where we had previously met each week.  We also continued one of our Zoom sessions as a u3a member from Taunton had joined us.  When restaurants and cafes are allowed to reopen, we are hoping to return to the Owls Roost.  Until then, we will be continuing as previously.  It goes without saying that we are still learning and having fun, especially via online Italian scrabble.”

We are continuing to meet twice weekly via Zoom.  On Tuesdays, four of us have started a new workbook to provide us with a wider learning experience.

From the cover of ‘Il nuovo affresco’ reading book

In addition, we have become Italian scrabble addicts and play regularly online.  At our Friday Zoom session, we welcome a member from Taunton u3a.  We usually read some ‘Easy Italian’ publications: our present ‘book’ is about a number of famous Italian women and their stories  (info. from Cherrie Temple).




Image shows a Scrabble board being used in Italian language

Italian scrabble! Photo by Cherrie Temple

2020.  The lockdown in March required adjustment and we learnt how to conduct Zoom meetings.  Having met in person once a week for two hours before the lockdown, we decided to have two weekly Zoom meetings of 40 minutes.  (Heartfelt thanks to the IT Champions who helped whenever we had questions!)  Fridays was soon dedicated to ‘Literature’ (Easy Readers for our level), where everybody took a section to read out loud and then ask the others comprehension questions.  We learnt a lot of new vocabulary this way!  On Tuesdays, we did what we felt like doing, such as discussing articles from the EasyItalianNews.  We restarted the in-person meetings in late August, learning how to play Scrabble in Italian!  With new restrictions in November, we will go back to Zoom meetings twice a week and be grateful for all the material that is out there on the Internet – Easy Readers, magazines for Italian learners, crosswords, etc. – dug up by our active and resourceful members!

Italian Christmas

The Group contributed a page to the Advent Calendar 2020.  It may be viewed here.


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