My Italian Learning Journey

The Eighth and final week

Wow. Just under two months ago, I decided to make time for something I have always wanted to do. Being enrolled in two classes this semester, I probably had less time than ever to begin learning a new language, but my ambition got the best of me, and as a result, I’ve learned a lot than just Italian.

Summarizing My Progress

  1. My initial plan was to take a proficiency test, sign up for Duolingo, and work from my Italian Verb Workbook.
  2. My first week in, I took said proficiency test, signed up for Duolingo, and reflected on how the app begins by introducing words that are easy to imagine, making them easier to remember.
  3. In week 2, I began learning some basic vocabulary and a few verbs and began realizing how important masculine/feminine & singular/plural would be when using the language. I also began summarizing my learning using Sketchpad.
  4. During week 3, I reflected on the grammatical structure of the Italian language, and I figured out why there are seven ways to say the word the.
  5. In Week 4 I wrote about the anxiety I feel when I’m about to make a mistake, and I began learning common phrases and different types of food.
  6. I began watching my an Italian Mafia show during week 5 and learned that many words need either an ‘i’ or an ‘e’ when plural.
  7. During week 6, I reflected on the importance of language learning and learned a lot more vocabulary on food and dining.
  8. It wasn’t until week 7 that I made time to explore YouTube! I continued watching Gomorrah, and learned how to use possessive words.
  9. Final week, I continued with my Duolingo and took the same proficiency test I initially took in my first week. I’m not sure why I couldn’t see my full results the second time around, but it seems that I have improved slightly. I was able to recognize more words, but there was still a great deal I didn’t understand.

I have come to learn and understand 332 words in Italian over the course of this project!

This averages to around 40 new words per week.

Beyond Italian

This project exposed me to more than just learning Italian vocabulary. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

  • How to make a video – from filming, to transferring files, to editing using WeVideo – what an eye-opening experience. I ask my students to make videos often, but I wasn’t actually aware of how time consuming the process actually is.
  • I learned how to upload videos to YouTube – now I know!
  • I learned how to screen record on my phone using AZ Screen Recorder.
  • As outlined in my Adobe Spark video below, I have learned what my students must feel like when using English or French as an additional language. Trying to communicate in a language with limited vocabulary made me feel like I couldn’t fully express my thoughts. I think this is important to recognize, that just because students may lack the ability to express themselves in English, that doesn’t make them incapable of complex or abstract ideas. It just takes time.
Made with Adobe Spark

Thanks to all who have been following along!

Arrivederci!

Italian 101 – Week 7

In the world of YouTube

After seeing that Kalyn was exploring all sorts of YouTube videos (like Learn French While You Sleep), I knew it was time to give YouTube a shot! I’m so glad I did!

Videos

1. Italy Made Easy

The first video that caught my attention was called, Italian Definite Articles – What they are and how to use them. If you’ve been following my Italian learning journey, you’ll know that back in Week 2 of my progress, I was very confused that there were so many different ways to say the article ‘the.’ I’ve been able to manage, but this video explained it so well! The host, Manu, is also funny, which makes his channel very engaging. And it turns out, my confusion two weeks in was justified – there are 7 ways of saying ‘the’ in Italian!

From YouTube Channel ‘Italy Made Easy

2. Learn Italian with ItalianPod101.com

This was the second channel I found with a large variety of resources that I found useful. Because my Duolingo learning hasn’t yet introduced a lot of conversational vocabulary, I decided to watch the section ‘Learn Italian with Italiano in Tre Minuti‘. These videos were very clear, repetitive and easy to understand.

From YouTube Channel ‘Learn Italian with ItalianPod101.com

3. LearnAmo

This was another channel that I really enjoyed exploring. Although the hosts on LearnAmo only speak Italian, I find the videos easy to understand because although I can’t understand every word, I can understand the context of the video with the hand gestures and the writing on the screen. In addition to this YouTube channel, the LearnAmo blog and organizes their videos in categories which makes the videos easy to navigate.

From YouTube Channel ‘LearnAmo

Netflix

I’ve been keeping up with Gamorrah for the past couple of weeks and the story line has quickly taken a violent turn! It being about an Italian Mafia, I should have seen this coming! Here’s my summary of Episode 2: Te fidi de me? and Episode 3: L’omm ‘e casa.

Episode 2 – SummaryNew Words Introduced
– In this episode there are rumors of there being a traitor in Savastano’s Mafia
– Ciro is grieving the loss of his friend and father figure – he breaks the news to Attilio’s family but the wife is so upset and doesn’t want anything else to do with the Mafia or Ciro
– Pietro Savastano is worried that someone will soon sell him out for illegal activity and feels the need to begin preparing for his son, Genny, to take over the business – He gives Ciro the job of taking Genny to shoot someone for the first time
– Genny is left traumatized by the event, but Ciro’s assistance with this job helps assure Pietro that he can trust Ciro to be Genny’s right-hand man when the time comes
– Pietro thinks he knows who the traitor is, ‘takes care of him’, and wears the traitor’s jacket out as he leaves his apartment
– At the end of the episode, Ciro is about to make a phone call, alluding to him being the traitor, but instead burns the number after hearing that Genny was in a severe motorcycle accident (but in reality an attempted suicide)
– When Pietro hears of the accident, he speeds towards the hospital, gets pulled over by the police and gets checked – to his dismay, there were drugs in his jacket pocket and he was arrested for possession
Accompagnare
Chi
Contenta
Dice
Momento
Onore
Pensare
Perché
Problema
Radio
Sicura
Tiene
Tranquilla
Troppo
Un paio d’ore
Volontà
Verità
Episode 3New Words
– Pietro’s in jail and all the inmates are very respectful of him (likely because he has so much money) but the warden makes sure that he knows he won’t be receiving any special treatment just because of his social status
-In the previous episode, Pietro’s biggest worry was to end up in jail – his wife assured him that it wouldn’t happen and if he was that concerned, he could flee and go into hiding, but Pietro preferred to not run like his father did — all things considered, he took the transition fairly well
– All is well with Genny – he gets released from the hospital and is recovery quickly
– With Pietro in jail, Genny is temporarily in charge of business affairs, but it seems that he is more interested in getting a special someone’s attention
– Genny arranges for an Italian singer to perform for a small group of guests as he tries to impress this lady
– Meanwhile in prison, Pietro sees that the inmates are not being treated fairly in his cell which motivates him to work around the rules and wreak havoc — all the other inmates follow suit which begins to annoy the warden
Abbastanza
Amore
Apri la bocca
Avvocato
Cellulare
Film
La parola del signore
Lingua
Maniera
Nienta
Non ti preoccupare
Polizia
Preliminare
Preoccupazione
Profumo
Protetto
Silenzio
Sorpresa
Tosse
Trentadue

I’m beginning to notice that I will catch on to phrases instead of just single words. This has made watching the show easier as my need to read the subtitles decreases.

Duolingo

With everything else I’ve explored this week, I’ve kept up with Duolingo, but not at the same pace as previous weeks. My lesson this week was on ‘Possession’ so incorporating words such as: your, my, our, her, his, its, their. I’ve noticed the placement of these possessive words confuses me, like in the following example:

  • When translating “You read my books” the correct response is “Tu leggi i miei libri” which literally means “You read the my books

In this example, I need to know the correct order of the words, know which ‘the’ (their are 7 options), and I need to know which ‘my’ to use (there are 4 options). There are so many options because these words take into account feminine/masculine/plural/singular variations. I decided to not make a Sketchpad summary this week because this summary provided by Duolingo would just have been copied with some embellishments.

What I’ve learned:

  • Language learning is really a gradual process – I feel that immersing myself with the language has been helpful but this week’s progress was difficult to track
  • I feel confident with my pronunciation and my ability to read and compose sentences – so I will use these skills to help put together next week’s last blog post
  • How to change the speed of a YouTube video

Where I can improve:

  • I’ve opted to make videos every second week, so I will ensure that next week’s video showcases what I’ve learnt with some type of media
  • My focus these past few weeks has been increasing in vocabulary, so I will try to learn more verbs to better equip me for next week’s post.

Italian 101 – Week 6

Reflecting on the importance of language learning

This week, I’ve been reflecting on why language learning is so important. Cook and Singleton (2014) present a variety of reasons why people set out to learn a second language in the first place:

  1. People who are part of multilingual communities
  2. People regaining their cultural heritage
  3. Short-term visitors to another country
  4. People using an L2 (second language) with partners, friends or children
  5. People using an L2 internationally for specific functions
  6. People using an L2 internationally for a wide range of functions

Cook and Singleton (2014) go on to describe classroom language learners – some learning languages compulsorily (immigrants & education – students in immersion programs) and voluntarily (education- students learning due to interest). Reading this chapter in Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition made me reflect on why I became interested in learning Italian in the first place.

I definitely fall under the category of a classroom language learner, and I am learning as a result of intrinsic motivation, but it’s taken time to get to this point. I first learned Spanish, quite reluctantly, because my parents wanted me to retain my heritage language. I am so grateful of this gift for a number of reasons, and only now am I realizing how difficult it is for parents to transmit a language that varies from the dominant one in their surrounding society.

I was then enrolled in a French Immersion program and in a compulsory language learning program. It hasn’t been until now that I’ve willingly wanted to learn a language and been intrinsically motivated to learn a language voluntarily. I think this is important to recognize because we live in a country with an overwhelming number of immigrants, and heritage language loss is becoming the norm in our English-dominated society.

Sometimes language learning happens when it’s forced, but more often than not, learning is more effective when learners are motivated to learn. Does anyone know of reluctant language learning children? Or maybe you were one in your youth? Does giving learners autonomy to stop learning outweigh the potential for regret they may experience from quitting in years to come? I feel like language learning is really important, but often times, I feel that it is not truly valued by our English-dominated society. Anyway, onto this week’s progress:

This week I began following Daily Italian Words so their tweets now show up on my feed. I’m not making notes of the words presented because I have way too much to keep track of already! Nonetheless, it’s nice to see some familiar and new words alike.

I also learned a bunch of new vocabulary around food – this time learning about fruits, vegetables, entrees, drinks, and vocabulary commonly used in a restaurant. In my video, I mention that I get anxious when moving up in levels for any given category because I’m afraid of getting answers wrong. I’m aware that I have absolutely no reason to stress over this because there are no repercussions for getting answers wrong on the app, so it really must be some kind of internal response from learning in a school environment that penalizes mistakes.

Made with Sketchpad 5.1

What I’ve learned:

  • My personality likes things to look and be uniform – which tends to make things boring . . . so this week, I decided to add some a WeVideo Media Video as a background to my video. It’s simple, but something new!
  • More new vocabulary – I can think of short sentences to speak, but I am become most proficient in reading and listening
  • My levels of anxiety and stress increase when I am expected to spell words because I’m afraid I won’t know the answer (likely what our students feel being cold called in class)

Where I can improve:

  • Seek out a YouTube Italian tutorial this week – Kalyn had great ideas for improving listening comprehension which I definitely need to help me better understand my Netflix show (Slowing down the video speed. . . I never would have thought of that!)
  • I could print out my notes so that I can reference them while learning new words practicing
  • I should begin working towards an end goal for my learning project

Citations

Cook, V. & Singleton, D. (2014). Chapter 8 of Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Italian 101 – Week 5

Language learning takes on an italian mafia

http://gph.is/2nKA283

Although I continued to practice Duolingo, this week I also decided to see if I could keep up with an Italian show because I’ve heard of many success stories of language acquisition with TV shows. I was worried that nothing would be readily available online, but luckily Netflix pulled through!

Before watching The Godfather with a couple friends for the first time this year, I knew very little about Mafias. So when I found the show Gomorrah, I was excited to see that the show is entirely in Italian, but also that the story line was another Mafia related crime drama. While I was watching the show, I was trying to recognize familiar words, reading English subtitles, and also watching for facial expressions and body language. After finishing the First Episode of Season 1: Il clan dei Savastano, here’s what I understood:

  • Two main Mafia families are introduced – Their leaders are Pietro Savastano and Salvatore Conte.
  • Conte’s Mafia must have done something terrible because the show starts off with Ciro and Attilio, men from Savastano’s Mafia, setting fire to Conte’s mother’s apartment during supper.
  • Ciro and Attilio both have families and risk a lot while going out and doing dangerous Mafia-related jobs.
  • Conte’s Mafia retaliates after the fire – Ciro is in a coffee shop when someone enters with gunshots and throws a couple of grenades for good measure.
  • Savastano then organizes and instructs his Mafia to kill Conte at a well-guarded warehouse. Ciro thinks it’s a trap and a terrible plan, but Attilio reassures him that Savastano knows what he’s doing, and that he didn’t just become the leader of their Mafia overnight – alluding to Savastano’s experience and knowledge.
  • Attilio is like a father to Ciro, so Ciro listened, and although they didn’t find Conte at the warehouse, the killed all his men. Ciro was left devastated with Attilio’s death. Savastano reassured him that Attilio’s family would be well taken care of, that the job had to be done, and that Conte would think twice before attacking again – but Ciro leaves unconvinced that the plan was worth this loss.

While watching the show, I kept a list of words that I recognized, either because I learned them in Duolingo or because I recognized a similar word in Spanish or French (a mnemonic connection):

Words Introduced by DuolingoMnemonic Connections
Arrivederci
Biscotte
Buongiorno
Caffé
Ciao
Cibo
Giornalista
Grazie
Prego
Scrive

Tu
Americana
Amico/Amica
Bellissimo
Canzone
Comodo
Casa
Cosa
Dentro
Duro
È bello
Euro
Favore
Fuma
Incendio
Inferno
Minuto
Moderna
Momento
Novanta
Nuovo/Nuova
Occasione
Padre
Papà
Pensi
Preoccupa
Quando
Rigido
Salute!
Sempre
Signore
Strano
Tabella
Vai
Vende
Ventiquattro

Seeing these lists side by side makes me think I should probably continue to watch Gomorrah, at least to continue hearing native-like pronunciation of the language. Even though I’ll be adding this show to my weekly blog, like Riley, my addiction to Duolingo is real! I love that it gives me a visual of my progress and that, and I feel like it keeps me on track with a plan and a sense of direction when I don’t know where to take my project next. I like that Riley tried using a YouTube Spanish Tutorial – so I may try to do the same. I definitely see the value in continuing with Duolingo, because I’ve learned so many new words. Here’s my visual summary for the week:

What I learned:

  • Thinking of what words to hyperlink in my blog is becoming much easier
  • My Spanish knowledge is a major advantage I have in my language learning journey
  • The plural form of Italian words generally require an ‘e’ or an ‘i’
  • Another long list of new vocabulary

Where I can improve:

  • Finding Italian Twitter accounts to follow
  • Try to write translate my next Gomorrah in Italian
  • Potentially find an Italian Podcast
  • Think of a new, creative way of representing my learning (Is anyone else struggling with this?!)

Italian 101 – Week 4

Vocab, Vocab, Vocab

This week, I completed two additional Duolingo categories: Phrases and Food. The phrases section made me feel like I was finally learning something useful! Up until this point, I had only been putting simple sentences together, so this conversational vocabulary felt much more useful.

I am constantly surprising myself along this journey of learning Italian. When introducing new vocabulary, the app will present the new words along with a picture, then the words will show up in a word bank. I practice saying the words and reading the words, but I always feel the most anxious when I increase in levels and I know I will soon need to spell the words in a sentence. I’m not sure if I learn how to spell the words due to the number of times I see the words or if it’s because I’m sounding them out – it’s likely a combination of both. Some words are easier to spell and remember than others, but by the time I finish that category, to my surprise, I know how to spell all the words introduced.

You’ll notice that in my notes this week, I separated the vocabulary into three sections. The phrases are listed on the left with the translations underneath. Vocabulary introduced in the food (cibo) category is on the right. I categorized the variety of foods introduced into breakfast (calozione), supper (cena), drinks (bevanda), and sweets. In the middle of my notes below, I separated the rest of the miscellaneous vocabulary into the languages I think of when I see them.

Made with Sketchnote 5.1

What I learned:

  • So many new words!
  • An increased amount of vocabulary learned does not inhibit my ability to remember or spell the words introduced
  • This week I discovered the multi-select clips feature in the WeVideo video editor
  • Although my WeVideo editing skills are improving, I am regretting making weekly videos due to the amount of time they take away from my language learning

Where I can improve:

  • I have started looking for shows I can watch in Italian to see if listening to authentic dialogue will help me improve the rate of my language acquisition
  • Dr. Andrea Sterzuk from the University of Regina suggested that I follow Italian pages on Twitter or other social media platforms related to areas of personal interest so I will need to begin looking!

Italian 101 – Week 3

Grammatical realizations

My classmate Riley has also taken on the challenge of learning a new language, and just like him, this week my addiction to Duolingo became evident. So far, I’ve only explored using the Duolingo App.

Although I had planned to use other methods for learning the language, I have found the app is the best way to keep on track with my goals. Every day, I receive notifications saying that it’s time to keep practicing in order to reach my daily goal. I find this extremely motivating as small, short-term goals are always easier to reach than overwhelming yourself to learn a list of new vocabulary each day.

I have found myself very committed to doing my daily Duolingo work regardless of other commitments going on in my life. Riley does a great job of explaining how the app embodies principals of gamification. It has definitely turned something that is not always interesting, into a game.

In my other class (EC&I 858: Theories and Research in Second Language Acquisition, Bilingualism & Multilingualism – highly recommended!), we’ve discussed how people will often apply grammatical rules of their first language to the new language they are learning. Cook and Singleton (2014) differentiates between ‘pro-drop‘ and ‘non-pro-drop’ languages. They explain that languages such as English and French are considered non-pro-drop languages because their grammatical structure always requires sentences to have a subject (I’m Canadian or It’s snowing). Other languages such as Spanish and Italian, the use of a subject in a sentence is optional (Is snowing or Is three o’clock). The following is Box 4.6 from Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition on page 61 and provides other examples of languages in either of these categories.

Pro-drop Languages
Allow subject-less sentences
Non-pro-drop Languages
Do not allow subject-less sentences
Arabic
Chinese
Greek
Hebrew
Italian
Japanese
Portuguese
Etc.
Dutch
English
French
German

After having learned this, I came to a huge realization that my parents (whom often say subject-less sentences) are really just applying Spanish grammatical rules to their second language. I have found myself doing the same when using Duolingo – I will often times automatically use a subjects in the sentences I write, although I know it is not required. This week, however, I tried omitting the subjects in the sentences I created, and to my surprise, the app still accepted them!

The following is a visual representation of my learning for the week. I used last week’s image as a template for this next one which saved me time. One of Sketchpad‘s many great features is that you can save your images onto your Google Drive account – so even though the program is a website, if I am logged into my Google account, the website will be able to bring up my previously saved pieces.

For this week’s video, I had screen recorded a few minutes every day of the week, but my first day of the week was the most exciting, so I only used Wednesday’s footage for this video. If you notice in the image above, ‘the’ can be said in six different ways, and this week I finally found something to help me figure out when to what (either la, le, l’, gli, il, and i).

What I learned:

  • My English grammar will likely influence the way I speak Italian
  • Italian verbs: to be, to read, to write
  • If I pause while screen recording myself, this makes it much easier to edit
  • How to use the correct version of ‘the’ in an Italian sentence
  • My video editing skills on WeVideo are improving

Where I can improve:

  • Using something other than just Duolingo to show my learning progress
  • Potentially make my videos more exciting
  • Show more of the mistakes I make – potentially showing a brand new lesson with content I haven’t seen or practiced

I’m curious to know if anyone else knew about those pro-drop and non-pro-drop languages. Have you ever heard people speak English and omit the subject in a sentence?

Citations

Cook, V. & Singleton, D. (2014). Chapter 4 of Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Italian 101 – Week 2

Major Learning project

This week, I immersed myself in Duolingo. One of the features I appreciate most from the app is the convenience of having it on my phone. The app has many small motivating features that encourage you to practice their lessons daily. For instance, it monitors your activity by tracking and encouraging users to reach or maintain a 7-day streak. The app also connects its community of learners and encourages you to keep your ranking as you ‘compete’ against each other. It isn’t actually a competition, but the more lessons you complete, the higher your ranking – for those with a competitive edge, this feature could prove to be beneficial.

I am either of these on different days of the week!

I’ve been trying to decide how to document my learning progress. I am convinced that I should keep notes in order to help me remember newly acquired words. When attempting to learn Italian 10 years ago, I continuously added new vocabulary to lists in my notebook. Looking back on this method of note taking, it was unorganized and ineffective in helping me remember the words. This list of notes is not something I was ever motivated to review, and as a result, this notebook has been stored in my basement for years.

Over the summer, I attempted making my first sketchnote for our connected ed book club Twitter chat – the book we were assigned was “Learner Centered Innovation” by Katie Martin (great, thought-provoking read!), I thought I could best summarize my learning by drawing out the key points I found most memorable. Although very time consuming – this first sketch took me approximately 6 hours – I loved making it. It turned my limited artistic abilities into something really neat that I would never be able to make by hand. So this successful attempt at a sketchnote is what inspired me to change my note taking method for my learning project.

This time around, I was familiar with the Sketchpad program, and I was off to a running start. I chose to only include the words and verbs that I now know really well. These are words I rarely get incorrect when practicing on Duolingo – except those in the top, right corner.

  • There are many ways to say the word ‘the’, and I think it depends on the sentence’s subject (be it feminine, masculine, or plural).
  • ‘To be’ is an irregular verb that I need to learn quickly, because it keeps coming up, and I keep getting different conjugations confused!

I hope to clarify this for next week.

Made using Sketchpad 5.1

This week, I checked in with classmates that have also chosen to do the learning project – both Catherine and Amanda are learning to play the piano and they are both documenting their learning by vlogging. I love watching their videos, and although that is out of my comfort zone, I thought I’d give a try. I also really like the layout of their blog posts in that they have both clearly outlined their progress and challenges, so I will also try formatting my posts in a similar way!

What I learned:

  • Basic Italian vocabulary
  • Sketchnotes help me organize my learning
  • Filming a video without making mistakes is much easier than editing it later
  • How to edit a video using different features on WeVideo (For example – changing the speed of a video clip! That’s my favourite part of the video!)
  • How to screen record on my phone! I used AZ Screen Recorder – a recommended program from class. This was the easiest part! Really user-friendly app.
  • I am often connecting prior knowledge related to Spanish and French

Where I can improve:

  • I could use more succinct sentences when explaining my thoughts
  • I need to stop beginning every sentence with ‘so’ and ‘umm’ in my videos because they are very difficult to edit out!
  • Thinking of new ways to demonstrate my learning to avoid repeating the same format next week

Italian 101

Back to the basics

I began my Italian learning with a proficiency test online. The test was composed of questions relating to grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. For the questions relating to grammar and vocabulary, although there were some words I recognized, I really didn’t recognize the vast majority of the vocabulary. As I was taking the test, I thought to myself, “It would be so helpful if I could just recognize I few articles in these sentences!”

It took me approximately an hour answer the 50 question test, and I was exhausted by the end of it. I recognize that I am just at the beginning of my learning journey, so as my vocabulary increases, the time it takes me translate from Italian to Spanish/French will decrease. This has already proven to be an interesting experience because as I read the reading comprehension portion, I found myself recognizing familiar words in Spanish or French, but I was making sense of the text in English. My test results are below, and although I know I only wanted this as a reference point, I was still quite disappointed with my results!

Shortly after writing the test, I downloaded the Duolingo app. The following are interesting thoughts I had while I was creating my account along with accompanying snapshots.

I was surprised to see that the daily goals only went to a maximum of 20 minutes per day, and that was considered ‘insane’! I recently read a study in which Swedish military participants learned a foreign language to fluency within 10 months . The participants acquired 300-500 new words each week and they studied from 8.00 until bedtime (Mårtensson et al., 2012). After having completed my first 20 minutes of studying, I empathized with those participants. I felt like I should stop and take a break as to not forget the few words I had learned, and I realized that my learning process will likely be much slower than anticipated. I cannot imagine how intense those 10 months would have been for the participants in the study; however, the rewarding outcome was likely worth the effort.

When choosing a path, I choose ‘New to Italian?’ as I had already taken the proficiency test. Had I not began with an alternative proficiency test, I may have chosen ‘Already know some Italian?’ as my path. There are a few words that I am able to recognize, however, the proficiency test was a good reality check and served me well as a reminder that I don’t know as much as I thought I did. This proved to be a humbling experience for me as I begin this project as a beginner.

The app immediately proceeded with questions to begin introducing new vocabulary. When I saw the app match new vocabulary with pictures, I thought, “That’s cheating! These pictures make it so much easier to get the correct answer!” After realizing that images were beneficial and used sparingly, I thought back to a chapter from the textbook we are using in EC&I 858: Theories and Research in Second Language Acquisition, Bilingualism & Multilingualism. Chapter 3 focuses on vocabulary and notes: “words that are easy to imagine seem to be more readily learnable than words that are less easy to ‘see’ mentally” (Cook & Singleton, 2014, p. 44). This is a teaching method the app has already proven to follow. I began learning basic words that are easy to imagine (woman, man, boy, girl, bread, sugar, water) in addition to articles (an, a, she, he), as oppose to words that are hard to imagine (generalize, effort, pride).

My goal for next week will be to begin a list of words that I have learned. I am also considering making sketchnotes to help document my learning. Sketchnotes is something I’ve wanted to encourage and implement in my classes, so I am hoping I can become efficient in making them to then help support students summarize their own learning.

For any readers that are tech savvy in making videos: I am imagining making a summarizing video that looks something like a screen recording of me drawing my sketchnotes. Have any idea what that type of video is called? Have any favourite programs? I’m all ears!

Citations

Cook, V. & Singleton, D. (2014). Chapter 3 of Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Mårtensson, J., Eriksson, J., Bodammer, N. C., Lindgren, M., Johansson, M., Nyberg, L., & Lövdén, M. (2012). Growth of language-related brain areas after foreign language learning. Neuroimage63(1), 240-244.

When in Rome

Major (learning) project

Here we go. Over 10 years ago, I began taking Italian classes. I was enrolled in a beginner class as a teen, and although I loved learning the language, I never registered for a second session, nor did I continue learning on my own. I speak both French and Spanish so that definitely helped, however Italian vocabulary is still quite different that I remember it being challenging. I have always said – if given the chance to move anywhere for an extended period of time, I would pick Italy, in order to learn Italian. So here I am, years later, and finally making the time to see how much I can learn. Here’s my plan:

To begin my project, I’ll complete a few online proficiency tests (such as Transparent Language and Test your Language). Although I may not understand what the questions mean, it will at the very least provide me with a reference point for comparison at the end of my project.

Next, I’ll sign up for Duolingo. I’ve heard of many people really liking this app as means of practicing new languages, so I’ll sign up and see how it goes. Apparently this program adapts to your learning style and provides learners with exercises that are tailored to help them learn. I am hoping the convenience of having this app on my phone will help me stay motivated, throughout the semesters.

In addition to Duolingo, I have an Italian Verb Workbook from 10 years ago that I will work through. If Italian is anything like French, which I have a feeling it is . . . verbs will be crucial to my success in learning the language. I think by focusing on verbs and vocabulary, I’ll be able well-equipped to begin writing and reading sentences.

I am undecided as to whether or not I would also want to also sign up for an online class via Udemy or another similar platform. Has anyone had any success with another app or website for acquiring an additional language?

Towards the end of my semester, I will retake the same proficiency tests and see where I stand. My goal is to find an Italian-speaker and converse with them towards the end of the project. I don’t know anyone who speaks Italian, so this may not go according to plan. Another option would be to make a digital story using Adobe Spark with English subtitles.

If you have any fun ideas for tracking my progress or showcasing what I’ve learned – send those ideas my way!

Perhaps learning enough Italian to converse with someone is a bit too ambitious of a goal, but here’s to dreaming big and seeing where it goes!