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!


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

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

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


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
Un paio d’ore
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
Apri la bocca
La parola del signore
Non ti preoccupare

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.


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 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

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?


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