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.