Rose Couture

Aspiring teacher. “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ― William Arthur Ward


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Final Learning Project Assessment

As the semester comes to an end, many projects are due and the majority require reflections and assessments on the acquisition of knowledge. For my ECMP355 learning project, I chose to learn the Italian language. I planned on doing so with the help of a Google App named Duolingo, in addition to trying to connect with others online to find more resources. For the most part, I used the application weekly and went through the learning units like a “good” student would. I cannot say that I have learnt how to be fluent in Italian or that I  know how to have a conversation with someone, but my vocabulary is broader than it was when I first began and I can pick up words and general meaning when listening to Italian “conversations”. With Duolingo, I learnt:

  • To conjugate a total of 48 verbs from andare (to go) to volere (to want);
  • 56 markers of dates and time such as: months (dicembre, gennaio, febbraio), days of the week (domenica, lunedi, martedi, mercoledi), seasons (primavera, l’estate), hours (ora), time of the day (mezzogiorno, mezzanotte), etc.;
  • 82 words that have to do with food, including how to say lunch (pranzo) and dinner (cena);
  • A total of 28 animals, my favourites are penguin (pinguino) and turtle (tartaruga);
  • 28 words to describe clothing so that I can now say: Io porto un capotto e i guanti a l’inverno (I wear a jacket and gloves in the winter);
  • 26 preposition words, 13 question words (che, come, perché), 13 colors (arancione, giallo, grigio), 13 conjunctions as well as 12 common phrases (arrivederci, grazie, ciao)
  • For a total of 375 words

I have learnt quite of bit of vocabulary with Duolingo, but I realized at the end that I needed to “hear” it more. Yes, the lady recited the sentences as many times as you wanted, in addition to giving you the correct answers/translations, but they were for the majority short sentences that always had the same structure. I read that one of my classmates Ashley also had a similar dilemma (she was learning ASL) where she learnt a lot of vocabulary, but not enough sentences and/or discussions. One of my readers suggested that I look online for Italian radio stations where they play the “typical pop music”, but where all the commercials and dialogues were in Italian. I made a quick Google search on these Italian radio stations, but did not find anything right off so I decided to stop digging. Bad move. Today, while I was summarizing what I learnt with Duolingo, the vocabulary discussion question came to me and I remembered the comment from my reader. So I went and looked again for Italian radio stations, in addition to Italian podcasts, BINGO! This is when I fell upon this News in Slow Italian website, which I really wish I would have found way before today (I made a post about it too) as it seems to be an incredible learning tool. Maybe after listening to conversations for a while and increasing the speed, I will be able to finally watch a movie in Italian without thinking about how fast they are talking and how I cannot understand anything.

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I was the most happy to have completed my Prepositions unit, as this was my biggest challenge and I did have to dig on YouTube to find additional resources to completely grasp the material that was making me flustered. I completed a total of 16 units like the ones in yellow you can see above, that were made of a total of 73 lessons. I had to try each lesson at least twice, if not more in the difficult ones to unlock the following lessons, which in turn unlocked the following units. One of the things I liked the best was that I was able to practice the lessons as much as I wanted to if I did not feel confident with the material, and I was able to learn at my own rhythm, without fearing a test or having someone quizzing me on the spot about Italian expressions, words or verbs. It was not a stressful experience and this is one of the reason why I will continue learning the language so that I can achieve my dream to one day visit Italy and its thousands of treasures!


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New Italian Ressource

While browsing the web for Italian podcasts and radio stations, I fell upon News in Slow Italian. I found this website to be a little more helpful than Duolingo in some ways, because you are able to listen to the news in Italian, and it is done slowly so that you can read and follow at the same time. I tried watching a movie in Italian thinking I was ready to attempt such thing, but they talk way too fast for me to understand anything. A lot of content on this website is free for beginners and you can subscribe for a fee when you get to the intermediate level or if you want to have access to the flashcards, grammar, expressions and the quizzes. All the News Stories are free to listen to and there is text that accompanies the voice. You can scroll over the red parts in the text if you do not understand what they are saying and it will give you the English translation, which is fantastic. I am not certain of how many news stories you can listen to until you need to subscribe, but I am definitely going to give it a try and attempt to get the most out of it. I enjoy learning with Duolingo, but I want to listen to actual conversations, as I believe I will learn and understand better that way, so this is a great discovery I have made. What about you, do you learn better with visuals or speech or a combination of both? Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 13.03.45


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My Summary of Personal Learning, A Learning Experience

For the past week, I have been debating what I would do for my final summary of personal learning in the course of ECMP355. I saw that many students decided to list the medias and programs they used or discovered during the semester, and described them, while other chose to do a screen cast type of project. I thought I would be original and draw a concept map, but it did not really touch everything I learnt this semester and I was a little nervous that I barely used any technology for my summary of personal learning. So I went on the hunt to find a program with which I could build beautiful concept maps and I fell upon iMindMap 7. I found the presentation video beautiful and I wanted to give it a try (they offer a FREE 7 day trial). I was a little discouraged at first because I did not know how to work the program and there was not too many tutorial videos for the iMindMap 7, but I was able to find one for iMindMap 6, which is basically the same as the new version, minus a few features. With this program, I was able to make a very appealing concept map and it gave me the option to turn it into a presentation. In presentation mode, you can delete the slides you do not want, you can move slides from left to right to change the order, and you can even switch from 2D to 3D! I had a lot of fun with it and I am considering buying the program as it is a nice presentation tool that is different from Prezi and PowerPoint.

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My Original Concept Map Idea

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My Final Concept Map

Since I have been using QuickTime to record my screen for different purposes this semester, I thought I would give Camtasia or Screenr a try, but it did not work so well. Every time it would tell me that I needed a Java plug-in and that it would not work with Google Chrome. So I downloaded the plug-in and tried it with my Safari browser without any success, I then opted for QuickTime. I also noticed that with Screenr I could only record for 5 minutes and I do not think it would have been enough time to cover everything I wanted to say (it took me a good 10 minutes).

I made a few mistakes during my presentation, but nobody is perfect. I would like to specify that Coursera does not only offer education classes, but rather a wide variety of classes, from English to Science. I noticed that I say “sweet” and “cool” a lot, nervous habit that I need to work on. I also froze when it came to the financial…. MEANS or just the money in general that some schools do not possess to go on constructive field trips. Overall I had a great semester and I have learnt things in ECMP355 that will follow me for the rest of my life, including a personal learning network!


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Italian Lessons

After much struggling during my last “preposition session”, I went on YouTube to try to find Italian lessons that related to prepositions, successfully. The first video contained really simple prepositions that I already knew how to use, but it was still helpful to watch it and review before attempting to complete my unit.

Not being able to find what I did not grasp at the time, I found another video. Lengthier, but it contained everything I was looking for. I skipped to about 6:00 minutes because the content was a little repetitive from the last video I watched. In this video, the instructor explained how del, delle, della, dello were formed and when to use them. It helped me a lot and I was then able to complete the rest of my prepositions unit! I think that from now on, when I do not completely understand some terms or grammar rules, I will turn to YouTube as there are many videos available that can help me in my learning process.


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Pet Peeve: Italian Prepositions

Last week, I learnt about Italian conjunctions and prepositions. Let me tell you, this is not an easy task. I thought I could manage pretty well, but I ended up having a really hard time learning the prepositions. The conjunctions part went pretty well and I am now able to combine phrases with words such as: e, ed(and), perché, ma(but), se(if), (either…or), o(or), oppure(or, otherwise, or else), che(what) and finché(as long as, while, until). 

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Prepositions are another story. I have a little difficulty matching the right preposition when the sentences/phrases are longer than three or four words. I thought it would be easy if I thought in French first, before translating to English in my head, but it is not so simple. I did not complete the whole unit because it consists of 8 lessons and I got a little discouraged after the 6th lesson, but I will continue and complete the preposition unit by the end of the week hopefully. If you notice on the picture above, there is a button that says “Test out of this skill” for people who already know some elements of the language they are learning, they can try to pass a short test that will allow them to go to the next level without having to do all the lessons in the unit. On the picture below, we can see my progress so far, I have almost completed two big sections of the Italian skill tree. If anyone has any tricks or tips for Italian prepositions, feel free to share them below. I will also look on YouTube to see if I can find a lesson on prepositions before finishing my unit. Have a great week!

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Learning Some More Italian!

Here is another short video to show you all my progress in my #learningproject that consists of grasping/understanding the Italian language. So far so good, I try to find at least 3 hours a week to put into this project and even if the semester ends and the assignment is over, I will keep on going with my learning. It is not going to be over! I will also keep posting my progress on my blog as well as with YouTube videos!

I had the suggestion of listening to Italian radio to practice my listening skills and I was wondering if some of you out there might have suggestions for interesting Italian podcasts and/or radio stations, it would be greatly appreciated! Hope you have an awesome weekend, and enjoy the Grey Cup!