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.
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!