I am happy to say that I have decided to learn Italian as my new skill for my major project in EC&I 831. I feel like it has been a while since I have done something for myself and this is a good excuse to force me to do it. Why Italian you might ask? Well…I like to think I am an avid traveller…okay maybe not. But I have been a lot of places and seen a lot of things in my short life. I may not travel as often as I like, but I am a dreamer and constantly think about travel. I have visited Italy twice. My first trip to Italy was a school trip while I was in high school. My french class did a France/Italy tour for 10 days over Easter Vacation with EF Tours. That was my first taste of travel overseas and if I could I would go back every year…or two. Of course the reality of working, parenting and daily expenses prevent that from happening, but that’s okay. I went back to Europe after finishing my undergrad degree and did some backpacking with a friend. My friend was playing hockey over there so I met her in Prague and the travels began from there. In my travels I was able to visit so many places. We visited Berlin, Krakow (including Auschwitz), Bern, Paris, Rome, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Sienna, London, Amsterdam, Dublin and Galway. It was a whirlwind trip as we were only gone for a month but we were able to see everything we wanted to and more!
I have always had a fascination with Paris and the French language, but having already had experience with french I decided I would try Italian because that would be my next big travel fascination. French, Spanish and Italian are also closely related so I figured I might be able to catch on fairly quickly. After spending a couple hours this week introducing myself to the language I have found that there are some similarities to French so I have been able to catch on to some little things rather quickly.
In my attempt to locate a free online course I came across an app called Duolingo. It is a free app/website that you can learn a variety of languages with. The design and lessons are very good from what I have seen so far. There are opportunities for me to speak the language, hear the language, match english words to Italian words and translate Italian to English after hearing a spoken word or sentence. There is a lot of repetition and each lesson adapts to meet your skill level. If you are struggling with a particular word or skill, it will continue asking questions using that skill so you can develop the skill. Every lesson integrates a little bit from previous lessons so it stays fresh in your mind.
I was advised to do a pre-test assessment so that I have something I can use as a reference when showing my progress. I have looked at different proficiency tests online and they are WAY beyond where I am at right now. Having already done quite a few lessons using Duolingo at this point I decided to log out of my account and start fresh by selecting the option to do a placement test using Duolingo. Here are some screenshots of my current progress.
As you can see in the photo above I am 3% fluent in Italian…only 97% more to go haha. I have also finished the Basics 1&2, Phrases and Food lessons. The bar that wraps around the lesson shows my strength in that lesson. You can see above that my Basics 2 could use some strengthening.
Here you can see the other lessons I have worked on. I believe I can use my Lingots that I earn for each lesson to ‘buy’ the bonus skill lessons, but I haven’t done that yet. I will have to explore that more. You can see my daily points which is 0/50 for today. Each lesson gets you 10points, I haven’t done any practice yet today. I also have the options to strengthen skills or test skills. You can also see people who I am friends with on Duolingo. I just added people today and I am hoping to make more connections with them to help me learn a little more.
I decided to take a video of my placement test. I thought that I did pretty well, but I didn’t place in any skill so I guess I didn’t do as well as I thought. This should be a very easy placement test so obviously being only 3% fluent hasn’t help me learn even the basics yet.
My next task is to look into Babbel, Mango (offered by Regina Public Libraries) as well as find some communities online that I can connect with. I am a little apprehensive about making connections so early in the learning stage, but maybe I can find one that is an appropriate level for me to connect with.
I’m looking forward to continuing with this and hope I become fluent in Italian. I know it will be difficult because you have to use the language to learn it. That’s where the online community comes in. If you have any suggestions on how to make those connections or know of any other resources that might be useful for me I would love to hear from you!