Itlaian 101: And the award goes to…

This semester I was given the opportunity to learn something – just like I am given the opportunity in any other class. However the opportunity was presented much different than it has been presented in any other class. I was given the opportunity to pick something that I was interested in and learn about it using technology and online connections to help me along the way.

Obviously when you are given the opportunity to learn about anything a lot of possibilities run through your head. I wanted to choose something that I would enjoy learning about. I wanted to learn something that I could use at some point in the future. I would have loved to pick something creative like sewing or knitting, but I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money purchasing materials along the way (especially with my limited income on maternity leave). So I decided I would learn a language.

The language I decided on was Italian. Why? Well I didn’t want to do French because I already have some experience with speaking French having gradated with a French 30 credit (even though that credit is from way back in 2004). I wanted to start with a clean slate. In my travels I have spent some time in Italy and I just love everything about the country. The food, the culture, the scenery, the cities and of course the language. I have always thought that it would be great to learn a language and be able to travel and use it someday. Now that I have been learning some of the language maybe it’s time to go back.

Throughout the semester I found a lot of resources that are very useful in learning a language online and found even more that seemed to be of little help. If you want to check out all of the resources I  reviewed in detail look back at some of my previous posts. But here is a quick list of my top resources for learning Italian online broken down into categories.

To practice site words, memory work and phrases.

WINNER: Duolingo – great tool for rote memorization and practicing words & phrases. Uses audio, text, written and spoken language. The biggest negative is the sentences that are used to practice sometimes – they don’t make a lot of sense and you wouldn’t use them in daily conversations very often.

RUNNER UP: Babbel – similar to Duolingo but is a paid service. This focuses on themes for each lesson and can be helpful in learning phrases for basic conversation or travel. Uses mostly writing and listening to complete the lessons.

Honorable Mention: Mango – A free online service provided by the library in Regina. Similar to Babbel in the sense that you practice basic phrases and conversation by listening and repeating the audio.

To listen to audio.

WINNER: News in Slow Italian  – provides slower audio with text to read along. The text is also translated into English to help with further comprehension.

RUNNER UP: The Italian Experiment – this site is good but provides limited resources. There are three audio books you can listen to and follow along with text. The text is also translated into english. It is a great site but would be nice if new material would be added.

Videos

WINNER: Learn Italian with Lucrezia  – most of her videos are fairly short and very informative which make them really nice to watch. The lessons range from beginner to advanced. She also has an instagram and twitter account that I would suggest following.

RUNNER UP: Learn Italian Words App – this app works offline and has a large variety of video lessons ranging from beginner to advance.

Social Media

WINNER: Twitter – @italianlanguage Instagram – italianwordoftheday – both accounts provide you with one word a day to practice and learn. The Twitter account gives you a word and a sentence most days to learn. The Instagram account gives you a word with a picture each day, but no sentence.

RUNNER UP: Twitter @ItalianLearn this account also gives you a word a day and you can click on a link that will take you to a sentence that uses the word and audio for the pronunciation.

Speaking with Others

WINNER: WeSpeke – a great tool to connect and chat with others online.

 

 

Italian 101: New School Requires Old School

I feel like I have so much to talk about when it comes to my learning project. This weeks focus will be on my experience using Twitter, Instagram, blogs and Facebook to connect with others in order to learn Italian. I am also going to talk about my progress with Duolingo (which is still my go to app). The last thing I will talk about is how new school learning requires old school methods. I have included a few videos reviewing the accounts I follow. They are quite long and not very polished unfortunately (it wasn’t a good day for vlogging in my life but I had  been trying to get these videos done since last Thursday so I just wanted to get them finished finally).

Twitter

I started following a variety of accounts on Twitter. I have found that of the accounts I follow very few seem to be very helpful in learning the language. I have attempted to tweet a few times in Italian but most of the time I need to use a translator to help me form a complete sentence.

A tweet to classmate Elizabeth who is also learning Italian

A tweet to classmate Elizabeth who is also learning Italian

I feel as though I am on the right track with using Twitter to learn a language but I need to find more accounts that are useful to follow. I took the advice from my feedback by Katia and decided to create a list on Twitter of the people I follow to learn Italian. It will be much easier to locate and focus my learning on Twitter now.

My learning Italian Twitter list

My learning Italian Twitter list

In the following video I take you through some of the Twitter accounts I have recently followed and give you a brief overview of each. Some of them are much better than others and I will continue to follow them after this class, but at the end of class I will go back and delete some of the accounts that I have found are less useful.

Instagram

I have found a few accounts to follow on Instagram and also created an Instagram account that I tried to use to share some of my learning. I say tried to use because I haven’t really kept up with it. I found that I wasn’t able to attract any followers and because of that I quickly lost interest. It is something that I should reconsider however because I think that a photo blog or flash card type posts are a great way to learn.  I have actually also had trouble locating my account to share on here. My account name is AshleyLearnsItalian and it was created as a second account on my phone. I have taken a few screenshots to share so that you can see what I had done.

I have also reviewed all of the accounts I have followed. I would love to find more to follow and will keep an eye out for more accounts that I can learn from.

Blogs and Facebook

Through my blog I was able to connect with Stephanie who had commented on my blog. She was able to suggest a Facebook page for me to follow – I’mpariamo l’italiano. Unfortunately I found the page to be beyond my current level of understanding but maybe someday I will be able to use the site. Stephanie also recommended iTalki which I had heard of before but after having her recommend it I am making it a goal to use it before the end of class. I of course started following Stephanie’s blog and have found it quite nice to read and learn from. I also started following the Conversational Italian blog through the @travelitalian1 twitter account. Here is my review of Facebook and the blogs I follow.

Duolingo

I have decided the reason I keep going back to Duolingo is because it is just like a game. It makes learning a little more fun. But I have also discovered that because it is like a game I often don’t focus as much as I should when I am using it preventing me from actually absorbing the material at times. I am wondering if it has become a way for me to procrastinate or kill some time yet still learn something.  I have also added the Italian keyboard to my phone to help me with spelling Italian words when using Duolingo. Check out this video on my progress and experience this past week using Duolingo.

New School Requires Old School

This whole time I have been so focused on using online tools to learn that I have assumed I would be able to learn a language without writing anything down. I know I said in an earlier post that one of my goals was to write down words that I was having trouble remembering but I never stuck to that (it seems to be a reoccurring theme for me…setting goals only to forget about them). The problem is that learning is tough, especially online independent learning. There are so many goals I could set and so many different things that I can be working on that would be helpful. The trouble is knowing which goals I should continue to work on or which methods will help me the most. I was emailed a few articles that have some tips for learning a language on your own and although I am using technology to learn online, that doesn’t mean I give up traditional ways of learning completely. For example, when trying to memorize words it is useful to write the words down on a flashcard.  It’s also important to organize your time, make it fun and stay focused.  And if all else fails guess or make up the words you are looking for. You just might surprise yourself.

I am happy to say that my scores on my reflection rubric for this week have improved since last week so I obviously feel like I am making progress.

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Italian 101: Social Media and the World Wide Web

I don’t have much to discuss this week as I haven’t tried out any new methods for learning Italian. But I did want to write so I can reflect on the last week and how I did with meeting my goals. Here are my goals from last week.

  1. Practice using Babbel or Mango at least once a day completing a minimum of two lessons per day. This should help me gain some speaking confidence and learn some useful things as well. I want to try stay away from Duolingo for a lot of the reasons that Vanessa discusses.
  2. Look for a Facebook group to join.
  3. Check out the pen pal exchange group I came across on Twitter to see how it works.

I practiced daily with Babbel, but didn’t use Mango because I didn’t have the app on my phone. I finally downloaded it so will use it from time to time from now on. I didn’t do more than one lesson most days and that’s because the lessons took me longer to complete than I had originally thought. I wish I could devote an hour each day to practice, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day so I have to make do with what I can fit in throughout the day. I also managed to work with Duolingo on an almost daily basis even though I said I would avoid it (I just can’t seem to escape it haha!). I think what keeps brining me back to Duolingo is the simplicity and the repetition. When I work with Duolingo my confidence seems to be higher and I feel like I actually know some Italian even though I still just know words.

I did look for a Facebook group to join and joined it but nothing has been posted since February 13th, so it’s not a very active group. I will keep an eye out for posts and see how it goes, if it doesn’t pick up then I will try find another group to join. It seems that there aren’t many groups that would be worthwhile to join but I could be wrong. After searching on Facebook I decided to try and expand my PLN on Twitter and Instagram. Here’s a list of the people I am following on each platform:

Twitter: @MargieMiklas@travelitalian1@ItalyMagazine@italianvocvoc@italian_easy@ItalianLearn@Turismoromaweb@LucreziaOd

Instagram: lucreziaoddone, italianwordoftheday, italian_teacher

I didn’t look into the pen pal exchange group either. I guess it’s because I still don’t feel confident enough to be a pen pal and communicate without the help of my resources. I suppose that any conversation will be better than nothing even if it is with the help of resources. My goal is to have a conversation by March 7th, so that gives me next week to attempt to connect with someone.

I was catching up with the forum/chat I was part of on Dulingo and I found some great websites that can help me learn some Italian. I plan to spend some time on these sites this next week while using instagram and twitter as well. I will continue to use Duolingo, Babbel and Mango when I can. I will be travelling this next week so as long as the kids can stay entertained or sleep on the plane I will have a few hours to practice.

The sites I was introduced to are: The Italian Experiment and Italy Magazine. I also found online radio stations that I can listen to and News in Slow Italian. I’ll try to find some time to work with these as well.

After reading Amy’s blog I thought I would try to list some of the words I know in Italian. The blue is my original spelling and the red is the corrected version. I have a lot of learning to do with word endings…does it end in e, i, o, a?? It all depends on the context so it can be tricky. I have some work to do with the spelling, but hopefully if I do this more often I will get better at it.

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I should also mention that I tried to do a placement test for Duolingo and Mango and didn’t place any differently than I did at the start of the class which is a HUGE disappointment. But I know that I am learning. With some more practice on Mango I should be able to place further than Unit 1 Chapter 1 and as for Duolingo my fluency is up from 9% to 16% so I am making progress.

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See Ya Later Facebook

Over the years we have seen social media apps/platforms come and go. I’m sure some of you remember things like ICQ, MSN Messenger, Myspace and even Napster. If you have never heard of those or never had a chance to use them you make me feel old. Those names are associated with some of the earliest forms of modern day social media. Social media dates back further than ICQ and MSN as you can see in this infographic of the evolution of social media. 

Infographic by Simplify360

Infographic by Simplify360

In recent years we have seen young people leaving Facebook and heading towards Snapchat and Instagram. It is no longer considered cool to be on Facebook. Why you might ask? Well according to teenagers they don’t want to use Facebook as often because “old people” use it. Teenagers dread the day when parents add them on Facebook. Most teenagers agree that Facebook is used to keep in touch with their older relatives. I think that keeping in touch is much different than updating older relatives on their daily lives and what is happening at this very minute. That is where Instagram and Snapchat come in.

If you are unfamiliar with Snapchat check out this guide for parents and teachers to help you understand it a little more. To see what draws teenagers to Snapchat check out this interview with a 13 year old girl describing how to use Snapchat and why she likes it so much. I believe teenagers love to connect with their friends. When I was young I was constantly on the phone with my friends talking about boys, gossiping, being silly and just “hanging out”. The worst part about that was your parents picking up the other phone and maybe catching some of the conversation you didn’t want

Photo Credit: melissaellos via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: melissaellos via Compfight cc

hear. Or having to answer a call waiting, or having to say good bye because your parents needed the phone. Any chance I got though I was on the phone. When MSN came along I was often on MSN doing the same things I did while I was on the phone but the best part was I could chat with multiple people at a time. Sometimes on the phone I could connect with two friends at once by using a three-way call. The technology I used back then was different, but I was still using it to connect and share with friends. I was using it to socialize.

The difference today is that teenagers are able to connect with more people and in different ways than we were able to. They can be silly by sending Snapchats. They can share pictures and videos using Snapchat or Instagram from vacation so their friends can see how their trip is. It’s easier to share pictures and videos on the go than to come back from vacation and have to explain everything to your friends right? Like Heather said in her blog, it is about immediacy. Teenagers love the instant connections.

I mentioned earlier why kids are leaving social networks and a lot of it has to do with older people using the network that young people are leaving. It makes sense right. When I had to talk on the phone with my friends, if my mom came into my room I would stop talking. If I was in the basement talking and she came down I would take the conversation elsewhere (as long as I had a cordless phone). It’s the same reason kids are leaving social networks their parents are joining. My question is what will happen to things like Instagram and Snapchat? I am not a huge fan of Snapchat and don’t use it that often so I can’t see my Mom or Grandma using it. I have already had my Mom join Instagram and feel like my Grandma would too if I didn’t share my Instagram pictures to Facebook so she can see them. If older people continue to join Instagram will younger people start to leave it too?

I have seen a change in the way my friends use Facebook over the past few years. It is on a rare occasion that people update statuses. Some share their own videos and pictures. Most share articles or memes. I find that a lot of people use Facebook to “creep”. I have found that I use Facebook mostly to connect with my relatives and share pictures of my kids so they can keep updated on how my family is doing. I sometimes update statuses and but hardly ever update pictures of myself. My profile has been taken over by my kids. I have recently found that I am annoyed at the advertisements and was especially annoyed during the Canadian election last fall when it became a platform for people to share news articles and updates on the political parties. I joined Facebook  to connect with friends and family and lately it seems it has gotten away from that.

After reading Luke’s blog and watching the #being13 documentary I do think that with the increase in social media comes the increase need to teach children about digital citizenship. We know that students will be using social media and we know that it can sometimes lead to problems so how can we prevent problems from occurring. There are some great resources available from Common Sense Media and Edutopia on teaching Digital Citizenship. We need to remember that it’s never too early to teach about Digital Citizenship but it can quickly become too late.

What do you think the future of social media looks like? Will Facebook be phased out? What will happen to Instagram and Snapchat if older people start to use it? How has your social media use changed over the years?