Matt Harper Italian 203 F16 Portfolio

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When I enrolled in Italian 101 in the fall semester of my sophomore year, I did so because I needed to fulfill my language requirement. I took Spanish for 7 years in middle school and high school, so I figured that Italian would be the easiest language to learn. I had always been fascinated with Italian culture, but pursuing my interests was a secondary consideration. Fortunately, I became hooked on Italian in just the first couple weeks of the class, which paved the way for a fun and successful journey through the Italian curriculum.

Italian 101 was a great introduction to the language. I developed an invaluable base through countless hours of studying vocabulary and grammar. I am confident that after three semesters of practice I can successfully site the situational differences between the imperfetto and passato prossimo verb tenses.   The best part about Italian 101 is that I was exposed to Italian culture while developing the language foundations. Every day started with an Italian song, and we learned vocabulary that was representative of Italy, not the US.

Italian 201 presented new challenges and growth opportunities. I not only advanced my language skills, I also began to conceptualize the language in real life situations. We used the grammar and vocab from 101 and applied it to everyday scenarios. For example, we learned how to give and ask for directions and how to book a hotel room. The Italian department did a great job of preparing us to travel to Italy. The situations that we learned are all situations that we would be in if we traveled abroad.  At the end of the semester I felt that I could go to Italy and easily get by with my language skills, and isn’t that the point of learning a new language?

When I started taking Italian, I planned to study abroad in Italy in either Rome or Florence.Unfortunately, because of my curriculum requirements and available transfer classes, it made sense for me to study elsewhere. Thankfully, I was able to travel to Italy with my family last summer!

This semester of Italian was the hardest for me because of my Italian hiatus, but by far the most rewarding. This portfolio is a representation of everything I learned and accomplished in Italian 203. I advanced my language skills be focusing on three major aspects of Italian culture: body, space, and relationships. We conceptualized this by focusing on food, museums, and interviews. The focus of the class was to develop an understanding of Italy through communication, comparisons, cultures, connections, and communities. The assignments in this portfolio show a diverse compilation of my development in these categories.

I enjoyed this class because of the focus on group work. We did four major group assignments. I compared Italian and American food culture by analyzing the consumption habits of the wealthy and poor in three different eras: the renaissance, the medieval period, and present day. For museums, each group member took a different role related to museum operations, I was in marketing/advertising. We analyzed famous Italian museums and compared them to the Nasher, which we toured in Italian. For our interview, my group interviewed a current Duke student who is originally from Italy. He explained the difficulties he had in adjusting to American culture, a concept known as “Shock Culture.” The group work culminated in a video project in which we had to use skills related to all of the “5 C’s.” Our movie was called “Santino Il Rapper.” We won oscars for the best use of Italian and most entertaining story. This shows how effective we were in displaying our growth as Italian students!

I hope you my portfolio and understanding how I have grown as an Italian student. While my time taking Italian is over, I will always look to use and advance my language skills. I will forever feel a connection to the Italian culture!

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