Introduction

Ciao! My name is Amanda and I am a student currently enrolled in Italian 203.  After taking Italian for three semesters I have learned an incredible amount about not only the Italian language but about the culture as well.  The main focus of Italian 101 was to learn vocabulary and basic grammar structures, which are of course fundamental if one wishes to be able to communicate in a language.  The topics we covered included food, clothing, weather, professions, and activities that one spends his or her free time doing. We also learned several basic verb tenses, like the present tense and the two types of past tense: the imperfect and the present perfect. We had a group project that focused on an aspect of Italian culture; my group chose to research Italian movies. In Italian 102 we increased our vocabulary related to food and activities and learned words related to the family and vacation. We learned the future tense, the gerund, the imperative, and the present conditional, and continued to work on when each verb tense was appropriate, the conjugation of verbs, and agreement between nouns, articles, and adjectives. My cultural project that semester was about Italian tourism and how it compares to tourism in America. One of my favorite activities from 102 was the Italian movie we watched over the course of several weeks.

This semester was more centered on learning about Italian culture, which was one reason this was my favorite course, though we did learn the present, past, and imperfect conjunctive. We also learned new vocabulary words as they related to the three units: food, space, and relations. We completed several group cultural projects which included presenting a comparison of different aspects of food in Italy with food in America, acting as museum employees after a class trip to the Nasher, completing an interview in Italian, and producing a video in Italian. This semester gave me a more in-depth view of Italian culture and how it compares to American culture.  My favorite unit was the first one, which focused on food because I love Italian-American food and I was unaware that there are so many differences between Italian-American dishes and authentic Italian ones.  I also liked the last unit because I found the interview to be a fun experience and the video may have been one of the most enjoyable and engaging projects I have ever completed. The focus on culture required me to divide my attention between grammar and content, so I feel that my grammar has improved greatly and I usually make few errors in my writing.

To showcase my growth, both in writing and speaking, I have included in my portfolio several samples of writing, some presentations, and a couple videos. The three communication pages include a presentation of the interview I mentioned, a letter that I wrote to admissions staff at a university in Bologna, and a video in which I reflect on the cultural project about food. Communities has a video of me describing an Italian recipe that I often make, which displays how I can use the language outside of a school setting. In Comparisons I compared the differences in food between the two countries. On Connections you will find the horror film that my group produced at the end of the semester. The Culture page also includes a reflection on the cultural project, but focuses more on how each country’s culture affects it s view and approach to food. For grammar I chose to highlight the most recent verb forms we learned, the conjunctive. The Vocabulary page contains a list of words that I learned during the second unit.

While I do not plan to continue studying Italian at Duke, I would still love to visit Italy, so the knowledge of Italian culture and the language that I have acquired over the last three semesters would still be useful to me when I get the chance to visit.

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