I have conquered the Italian tree!
Molto bene! But, out of curiosity may I ask how fluent or confident do you feel speaking, reading, writing and watching Italian now you have finished. And do you think that the lessons offered here were enough in your path of learning Italian? Sorry I would just love to know- p.s 2 moths is ultra impressive :)
Well, before Duolingo I completed the Pimsleur course to develop a good accent and basic speaking skills. After that I could only make small talk, (like, eight-year-old level), but my accent was kickin' haha. I didn't have much of a vocabulary either, but it gave me the necessary skills I needed to read things aloud in Italian without butchering the words. It's a good thing too, because the computer voice for the Italian course gets it all wrong.
Anyway, after that I could read some things aloud in Italian but I had NO CLUE what I was reading or what any of it meant. Pimsleur focuses on being able to get by using another language for a little while and it gives you a solid foundation that you can build off of when you go to the country and start using what you've learned. Unfortunately, I'm a high school student. I'm not going to Italy any time soon, (unless my mom agrees to let me be an exchange student next year), and I can't go online and find people to talk to because of cyber-safety and stuff. This is a problem I still have, so for a while felt like I was stuck. I couldn't expand and I couldn't improve. Then I found Duolingo!=)
It was exactly what I needed. After completing the course, (As it is now. With the new incubator it's just a matter of time before the door is opened for more information and vocab to be added), I have found that reading in Italian is much easier for me. Of course, there are thousands and thousands of words in any language, so every now and then I need to look up a word, but I can easily get a feel of what's going on. I can read things like articles on Corriere della Sera and Le Avventure di Pinocchio with little trouble. Writing comes as easy to me as reading does and I love the fact that I actually know which way the accents are supposed to go. (I took Spanish classes at school for four years and still don't know which way their accents go.. Then again, I can't really do anything in Spanish....)
When I watch things in Italian I sometimes have a hard time because of the speed at which they are speaking. I can hear and pick out words that I know, which can range from like 30%-75% depending on the topic, but since I don't have any opportunity to really immerse myself in the language, (I don't live in Italy), I have no way to work on speed. A lot of words float past me, but if I focus I can catch a good amount of them. It just takes me a second to process their meaning. If I could find videos in Italian with Italian subtitles I could catch on much more quickly, or even if I found English videos with Italian subtitles I could hear the meaning in English and see the Italian words, but both of those seem to be nonexistent where I live =(
One thing that helps, however, is songs. I find Italian songs and get their lyrics in Italian and memorize them. I love music, (it's my passion right after languages), so for me, this method is more pleasure than it is work. =)
As for Speaking, I don't have a real way of testing it because I have no one to practice with. You can't be fluent in a language if you never practice speaking it. However, I will say that if I were to speak to someone willing to be patient and go pretty slow, I would be just fine. Plus, I know useful phrases like "Come si dice..?" and "Cosa significa..?"to help me along the way. I know Duolingo has carried me very far into the learning process and I plan to take the English course for Italian speakers until the incubator is up and running and more material is being added to the Italian course.
I will say that I can't understand stuff that isn't in regular Italian, (like Romanesque or Neapolitan dialects), but it's a bummer because a lot of my favorite things aren't in standard dialect. That's why I started that other discussion about a way to implement the option to branch into different dialects along with or instead of just the standard language. Because I feel that if we have the opportunity to achieve more knowledge, we should take it. I'm sure there are many Romanesque and Neapolitan Italian-speakers willing to contribute and I think a lot of people would greatly appreciate both the expansion of available knowledge and the chance it brings to dig deeper into Italian culture than one could speaking solely standard Italian.
Congrats on finishing your tree!
Just to comment on something you wrote above:
If I could find videos in Italian with Italian subtitles I could catch on much more quickly, or even if I found English videos with Italian subtitles I could hear the meaning in English and see the Italian words, but both of those seem to be nonexistent where I live =(
I would caution against using subtitles with video. I think it can easily become a crutch that you can rely on too long. As an example of this, I am currently sharing a house with a guy from Hong Kong who has been living here (Australia) for about five years. He still watches Australian tv with subtitles on. I think it's better to watch tv or video without subtitles and that will then push you to improve your listening ability far more quickly.
P.s. now that I've managed to uncross my eyes and read the whole thing, I like that you have taken the musical angle as well. I try and promote it to anyone willing to listen, there is a lot of power in music if you are really trying to learn a language. It is, to put a wet blanket on the whole thing, the ultimate vocabulary drilling tool :)
Congratulations on completing the tree!
Did you do all three levels of Pimsleur? I'm just on Pimsleur Italian two, lesson four, at the moment. I'm also using Michel Thomas to get a better feel for the structure of the language.
I've found a few Italians on mylanguageexchange.com willing to chat with me in Italian and English so we can both improve our target languages; I know some people on there are happy to video chat in Skype. There are some younger learners on there who are hopefully closer to your age.
I don't know how old you are, but I just did a quick search and there are plenty of under-19's on there with a native language of Italian and wanting to learn English.
(I've already found some 'oldies' like me to chat with :) )
If you contact a few people, you'll probably find some you struggle to find common ground to have a conversation, but others you'll click with and chat away happily.
I'm 16. I really hope there are kids my age interested in languages.. here, no one cares about anything that isn't in English and it really makes me sad since I can't talk to my friends about my passion. They just brush it off and don't care. Hopefully people from other places will be different