Studying online and taking digital notes.

I haven’t been posting for a while because there hasn’t been much to write about. This week I have mostly been just reviewing all of my old notes on grammar and vocabulary. I have also sat a 3 day boot camp on how to move to Italy, which was great, I found out a lot about some stuff that I probably don’t have need for – visa’s, buying property etc. But the majority of the information was pretty helpful.

I have been using my iPad recently for my note taking process. And so this week i’ve been transferring all of my notes from my notebook to my iPad. For this I have been using the goodnotes 5 app. I love this app for many reasons. I can hand write all of my notes on it. Writing things by hand rather than by typing helps me remember them more. When I type, I usually tend to not pay attention to what I am writing, and it quickly leaves my memory. This is why I have always preferred to hand write my notes in a notebook.


However, after studying an MSc in Conservation, I have been becoming increasingly aware of the footprint we are having on the planet, and have been trying to shift towards a more ‘zero waste’ lifestyle. Using the iPad helps me with this step. All my notes are stored digitally, on the cloud. I no longer need to use a load of paper. And as I am planning on using this iPad for a very long time, I feel a bit more comfortable with the unfortunate plastic waste I do create with this. A small amount of plastic waste over years compared to a huge amount of daily paper waste is.. well.. a bit better I guess.

The kit




I have been using my iPad which is a standard iPad (2019 model) 10.2 inch screen as pictured and linked to the left. Mine is only a 32gb, and is in rose gold.


I also have the 1st generation apple pencil which is absolutely essential for me to hand write my notes on the iPad. The 1st generation pencil can be used on the majority of iPads, however, the 2nd generation can only be used on two of the iPad pro’s so if you want to purchase one yourself, make sure you are buying the compatible pencil.



I also bought a case similar to this, just so that I can use my iPad like an actual laptop, and I can type up my notes with a full keyboard. I find this more comfortable than using the touch screen keyboard that is on the iPad.

As well as these on my iPad, I still use my desktop for the majority of my studying. I have managed to utilise several different programs and apps to help me with this process of learning a language by myself and from home.

The software I use?

First of all, as I have said previously, I have been a frequent user of AnkiApp. I have been using this for a bit of time now, and am very fond of it. I use this as a flashcard deck to study vocabulary mostly. You can add text, images and even audio files to it, which is great if you want to record yourself saying a word or phrase, and practise with your pronunciation. I also utilise the tags in AnkiApp, and tag different categories. Verbs, Nouns, Adjectives etc. But also can tag groups as a seperate tag such as ‘animals, family, in the city’. This way I can study cards with a certain tag, like if one day I wanted to study verbs only, then I would select the verb tag.

I also have been using the Online Italian Club extensively, and really taking advantage of their fantastic free resources. You can search for resources for your specific level and you can even download a free study planner for that level. Recently I have been going back over the A2 study materials and the planner gives you the link to the material. Below is a screenshot from one of the pages from my own A2 study planner. I managed to do quite a few lessons in a day because I am already studying at a B1 level, and was just going over these again to refresh my memory.

I have also recently started using duolingo again. This is again to refresh my memory, and my father has recently taken up learning Italian and is using duolingo himself to do this, and helping him with this has renewed my interest in duolingo.

I am still using babbel and am quite fond of this app. I have been mostly doing the reviews every day and then doing a lesson now and again. However, babbel and duolingo I use only to supplement my learning.

On my iPad, for note taking I am using goodnotes 5 as I have already stated. As well as this I am using some other apps to help schedule my time. I am using the app Timepage which is created by moleskin. This is a calendar app, and I schedule all of my learning in this app, with time slots. When I schedule in learning like this, it helps me stay committed to actually doing it. I usually schedule in general blocks like ‘Review Vocabulary’ between 9:00 and 12:00 as an example.

I also create a to-do list, which I am currently using MinimalList for. This app has a really simple and sleek design. I use it in monochrome however, you can adjust the colour. It is simple to use, you drag down to add an item, drag to the right to check it off, drag to the left to delete it. I have started writing my to-do list in Italian, just because

Another app I am currently using is Focus Keeper. This app uses the pomodoro method to keep focus. It sets timed blocks of study and rest time. I have it set for 25 mins study, 5 mins short break and 30 mins long break. Every 25 mins you get a short break, but after 4 rounds of 25 mins you get one long break. You can fully customize this to suit your own schedule, and you can change the focus time, break times and the total amount of time you want to study for.

Other apps I have are of course Books on the iPad. I only have one book on here at the moment which is a grammar book. I can highlight sections and add notes on this app. I do not really use this so much at the moment. Sometimes I will read over it and highlight important sections.

An app recommended to me by my partner is PDF Expert. He uses this a lot more than me. He has a lot of medical textbooks as PDF’s and with this app he can make notes, highlight etc. I haven’t had a chance to really use this app yet, purely because I do not have any PDF’s at the moment that I am studying from but check it out if you do study from PDF’s a lot.

Books – paperback and hard back.

I have several physical books that I use to study from. The one that I use the most frequently is probably the ASSIMIL with ease (Italian). I also refer to grammar books on occasion, and I have several workbook style books to work through for a variety of different levels.

These are the books I do have:

ASSIMIL with ease series (Italian)

Collins Complete Italian

Teach Yourself Complete Italian

SOS Italian Grammar A1-A2

Streetwise Italian Dictionary/Thesaurus

Italiano plus A1-A2

Attiva il lessico A2/B1

Teach Yourself Enjoy Italian intermediate to advanced.

Preparazione al CELI 3

And I also have a few story books:

Pasta per due

Amore in Paradiso

Italian short stories

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