My Italian Audio Course based on Spaced Repetition

Learn Italian intuitively by listening and repeating sentences

The Italian course Ripeti Con Me starts at a beginner level and focuses on essential vocabulary. Its slow pace makes it accessible to new students.

The concept underlying this course is that you’ll improve your Italian by listening and repeating many sentences. As you go through the course, small changes are made to the sentences, moving different components in and out. In this way, you’re learning new words and how sentences are formed. Grammar isn’t explicitly taught but you’ll begin to pick up the various grammar points on your own.

The course materials consist of audio files and PDFs. Lessons last approximately 30 minutes and you’re meant to complete one lesson each day. Currently, there are 45 lessons for sale but new lessons have already been designed and will continue to be added. In each lesson, there are 30 sentences for you to learn. Each day, you’re meant to listen to 3 audio files that will get you thinking in Italian and speaking throughout. There are three parts – Part A, Part B, and Part C and you’re meant to go through them in that order. You find a preview of Part A in the course program below.

In Part A, you listen to a sentence in English and Italian, then shadow the Italian sentence (saying the same sentence while the speaker is still saying it). In Part B, there’s a pause where you’re meant to say the sentence yourself in Italian. It’s alright if you can’t remember everything, just do your best and say what you can. Then, you can shadow it again. In Part C, you only shadow the sentence.

There’s also a PDF file that comes with the course. In the PDF, you’ll see each sentence written out in Italian and English. The grammar that is emphasized in the lessons is bolded.

Below you find the program and a short preview of Part A of every lesson. Try it now!

This Italian audio course is for

  • Total beginners to intermediate learners who want to improve their speaking skills

During the course, you will

  • Improve pronunciation
  • Think directly in Italian
  • Speak faster, with confidence
  • Retain useful vocabulary
  • Master grammar patterns

You don't need to

  • Memorize whole sentences
  • Remember everything at once
  • Follow grammar rules

Features

  • Natural speech rate
  • Spaced repetition
  • Audio + Booklet
  • Short Daily Bits
  • Useful vocabulary
  • No guidance in English apart from translation
  • Proven grammar tree
  • Easy to use

Lessons 1-15

Lessons 16-30

Lessons 31-45

Lessons 46-60

Lessons 1-60

Features and Benefits

The ultimate purpose of listening practice is to be able to understand native speakers in virtually any situation. With this purpose in mind, this course strikes a balance between two contrasting needs: on one side, as a beginner or intermediate learner, you need to learn from simplified, “purified” material, else you could barely catch a word; on the other side, you want to be exposed to the “real thing”, so that you don’t panic when you leave the classroom and go speak with people outside.

In some courses for beginners, the native speakers speak so slow that it sounds awkward. This solution might feel reassuring to prudent learners, but it’s also a limit. In other courses, they speak so fast that you can’t even understand simple words. Except for a few adventurous polyglots who know how things work, most learners find this scary and give up.

My choice is to keep speech rate at a relatively slow level, but still realistic for a native speaker. I rather pronounce extremely clearly instead of slowing down. In this respect, the diction classes I took long time ago were helpful.

Once you get used to listening at this speed, you’ll naturally speed up by yourself when repeating the sentences. Eventually, you’ll be able to adjust freely your speech rate depending on your mood and the contents that you want to express.

The method of repeating contents after increasingly longer intervals, called spaced repetition, has been around for decades, but only in the last few years did it become a buzz word thanks to some popular apps. The method per se is scientifically sound and certainly works. This is not always true about its applications.

During this course, vocabulary and grammar patterns recur following a plan. Words are repeated occasionally over many lessons and also during the same lesson. Grammar patterns are repeated intensively during the same lesson and occasionally during the lessons following the lesson where that grammar pattern is introduced.

Those words and patterns will become familiar over time, even if you don’t understand or can’t use all the other words you hear in the sentences that contain them. The aim of repetition is familiarity with the language, and thus fluency, rather than mere memorization.

Most people start learning foreign languages by learning to read the alphabet first. Even popular self-study books start with the alphabet. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to start. On the contrary, it makes it more difficult to get used to the sounds of that language and to think directly in that language. This because the spoken word and the written word are processed by your brain in a different way. When you read characters that are present in your native language, your brain wants to process it the same way it does with your native language. With sounds, your brain can only shut up and listen, hoping to decode these news sounds on the way.

The casual learner, used to the obsolete methods they followed in language classes at school, is puzzled by the concept of learning straight from audio. However, it’s easier to convince them if they’re presented facts and not obscure theories in linguistics. Here are two facts that might surprise you and show that we’re made to learn languages by listening and speaking:

  1. When I was in Malaysia, I wrote an email to a Malaysian Chinese in Mandarin. We had already spoken in person in Mandarin, so I expected him to understand. He replied that he can’t read Chinese characters. He’s a native speaker, he’s fluent and so on, but he can’t read or write. In fact, only a minority of Chinese native speakers have mastered the writing system. They can have their daily life without knowing how to read and write. This is possible for any language.
  2. Learning to listen and speak while not learning to read and write is not only possible, but the only choice for many languages. In fact, there are about 7000 languages in the world, of which only 200 have standard writing systems. For all the other languages, communication is only oral, not written.

For these reasons, this course focuses on audio. There’s a booklet with the sentence script and its English translation, but that’s only optional and in any case it’s to be consulted only after going through the entire lesson with audio only.

Even if text is kept at a secondary level, some might still feel the need for pictures. However, even though imagery helps memorize information, the focus of the course is more to think and speak directly in Italian than mere memorization. Thus, the absence of other stimuli like pictures is intended to let you focus on pronunciation and speaking.

Learning a language is like doings sports. You need to practice often, ideally on a daily basis. A 30-minute daily practice is much more effective than 3.5 hours once a week, whether it’s about practicing conversation in a foreign language or playing tennis. Your mind (and your body, in the case of sports) absorbs new information better if it’s processed in small bits.

On the other hand, if an app lets the student “keep their pace”, people often end up playing with it for 5 minutes while being distracted by notifications etc.

To make you speak Italian everyday even if you’re alone and busy, this course is made up of 30-minute daily lessons. Click “play” and never click “pause”. Do one lesson a day and you’ll be fluent before you know it.

If you’re learning a new language and you want to make useful progress quickly, focusing on the most frequently-used words is a good strategy.

The vocabulary introduced in this course was inspired by two Italian “frequency lists”. The first contains 1000 words and seems to be taken from mass media because it includes some relatively formal words.  The second contains 2000 words and is taken from movie subtitles, thus it’s more conversational. I picked words assuming that the learner wants to learn Italian on the following purposes:

  • To travel in Italy, because many visit Italy for tourism
  • To chat with locals, because many have relatives and friends in Italy
  • To express opinions on abstract subjects, especially from the intermediate level and above, because some are interested in Italy for humanities

The 300 most frequently-used words represent about 65% of all the words you’ll use on a regular basis. Together, those 300 most common foreign words can allow you to introduce yourself, order food in restaurants, check in at the airport, talk about how you feel, discuss the weather, answer basic questions and — most importantly — give you the tools you need to learn words and phrases beyond those first 300 words. In contrast, 2000 words represent about 90%. Thus, in this course alone you’ll be exposed to a sufficient range of vocabulary for your trips and casual chats.

Many courses try to make dialogues interesting with a wide variety of vocabulary, but lack the repetition needed to memorize words and master sentence patterns. This is good a supplement for intermediate learners, but it scares off beginners who feel that they’re forgetting things on the way or not even learning them in the first place.

Other courses, like Pimsleur, take the spaced repetition principle to the extreme and spend months on the same few conversation lines with a few variations.  This is an effective introduction to the language for beginners, but it’s obviously limited in scope. Many casual learners find its boring.

This course strikes a balance between repetition and variety. On one hand, it’s reassuring to repeat sentence patterns and words during the same lesson and over several lessons. At the same time, contents are kept challenging and interesting by variations in the sentences and by setting realistic situations for the sentences.

Many casual learners, based on obsolete methods they learned in language classes at school, translate the sentence they want to say before saying it in a foreign language. Some even say the sentence in their language before translating it. All this is a huge hindrance to learning a language.

This course will help you to break this habit because it leaves you no time to translate. You’re prompted to think and speak directly in Italian. Even if you’re at a loss for words, you’ll soon hear the correct sentence and you only need to repeat it.

Consequently, you also lose all the small habits that are peculiar to your native language and get in the way when learning Italian. For example, English speakers typically use extra words such as “do” and pronouns like “I” and “you” in everyday sentences. By repeating the sentences in this course, English speakers are forced to forget about “do” and also to omit pronouns. They just have to think differently about what they’re going to say. This sounds like a big leap to take, but this effect is already noticeable after a few days of daily practice done the right way (not pausing the audio, etc.).

In a typical language class or course, first you quietly listen to a long explanation of grammar, vocabulary, grammar notes, culture notes… all in your native language. You diligently take notes and feel like you know it all. Then, you move on to drills. Practice is only a small part of study time and is usually done in a controlled environment based on contents that are typical of a classroom.

With this course, you’ll be practicing Italian all the time. In fact, the entire course is a drill! And it’s based on situations that you’ll likely face during your trips to Italian or your chats with Italians. You’ll certainly make mistakes on the way, but in the meanwhile you’re already communicating effectively in Italian. This is the most practical method that you can find.

All native speakers learn the grammar patterns of their languages following a certain order. For example, they first learn the present tense “I eat” and then move on to the past tense “I ate”. Well designed language courses introduce new grammar in more or less the same order.

This course looks like a “simple” collection of sentences. However, they’re not random sentences. They follow a plan. By doing the lessons in their order, you’ll learn grammar patterns in the most efficient order, while reviewing past patterns over many lessons.

There are grammar patterns and vocabulary that you typically find in a textbook, and there are others that you don’t find in textbooks. Often, they’re frequently used by native speakers and preferred to the “official” alternatives found in textbooks. I don’t see why common expressions should be ignored, especially if they don’t require complicated grammar.

In this course, you’ll learn expressions that you won’t find in regular textbooks. They’re chosen among the most frequent and don’t required additional grammar. Just by adding a word, you’ll sound like a native, not like a textbook.

Padding the course with lessons that introduce a new expression with no need for new grammar also slows down the pace and gives you time to practice what you learned so far.

Some courses and apps based on spaced repetition are complicated. There’s a long list of files to be used in an obscure order, together with side activities in a schedule that is hardly viable for the casual learner.

With this course, you only need to click “play” on files A, B, and C. Once a day. If you feel the need for visual aid, consult the booklet. If it’s still too hard, repeat the lesson the day after. Then move on to the next lesson.

Lessons 1-15

Lessons 16-30

Lessons 31-45

Lessons 46-60

Lessons 1-60

How to use this Italian audio course

Take one lesson a day, every day. Neither more, nor less. If you feel ready, move on to the next lesson, else repeat the lesson. You should take a night of sleep between lessons.

Each lesson is a set of 3 files: A, B, and C. Go through all of them on the same day, in that order, all in a row, without pausing the audio. Together, they take about 30 minutes. During that time, don’t use any other language, neither in speech nor in writing. However, you can do language-free activities like commuting, cooking, cleaning etc.

  1. File A. Listen and repeat without the booklet. Pay attention to pronunciation, intonation, rhythm, and accent. Recognize the parts of speech: is the adjective before or after the noun? Do verbs change depending on the subject? You don’t need to memorize the changes, but at least recognize them. Repeat the sentences as best you can with the native speaker.
  2. File B. Listen to the English sentence, then try to translate into the target language in the time given based on what you heard in File A. Then you’ll hear the correct translation. Don’t worry if you make mistakes or miss a few. Take it as a game. Just keep going with the schedule.
  3. File C. This is a review. You’ll find out that you’re already familiar enough with the sentences to speak along with the native speaker.

It’s vital that you listen and repeat what you hear. Don’t listen passively, or it would go into one ear and come out from the other. The first time you listen to a lesson, don’t look at the booklet, but rather rely on audio only.

Listen and repeat as best you can without pausing the audio. If you can’t keep up, this is normal. Just try to mimic the speaker, even if you mumble. There will be a lot you won’t be able to keep up with throughout the course, but you will still be making progress. After a couple of weeks of daily training, the patterns will emerge and you will develop a habit that mimics the native speaker. At first you might feel at a loss for words, but over time you’ll recognize more and more patterns.

You’ll be speaking Italian from Day 1! Start now.

 

"Stefano is not only a language prodigy but also a fantastic educator. I recommend him to all language lovers."
Thierry Hsieh
Polyglot and Founder of the Polyglot Club in Taipei, Taiwan (Polyglot.tw)
"Ripeti Con Me teaches the language intuitively and requires you to speak throughout the lessons. It can definitely help you improve your Italian."
Nick Dahlhoff
Language Blogger on Alllanguageresources.com
"I personally witnessed Stefano's progress over time, thus I can testify that he knows how languages are learned. Ripeti Con Me is the product of his experience as a language learner."
Francesca Chen Ting
Chinese-Italian Translator on Omniglot.com

Italian Audio Course Program and Preview

File A

File C

Level: Beginner (A1)

Grammar: Presente irregolare: andare venire, dire, dare, sapere, giocare…

Lessons 1-15

Lessons 16-30

Lessons 31-45

Lessons 46-60

Lessons 1-60

FAQ

Feel free to adjust the playback speed. However, I recommend that you don’t slow down more than 10%, because you should get used to natural speed. I’d rather repeat the lesson than slow it down unnaturally.
On Windows, you can adjust the playback speed in Windows Media Player. On my smartphone, I use the free app Audipo.

If you already understand more than 90% of what you hear, you might want to skip a lesson or two.
If you understand less than 60% of what you hear, you might want to repeat the lesson and/or read the sentences in the booklet.
These standards apply to any text used to learn a language.

Understand the method in order to set realistic expectations! You’re not supposed to memorize whole sentences, but phrases at most, usually words. And even that doesn’t happen instantaneously. Some words will stick to your mind at once, some after a night of sleep, some after some repetition. Stick with your daily exercise and you’ll be surprised to feel how words pop up in your mind all of a sudden, when you weren’t even trying to recollect them!
If you’re human and you manage to memorize 8-10 words a day, you can already be happy. This applies to any source of vocabulary, not only this course. If you wondered, to achieve upper-intermediate fluency you need about 3,000 words. Yes, you can get there in less than a year!

If you don’t understand words, you can always recur to the booklet, repeat the lesson, and/or look up the word.
If you don’t understand why you should say that way, well, that’s grammar! And there’s plenty of books that explain it, without necessarily making you able to speak and use it. So, believe in the method and stick with your daily exercise. Sooner than you think, everything will make sense and become natural.

No. Only after you finished the lesson (the whole set of files A, B, and C), or if you repeat it, refer to the booklet. However, you should still repeat everything aloud while reading. Never read silently!

It’s totally normal if you get cut in the middle of a sentence. On the contrary, if you managed to repeat everything accurately, probably that lesson is too easy for you. So, don’t worry and keep speaking.

You don’t need to memorize either the sentences or their order. It’s enough to start speaking when you recognize the sentence after it started. If you listen to files A, B and C in a row, this will happen naturally.

There are two reasons for the apparent mismatch.
1. We don’t say the same thing the same way. For example:
a. This is Stefano and Alessia. They’re Italian.
b. These are Stefano and Alessia. They’re Italian.
Well, the Italian sentence sounds like b: “Questi sono Stefano e Alessia”!
2. There’s not always 1-to-1 correspondence of words and grammar patterns between languages. For example:
a. When do you (usually) go to school?
b. When are you going to school (today)?
Well, in Italian both sentences translate into “Quando vai a scuola?”

For this Italian audio course, I picked most of vocabulary from a list of the most frequent 1.000 words in Italian. The grammar patterns are also very common, and in fact are found in any serious language course, either written or in audio, roughly in the same order as in this course.
Understand the method to set your expectations: you’re not expected to use those exact sentences in real life. Actually, not even to remember them. That would be rote memorization and is neither expected nor desirable. After you add vocabulary and grammar patterns to your repertoire, your brain will know how to recollect them and put them together in sentences you’ve never heard before.

It’s true that the meaning of the sentences is rarely related to that of other sentences. They don’t make full dialogues. This because long real life dialogues don’t allow the kind of structure that is needed for spaced repetition.
However, they’re not random because they follow a plan. Certain words are repeated during each lesson and, more importantly, throughout the course. Grammar patterns are repeated intensively during each lesson, and add up throughout the course to build complex sentences. Vocabulary goes from basic to relatively advanced. Grammar patterns go from simple to relatively complex.
As a result, after the course you’ll be able to communicate because you’ll have learned how to handle the elements of virtually any sentence you might want to say, not limited to the sentences you heard in the course.

Research proves that you learn better if you first rely on speech only. If you rely on text, your brain tries to process letters the same way it does with your native language. Refer to visual aids only after you’ve finished the lesson, or if and when you repeat the lesson.

In a typical language class or course, first you quietly listen to a long explanation of grammar, vocabulary, grammar notes, culture notes… all in your native language. You diligently take notes and feel like you know it all. Then, you move on to drills. Practice is only a small part of study time and is usually done in a controlled environment based on contents that are typical of a classroom.

With this course, you’ll be practicing Italian all the time. In fact, the entire course is a drill! And it’s based on situations that you’ll likely face during your trips to Italian or your chats with Italians. You’ll certainly make mistakes on the way, but in the meanwhile you’re already communicating effectively in Italian. This is the most practical method that you can find.

Even though imagery helps memorize information, the focus of the course is more to think and speak directly in Italian than mere memorization. Thus, the absence of other stimuli like pictures is intended to let you focus on pronunciation and speaking.

This is course is a collection of MP3 files. It’s not an app. If you want to check your pronunciation, you can always record yourself with another device and review your recording after the lesson. In any case, don’t pause or stop the lesson to check your pronunciation.

We remember better what gives us a strong impression. If you have ever experience a major earthquake, you certainly remember where and when it was, what happened next etc.
Some sentences are earthquakes. Awkward, controversial or morally questionable. Take them for what they are – sample sentences that don’t reflect my views.

If you study Italian, you certainly want your material to be related to Italy. If you’re learning about Italy, probably you need to know about its neighbors. Most of the users happen to be from the U.S., which is a very influential country anyway. Other references are made occasionally to other major countries like Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, etc.

By the way, when I saw this comment I smiled thinking of another Italian audio course that is the source of inspiration for my course, where virtually no Italian or even European names appeared and instead all the names were from the Far East (because they made the course in Taiwan). A language course should make references to the country and the culture of that language, not be a mere translation of a standard script applied to all languages. Thus, this “bias” is an advantage.

There’s nothing awkward in studying. You’re taking an Italian Audio Course. I’d rather be impressed if I noticed someone doing that. Anyway, you don’t need to shout out your sentences in public. Speaking softly is enough, even without opening your mouth. But do pronounce everything you hear!

This course forces you to speak and think in Italian everyday. That’s as close as it gets to practicing conversation or taking a lesson with a native speaker. In that sense, if you were to pick only one self-study method, you should go for this one.
On the other hand, you certainly need to develop a variety of skills that are not covered here by other methods (especially writing, and reading too). However, there’s no learning resource that alone can lead you to fluency. But, you could say that about any course.

The advantage of an audio course is that once you’ve started it, you should feel compelled to keep pace with the audio, and that requires you actually speak Italian for 20 minutes a day, every day. You’re prompted to speak, and less prone to laziness than if put in front of a book or an app. If you’re still not motivated enough, I don’t know any learning resource than can help you. You could always invest in a good teacher.

You find detailed instructions in the booklet included in the course. Should you still have questions, you’re welcome to have a free 10-minute consultation on Skype. You find my username in the booklet.

Since this is a downloadable product, they’re no way to return it. Thus, refunds are not granted, for any reason. If you still have questions about how to use it, feel free to get in touch on Skype for a quick consultation.

My personal review of Italian language audio courses

When I developed my own Italian audio course “Ripeti con me!”, I reviewed other popular courses to combine their best features into it. I’m sharing this little research with you.

Each review covers the following aspects of the course: concept, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, guidance, structure, price, pros, cons, and my advice.

Lessons 1-15

Lessons 16-30

Lessons 31-45

Lessons 46-60

Lessons 1-60

Online Italian Lessons

Meet the speaker of this Italian audio course

As a language learner, I was raised speaking only Italian, but now I speak nine foreign languages.

As a teacher, I’ve taught Italian to adults in language schools and universities.

I’ve lectured in polyglot clubs and coached students on their way to fluency.

I’m eager to share my secrets with you.

 

Stefano Lodola

Daily Lessons
Minutes per day
Useful sentences
/5
Rating from students
"I know Stefano and I've seen his method work. I believe that Ripeti Con Me is a tremendously valuable resource."
Antonella Gismundi
Graduate of National Taiwan Normal University, Department of Language Studies
"This course incorporates the basic grammar in the sentence naturally. The spaced repetition method he implemented helps to strengthen the memory as our mind starts to forget."
Meina
Language Blogger on Togetherwelearnmore.com
"Ripeti Con Me teaches you the natural form of speaking. This course wants you to focus on repetition. Your brain remembers an information easier [...]. The audio availability means that you can listen to it anytime and anywhere."
Teddy Nee
Polyglot and Language Blogger on Neeslanguageblog.com

Start learning Italian now!​