Listen and repeat?

Choose the right Italian Language audio course

When I developed my own Italian language 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 an Italian language audio course: concept, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, guidance, structure, price, pros, cons, and my advice.

Why this selection of Italian language audio courses

I compared my course with the Italian versions of the audio courses that I use myself to learn other languages, and which I recommend to any motivated learner. I encourage you to check out the courses below and possibly take them in parallel with my course.

On the other hand, I cannot compare courses that I don’t know and I don’t feel the need to consider those that I don’t find useful.

Apart from Italian language audio courses, I also recommend other kinds of learning resources, but they’re not audio courses, and thus, are out of the scope of this review.

Pick of many Italian language audio courses: Ripeti con me!

Italian language audio course

Concept

Spaced repetition balanced by variety and relevance, in small daily doses.

Pronunciation

Acquired unconsciously, straight from sentences.

Vocabulary

Acquired unconsciously, straight from sentences. Basic vocabulary is repeated throughout the course. Contents are kept practical. Sentences are not related to each other.

Grammar

Acquired unconsciously, straight from sentences.  Grammar patterns are repeated intensively during each lesson, with occasional repetition from lesson to lesson.

Guidance

No guidance at all. Only sentences, in English and in Italian.

Structure

Series of sentences, in a set of 3 files per lesson. About 30 min per lesson.

Price

69.80 US$ / 30 lessons

Pros

  • Useful vocabulary
  • Enough variety to avoid feeling repetitive
  • Enough repetition to be effective
  • Not too much vocabulary to absorb in a day
  • Clear and correct pronunciation
  • Natural speaking rate
  • Easy to use: 1 lesson a day, every day
  • Economical choice

Cons

  • Well, I sell it, so… 🙂
  • Suggestions?

My advice

Buy it? 😛
Total beginners can take it without being either overwhelmed or bored.

Italian language audio course with guidance in English: Pimsleur

Italian language audio course Pimsleur

Concept

Rigorous spaced repetition at the expense of variety, with guidance in English.

Pronunciation

Practiced consciously from phonemes and words, with guidance in English.

Vocabulary

Useful but very limited. Based on very short dialogues and variations. You end up repeating keywords even more than ten times in a lesson.

Grammar

Focus on mastering a limited set of basic sentence patterns.

Guidance

Occasionally given in English on pronunciation, grammar and word meaning and usage.

Structure

Short dialogue, then drills from the previous lesson and new contents, all meticulously repeated at intervals. 25-30 min per lesson.

Price

120.00 US$ / 30 lessons

Pros

  • Meticulously timed intervals
  • Reassuring guidance
  • Clear and correct pronunciation
  • Natural speaking rate
  • Easy to use: 1 lesson a day, every day

Cons

  • Contents are repeated to an extent that many would find boring
  • Very limited vocabulary
  • Dialogues are in a formal speech from day one, which I’d spare to beginners and is not needed if not in a work context
  • Expensive

My advice

Good for motivated total beginners in their first 1-5 months of study.

Italian language audio course with a massive set of sentences: Glossika Italian Fluency

Italian language audio course Glossika

Concept

Spaced repetition with an overwhelming variety of vocabulary, and high involvement.

Pronunciation

Acquired unconsciously, straight from sentences.

Vocabulary

Overwhelming, from day one, especially at normal playback speed. Sentences often sound unnatural. Sentences are not related to each other.

Grammar

Acquired unconsciously, straight from sentences. Grammar patterns are repeated intensively during each lesson, with occasional repetitions from lesson to lesson.

Guidance

No guidance at all. Only sentences, in English and Italian.

Structure

Raw sentences, in a set of 3 files per lesson. About 30 min per lesson.

Price

30.00 US$ / 30 lessons

Pros

  • Variety of vocabulary
  • Relatively cheap

Cons

  • Speaking rate is fast even for a native speaker, to the point that I’d find it discouraging
  • The Italian speaker has a regional accent
  • One Italian speaker cannot roll her R’s (!), while another one speaks like a robot
  • The English and Italian versions of the sentences don’t always match precisely
  • Vocabulary is not repeated enough
  • Many sentences are awkward, unnaturally phrased or just unlikely
  • The recommended daily workload is off-putting even for the most motivated learner
  • The booklet includes sentences in the international phonetic alphabet, which I find totally useless, distracting and confusing (I’ve never learned it)
  • There’ not enough silence left to repeat the sentence
  • The repetition schedule is confusing
  • Some sentences are too long

My advice

Good for brave students starting from lower intermediate level (A2) or intermediate (B1).

Update

Glossika has turned into an app and is not available as an audio course in MP3 anymore. While an app can be more interactive than audio only or audio + booklet, it can also be distracting.

“Conventional” Italian language audio course: ItalianPod101

Italian language audio course Glossika

Concept

This Italian language audio course is not based on spaced repetition, but it still has a structure that I’d expect from a good all-in-one self-study textbook.

Pronunciation

Acquired unconsciously, straight from dialogues and vocabulary lists.

Vocabulary

Based on dialogues, and grouped by topic. Words rarely occur more than once in each dialogue, and no intentional repetition is noticeable throughout the course.

Grammar

Grammar notes are given in English in a separate section.

Guidance

A full translation is given during the dialogue. Each lesson includes grammar notes and culture notes, all in English.

Structure

Dialogue, vocabulary list, culture notes and grammar notes. About 10 min per lesson.

Price

8.00 US$ / month

Pros

  • Variety of topics
  • Grammar notes can solve many doubts
  • Very cheap

Cons

  • No clear course plan
  • Virtually no repetition
  • Culture notes are useless from the point of view of language learning and all that English is distracting (I always skip them completely)
  • The slow version of the dialogue is too slow

My advice

Good from A2, to be taken occasionally as a plus.

Conclusions to pick your Italian language audio course

All these Italian language audio courses have pros and cons. That said, if I were a total beginner and I had to pick one single course, I’d go for Ripeti con me! because you get to speak Italian every day – which is paramount – at a low price. However, if you still feel like you need guidance and don’t mind keeping a slower pace, Pimsleur is your best friend – an expensive friend. If you already speak basic Italian and want to boost your vocabulary, master new grammar patterns, and speak faster, both Ripeti con me! and Glossika can help. More conventional Italian language audio courses like ItalianPod101 are not bad if used in concomitance with other courses focused on speaking, or 1-on-1 tutoring, and are certainly a good deal for the number of lessons you get.

Online Italian Lessons

Meet your language coach

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
Absolutely wonderful! So excited to start my lesson plan.
Italian language student
Victoria Kelly
USA
Stefano's Language coaching was an excellent use of my time, Stefano helped me to understand what programs and resources he has found most useful in acquiring new languages. I feel more focused and confident and am working on my self-study program now. Thank you, Stefano!
Italian language student
Neal C
UK
My lesson with Stefano was engaging and gave me a better idea of how i should approach my language studies in the future. I thank him greatly and I hope to implement these new methods into my everyday life. He is very knowledgeable and will explain any questions one may have in great detail. Definitely recommended to those who are interested in starting a new language or improving their method of study.
Italian language student
Ayrton vidović
Croatia