Serious about learning Italian?
Stop reading, start speaking!
What is the easiest way to learn Italian? How can I speak Italian fluently? What is the best language program to learn Italian? Here’s the answer to many frequently asked questions!
By Stefano Lodola
Immersion works because the best way to learn Italian is to hear it and practice speaking it every day in the context of your normal life. When people talk about immersion, what they really mean is learning by doing – to get away from an academic approach and live the language.
Here are some recommendations for Italian students at every level:
Here are some apps to learn Italian:
Italian is considered one of the easiest languages for a native English speaker to learn. The grammar and sentence structure are different from English, but simpler. Because both have Latin roots, they also share thousands of cognates – words that sound the same and have the same meanings.
Find out why it’s easy to learn Italian.
How many hours does it take to become fluent in Italian? How long does it take for an English speaker to learn Italian?
You certainly need to takes classes / lessons and also study by yourself.
Find out how long it takes to learn Italian.
Find more language-learning software to learn Italian.
However, these resources are not a substitute for live lessons with native speakers.
In particular, among the Romance languages, Italian is the closest to Latin in terms of vocabulary. Lexical similarity is 89% with French, 87% with Catalan, 85% with Sardinian, 82% with Spanish, 78% with Ladin, 77% with Romanian and 70% with Portuguese.
Find more about the Italian language.
There are approximately thirty-four native living spoken Romance languages that are spoken in Italy and related dialects, most of which are an indigenous evolution of Vulgar Latin.
A cognate refers to two words from different languages that derive from the same original word. If you go back far enough, they have the same linguistic root.
Cognates are useful when learning Italian as long as you know to be wary of false friends and false cognates. Otherwise, someone might tell you that they’re hungry (fame), but you might think instead that they’re famous.
Find more about Italian cognates.
Most people romanticize the language and base their motivation on fleeting interest.
Most people romanticize the language and base their motivation on fleeting interest.
Other things come along and take center stage.
The reason why these motivators work is because they’re all necessity-driven.
Find out why you should learn Italian.
Most people don’t have the benefit of living in communities with large Italian-speaking populations.
If you’re not able to find practice partners and teachers to help with your Italian then there’s a free excellent alternative online.
One of my favorite tools is one called Italki.
This is an online community (free to join) that can easily connect you with native speakers in Italy so you can learn at home. There are both professional teachers and non-professional community members to connect with. There are two options: take paid lessons, or find a study partner to teach each other for free.
You can take online language lessons anywhere, at any time. Every teacher charges different prices for their lessons.
Find more about how to find teachers online.
How to learn Italian with a 4-step roadmap:
Find more about this guide to learn Italian.
The Italian audio course “Ripeti Con Me!” starts at a beginner level and focuses on essential vocabulary. Its slow pace makes it accessible to beginners.
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.
Find more about this Italian audio course.
I have used myself many of the Italian language-learning products reviewed on All Language Resources and I generally agree with the conclusions that I read about products I have tried. Negative or mixed reviews are also useful because they come with recommendations for better alternatives, which shows that Nick is knowledgeable about the various approaches to language learning.
On ALR’s about page, Nick relates: “I started All Language Resources because I was trying to figure out which resources I should use for studying Chinese and it was far more difficult than it needed to be. There are tons of different courses, apps, podcasts, websites and so on, but it was hard to figure out which ones I should actually spend my time (and sometimes money) to use.”
“Nearly every website I came across that had reviews or recommendations felt dishonest. And, the longer I’ve been running this site, the more I realize just how shady many of these other websites can be.”
“There are lots of really cool resources for language learners online with more coming out constantly. There are also some insanely overpriced resources that aren’t as good as free alternatives. But because many people earn money by referring others to these overpriced and poor-quality resources, those are the ones that you constantly hear about.”
“Since generally reviews are made to sell and not to inform, you often end up with the vague feeling that you should try the product”
Then comes the point I made about an author’s overall product rating habits: “My goal with this site is to always recommend the best resource, regardless of whether or not I can make money from referrals. There are far too many sites that rate every resource as a 9.5/10 or higher. Thus far, after having reviewed around 50 resources, the average rating on All Language Resources is around a 7.5/10.”
Since generally reviews are made to sell and not to inform, you often end up with the vague feeling that you should try the product. Even if there’s a free trial, you still need to spend time to try it yourself. Nick also expressed frustration with inconclusive reviews: “Far too often I read an article or a review and end up learning hardly anything about what it’s like to actually use that resource. My goal is that every post on this site will be the most in-depth and honest one that you’ll find.”
I also like it that ALR’s visitors are not distracted by freebies like useless “study tips” that language gurus scatter on their pages like baits to build up mailing lists. The side column on ALR reads: “I don’t have a lame ebook to offer you. Sorry. Signup if you’d like to receive the occasional email when we find cool new resources or discounts worth knowing about.”
Next time you’re curious about the latest language app with rave reviews, check the in-depth reviews and recommendations of All Language Resources – without the BS.
Is Italian worth learning? This is probably one of those questions which really needs a context.
The general answer is that any language, not only Italian, is good to learn. What’s worth and what’s not really depends upon the circumstances, interests, and the needs of the person in question.
It is the 4th most studied second language in the world.
Italian is a cultural language and provides a high ROI to people that are passionate about art, music, cinema, history, opera, culinary arts, supercar industry, industrial design (high-end furniture, bath, and kitchen), travel consultants, tour guides.
If you plan to spend a few days on vacation in Italy, don’t bother learning Italian. Most young Italians speak English at an acceptable level.
Join the discussion on whether Italian is worth learning!
I’ve personally used these 4 platforms to teach and take language lessons online:
In this age, you can learn a language online. You don’t need to travel or live abroad in order to learn a foreign language.
Skype was launched in 2003. The first website from this list to find language teachers and partner started in 2007. This opens a world of opportunities to connect with native speakers of the languages we are learning via the Internet, and specifically via Skype.
I’ve learned some languages completely online, taking lessons on Skype, without ever visiting any country where those languages are spoken. You can do the same, too!
So, where to find teachers?
There are many websites that match language teachers and students. I’ll review the four that I’ve used myself, either as a student or as a teacher.
To learn a language online, I always look for teachers on www.italki.com. I also teach Italian there.
Italki is the oldest, largest and best organized online tutoring platform that allows language learners to find teachers or tutors from around the world at an affordable rate. You’ll also find community areas to help you learn any language faster and more efficiently.
The primary function is as an online marketplace that facilities online language lessons. If you’re looking for a professional teacher or an informal tutor for your language studies, you can find somebody on italki.
The website is for free, teachers are not. But depending on their experience and the country they live in, you can expect to spend relatively little.
There are other features of the site, such as the ability to add public notes in your target language, that are like status updates, but that natives can comment on to correct you. It’s great to be able to ask a question about a grammatical feature, or quick translation question, of the language and have the community answer it for you for free.
Verbling is also a very good place to learn a language online. I occasionally teach Italian on Verbling, but I’ve never taken lessons as a student.
However, it’s good alternative to Italki, thanks to its smooth, modern interface, and relatively large selection of tutors.
It’s very similar to Italki with a few minor differences. On Verbling, the cost of lessons are generally higher and the number of teachers to choose from fewer. Tutors a required to be native speakers in the language they teach, which is obvious for me but not on Italki.
Verbling does more than let you book and schedule lessons – it provides a platform for actually having those lessons, through Verbling’s own video-chat interface (this is in contrast to some other sites which leave it to you and your teacher to video chat on Skype).
You should familiarize yourself with Verbling’s lesson interface before actually starting a lesson because it has many features (which for the most part I don’t need).
I teach on Preply, and I’ve only taken one lesson as a student.
Preply is a pretty decent platform for learners to find tutors for a reasonable price and yet still able to get a good quality service. Unlike Italki and Verbling, the choice here is much wider and not limited to just foreign languages.
I’ve never used Verbal Planet but I think that it should be more popular.
Verbal Planet is a well-developed language learning/tutoring marketplace for many different languages.
It’s easy to use for both the tutor and the student.
The best way to learn Italian or any other foreign languages is to take lessons in person or on video chat (Skype). 60-90 minutes each, 2-3 times a week is a good pace to make progress. Always go over the Skype chat log / notes between lessons.
By lesson, I mean individual lessons. I only take individual lessons. No schools, no classes.
The only advantage of taking classes is that they’re cheaper than private lessons. If you just want to save money, go to language exchange events or international parties and chat randomly, or find a language exchange partner on Italki or in person.
Whether your Italian lesson is online or in person, don’t be afraid of making mistakes or communicating with native speakers. When I lived in Japan, I understood how people invest huge money on language education for years and still can’t have a basic conversation with a native speaker. Their typical weariness of making mistakes, especially in public, and of foreigners (native speakers), together with obsolete learning methods, keep many from speaking a foreign language.
Another bad habit of the Japanese language schools is that they make teachers dress up. To me, it’s stressful to practice in a formal attire. Making a fool of myself at every mistake is already stressful enough. Learning in an aseptic environment, like an office-like classroom with a guy in a business suit, is also the farthest possible from reality. On the contrary, language schools should have corners reproducing situations, like a coffee shop, a station, a drugstore, a house, and an office too. This because it’s easier and more comfortable to recollect if you have rehearsed beforehand in that place and situation. That’s why opera singers rehearse in the hall or theater in the morning before performing in the evening, to get used to the venue.
Another option to learn a language online is to to find a language exchange partner to teach each other on Skype. In a language exchange (or language tandem), you teach your language exchange partner your language, and he/she teaches you his/hers. For example, if I were an English speaker studying Italian, I’d teach English to an Italian and they would teach me Italian. You exchange time, not money. You only speak on language for 30 minutes, then switch to the other for another 30 minutes. It’s a fair exchange, no? Sessions can be longer depending on your skills and motivation. If I’m lucky enough to find one or more motivated language exchange partners, I usually do 60, 90 or 120-minute sessions, 1-3 times a week.
You don’t need to travel or live abroad in order to learn a foreign language
Typically, your partner is not a professional teacher but just a language learner like you, thus you shouldn’t expect a real lesson, but rather an informal chance to practice conversation and have your mistakes fixed in passing. I do tandems in person or in video chat on Skype. On Skype, I recommend that you type what you say because the audio isn’t always clear and that also helps your partner go through your chat log later on.
It’s hard to find a motivated and skilled partner. I was lucky have a Chinese language partner with whom I could practice on Skype 2-3 times a week for a year, and we still keep in touch. With Korean I was less fortunate, but I still managed to have occasional video chats with different people.
In order to keep myself motivated, I usually study Asian languages with charming native speakers. That would happen on Skype. If you’re exchanging languages in person, you shouldn’t be attracted too much to your study partner physically, else things will easily become awkward and you’d be left alone, or turn into something else, which is not bad per se but you’d still lose a study partner.
To keep myself motivated, I only study with charming female native speakers. You might have other kinds of motivation. In any case, these are characteristics that I look for in a language teacher:
Nowadays, you can find native speakers and teachers on various websites and take lessons or do language tandems, all online. You don’t need to travel or live abroad in order to learn a foreign language.
Online language lessons and tandems can be as effective as if done face-to-face, provided that you know how to conduct them and you’re technically prepared.
Go find your teacher and start speaking today!
Serious about learning Italian?
Stop reading, start speaking!