You are taking Italian lessons and wish to engage in further study, independent of your courses: how commendable!
Here is the problem: your lessons are already stretching your budget. Your wallet is already overtaxed...
No worries! There is a pile of resources taller than Mount Etna to help you learn the language of Dante Alighieri.
Online, on your phone; at the library or in the theater: we're scoured all avenues of Italian learning to bring you a no-fail list of ways to build fluency in la lingua italiana.
This is your all-access pass: learn Italian for free with these tools!
Online: a Treasure Trove of Interactive Italian Learning
You can learn anything from the Internet, more often than not at no cost.
In fact, the World Wide Web puts all manner of language learning at your fingertips.
Virtually any language, with learning materials for the absolute beginner, all the way to words and phrases used only in business and professional circles.
Loecsen is such a site, offering beginner's courses in languages as diverse as Albanian and Vietnamese.
You can learn to speak French, speak Spanish, speak German. Or you could pick up on more non-mainstream tongues such as Indonesian, Mandarin or Hungarian.
Of course, we are most concerned with learning Italian, a language that is also featured on that page.
Therefore, we can wholeheartedly recommend this site as a way to learn new words, practice your pronunciation and pick up on expressions most used while travelling to Florence, Rome or Venice.
This language learning website thoughtfully sorts their content by theme – Italian greetings such as buongiorno and buona notte, and courtesy phrases, like: grazie mille and mi scusi.
Two of the best aspects of this site are: in-depth tutorial of the Italian alphabet, and quizzes.
Any time you complete a learning unit, you can quiz yourself on your learning and retention. This is a great way to monitor your progress and see what aspects of the language you need to put more effort into.
One final attribute of this language learning program that drives our recommendation:
All of the soundbites are spoken by native speakers of Italian, and can be downloaded in MP3 format, to be played at will.
That is absolutely perfect for tuning your ear to spoken Italian.
We will discuss other ways to develop your listening skills later.
Ilanguages.org is another site that provides basic Italian vocabulary and grammar instruction.
What distinguishes this site from the page we just discussed is flashcards that you can use to test your knowledge of Italian grammar as well as Italian words.
You can follow that challenge up with a quiz, which tests your ability to recognise Italian phrases.
Building an Italian phrasebook based on the vocabulary learned on this site is an excellent way to encourage your writing skills!
Educational Websites Dedicated to Teaching Italian
In addition to websites that cater to general language learning, meaning: ones that tutor learners in a variety of languages, let us now introduce sites dedicated exclusively to Italian language lessons. Find out how much private Italian tutors cost.
Topping that list would surely have to be oneworld Italiano.
It is a complete Italian language course, built on the philosophy that everyone learning Italian as a second language has his own rhythm and tempo.
On their site you will find:
- online course materials for beginners, intermediate and advanced Italian speakers
- recorded text in Italian to practice dictation
- videos of native Italians conducting exercises in grammar and spelling
- a list of verbs and verb conjugation – including irregular verbs
- a page of proverbs and idioms
- Italian language activities such as crosswords and other types of puzzles
In fact, this page has so many resources, we could write an entire article just about the treasure trove that is Oneworld.
Much better you should go check it out, and then immediately bookmark it: you will surely return there, again and again.
Another resource you will quickly become enamored with is Italianpod101.
After establishing your free account, you can start studying this romance language by watching Italian teachers explain everyday Italian phrases, with enthusiasm and energy.
If you are on the go, you can download their Italian podcasts to your phone.
Gone are the dry textbooks and rote repetition drills of days past. This site uses the latest vocabulary learning tools, and even hosts a community forum, for you to connect with other learners.
If you are going to learn Italian online, you couldn't do better than the page lauded in the Wall Street Journal, PCMagazine and our own BBC.
Free-form Italian, for Free
If you are beyond basic Italian and somewhere on the spectrum of intermediate, or if you are fluent in this most romantic of romance languages, it should be time for you to diversify your reading materials.
One free, and unlimited source of Italian reading material that is constantly updated is news websites.
Much like our Telegraph, Guardian and even good old BBC, these news outlets are available online at no cost:
Corriere was established in Milan, in 1879. It features sections dedicated to each of the twenty regions of Italy, from Sardinia to Bologna.
Most relevant to your hunger for Italian culture, you will find topics addressing every aspect of Italian society: politics, economy, science, literature, sports and cultural events.
Repubblica takes a slightly more left political bent, but includes the same type and style of content as Corriere.
Thus, choosing between these two online Italian courses and news sources comes down, fundamentally, to your political affiliation.
The other sites mentioned above orbit around these two major dailies, and are targeted to specific audiences.
Il Sole is meant for economics buffs and the Gazzetta, obviously, for sports enthusiasts.
If you are a FIFA fan – or mad for any other sport, you won't be able to get enough of the videos and pictures available for viewing.
Of course, we know that the articles discussing your favorite athletes are the main attraction.
Keeping in mind Italy's growing contribution to the global economy, if you are ultimately headed for a business venture with an Italian company, it would be a good idea to occasionally cast an eye on Il Sole.
If you are employed in the tech sector, or if you just want to stay atop of the latest developments, this is the paper for you.
Audio and Video Resources to Learn Italian
For podcasts and instructional videos, YouTube is your friend.
Let us divulge some of the more interesting channels you might want to investigate.
Topping the list of podcasts launched by Italian teachers is Giovanni Pascoli. Simply type his name into YouTube's search bar to find some of the best Italian narration on the web.
These videos about Italian language, literature and culture run anywhere from just under two minutes to more than two hours.
We recommend not confusing this living person, who is uploading videos, with the poet and scholar born in 1855 of the same name whose poems, coincidentally, are also featured on that site.
While combing through the library of available videos on that channel, we ran across some real gems, like the ones that outline and discuss certain must-know Italian expressions.
We would close this article with well-wishes for discovery and learning, and an urging for you to seek out your own favorites, were it not for Polyglot Pablo.
As the name implies, you will find videos instructing on several languages, including Italian.
Don't sell Pablo short! Just because this channel instructs on a multitude of languages doesn't mean you won't hear a proper Italian accent, or that you will be taught incorrect grammar.
Perhaps the very idea of Pablo being a polyglot benefits you, in that only a polyglot knows what it takes to learn a second language, or a third language.
Of course, there are innumerable language channels on YouTube that you could subscribe to.
Or, you could do a search for the aspect(s) of Italian language learning you are most in need of a tutorial for.
Simply type in that site's search bar:
- Learn Italian vocabulary
- How to pronounce... any new word you encounter
- How to understand Italian conversation
- The Italian alphabet (only a bit different from ours)
- Irregular verb conjugation
Or whichever query you need an answer to!
All you have to do is ask the right question to find the instruction and help you are looking for.
We just hope you don't get mesmerised by Italian music videos and squander all of your study time.
Of course, if you have questions, it's not a bad idea to book a few hours of Italian lessons with a private tutor.
Italian Radio and Television
Here is where you will be exposed to spoken Italian in current, real-time situations and, in the case of radio broadcasts, live discussion.
Watching Italian TV episodes can acquaint you with modern Italian slang all while giving you a glimpse of life in Italy, from the comfort of your UK home.
Italy's visual broadcast media is organised into two groups: Rai – Radiotelevisione Italiana, and Mediaset.
If you are not yet sure what type of Italian entertainment you would prefer, tuning into Rai 1, Rai 2 or Rai 3 could give you a general direction.
You can treat yourself to films and serial shows, sports broadcasts or news reports.
If you are a fan of anime, Rai 4 is made for you.
You can refer to this page, where the best of Italian broadcasting has been thoughtfully compiled for your easy review and selection.
As for radio, you will find four types:
- Public radio – owned by the Rai group
- Private radio
- Radio commentary – otherwise known as talk radio
- Local and regional radio stations
That last is particularly beneficial if you are focusing your Italian studies on a particular region's dialect and vernacular.
If Standard Italian is more your style, any of the public channels would work for you.
Here you can find any number of radio stations originating in Italy, along with their broadcast format.
The Italian Cultural Immersion
Without a doubt, watching films is one of the best ways of immersing oneself for a time in a different culture.
Watching Italian films, with their rich story lines and entrancing cinematography, can surely transport you to the hills of Perugia or the vineyards of Tuscany, on the screen, where life unfolds before your very eyes.
How to find scintillating cinema, if you don't know any titles beyond the most famous – the ones by Benigni or Fellini?
Instituto Luce (L’Unione Cinematografica Educativa) is the ultimate guide to Italian films and documentaries.
The site features a series of filters so that you can use to drill down to exactly the type of picture that interests you.
Just to caution you: you should be able to read at least a bit of Italian, as the site has no English interface.
Your local video store should also be able to help fulfill your longing for leggende del cinema. On your next trip there, why not ask to rent such titles as Caro Diario and Mia Madre, or La Vita è Bella?
If your videotheque does not have them for rent, maybe you could suggest they add them to their inventory.
Don't forget your nearest library!
More and more, our traditional book repositories are including other media, including foreign films. It would be a good bet that you would find a collection of fine Italian fare among the stacks.
Finally: film festivals.
Indeed, you likely won't find one every day of the week, and the films could be from any nation, representative of any culture.
Still, the possibility exists that an Italian film would be screened; making it worth your while to while away an evening or two at such an event.
Who knows? You might meet other people who speak Italian, who have a real passion for the language and culture, and may even suggest a language learning cooperative!
If nothing else, you could turn to your local Council community center. Tell them about this website and see if they would schedule a weekly viewing of foreign language films, namely: ones in Italian.
With the schedule laid out so succinctly, they should have no problem arranging a weekly showing for everyone in your neighbourhood who is interested in speaking Italian.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
To avoid becoming the proverbial Jack, why not expand your study to include online applications, videos and movies you can watch with friends?
All of your Italian speaking friends will thank you, but not as much as you will thank yourself!
Prepare for your Italian exams with our guide to exams or find a language course with a private tutor near you:
- Italian language courses london
- Italian language courses Manchester
- Italian language courses Leeds