There’s nothing quite like the dulcet tones of Italian. It’s easy to imagine yourself chatting away in fluent Italian, snacking on bruschetta and sipping wine. But how easy is it learn? And how can you do it? Well, below we’ve gathered over 50 of the best resources to help you learn Italian.
But first and foremost. How do you begin learning Italian? Here are my personal recommendations to boost your chances of fluency.
Get off to a good start by downloading the Babbel app. When you’re ready for audio courses, look into Rocket Languages or Pimsleur – these will take you beyond beginners Italian and familiarize you with pronunciation. I also recommend you get a tutor through Italki. Believe me, lessons start from just five bucks and they’re invaluable. And for when you don’t feel like hitting the books, listen to these podcasts: Coffee Break Italian & La Linguacciuta.
But those are just a few of the ways to go. Intrigued to find out more? Here’s the full list of resources to get you speaking Italian!
Best apps to learn Italian
Apps open up a whole new world for language learners. To learn Italian, you need variety, accuracy and easy access. And that’s exactly what these apps provide. Here are six recommendations.
Babbel: I made it my top recommendation for a reason. Babbel is so user-friendly that it accommodates learners of all levels. With Babbel, you’ll learn Italian through recognition, memory and immersion. It’s a high-quality app that’s been proven to deliver results.
Duolingo: For a beginner, it can be tempting to focus solely on Duolingo. It’s free and provides the basics of Italian vocabulary and grammar. However, it is repetitive and doesn’t always deliver usable content.
LingQ: Kings and queens of culture, this is for you. Learn Italian through media sources such as radio, articles and even Netflix using LingQ. You get access to transcripts to help you improve reading comprehension. Great for intermediate learners looking to spice up their lessons.
Mondly: I love Mondly for its broad subject categories. A benefit to Mondly is you can focus on particular areas, for example, introductions or pets. It also accommodates people who don’t have English as their first language. Mondly’s approach is simple, but wide-reaching. It’s also free!
Memrise: The more interactive cousin of Duolingo. Memrise contains video clips and imagery, which is great for visual learners. Memrise’s ethos is that vocabulary building is more important than grammar. If you agree, this could be for you. I’d still recommend you pair this with a grammar course or book, however.
Busuu: An all-round app with some great features. Also contains reviews after each milestone lesson to make sure you’ve got it before moving on. My favorite aspect of Busuu is the ‘Conversations’ feature. It connects you with locals and they’ll give you feedback on your Italian.
Best Italian programs and online courses
It’s essential you take on both if you want to learn Italian quickly and efficiently. Italian courses go into more depth than apps can, and also provide structure to your lessons. Here are six options to try.
Rocket Languages: Beginners and especially self-learners will benefit most from using Rocket Italian. They provide audio courses, and all lessons are just 20 minutes long for maximum memory retention. All users of this course get access to the corresponding Rocket Languages app and a forum for learners to discuss issues or advice. Highly recommend.
Pimsleur: An excellent alternative to Rocket Languages. Again, this is an audio course platform that is both convenient and great for auditory learners. Pimsleur’s take on language learning is to teach users what they need to know in digestible chunks. Perfect for people who are busy and want to learn on the go. Get access to the full course for seven days, absolutely free.
BBC Languages Italian: Complete novices to Italian should take a look at BBC’s online Italian course. Talk Italian is great for those planning a vacation to Italy. It’s a nine-part series that covers the basics like purchasing train tickets to talking about your family members. It’s also 100% free.
Live Lingua: Considering Live Lingua courses are 100% free, this is actually pretty good. It won’t cost you a dime and you get access to ebooks, audio files and practice drills. It’s accurate and detailed, but its fatal flaw is how outdated it is.
Repeti Con Me: Clue is in the name: “repeat after me”. This course has tutorials that encourage the user to listen to and repeat sentences. If you learn through repetition, this could be for you. However, at US$18.99 per month, I think you can get more bang for your buck elsewhere.
LanguageTransfer Italian: Language Transfer’s audio files are all on SoundCloud, so it’s free and easy to access. It’s an introductory course so its scope is limited, but introduces the art of learning Italian with ease and precision. Great for novices.
Best podcasts to learn Italian
Integrate learning Italian with your hobbies and other passions, and watch your progress accelerate. Podcasts are a great way to learn Italian while having fun. Here are our favorite podcasts to learn Italian!
Coffee Break Italian: We’re big fans of Mark and his Coffee Break podcasts here at Hey Explorer. Learn Italian by virtually visiting new places and learn vocabulary along the way. By far the best language learning podcast on Spotify.
Let’s Learn Italian: Listed on Spotify as an artist rather than a podcast, but the “albums” include individual lessons you can listen to on the go. Includes English translations throughout so it’s perfect for beginners. The tracks are shorter than usual podcasts, so use this as a prelude to podcasts.
La Linguacciuta: A podcast produced by Babbel and hosted by popular Italian YouTuber Ilenia Zodiaco. She talks about books, reading, writing and it’s a real treat to listen to if you’re a bookworm.
Be Italiano: Intermediate learners, this podcast will challenge you. The subjects are varied and interesting. Also great for getting used to hearing Italian spoken naturally. Does not include English translations, so you might need to slow it down or pause to take it all in.
Italy Made Easy: If Be Italiano was too complicated for you, try Italy Made Easy. Again, it’s all in Italian, but you get access to transcriptions and the vocabulary is slightly more basic. The podcast also gives you links to exercise drills to do in your spare time.
Italian Dish: Not strictly speaking an Italian learning podcast, but it has plenty else to offer. If you’re interested in Italian culture and life from the view of expats, this is a great podcast. Christine, the host, cooks authentic Italian dishes and discusses life in Italy. Any questions you may have are answered in this fun Italian podcast, and it’ll make you long for Venetian nights. And spaghetti.
Best websites to find Italian tutors
Let me just say, you need a tutor. At some point, learning by yourself will feel isolating. To speak a language, you need to speak it with another person. Get over your fears of messing up, and help you learn at the same time. Here are our favorites!
Italki: Get both quality and quantity by using Italki. All tuition is delivered via Skype or Zoom, and this is our absolute favorite service for linking learners with tutors. For the price of a coffee, you can get top-notch instruction from native and non-native Italian speakers. And that coffee would almost certainly taste better in Italy when you’ve asked for it in perfect Italian, am I right?
Preply: Similar to Italki, Preply offers flexible tutors who want to help you achieve your goals quickly. There are over 1000 tutors to choose from, and each has something unique to offer you. Lessons are constructed around your needs, goals and level.
Fluent City: If you’d rather learn in a group but without the effort of leaving your home, check out Fluent City. Classes are all done online, and tutors are vetted so only the best are offered the pleasure of teaching you. They also offer one-on-one classes if that’s more your thing.
Lingoci: Lingoci offers one on one tuition delivered via video call. Prices vary, but the average Italian lesson will cost you around US$26. You can request a seven-day free trial or get matched with a tutor straight away.
Verbal Planet: Verbal Planet offers tutors from all over the world to help you learn Italian. You get one-on-one tuition and the tutors come highly recommended.
Best books to learn Italian
There are so many books out there promising they’ll teach you Italian in no time at all. We’ve already made a list of the 20 best books to learn Italian so check that out if you want an extensive list. Otherwise, here are our top recommendations!
Italian: A Self-Teaching Guide (2nd Edition): Beginners, start here. This book teaches you the very basics in a way that won’t make Italian feel impossible to grasp. It’s thorough, comes with practice questions and gives you an all-round Italian education.
Italian Vocabulary Builder: 2222 Italian Phrases To Learn Italian and Grow Your Vocabulary: Every learner of Italian, or any language for that matter, needs a vocabulary builder. It can be much more useful than a dictionary because words are clustered according to subject, rather than alphabetically.
Schaum’s Outline of Italian Grammar (4th Edition): Don’t be afraid of grammar, no matter how complicated it gets. In fact, the more complicated the more you need to confront it. This guide gives beginners and intermediates alike a thorough grounding in Italian grammar, with examples and practice drills for you to fill out.
Italian Tutor: Grammar and Vocabulary Workbook: For relevant and useful exercises, I suggest investing in this book.It’s packed with exercises that will actually cement your knowledge as you progress. Self-learners, you need to get used to checking your work and working out where you trip up. Only then can you master your personal hurdles.
Le avventure di Pinocchio: I love audiobooks, and this story is so enchanting in its original language. Hearing Italian in this form is as exciting as it is instructive. Put all that knowledge from your grammar books into practice and hear how Italian rolls off the tongue.
Italian Short Stories for Beginners: 20 Captivating Short Stories to Learn Italian & Grow Your Vocabulary the Fun Way! There’s no better way to improve reading comprehension than by reading. It really is that simple. Remember to check out the English translations at the end!
Best websites to learn Italian
Websites are a great way to connect with other Italian learners and to sharpen your skills interactively. If you’re on a tight budget, these can be invaluable. All of the following are free so make the most of what they have to offer!
Reddit: There’s a whole community out there also learning Italian on the subreddit r/Italian. Use this to get answers to questions in real-time, or just to engage with others on the same journey. This is my go-to website for language advice, helpful resources and motivational posts.
Italian News Sites: A great way to add to your Italian vocabulary is to check out news websites. I like Corriere Della Sera for this because they cover all kinds of news. You’re bound to stumble across something that will interest you and keep your learning fresh!
Omniglot: If you can’t get your hands on an Italian phrasebook, this could be just what you need. It’s not fancy in any way shape or form, but does the job. Omniglot provides learning materials and resources, as well as helpful tips.
Online Italian Club: This is really useful for getting a handle on your progress. You can test yourself, use the free exercises and all the resources you need to take yourself from beginner to intermediate.
Liva Lingua: Beginners will get the most out of Live Lingua. They give you access to some free ebooks and audio lessons. A great place to get started if you’re unsure how to structure your self-teaching lessons.
Best YouTube channels to learn Italian
Italy Made Easy: Same guy who hosts the podcast with the same name, but with the added benefit of English subtitles. He covers a range of subjects and his videos are instructive and constructive. This is especially useful for getting a handle on pronunciation.
Learn Italian with Lucrezia: Lucrezia’s videos are a blend of entertaining and instructing. Sure, she covers verbs but her videos also give context to Italian culture. She also gives book, podcast and resources tips to her subscribers, so it’s worth subbing to her channel!
Easy Italian: I’m a big fan of Easy Italian. These videos feel like mini-tutorials that really focus on a particular aspect of Italian, such as prepositions or vocabulary relating to rooms in your home. I’d recommend this channel, especially to self-teaching Italians, as Easy Italian teaches you things you didn’t know you needed to know!
Ilenia Zodiaco: I mentioned her before, but Ilenia’s YouTube channel is just as good as her podcast. I could watch her discuss books and her love of the Italian language for hours. Even if you don’t enjoy reading, this is a great resource to hear fluent Italian spoken and engage with it through digital media.
Tia Taylor: If you love to watch vlogs, add Tia Taylor’s videos to your list. Tia is an American-Jamaican woman living in Milan, and she uploads videos that show how daily life in Italy can be for expats abroad. Her videos are in English with Italian subtitles, so there’s no excuse for beginners not to show her channel some love!
Best FREE resources to learn Italian
Many of the resources I’ve already mentioned don’t come with a price tag. Sometimes the best things in life are free, especially when money’s tight. Here are some of the best free resources to learn Italian!
Free apps to learn Italian
Registering for Babbel is free, and you get every first lesson for each Italian course at no cost. If you’re unsure about upgrading to the paid-for version of the app, I definitely recommend you give it a go and see how you feel after the free lessons.
Duolingo is another free option that shouldn’t be ruled out, especially if you’re a total novice.
Communication when learning a language is key. I definitely recommend you join a forum or community to keep yourself motivated and also to get some practice in by speaking to other learners.
As I previously mentioned, Reddit is my favorite resource for getting in touch with people who can answer my questions quickly and efficiently. I’ve also noticed that this community is extremely friendly and like to help fellow learners out.
HelloTalk is an essential platform that helps you to practice Italian with fellow learners and speakers. This should be your go-to destination at least once a week to improve your Italian. This digital pen-pal service even corrects any mistakes you might make so you can make a note of where you need to improve for the following week. Neat, huh?
Free Italian podcasts
All of the podcasts listed in this article are free for you to use on Spotify. Check them out!
Free Italian classes
Italian FAST course: This is a website managed by the US government for the Foreign Service Institute. There are 30 lessons that cover all the basics from spelling to pronunciation, although it is a little lackluster. If you’re looking for a one-stop website to structure your own classes, this is a good place to start.
Online Italian Club: All the lessons available here are organized according to difficulty, so there’s something for everyone. If you aren’t sure what level you’re at, there’s a handy test to tell you.
Iluss: A bread-and-butter guide to Italian. It caters to all levels and lessons are basic but thorough. I’d recommend checking this out if you want to keep your daily Italian lessons short but sweet.
Free Italian books
Always remember that your local public library is a goldmine of information. Many even offer PDF versions of books so if your budget is tight a loaned copy is better than no book at all!
Another piece of advice is to consider signing up to Audible and making good use of their one month free trial. Pick a book that comes with a PDF attached and it’s yours for life, even if you cancel your subscription!
The best way to learn Italian online
Okay, so now you’re free to pick from these materials and start off your journey. What are the do’s and don’ts? I can only give you advice from experience, but hey, if it worked for me there’s a chance it’ll work for you too.
Remember to set a regular practice schedule: If you really want to learn Italian, then you’ve got to commit. You don’t have to do an hour’s lesson every day, just five minutes is something. Whatever you do, make sure you learn something new or go over something each day. It all counts, trust me.
Speak, read or write in Italian as often as you can: I know it’s hard if you’re learning alone. But the internet is a wonderful resource for connecting with like-minded individuals. There’s no shame in making mistakes, either. That’s how you learn.
Mix it up: Even if you’re a die-hard book fanatic, there’s no harm in watching YouTube videos to supplement your learning. In fact, I really recommend you consider all of your senses when learning Italian. Taste is especially enjoyable: hello pasta carbonara! Find recipes online and indulge your inner-Italian self.
Incorporate learning into your hobbies: Disciplined and super-organized people somehow manage to make language learning their hobby, but if you’re like me, it won’t come close to being as fun as, I don’t know, watching Netflix. Luckily, there are ways to combine your language learning with things you already enjoy. Do a yoga class in Italian. Go for a walk listening to an Italian audiobook. Try everything once!
Awesome Italian movies & TV shows on Netflix
Speaking of Netflix, there’s no shame in pretending you’re studying Italian when you’re actually in your pjs eating cookies. Listening to Italian or reading subtitles is a great way to squeeze some Italian into your day. Here are some recommendations.
The Godfather: I know, you’ve already seen it. But watch it with Italian subtitles and you can really appreciate how Sicilian it is.
Life Is Beautiful (1998): I watched this movie as a pre-teen and it’s stayed with me my whole life. It’s a weird blend of comedy, drama and historical movie, but it’s a real beauty. A must-watch.
The Voice of The Moon (1990): A comedy that covers all bases. Social commentary, laughs, and it’s weirdly intriguing. Watch this to cheer yourself up!
And that’s all from us for this time. Now it’s up to you to make your dreams into achievements. If you’ve got some tips you want to share with fellow Italian language learners, tell us about them in the comments below! Arrivederci!