learn italian websites

12 Best Websites to Learn Italian [Updated for 2022]

As long as you have an internet connection and a bit of free time, you have everything you need to learn Italian without ever setting foot in a classroom—and without breaking the bank.

Read on to discover 12 of the best websites for learning the Italian language, all of which are either completely free or give users the option of accessing free features such as blogs, lessons and video content.

Contents

Memrise

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Summary: Memrise is devoted to learning new vocabulary through SRS (Spaced Repetition System) flashcards and games. Read our full review here.

Level: All levels

Price: Free, with the option to upgrade to the premium version 

“Learning, made joyful.” This is the slogan for the first website on our list, Memrise.

Memrise is a language learning app with the sole purpose of making learning fun instead of a chore. It accomplishes this purpose by presenting its lessons as a series of games and flashcards, with the overarching idea that learning your chosen language will save the universe (a bit cheesy, I know, but very motivational!).

Here are a few of the site’s best features:

  • Mnemonics. Memrise teaches students new words and expressions through a series of flashcards that use mnemonics—memorization aids that use images or phrases to help retain information faster and for a longer period of time. This makes Memrise great for new Italian learners because it starts at the beginning and helps you to build up a vocabulary in a memorable, enjoyable way.

For example, for the Italian word molto (very), Memrise presents you with a picture of molten lava on it, and a caption that reads “MOLTOn lava is VERY hot.” Again, this is a bit cheesy, but devices such as these have been shown to increase memorization skills for language learners. You can even make your own “memes” if none of the available ones hit the spot.

  • Vocabulary. Memrise is devoted almost entirely to learning new vocabulary. Each short and sweet Memrise lesson is composed of at least five new vocabulary words, all of which you must learn before moving on to the next lesson.

If you seem to be having trouble with some of the words (i.e., you miss several questions involving them), these words are put into a list of terms to review later. This aids in retention as well, and helps you to amass a large amount of Italian vocab in a short amount of time!

Memrise teaches vocabulary using the SRS method of learning, which counteracts the brain’s natural forgetfulness by showing you words just as you’re about to forget them. This method will help cement these vocabulary words in your long-term memory.

  • Fun progress markers. Memrise is like a game that you can play whenever you have a few minutes of free time. Because of that, there are a lot of appealing visual aspects besides the mnemonics.

For example, whenever you are presented with a new vocabulary word, an image appears showing a seed being planted in a flower pot. As you study the word, the seed grows and the plant gets bigger and bigger until it eventually blossoms into a flower to symbolize that you have officially learned the word.

This is a great feature for those who enjoy extra encouragement, because it gives real, visual proof of your progress, which encourages you to progress even further.

FluentU

Summary: FluentU turns short, authentic language videos into immersive language lessons through interactive subtitles and other learning tools.

Level: All levels

Price: Free trial, monthly and annual subscriptions available

One of the biggest problems language learners face is finding a way to immerse themselves in the language they’re studying. Learning grammar and verb conjugations are all well and good (and essential), but those things do not help much if you never hear them used in an actual conversation.

The key to becoming fluent in Italian is to think in Italian, and an effective way of doing this is by learning through authentic videos and other content that’s intended for native speakers. You’ll be exposed to the language as it’s really spoken in real life and adopt more natural speech, better listening comprehension and better pronunciation as a result. 

While it’s an effective approach, it can be tedious doing it on your own—wading through YouTube to find appropriate videos, pausing intermittently to find reliable definitions, then following that up with more study to memorize what you learn. 

Here are a few features on FluentU that make this process seamless:  

  • Short, authentic Italian videos. The videos in the FluentU library are curated by language experts specifically with language learners in mind. They cover everything from news reports and vlogs to movie trailers and inspiring talks so you’re able to see and hear exactly how Italian is used by native speakers.
  • Interactive subtitles. One of my favorite things about this website is the interactive subtitles that come with each video. If you come across a word or phrase you’re not familiar with, just tap it for information such as pronunciation notes, a contextual definition and other videos that also include the term. Plus, you can pause the video by just hovering your cursor over the subtitles. 

fluentu-italian-video-lesson-antarctica-heat-record

  • Multimedia flashcards. The site also has SRS flashcards for memorizing vocabulary words that you discover. You can make your own sets or choose from readymade decks, then test yourself through quizzes that require you to speak your answers. 
  • Video dictionary. It’s important to understand how words are used in different contexts, as one word may have several meanings depending on the situation. The video dictionary feature gives you an in-depth understanding of contextual definitions of words and phrases by showing you different videos where that term is used in context. 

Other than the FluentU website, there’s also an app available on iOS and Android.

Online Italian Club

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Summary: This website contains a ton of online material including articles, listening exercises, conversation prompts and recordings, vocabulary and verb lists and online lessons.

Level: All levels

Price: Free, Skype lessons available at a charge

Online Italian Club is a bit of a hidden treasure. It is not one of the biggest Italian language learning websites out there, but it is a great place to find resources that range from grammar lessons to exercises to listening practice.

The site is a resource made for Italian language learners by an Italian language learner. Daniel Stephens, a British man who runs the site (and a school in Bologna) spent years developing his own Italian skills. Because of this, he knows exactly what problems language learners face, and presents them with helpful tips and options to improve their learning experience.

He also communicates individually with members of the club who have questions or who interact on the site, which gives the site a very personal feel.

Here are some of the other features offered by Online Italian Club:

  • Membership. While students can access most of the site’s lessons and other resources without signing up, becoming an official member of the Online Italian Club is free, and comes with some amazing benefits.

The signup process is simple (just enter your name and email address), and once you are registered, you will receive up to three free lessons per week via your email. These lessons often include vocabulary tests and audio exercises, making for a well-rounded learning experience.

  • Conversations. One of the best features that Online Italian Club has to offer is its recorded conversations. These always include at least two Italian speakers and an increase in speed and difficulty as one’s Italian skills improve.

Although students are encouraged to simply listen to the Italian dialogue by itself at least the first time, the full text of the conversation is provided as well, so you can follow along if you need to.

  • Options for all levels. While many Italian language learning websites cater more toward the beginner, Online Italian Club has learning materials for every level of expertise, with more materials for the various levels being added all the time.

The levels are arranged according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which is the same system used in schools and businesses all over the world. Ranging from A1 (Beginner) to C2 (Proficiency or Mastery), there is something here for students of every imaginable skill level.

  • Classes and readers. Aside from the free lessons and exercises, Online Italian Club also offers links to Italian classes taught by reputable tutors from their site, to be completed via Skype.

If you are more of an independent learner, the Club also offers Italian “readers,” which are short, downloadable e-books featuring stories for learners at various learning levels. The readers also come with corresponding audio files so you can hear the words being spoken out loud as you read along.

Duolingo

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Summary: This gamified app is extremely user-friendly and covers many aspects of the Italian language in a relaxed and fun way. Read our full review here

Level: Beginner to intermediate

Price: Free, with the option to upgrade to Duolingo Plus 

Duolingo is one of my personal favorite websites for learning Italian. Released in 2011, Duolingo has over 120 million users and has won several awards. It is one of the most downloaded educational apps in the Google Play store.

One of the reasons for all of these accolades is the sheer amount of material that Duolingo has to offer to language learners which makes learning Italian not only challenging, but also fast and fun.

Duolingo can be used via either the website or as an extremely responsive and sophisticated app for phones or tablets. It is basically a series of quizzes that increase in difficulty as you progress. For this reason, this app might be best for those who have had a bit of experience with Italian in school or have learned the basics via other websites.

With Duolingo, there are no lessons, just quick, five-minute (or less) tests that exercise your skills in vocabulary and retention by having you translate sentences, fill in the blanks or define words. They also have audio features, in which you are asked to either listen to a sentence and type the words that were spoken, or speak words out loud.

Aside from these exercises, there are several other great features that make Duolingo one of the best options for language learning:

  • Skill tracking. Not only does Duolingo test your skills on a daily basis, but it also keeps track of how much you have learned and how often you practice. The more you practice, the more experience points you earn.

There are incentives to achieve increasingly higher levels, including the ability to unlock fun new lessons, such as “Italian Flirting” for when you need something a little better than “Ciao, bello” (Hello, beautiful).

  • Daily reminders. When I said that Duolingo tests your skills on a daily basis, I meant it. When you create an account and complete your first lesson, you start a “streak” that continues as long as you keep working on your skills every day.

If you skip a day, you go back to zero (your lessons stay completed, but your ego deflates a bit when you see that your streak went from 167 days to zero!), which encourages you to keep at it. The more days in your streak, the more experience points you earn, and the bigger your ego gets.

Forgetful? Do not worry—if you do not complete your daily session by a certain time, Duolingo will send you an email reminding you of that hot streak you do not want to lose.

  • Weakest words. Duolingo keeps track of the words you miss the most during the exercises. It then takes those words and inserts them into your next lesson and the next lesson and the one after that, until you have mastered them. The repetition is useful for helping you to memorize tough words or phrases—soon you will know the word so well you will be sick of seeing it!

Over time, as your memory of the sections you have finished begins to grow weaker, you have the chance to “strengthen” them by taking a test that covers your weakest words from that particular subject. This keeps you from forgetting what you learned in the past as you move on to new material.

Duolingo’s desktop site also has articles to read (and write) in Italian, but the main focus of the app is the tests, which make learning more like a game. This should especially appeal to Italian learners who get bored easily with the traditional lesson format.

Live Lingua

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Summary: The practical and comprehensive courses give a great overview of the Italian language, and provide audio files and a recording feature along with e-books.

Level: Beginner to intermediate

Price: Free

As “The World’s First Total Immersion Language School Online,” LiveLingua.com has earned a great reputation within the Italian language learning community.

In fact, this website uses the same materials that are used by the United States Foreign Services Institute, the institution that prepares diplomats and other foreign affairs officials for speaking with foreign leaders and citizens around the world.

By making the institute’s materials available for free on their site, Live Lingua is opening up a whole new level of language learning to everyone, regardless of their government clearance level. Some of the resources include free downloadable audio files, e-books and a recording feature that helps you to be sure that you are pronouncing words correctly.

Materials are separated into the following sections:

  • FSI Italian Headstart. This is the “quick and dirty” guide to the Italian language. It focuses on pronunciation and simple things such as the alphabet and the numeric system, while giving you a brief introduction to conversational skills and techniques.

This is the basic lesson to give you just enough knowledge to get around in Italy as a tourist.

  • FSI Italian Programmed Course. This section is even more basic. Starting with introductions to things like letter sounds, this course starts at the very foundations of the language and goes on to give the student a background in the important grammatical aspects of Italian, including number and gender distinctions, nouns and verb tense.
  • Italian FAST Course Volume 1 & Volume 2. These courses are the ones that many government officials use when trying to learn a foreign language quickly and efficiently. FAST stands for “Familiarization and Short-Term,” and is a training course designed to basically toss you into a foreign language and have you get by on just what you know.

This course is not based on grammatical structures or rules. Instead, it features conversations and immersion in situations you would encounter over the course of everyday life in Italy (which is arguably a much more effective way to learn a language, even if you might have to take a supplementary grammar course to fine-tune your skills).

Each course section listed above includes an e-book textbook, as well as audio files for each lesson. All of the courses can be either self-taught or used with help from an Italian tutor.

ItalianPod101

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Summary: These audio-based lessons expose you to spoken Italian and improve your listening comprehension while also teaching other elements of the language.

Level: All levels

Price: Free, premium account available for access to exclusive content

ItalianPod101 is a podcast that features free lessons taught by lively and energetic speakers for students at any stage in the Italian language learning process.

Created for students who get bored just following along with textbooks, this podcast is a great way to learn Italian! Being able to immerse yourself in the language and hear the words pronounced clearly and correctly by genuine Italian speakers is one of the best ways to improve your fluency.

Here are some of the features ItalianPod101 offers:

  • Lessons. ItalianPod101 has thousands of lessons to offer, and more are being added all the time! These lessons are available in both audio and video forms, so whichever way you prefer to learn, they’ve got you covered.
  • Flashcards and lesson notes. While the main idea of this resource is to teach students Italian via audio lessons, there are some visual aids available as well, including flashcards and PDF files with notes about each lesson.

These features can help you to really focus on the concepts introduced in the lessons, and enable you to practice your vocabulary even when you are not listening to the podcast.

  • Community. Aside from the enthusiastic hosts of the podcasts, ItalianPod101 lets you interact with other Italian speakers, as well. You can discuss lessons with other students and even chat with them in a special forum designed to foster a sense of community, which is a great way to increase your confidence.

Language learning is hard—it is nice to know that there are other people out there having the same struggles and experiences that you are!

Lastly, the signup process is quick and painless—all you have to do is put in your email address and your current Italian skill level and you’re good to go. Read our review of Innovative Language (the company behind ItalianPod101) here.

One World Italiano

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Summary: This website provides endless resources around Italian grammar, culture, vocabulary, verbs, reading, listening and more, as well as authentic materials from newspapers and TV shows.

Level: All levels

Price: Free

One World Italiano has many different types of resources to help train your brain and immerse yourself in the Italian language.

Developed by an Italian language school in Cagliari, Italy, this site is Italian taught by Italians—so, unlike some sites out there that might rely on the helpful but sometimes hopeless Google Translate for their scripts, you can rest assured that the Italian you see on this site is the real deal.

The materials on One World Italiano are taken from genuine Italian news channels, newspapers and television shows as well, so it is also great for learners who are a bit more advanced and looking for challenging content that they can really sink their teeth into.

Here are a few of this site’s best features:

  • Courses. As you would expect, online language courses taught by staff from a bona fide language school are of superb quality. The courses cover skills like grammar, verb tenses and conversations, and include reading, writing and listening exercises.

The site also has links to the One World Italiano School in Cagliari, so if you are feeling adventurous, you can sign up to take Italian classes in Italia!

  • Videos. One World Italiano has a vast array of video resources for audio and visual learning. These include YouTube videos that come with various comprehension exercises and even movie trailers for recent and past films that have been dubbed and released in Italy.

With these, you get a real feel for how Italians speak, which will do wonders for your own pronunciation and listening skills.

  • News and culture. What better way to get to know a culture than to read and watch the news? One World Italiano has links to the biggest and most popular news outlets in Italy, including Rai News and Corriere della Sera.

Whether you prefer to watch the news or read it in a newspaper, this site has you covered. They also have grammar and comprehension exercises based on passages written about Italian customs and culture, so you can learn even more.

One World Italiano has loads of useful references, so no matter what your skill level is, you can find something challenging and useful there.

Language Transfer

learn italian websites

Summary: This website is based on audio lessons which deliver an unconventional but effective teaching method.

Level: Beginner to intermediate

Price: Free, donations are welcome

The brainchild of linguist Mihalis Eleftheriou, “The Thinking Method” revolves around the concept of transferring what you already know from English into Italian. Because it encourages your brain to make connections, the idea is that you also avoid having to learn the language from scratch. 

Here are some great features of the site:

  • Download all the files for offline learning. You can download the audio files in their entirety to your computer, and use them when you can’t access the internet. 
  • Learn from the other learner. Instead of having to make the mistakes yourself, you can listen to your fellow Italian learner as they progress through the audio course.

OpenLearn 

learn italian websites

Summary: University-level Italian courses, without the university price tag!

Level: Beginner to intermediate

Price: Free

When it comes to education, universities are usually ahead of the field. Unfortunately, not everyone can attend them, nor afford the often expensive course costs. OpenLearn could be the solution!

The Open Learn University is an online charity that gives you access to a ton of educational courses covering various topics, and luckily for us that includes Italian courses. Here are some specific courses worth looking into:

  • Beginners’ Italian: Food and Drink. Who doesn’t like Italian food and drink? Here’s your chance to combine your love of the Italian language with your love of Italian food! It even includes a section on famous cafés. 
  • Italian for travel activity. While not a course, this activity helps test your Italian skills via an interactive journey through Italy.
  • Intermediate Italian: Describing People. For immediate learners, this course will expand your knowledge around describing people’s physical appearance, making comparisons and talking about their personality, plus some extra activities.

Coffee Break Italian

learn italian websites

Summary: This website provides short, engaging and informative Italian lessons in the form of podcasts, with premium options for courses and other resources.

Level: All levels

Price: Free, monthly subscriptions to The Coffee Break Italian Club

If you want to learn Italian in a way that’s casual and low-stress, Coffee Break Italian will be right up your alley.

Join hosts Mark and Francesca as they walk you through the Italian language, giving thorough explanations on everything from basic words to complex grammar elements. The podcasts are entertaining and enjoyable to listen to, and come in digestible 15 to 20-minute episodes (incidentally, the length of time that a coffee break might take!).

Some of the best features include:

  • Relaxed learning. The lessons feature someone who is learning Italian and so are nice and slow, and relatively easy to follow along with. It’s also nice to sit on the sidelines while someone else asks the questions, and avoid the pressure that comes from being in a live lesson!
  • Easy navigation through episodes. Each season is conveniently broken into different levels, with season one, season two, and season three reflecting beginner, intermediate and advanced levels respectively. 
  • Italian courseFor $20/month, you can sign up to The Coffee Break Italian Club, which provides you with reading activities every Monday, listening activities every Wednesday and a video lesson every Friday.

Coffee Break Languages has a bunch of other languages which they teach in much the same way, so if you want a bit more info you can read our full review on Coffee Break Spanish here

The Italian Experiment

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Summary: A beautifully designed website that teaches Italian through stories and free lessons

Level: Beginner to intermediate

Price: Free

The Italian Experiment includes a number of free resources on its website, all nicely presented and pleasing to the eye! Created by New Zealander Aletta, it’s one of several effective language learning websites which follow the same format and method.

There are three main elements to the website:

  • Italian Children’s Stories. This section involves learning from a number of traditional children’s stories—such as Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears—which have been translated into Italian. Because the stories are relatively simple and well-known they’re ideal to learn from, and include transcripts, an English translation and even audio!
  • Online Italian Lessons. The beginner Italian lessons come complete with audio and cover a number of important topics: talking about your family, asking for directions, time concepts, possessive adjectives, numbers and more.
  • Italian Course Reviews. If you want a bit more support learning Italian, The Italian Experiment gives its honest opinion about a number of popular online courses that you can study at home.

Loecsen Italian

learn italian websites

Summary: An Italian website that bases learning around simple, interactive flashcards that cover a range of practical topics

Level: Beginner 

Price: Free, small fee to download the content

While everyone loves a nice flashy website, sometimes the basics are all you need—especially when the content is effective and highly practical, like in the case of Loecsen Italian. Lessons consist of Italian text and an English translation, Italian audio and rather endearing stick figures which act out the phrases. 

These are some of my favorite aspects of the website:

  • Downloadable content. You can download the audio and text as MP3 and PDF files for a small fee of about $8.
  • Stick figures and simple images. Initially, I didn’t particularly like the images, but their simplicity is great and they serve well to help you picture a similar situation in real life.
  • Easily applicable phrases. As mentioned, the practicality of the phrases and vocabulary used is a big plus. It covers topics such as conversation, family, feelings, restaurants, beach and colors, among others. 

 

Any one of these would be a great place to either start or continue your Italian education, but if you really want to immerse yourself in italiano (Italian), try using as many of them as you can keep up with!

And be sure to check out some print or e-books, too.

These really are the best websites to learn Italian online, so be sure to take advantage of all the awesome resources at your disposal. With all of this knowledge at your fingertips, you will be speaking Italian like un nativo (a native) in no time!

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