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Learn Italian for Free: 12 Resources for Quality Italian Lessons Online or Off

In a world where the best things in life are supposed to be free, the word “free” sure doesn’t catch the eye like it used to.

But Italy is a land where the word gratis (free) does still have meaning.

Traditional festivals are filled with free wine and local food, the picturesque beaches are forever free to roam and there’s always a free lunch waiting at mamma’s, no matter how old you get. You can even learn Italian for free!

In the spirit of Italy, here are 12 awesome resources with free Italian lessons. 


1. The Italian Experiment

the italian experiment logo

The Italian Experiment is one of the best-designed beginner Italian sites for free Italian lessons.

There aren’t a lot of lessons, but the beginner course is a perfect way to explore the basics with ease. Each lesson is described in English and accompanied by translations, audio recordings and phrases for context. When you’ve finished the lessons, you can move on to the free (and awesomely illustrated) Italian stories.

The stories are classics (like “Goldilocks”) so you’ll know the gist already. A really nice feature is that they’re broken down into small, digestible chunks, with a translate button after each piece. 

You can also listen to each story and read along. Repeating out loud is encouraged!

2. Italian Mastery

italian mastery youtube logo

Italian Mastery is a YouTube channel that features a comprehensive beginner course. The videos range from one to twenty minutes, making them easy to fit into your busy schedule.

What’s great about Italian Mastery is that doesn’t just spit rapid-fire Italian at you and expect you to understand. Claudio, the teacher behind Italian Mastery, speaks slowly and then breaks each sentence down on-screen. The text of each sentence is displayed, and as he explains each word or structure, the relevant words are highlighted to guide your learning.

By the time you finish, not only do you know how to say new phrases but you’ll also have a better understanding of functional Italian grammar and vocabulary.

3. FSI Italian Course

foreign service institute logo

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) courses are language learning resources created by the United States government in order to assist foreign service personnel to learn a language in their new country. Luckily for us, all the lessons are public domain, meaning that you have access to hundreds of expertly created Italian exercises for free.

This course is entirely listening-based and is broken down into 30 lessons containing dialogues for practice and repetition.

It’s an excellent course because there’s no profit motive whatsoever. They even let you download the text and listening files! 

If you’re curious about the FSI courses, here’s an in-depth guide.  

4. One World Italiano

learn italian for free online

One World Italiano is an Italian learner’s dream because it offers so much material. Different options for coursework, including video and audio courses, provide for different learning styles. 

One highlight is the dictation section. Listening and writing practice, with dictation topics offered until the intermediate level, is actually fun. The topics are interesting, and it’s a super way to get comfortable writing in Italian.

Cultural information here is both plentiful and informative. Learning about Italian customs, traditions, activities and must-see destinations is a snap. There are so many choices, and each one offers information, vocabulary and reading practice.

The account of La Bocca della Verità (The Mouth of Truth) is so well-written that I felt as if I were standing there again, nervously placing my hand into the stone mouth!


learn italian for free online

50LANGUAGES teaches Italian using a 100-lesson course. The topics range from small talk and travel to grammar and business issues.

Each lesson introduces core vocabulary on a particular subject, with audio and helpful sentences included. 

There are other resources in addition to the 100-lesson course. Online vocabulary cards teach more than 2,000 words. You can also try out crossword puzzles in Italian or do drills through language quizzes and number practice.  

An interesting feature of this resource is its Translation Trainer. It introduces phrases in English; learners supply the Italian. If you’re stuck on an answer, there’s the option to reveal the phrase either one letter or word at a time. 

6. edX

learn italian for free online

edX is an outstanding resource for learners who aren’t set on a particular learning program. There’s a wide variety of Italian courses available on the site. The courses are self-paced too, which makes them ideal for busy learners. 

Italian Language and Culture: Beginner is a great course for beginning learners. It teaches the core skills of listening, speaking, writing and reading. Culture is stressed as heavily as the language itself so expect lots of authentic conversation, culturally relevant videos, reading assignments and interviews discussing Italian cultural issues. 

Fluent Italian learners will benefit from edX’s Italian courses on a variety of subjects—taught entirely in Italian. Storia Economica (Economic History) covers the history of world economics and is a fun way to power up Italian skills while learning something new! (Side note: I’m currently enrolled in this one and am really enjoying it!)

7. Speak Italian With Your Mouth Full 

learn italian for free online

Speak Italian With Your Mouth Full is an undergraduate course offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This archived course taught by Dr. Paola Rebusco uses cooking to help students learn Italian.

It’s fun and informative—and there are even incredible recipes for learners to use! Believe me, the recipes justify taking the course—the biscotti and eggplant parmesan taste so authentic you’ll think you’re in a Roman pizzeria! I know I did!

This is an excellent method for learning the Italian language while gaining some cultural insights into Italy, its people and its food

There are video lectures, cooking videos, assignments, activities and casual discussions about all things Italian. Future Italian cooking will be a breeze with the recipes, explanations and relevant Italian chats close at hand!

8. Learn Italian with Lucrezia

Visual learners will delight in this YouTube Italian course, Learn Italian with Lucrezia. Lucrezia is an Italian woman living in Rome who’s so charming, learners feel as if they’re visiting with a migliore amica (best friend) rather than taking language lessons!

Videos cover every essential Italian topic—from beginner to advanced.

There are grammar reviews, lessons on how to accent words, activities for learning to write basic sentences and so much more. There are recipe vlogs to teach you to make Italian dishes like a scrumptious carbonara. A lot of the videos even have subtitles and excellent diagrams. 

Learn with Lucrezia writes an informative blog in addition to the YouTube channel. Reading the blog in Italian (it’s possible to have it translated into English by choosing that option in the top right-hand corner of the blog’s home page) is a neat way to learn about Italy while powering up reading skills.

9. Parliamo italiano! (We Speak Italian!)

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Parliamo italiano! features coursework for learners at every level, from basic to advanced. There are reading exercises, grammar and vocabulary lessons and much more.

Beginning learners will benefit from the simple Italian dialogues with English transcripts. These dialogues build upon one another, using words learned in previous lessons. 

Many of the lessons also focus on Italian cultural issues. There are fairy tales, lessons on famous Italians and exercises pertaining to recipes.

You’ll even find an entire section on art topics that’s incredibly entertaining, bringing Italian culture to life for learners. For example, the section on Italian opera explains every important Italian opera in detail. This is a fantastic spot for practicing reading skills while learning about some culturally significant music!

10. ielanguages.com

learn italian for free online

ielanguages.com offers Italian lessons that cover enough essential grammar, vocabulary and conversational topics to give even beginning learners a solid foundation.

This is a super resource for building vocabulary. Each lesson offers a long list of relevant words and phrases, and most are presented in chart form so they’re easy to read. And if there’s a word you need to look up, there’s most likely a lesson pertaining to the subject.

Some of the lessons provide flashcards, like those found in the Useful Words category. Practicing vocabulary with flashcards turns this language exercise into a game, so use the flashcards when they’re available!

This course covers everyday essentials, like shopping and going to the bank. It’s a fabulous resource for anyone who’s planning a trip to Italy and is interested in gaining basic skills before departing. 

11. Language Exchange

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This is one of the best ways to learn Italian for free. Conversation may not be everything, but it’s the fastest way to get communicative in Italian.

So how do you find an exchange partner? Here are three ways:

  • There are a lot of language exchange apps that connect people from all over the world. You might begin by emailing or messaging your partner, but try to start video chatting as soon as possible. To get the most out of free Italian lessons through an exchange, remember that speaking is the best way to improve!
  • If you live in a city, it might be easier than you think to organize face-to-face Italian lessons. Just look up the name of your city plus the word “Italians” on Facebook, and there will likely be a group dedicated to bringing Italians in that area together.
  • If you live near a university, there will probably be some Italian exchange students who want to improve their English or an Italian club with foreign and local students. It can be surprisingly hard for Italian exchange students to make friends and practice their English, so get in touch with the language department and tell them you’re interested in an exchange.

When you meet up, make sure to let your exchange partner know that you’re serious about learning and improving. Bring books, exercises and give your partner homework. Once they see that you’re serious, they will be too.

A good language exchange is about balance. You’ll need to find a middle ground between conversation and study, and also between being friends and teachers. Lay some ground rules and be clear about your expectations to ensure fun and successful Italian lessons.

12. Global Penfriends

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This website helps you find Italian penpals—you can talk to them online or even send letters the old-fashioned way. 

Italians will be eager to start a correspondence and help you learn Italian for free, but you’ll need to help them in exchange! You’ll get some great experience with Italian grammar and sentence structure with a knowledgeable teacher. Be sure to repay the favor by being a good English teacher for them.

Make sure to encourage them to correct you at every opportunity, ask them lots of questions and get suggestions of good Italian resources (TV shows, movies, books, etc.). Form a friendship based on respect and commitment and you’ll both improve quickly.

What to Expect from Free Italian Lessons

There are a lot of great things about free Italian lessons (namely, they’re free!) but don’t expect them to be like a normal, structured course. Most free Italian courses have these in common: 

  • Less structure and more freedom: When you take a free Italian course, you’ll likely receive all the materials at once. This means that you’ll have to work out the structure and pacing yourself. On the bright side, you’ll have the freedom to focus on what you want and take as much time as you need!
  • Less guidance and more self-discipline: You probably won’t have a teacher or even someone to correct your work. This gives you the opportunity to take your education into your own hands and find your own stride.
  • Lots of resources but less comprehensive: Free Italian lessons are great for loading you up with tons of exercises and valuable resources, but they usually don’t give equal time to each linguistic skill. This is perfect if you just want to hone in on a particular skill (like listening comprehension, for example).
  • Fewer pages and more practice: You won’t likely get a textbook with your free course, but you’ll get a lot of grammar and vocab practice materials. Textbooks cost money and worksheets are free. For this reason, many free courses are consolidated around loads of supplementary material. This provides endless opportunities for practice and drilling!

Tips to Learn Italian for Free

Since free Italian lessons have less structure and guidance, you’ll be in charge of making sure you cover all the bases. Here’s how to get the most out of your gratis Italian experience.

If your free Italian lesson is grammar-heavy…

…boost your communicative skills. You may be a grammar whiz, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t use it! Try watching Italian TV to learn the proper pronunciation and writing letters or stories to learn to structure phrases.

If your lesson is speaking-heavy…

find a good textbook. If you’re doing a language exchange, you’ll get a lot from conversation, but you won’t get a lot of practice with reading or grammar. Find a good book and your free Italian course will sail by much more smoothly.

If your lesson is vocabulary-based…

…find a good grammar resource or exercise book. Words are important, but grammar is the glue that binds them together. If you’re memorizing the dictionary, you’re a truly amazing person, but you’ll need to drill a little grammar now and again if you want to start speaking.

If it’s an audio/visual lesson…

read a book in Italian. It doesn’t have to be a hard one! Watching or listening to Italian is a great way to pick up new ideas and to learn to identify keywords, but words on a page help us connect what we hear with the grammar and spelling.

If your lesson is exercise-based…

…find a speaking partner through the resources we mentioned above. Even if you have grammar, vocab and pronunciation activities every day, there will still be one thing missing—a little chiacchierata (chat)!

If you need more features or support to learn…

…you may want to consider upgrading to a paid language learning program. For example, FluentU offers a library of expertly captioned authentic videos made by and for native Italian speakers. That means you can learn the Italian language as it’s used in different contexts, and get extra support with vocabulary retention, speaking and listening comprehension.


Taking free Italian lessons is beneficial in ways that go far beyond language. Learning on your own terms can help build self-determination, listening to Italian dialogue can give you a taste of culture and meeting a language partner can result in lifelong friendship.

Your lessons may be free, but learning Italian is priceless!

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