Much like Dante in his tumultuous quest to paradiso (heaven), you fought through your own seven circles of Italian language trials.
But every Italian student knows that Dante’s Inferno (hell) is only the first part of his greater work, “La Divina Commedia” (“The Divine Comedy”).
And so as Dante continues his quest to paradise, so shall we forge ahead to the next level of the divine language.
Welcome to intermediate Italian. Let’s start things right with an Italian intermediate course.
- What You Need to Know Before Your Italian Intermediate Course
- 7 Winning Online Italian Intermediate Courses
What You Need to Know Before Your Italian Intermediate Course
So you think you’re ready for an Italian intermediate course, do ya?
Well, buckle up your seat belt because things are about to get weird. We’re talking particles like ce, ne and la flying left and right and doing things particles have no business doing, and verb tenses coming out of the woodwork that don’t even exist in English.
Now, don’t panic! But there are some things you should consider before moving forward.
- Test your skills. The first step is simply to know if you’re ready. The easiest way to do that is to take a test that measures your skills. If the intermediate course you want to sign up for doesn’t make you take one beforehand (most will), just ask and the school will be sure to send one your way. For those not taking a course at a school (or if you just can’t wait to find out) there are online level tests you can take and assess yourself subito (right away).
- Know the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Europe separates language learning into six levels known as the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
- A1 — Beginner
- A2 — Elementary
- B1 — Intermediate
- B2 — Upper Intermediate
- C1 — Advanced
- C2 — Mastery
Italian courses will refer to these levels as a reference to what they offer and what you can do. Make sure you know that as an intermediate student, you’re going to start at level B1.
- Review your English grammar. We really can’t stress this enough! If you’re a native English speaker, it means you probably haven’t studied the grammar of your mother tongue. And if you don’t know how your own grammar works, it’s going to put you at a big disadvantage when you have to try to learn more complicated grammar in another language. For example, you’ll study conditional tenses in intermediate Italian. Conditionals also exist in English, and there are some similarities and differences between them in the two languages. Having the ability to compare and contrast requires a knowledge of your own grammar, and when you have this, the grammatical bits and pieces are easier to distinguish and life becomes a lot easier.
- Invest in other resources. You’re taking an online course. Congrats! But if you want to take this relationship to the next level, you’re going to have to do a little more. Get a good textbook or exercise book so you can do exercises by hand (it’s important). Start watching some films or TV in Italian, spend your lunch break with Italian flashcards or find an Italian pen pal. It’s time to make Italian a part of your life!
7 Winning Online Italian Intermediate Courses
The internet is full of click-bait and amazing “offers” designed to lure in those looking to learn the language of love, but finding one that gets down to more than just the basics can be frustrating. Luckily, we’ve done the necessary footwork (and hand gestures) and found the best intermediate Italian courses on the web. Let’s take a look!
edX — Italian Language and Culture
Cost: Free ($49 if you want a certificate upon completion)
EdX is a non-profit, online educational institution which teams up with some of the most prestigious universities to provide free online courses on a variety of topics. Their Italian course puts you in a virtual classroom with a real instructor and provides a lot of content for learners of all styles for self-study including videos, podcasts, interviews, grammar activities and more. They even have a message board dedicated to practicing your Italian with other students from the class!
One thing that makes this Italian Intermediate course special is that it’s relatively low-intensity and perfect for anyone who wants to do a course in their spare time. The course lasts eight weeks and only requires about three to four hours of study time per week. This means that while you won’t achieve a full intermediate level upon completion of the course, it’s certainly a great way for people who are working or studying to get started.
Cost: A monthly subscription with a free trial available
FluentU uses bite-sized authentic Italian videos to help you learn the language in context. These videos span various topics and formats, including material from newscasts, TV shows and movies. The program’s content library is updated regularly and can be sorted by difficulty level, so intermediate Italian learners can easily find the content that suits their needs.
Each clip comes with interactive dual-language subtitles that let you learn Italian vocabulary and their proper usage. Hover over a word for an instant expert-reviewed translation or click on a word for more detailed information such as noun gender, example sentences and pronunciations.
Any words you learn can be saved as multimedia flashcards, and you can craft custom decks to form your own word lists. For review, you can take personalized SRS-based quizzes that work to boost your vocabulary recall.
Online Italian Club
Online Italian Club is not your average Italian learning site. It resembles something in between a blog, a database and a school. If you skip straight to the intermediate course, you’ll find a plethora of exercises, lessons, listening activities and grammar explanations to keep you busy for a while. If you also decide to sign up and become a part of the “club” (still free), you’ll see that the content of the site is constantly being augmented and modified, and that real Italian teachers regularly post messages and add new lessons and interesting linguistic and cultural tidbits that you wouldn’t learn elsewhere.
This site doesn’t offer any structured courses, but it certainly provides all the necessary resources for active learning and the guarantee of new material for years to come.
One World is a small Italian school which offers free, unguided online courses in various levels of Italian. There are no frills here, but no catch either. This is a challenging intermediate Italian course consisting of 25 lessons packed with content including dialogues, vocab and grammar charts and exercises.
One World is based in Italy and doesn’t cater to any country in particular, so all the lessons are completely in Italian (although the vocabulary charts include English and Spanish translations). The course might be self-study based, but it’s about as immersive as you can get in that sense. This course is perfect for someone who wants to study at their leisure but is also ready for an Italian-only experience.
Cost: $6.95 – $12.95/mo (depends on length of subscription)
Babbel is an innovative language learning company which uses a wide range of exercises and expert voice recognition technology to make learning a new language enjoyable and convenient. With Babble’s intermediate Italian course, you’ll be able to do everything at your own pace and on your own time. The courses are designed and structured by expert linguists, but they’re all self-study based (meaning there’s no instructor or virtual classroom with other students).
The great thing about this course is that you’re not limited to what you can do. There’s no need to wait for assignments to be given or graded. If you have time, you can fly through a course and start the next level, or if you’re studying as a hobby, the 15-minute lessons are easily digestible and can be done on the way to work or during a coffee break.
Courses come loaded with activities in all the vital language learning skills (listening, reading, speaking and writing) and there are a number of different Italian intermediate courses to choose from.
ICoN — Italian Culture on the Net
Cost: 150 euros
Another Italian-only course, the ICoN school lets you choose how you want to study. If you prefer a traditional schooling environment, you can opt for lessons in a virtual classroom with other students and a teacher. If self-study is how you like to get your learn on, then you can choose the independent course, in which you’ll be given all the materials and can follow at your own pace.
The materials used here could use an update in their aesthetics (hokey cartoon videos and some pretty ugly visual aides), but the content is all there and the courses are designed by experts from top Italian institutions. Suffice to say, ICoN is for learners who are more serious about their Italian ambitions.
Università per Stranieri di Siena
Cost: 300 euros
And at last, we’ve arrived at the mother of all online Italian intermediate courses. The University of Siena is the most prestigious institution in Italy for Italian studies, and while their online course costs a pretty penny, it guarantees the best level of instruction on the subject.
Before you jump in head first, be warned: this course requires a time commitment and a certain level of dedication that those with busy schedules might have trouble with, and as this course is taught by professionals in virtual classrooms, a blasé attitude will be struck down with the fury of a scorned Italian mother.
Having said that, this is the cream of the crop of Italian courses. If you’re not sure if it’s right for you, just head to the site and check out the B1 demo.
Finishing beginner and elementary Italian is a big accomplishment, so it can feel a little daunting to see that the road ahead is still long and winding. But it’s worth it!
At an intermediate level, you’ll finally be able to start having real conversations in Italian. You’ll grow more confident and be able to express yourself a little easier. Basically, you’ll be able to start living in your new language. Sounds pretty good, right?
So what are you waiting for? If you don’t take it from me, take it from the man who’s been down a few rough roads:
“The secret of getting things done is to act!”
— Dante Alighieri