Everything is better with a friend.
Okay, maybe not Solitaire.
But learning Italian? Definitely.
That’s why starting an Italian language exchange is so valuable. Not only is it a fun and interesting way to practice, you’ll also get an insider’s view on how the language is used in everyday life by real native speakers.
And you don’t even need to live near Italian speakers to start one.
Just try one of these fun, convenient and easy-to-use Italian language exchange apps and sites to start moving towards fluency with a little help from your friends.
What Are the Benefits of an Italian Language Exchange?
Ever hear about someone writing to a pen pal in another country? That’s an old school language exchange at work. A language exchange is typically any platform that allows native speakers of different languages to communicate and learn from each other.
There are plenty of benefits to be had. Native speakers provide a perspective that’ll help your grasp on Italian become more natural and realistic. They can teach you about finer details that textbooks and dictionaries might miss, like everyday colloquialisms or whether some terms might sound clunky in a real, casual conversation.
Another great benefit of language exchanges is that they’re free! You’re just exchanging your native language knowledge for theirs. Just as you can pick up Italian from talking to a native speaker, they’ll improve in English (or whatever your native language is) by communicating with you. Plus, language exchanges help to create more global communication, which is great for everyone.
Above all else, language exchanges can work because studying is easier with other language lovers!
Conversation Starters: The Top 5 Online Italian Language Exchange Tools
There are plenty of Italian language exchange programs and apps out there, and this post is going to guide you through some of the best.
When you’re chatted out and ready for a little solo study again, be sure to mix in authentic Italian content so your brain stays in “Italian mode” and you have plenty to talk about when you get back to your language exchange. FluentU is a great option for this.
For example, you can click any word in the interactive subtitles for an instant definition. There are also flashcards and quizzes to make sure you remember what you’ve learned by watching the video. It’s a fun way to practice Italian the way native speakers actually use it, without ever worrying about missing a word.
Tandem is arguably one of the most popular language exchange programs out there. This nifty app lets you seek out native speakers of languages from all over the world, including Italian.
Tandem has a simple user interface that lets you track down an Italian partner who’s best for you. You can browse profiles and find speaking partners based on their language level, location and interests.
Studying Italian on Tandem allows you to connect with speakers from regions all over Italy, which gives you the opportunity to focus on specific dialects. So if you want to brush up on your Sicilian, Tandem’s got you covered.
Once you find the users that interest you, you can simply start chatting with them for free.
Tandem has the option for video communication as well as text messages. Texts can be helpful in expanding your vocabulary and making sure you can spell Italian words correctly, but it’s always great to have the option for real-world speaking and listening practice too, especially to develop your accent.
The resources on Tandem don’t just stop at free Italian language exchanges, though. Users on the app can find formal tutors to learn their target language. This can be an added bonus for people who might want a more studious approach to their language practice.
HelloTalk is another language exchange app that can easily be accessed from your phone. This app is unique in that it’s almost like a social network platform for language learners.
The format of HelloTalk is divided mainly into social media feeds. When signing up, you select your target language and the language that you’re fluent in. Once this has been completed, the feeds open up: you can choose between Italian speakers trying to learn your native language, as well as other Italian language students who speak your native language. When using the app, you can alternate easily between these feeds based on what you want to see.
HelloTalk’s strength lies in its cultural immersion. Users can publicly post about anything they might talk about on, say, Twitter or Facebook. This means that you’ll get plenty of photographs of Italian scenery and open discussions about daily life in Italy. Users can interact on posts, commenting and liking just like most other social media sites. The language in your comments and status updates can then be corrected by users.
This isn’t the only use of HelloTalk, of course. Users can build their own profiles and chat privately with others for one-on-one Italian language exchanges. The app offers some options for beginners, such as on-the-fly translation of words you might not understand yet and built-in language correction features.
You can choose to practice with both native speakers and your fellow Italian students, so users of any experience level can find someone to chat with.
MyLanguageExchange might work best for people who are a little more old school.
Social media and video chat might be intimidating for some people, but this site offers more old-fashioned methods like finding Italian pen-pals. Users are given a directory of Italian students and speakers alike who they can chat with over email, all with profiles.
Don’t worry if you’re a little more contemporary, though! There are also options for voice and text chats. You can choose language exchange options from the lefthand sidebar of the site.
MyLanguageExchange is probably one of the best platforms for people who are new to this learning method, as it offers a number of helpful guides on language exchanges and how they work. Even programs that other, more tech-savvy people might deem easy to figure out are explained plainly for newbies.
For example, the Voice Chat page has a set of guidelines for how to use video conversations to maximize language learning. Tools like this make it a great site for people who might not be so good with computers, or who simply struggle trying to figure out language exchange programs.
The website also offers a number of other useful tools, such as translations, word games and a notepad for members. It’s a useful site for learners of all backgrounds, but probably the very best for new students.
HiNative is pretty unique in that it has a very specific purpose in its language exchange program: creating a space for people to ask questions about the language they’re learning.
When studying Italian, it’s easy to run into a very specific question about grammar, how a certain word is used, how to pronounce a certain sound or anything else. HiNative lets you pose your question straight to native Italian speakers.
This can be particularly helpful when it comes to things that native speakers tend to know best, like slang terms or contextual questions. Italian is a language with a lot of cultural context that factors in, so HiNative can be an incredibly useful app.
Once you’ve asked your question, native speakers will comment on your post explaining the answer. You can also reach out to Italian speakers who have their own burning questions about your native language, acting on the “exchange” idea to its fullest.
The app also offers audio answers, where native speakers can record a word or phrase themselves so you get the proper pronunciation. Users can also post audio questions to test their own speaking skills.
italki is a popular and flexible language exchange platform that also has options for more traditional learning.
There are free language exchanges where you can browse profiles depending on your goals. Filter profiles for native speakers only or look for speaking partners who are living in a specific city. There are other unique features, such as a “Notes” section where native speakers can correct your writing, and a “Discussions” section (perfect to avoid those awkward situations when you and your language partner run out of stuff to talk about!).
Ready to take it up a notch? italki can also connect you with formal language tutors for online lessons. The program allows you to select from a number of teachers, and find the one that best suits your needs as a student. You can schedule your lessons and pay as you go, which gives you the ability to stop and start whenever. You can then have your lessons over video chat software.
The Italian course on italki has over 250 teachers to choose from, so just about any learner can find the one who’s perfectly suited to them.
There are so many Italian language exchange programs out there that there really is something for everyone. Go find which one works best for you!
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