“Italian grammar is so confusing!”
“My tongue loves Italian dishes. It just can’t pronounce them right!”
Turn back now if you want to hold those excuses close to your heart.
Because in this post, we’ll be demolishing them.
Our weapon of choice? Italian language tutorials.
Let’s start by learning how to choose a tutorial.
What to Look for In an Italian Language Tutorial
A language tutorial takes you by the hand and walks you through a specific element of the language—say, Italian tenses, Italian plural forms, Italian pronunciations, even Italian dining etiquette. A tutorial is not usually a whole course and is limited in scope. But by the end of it, you should be able to understand and work with the material discussed. It won’t turn you into an expert in a few minutes, but it should give you a working knowledge of the topic.
However, a language tutorial doesn’t always have to be a video of a tutor pointing to some written material on the board. This “taking you by the hand” element can take many other forms. It can be a podcast talking about Italian verbs, or a helpful chapter in an e-book. It can be a cartoon about numbers, or a song about the weather.
With this definition, we see that the web offers an unlimited choice and range of Italian language tutorials. There are thousands of YouTube videos that teach you different elements of the Italian language. There are hours upon hours of podcasts by a host of native speakers. With so many to choose from, how do you separate the great ones from the rest?
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Yes, tutorials have personality, and a big part of where this matters is in the approach.
The approach to the topic is very important because it affects your state of mind. An overly serious tone just might bore you to distraction or give you a sense of unease and make the language unapproachable. Really! There are tutorials out there that suck all your confidence and kill all learning motivation in 5 minutes. Avoid them like the plague.
Personality is one of the most important things to consider because the same topic can be treated in many different ways. A look at Italian prepositions, for example, can be done in a dry, academic manner. You know, the type that can make you want to shoot yourself in the foot just to stay awake. But it could also be presented as a game of sorts, like some version of “hide-and-seek.”
For videos that come with actual tutors, you’ll sense things about the personality and approach in the first few minutes after you press “Play.” Is the person on the screen playful or do they take the language too seriously and think their knowledge puts them above everyone else?
For books, is the writing easy-breezy? Is it conversational? Do you sense passion? Does the author share their funny mishaps from when they were a language learner?
Go for tutorials that are light in tone and light on linguistic jargon but heavy with personality and humor. You’ll learn faster with this type of content.
The Language Coming Alive
So, how does a tutorial make Italian come alive, exactly?
The most effective tutorials are heavy on the imagery. This can mean colors, movement, dancing even. This can mean graphics, cartoons, drawings. Instead of telling you, they show you how it all works.
The brain latches on more easily with visual input. Video sources have a distinct advantage because they are, by their very nature, visual media. But don’t ever think that a podcast or an e-book can’t make the language come alive. A podcast can paint a picture so clearly you feel like you’re in the middle of Milan. A chapter can be written in such a way that immerses you totally in the language.
If a teacher knows how to suck you in with a good story, then it doesn’t matter if it’s just them facing a camera.
One other thing: Pick those sources or tutorials that offer you loads of examples. There are resources that just give you the dictionary definition of a subject and then leave you hanging. Examples are the stuff that turn a vague lesson into something more concrete. They let you sense the nuances. They make you see, for example, how a preposition works in real life, or how a verb changes according to the situation. So look for tutorials that give you plenty of examples to work with.
Pick tutorials that make the language come alive… and it will.
That said, let’s now look deep into seven sources that fit the criteria that we just talked about.
Look Out! 7 Providers of Powerful Italian Language Tutorials
How about learning Italian not only from a native speaker but also from someone who’s a life coach?
Talk about passion and motivation rolled into one!
Marco Nisida, who’s written books like “You Deserve to Be Happy,” takes you on a 20-video tutorial of Italian (or 20 mini-tutorials, depending how you look at it). The guy exudes the joy and charisma that Italians are known for the world over and you can’t help but learn from him. His YouTube tutorials convey a practical approach, focusing on phrases and expressions that viewers will find useful when interacting with native speakers. If you’re looking for a phrasebook in video format, you’ll find it here.
In addition to the excellent linguistic lessons that makes you feel like Italian is the coolest language, this native speaker dishes out some insights that make you feel like Italian culture is the coolest as well.
When you’ve got a life coach as a language teacher, you get uplifting lessons that not only make the language come alive, but make you come alive as well.
Now you’ll get the viewpoint of a fellow Italian learner who’s probably many years ahead of you (and who has years of teaching experience, too).
He sounds like the boy next door. He’s totally relatable, kindhearted and open. He often shares bits and pieces of his experiences in the tutorials.
Because he was once in your shoes, he knows the struggles faced by Italian language learners. And this is very important, because he can anticipate the most common mistakes and misconceptions (especially those of native English speakers) and immediately set you straight. In his kind way, of course.
Check him out, and you’ll come away with a feeling of, “If he can do it, so can I!”
FluentU doesn’t do your typical, run-of-the-mill tutorials. Instead, we take regular real-world videos—like movie trailers, music videos, news and inspiring talks—and turn them into tutorials on steroids.
Videos are embedded with interactive transcriptions. So you now have a music video with the lyrics and translations flashed before you. But wait, there’s more! When you hover over any word in the captions, FluentU automatically gives you everything you need to know about that specific word.
So for example, let’s say the lyrics have amore (love) in them. When you hover (or tap) on that, out comes an information block which gives you the meaning, translation, pronunciation, usage examples and other instances where amore might be used. And you can do this for every word in the transcriptions. Each word becomes a mini-lesson in itself!
But that’s not even the best part. FluentU has personalized exercises consisting of flashcards that take you step by step through the content of each video so you can fortify your understanding of the language in it. Pick any video at your level and you’ll be given vocabulary, grammar notes and cultural context in one fell swoop. So come check us out and subscribe today for a two-week free trial!
Imagine you’re in a coffee shop sipping your cappuccino. At your table are three others: Mark (who’s an Italian language teacher), Francesca (who’s a native Italian speaker) and Katie (who, like you, is an Italian language learner). All three are helping you learn the language.
That’s what Coffee Break Italian feels like! It’s basically a 20-minute podcast produced by the award-winning Radiolingua Network.
Each episode has a specific grammar focus—like Italian tenses, for example. Your three hosts take turns explaining to you how it all works, giving you plenty of examples. And because Katie is a learner just like you, she can anticipate your questions and sometimes asks for clarification from Mark and Francesca.
So what you get is a dynamic discussion that goes beyond the listen-and-repeat patterns common with audio programs.
And if you think Italian can’t come alive just because the tutorial is audio-only, you’re soundly mistaken. Check it out and see what the buzz is all about.
Prepare to get a full overview of Italian grammar and vocabulary with ielanguages’ “Italian Language Tutorial.” This is a 180-page book in PDF format that basically takes you through the whole landscape of the Italian language—from the basic parts of speech, to restaurant and hotel talk.
It comes with almost three hours’ worth of audio from three different native speakers. Oh, and I’m sure you won’t mind that your purchase also entitles you to a lifetime of updates related to the product.
The ielanguages website itself is fat with free content, which comes in handy when you need a quick reference or a review of, say, “Conjunctions” or “Suffixes.” The lessons are divided into six sections. And you don’t have to study them in sequence. You can just dart in and out.
Both the book and the information presented on the website pull in a lot of examples and exercises that really give you a strong footing in Italian grammar.
You know you’ve got personality right off the bat when your video opens with a “warning” that says, “By watching this video, you are running the risk of actually learning the Italian language.”
You have Claudio here as your teacher. He makes clear from the outset that he believes being able to speak Italian is the most important skill, but also points out that grammar is vital to learn. So here you have somebody who knows how to balance things out.
In his tutorials, you’ll get a good mix of both conversational Italian and colloquial expressions, as well as grammar lessons. Lessons about the culture are interspersed throughout the 67 videos in the series. He doesn’t line up the lessons from the easiest to the most difficult. He alternates heavy grammar lessons with the easy topics. Which I think is really a great idea when you want to take someone by the hand and not overwhelm them with nuances.
Overall, Lingo Lab’s bite-sized tutorials of around 4-8 minutes each are a great investment of your time.
ItalianPod101 is part of the multi-language series presented by Innovative Language—a leading producer of language learning content.
The website is a powerhouse of tutorials that teach you practically everything you’d ever want to learn about Italian, at the earlier stages at least.
You can get all kinds of extra perks from subscribing on their website, like access to a learner’s community and lesson notes, but you can also sample their content on their YouTube channel, which is actually a collection basket of a bunch of great programs Innovative Language has on Italian. You get access to “Ask an Italian Teacher,” “Absolute Beginner Italian for Every Day,” “Italian Weekly Words with Ilaria” and “Italian in Three Minutes.”
Their videos, often ranging from 3-8 minutes, are quick dives into specialized topics. These tutorials come with excellent native speakers who never take themselves seriously and are passionate about teaching. They’re full of personality. The videos come with graphics that catch your memory and attention. In short, they meet all the criteria we’ve been talking about.
So there you have it! Seven sources for tutorials that can really teach you Italian.
Consider your excuses officially shamed.
I mean, these really work, and if I were you, I wouldn’t be wasting any more time.
Check them out now!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.