34 Handy Italian Language Learning Tools for Fun, Fast Progress
If you plan to master Italian, you need the right Italian learning tools!
Just like you can’t build a house without bricks and mortar, you can’t build language fluency without ways to practice listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Whether you’re already enrolled in an online Italian course or you’re looking to DIY your lessons with some exciting Italian books or a gripping Italian television drama, the language-learning tools in this post will get you there!
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- Pronunciation Guides
- Italian Learning Apps
- Language Partners
- Listening Comprehension Activities
- Italian News Media
- Italian Lifestyle and Entertainment Media
- Vocabulary Lists and Flashcards
- Dictionaries and Verb Conjugators
- Writing Practice Tools
- Why Add Italian Learning Tools to Your Tool Belt
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Perhaps the most important tool for speaking Italian when you’re starting out is a pronunciation guide that will help you learn how Italian sounds, words and phrases are said by native speakers.
Luckily for you, you don’t have to look very far to find a good pronunciation guide. There are many resources online for how to pronounce Italian letters and words. Check out these two:
This resource offers fantastic audio recordings of Italian sounds along with written explanations. While this site has tutorials for many languages and for many levels of Italian, its short tutorial on Italian pronunciation is especially concise and easy.
Further, it uses already-known English sounds to build bridges to their Italian equivalents—perfect for a straightforward guide to get you speaking Italian fast!
2. Forvo Italian
Forvo is perhaps the greatest Italian audio dictionary available on the web. The main website itself is an audio dictionary of many languages, but its Italian dictionary is quite extensive.
Forvo Italian combines recordings of words and complete phrases from multiple native Italian speakers to give learners a real sense of how words are pronounced.
If you just need a quick reference for the most common Italian words and phrases, Speechling has you covered. Their audio samples are recorded by professional male and female Italian voice actors, so you’re guaranteed a high-quality example.
Italian Learning Apps
These days, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to great language apps for your mobile device. Here are just a couple of examples of Italian learning apps you can try for free!
4. Duolingo Italian
Duolingo is probably the best-known language-learning app. If you haven’t heard about it by now, Duolingo Italian turns Italian learning into a game. Through different activities, you learn vocabulary and practice reading, writing, listening and speaking.
This vocabulary builder covers beginner to advanced levels. With games, native speakers to model pronunciation and more than 6,000 words, it’s definitely worth keeping nearby!
6. ItalianPod101 by Innovative Language
ItalianPod101 is a popular choice for online language learners, especially those who value on-the-go listening resources.
A free account gives you access to tons of audio lessons in the format of Italian-language podcasts, but you won’t get the goodies without a paid membership. Once you’re in, you’ll be able to supplement their podcasts with PDF transcripts, comprehension exercises and more.
FluentU is a language learning program that uses a library of authentic Italian videos to immerse you in the language. They allow you to see how natives use the language in context and also help you get familiar with actual pronunciations and accents.
Each clip comes with interactive subtitles—as you watch, you can click on a word or expression to get its definition, grammar details and examples of usage. This way, you can better remember a word’s meaning and feel more confident using it in your own speech.
Words you select can be saved as multimedia flashcards that can be reviewed anytime. Personalized quizzes are also offered to reinforce vocabulary, and they offer questions that build upon your written and spoken Italian skills.
Perhaps the best way to perfect your Italian speaking skills is to actually speak Italian with a native Italian speaker. While this may be a little hard to do at first, even a basic understanding of Italian grammar and vocabulary is enough to speak with a real Italian speaker!
Short of traveling to Italy, looking for a language exchange partner or tutor online may be the best way to find a native Italian speaker to practice with.
But that’s not all! In addition to speaking practice, language partners can also help you with listening comprehension, clarification of grammar concepts and learning new vocabulary. Check out these sites to meet your new Italian best friend:
This is a great website for those looking to find Italian speakers to practice with.
While it’s not exclusively for oral communication, the website allows users to connect and decide how to communicate on their terms. That means that Zoom is totally an option! You can even toggle search options to find someone who’s open to live voice chat before contacting them.
This one’s a very popular option for those looking to practice speaking Italian. This is more of an online language tutoring platform than an informal conversation site, so italki is great for those who not only want to speak Italian but also want to receive helpful feedback for improvement.
Further, you can use the site to find an Italian language partner for free.
Tandem brings speakers together through an app that allows users to communicate in their own languages. It’s ideal for practicing pronunciation, picking up idioms and interesting vocabulary and acquiring cultural information.
This website allows users to request an audio recording of any text read by a native speaker. Just submit some Italian text, then wait for the Italian version to come straight to you.
It’s an excellent way to learn the correct pronunciation of texts that are suited to your particular interests.
Listening Comprehension Activities
Hands down, the best way to practice Italian listening skills is to do some listening comprehension activities.
These normally consist of audio clips, generally between two and 10 minutes long. After listening, most will have exercises or comprehension questions to quiz your understanding. Check out these sites:
12. One World Italiano
One World Italiano offers some great online listening exercises. These include nine short recorded readings and accompanying comprehension questions. One World Italiano also offers a wealth of comprehension activities on their YouTube channel.
They have two complete audio courses on YouTube as well as other general Italian content videos to get you to master Italian listening comprehension.
There are a number of Italian courses that offer audio as a central part of their curriculum. For example, DontSpeakItalian.com has a great online course with listening practice.
LearnItalianPod offers paid access to some of the best Italian podcasts, transcripts and accompanying exercises around.
Audiobooks are the next best thing to having a personal reader. There are both audiobook courses and sheer enjoyment reading available in this format.
Want some advice for using audiobooks in your Italian language program? Start with basic books, even with children’s books if you’re an absolute beginner. As your proficiency in the language grows, so, too, will your reading level.
Here are just a few ideas:
15. “Jemima Puddle-Duck ed altre storie”
“Jemima Puddle-Duck and Other Stories” by Beatrix Potter is a child’s classic that isn’t just for children! The enchanting tale sounds almost like a lullaby in Italian and the simple storyline is the perfect way to get a bit of listening practice in.
16. “Learn Beginner Italian Bundle: Lessons 1 to 30 Learning Italian Like Crazy”
If you’re looking for an actual audiobook course, this one by Patrick Jackson will prime beginners for further learning. With 30 lessons, it’s more than a minimal course. Expect to be proficient in verb conjugation and confident enough to carry on a conversation in Italian by the end of the course.
Additionally, there’s a PDF file that comes with the audiobook as a download. It’s a transcript of every lesson, so you’ll be able to hear and read all the material.
17. “Italian Vocabulary Builder: 2222 Italian Phrases to Learn Italian and Grow Your Vocabulary”
This is a clear, concise audiobook by Lingo Mastery that is devoted to vocabulary building. Listening to useful phrases and increasing communication skills while relaxing sounds like a language learner’s dream!
Italian News Media
Regularly watching Italian news will do wonders for your listening comprehension. You can also practice your reading with accompanying written articles, and you’ll pick up some Italian culture while you’re at it. Talk about a multipurpose learning tool! Check out these Italian news sites:
18. News in Slow Italian
News can be spoken quickly, which is intimidating to some Italian learners, so try News in Slow Italian. Just as its name suggests, this site offers daily news reports in Italian spoken slowly. Each news report also offers a transcript and the opportunity to highlight certain words and see their translation into English on the page.
There are three levels of difficulty—Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced—for all stages of your Italian journey.
19. Rai News
Once you’ve gotten a handle on Italian and you’re ready to challenge yourself, try media that are spoken at a native Italian pace on websites such as Rai News. While there are no transcripts, this is the full immersive Italian experience. It’s like watching Italian TV without being in Italy!
20. La Repubblica
For more advanced learners, try reading news from leading Italian news organizations such as La Repubblica. There are new stories every day ranging from topics such as politics to lifestyle and culture, and you can even find videos of reports to practice listening skills.
Italian Lifestyle and Entertainment Media
Learning to speak Italian should be fun! Adding entertainment options brings that extra bit of excitement to your language program. Just incorporating one or two is enough to give any program some flair.
21. RAI Italy
This is Italy’s major radio network. If you’re looking for a way to practice your Italian listening during your commute, exercise or housework routine, why not tune into RAI Italy to hear the latest Italian music, radio stories and podcasts? Try Radio Tutta Italiana for Italian-only music.
Raiplay is the spot for Italian television. From sporting events to news headlines, sitcoms and much more, Raiplay delivers. I watch this regularly!
I wasn’t aware until recently that Netflix is a great resource for online streaming of Italian entertainment. Many of us already subscribe to the service; why not use it to enhance Italian learning?
To access more Italian Netflix content, just type “Italian TV shows” or “Italian movies” into the search bar. There are options in many genres, so there’s something for everyone.
24. Italian YouTubers
While YouTube may not be what comes to mind when you think of media, there are many people there speaking Italian on all sorts of topics.
One of the most popular Italian-language YouTubers is FavijTV. He’s sort of like Italy’s answer to PewDiePie with general interest, gaming and funny videos.
Also check out iPanetellas, a pair of brothers who have many sketch and comedy videos.
25. ITALY Magazine
ITALY Magazine covers stories on lifestyle, travel and more, tailored for Italian learners. It’s great for reading and exercises. They offer dialogues as well as helpful vocabulary and grammar explanations. Best of all, you can use this site for all levels of Italian, all the way from beginner lessons to advanced lessons.
Vocabulary Lists and Flashcards
Whether you’re just starting out or looking to build your knowledge in a specific area, it helps to know what words to focus on. Rote memorization may not be the most exciting prospect, but don’t forget you can use vocabulary lists to make your own flashcards.
Flashcards may seem a little 1990s to you, but they’re still great. Seriously. Don’t knock them because they seem like an old-fashioned way to study!
Flashcards are a great way not only to read and write Italian but also to aid in retention. Frequent repetition allows you to identify and recall Italian words more easily while you’re reading. That means that when you’re tackling a completely Italian text, you’re more likely to know the meaning of a word if you’ve previously studied a flashcard with it.
26. Online Italian Club
In addition to excellent vocabulary lists for every learning level, Online Italian Club offers exercises in grammar, conjugation and listening, too. You can practice using your new words right away!
27. Saber Italiano
Saber Italiano (Know Italian) provides vocabulary lists by subject. The subjects covered are extensive, including topics like politics, professions, sports and clothing. If you’re a visual learner, be sure to check out the categories under Vocabolario illustrato (Illustrated vocabulary).
This is a flashcard app that you can download onto your phone or tablet. It uses flashcards to teach new vocabulary and grammar points, and you can use helpful and fun games to further practice and perfect your Italian skills.
29. Free Flashcard Maker by Chegg
I also recommend making your own flashcards!
You can take new words or sentences from anywhere (an Italian course, a vocabulary list, an Italian TV show) and then manually make them into flashcards. You can do this on paper or through a program like Chegg’s Free Flashcard Maker.
Dictionaries and Verb Conjugators
Investing in a good dictionary is crucial when learning Italian. As you would expect, you can find good dictionaries at your local library or bookstore or even on Amazon.com, but truth be told, I recommend online dictionaries whenever possible.
Online dictionaries are helpful for quick, on-the-go translation, and oftentimes they include verb conjugators. What’s a verb conjugator? Well, don’t you ever wish you could instantly look at a verb and all its conjugations? You can!
Check out these awesome sites:
WordReference is by far one of the most comprehensive online dictionaries not only for Italian but for many other languages. It’s best used for fast word lookups. It includes pronunciation examples, idiomatic expressions and even an online forum for additional information.
Further, it has a handy verb conjugator that you can get right on your smartphone!
31. Collins Italian Dictionary
Collins is a staple for translations. You can also type any Italian verb into the conjugation tool search box to bring up a full conjugation table. But the site does more than serve as a dictionary! There are articles about communication issues, lists of trending words and grammar tips, as well.
For a dedicated verb conjugator, check this one out. Log on and conjugate away!
Writing Practice Tools
To write cohesively in Italian, you must of course practice writing, and you’ll need a way to check the Italian you’ve written. If you don’t have a teacher immediately available to correct your work, there are other options.
Check out these tools to practice your written Italian skills:
For those who prefer to study on their own, this website is perfect for getting your Italian texts corrected and for helping you figure out where your Italian mistakes are being made. Change the settings on the website to Italian and get instant feedback for errors in your Italian written expression.
Just keep in mind that since this is an automated tool, it has its limits.
34. Global Penfriends
For those who want a more purposeful and personal writing experience, try this resource.
The site is perfect for beginning a pen-pal relationship and for practicing Italian written expression through letter writing. Pen pals may even be inclined to correct your mistakes, which can do wonders for your written fluency.
Why Add Italian Learning Tools to Your Tool Belt
The best way to become successful in any language and deal with unforeseen challenges along the way is to have all the tools necessary to build and maintain success.
Think of learning Italian like the construction of a house. We need multiple tools to perfect the multiple aspects of the home. We need separate tools to lay the foundation, build the frame, lay the bricks and do the electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling. And even after the house is built, we still need tools to fix things if a pipe has a leak or a window gets shattered.
The same idea applies to learning Italian: We need multiple tools to learn the multiple aspects of the language. We need tools to learn how to speak fluently, how to listen carefully and understand what’s being said, and how to read and write in the language.
Okay, Italian learner.
Now that you have all the Italian language learning tools you need, you can begin building that majestic Italian fluency!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)