24 Terrific Italian Language Learning Tools for Fun, Fast Progress
If you’re like me, you’ve got goals.
And this is finally the year you’re going to master Italian!
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!
- Why You Should Pack Some Italian Learning Tools into Your Tool Belt
- 24 Awesome Language Learning Tools to Power-Up Your Italian Skills
- Pronunciation Guides
- Audio Dictionaries
- Immersion Programs
- Language Partners
- Listening Comprehension Activities
- Italian Media
- Authentic Texts
- Dictionaries and Verb Conjugators
- Writing Practice Tools
Why You Should Pack Some Italian Learning Tools into 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, do the electrical, the plumbing, the 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.
But you can put the hammer and screwdriver down, Italian learner. Our tool belt is going to consist of something different.
24 Awesome Language Learning Tools to Power-Up Your Italian Skills
Get ready to build Italian fluency! Let’s break down all the tools we need by their uses.
The main reason we learn a language is to be able to speak it, right? Check out these tools to get you speaking and pronouncing Italian like a pro.
Perhaps the most important tool for speaking Italian when you’re starting out is a pronunciation guide. These are most ideal for beginners to learn how individual Italian sounds—and thus, Italian words and phrases—are pronounced by native speakers.
Luckily for you, you don’t have 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 a fantastic list of 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!
YouTube is not only for entertainment—we can use it to get us learning a new language!
This video Italian lesson by Rocket277, for instance, is perfect for not only learning the rules of Italian pronunciation, but mastering Italian sounds and letters with help from a real-world Italian speaker.
While pronunciation guides are helpful when you’re getting started, sometimes Italian pronunciation has irregularities, especially when it comes to stress placement on words. Along with your pronunciation guide, audio dictionaries are a great way to look up the meaning and pronunciation of a specific word. They’re perfect for on-the-go reference, and native recordings are invaluable for perfecting your Italian accent.
Check out these Italian audio dictionaries:
3. 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 for how words are pronounced.
This dictionary is specific to the Italian language. It has over 16,000 audio files available online, so you can just type in the Italian word and hear its pronunciation from a native Italian speaker.
Further, you can browse the website through its “categories” feature that offers lists of vocabulary words by topic, and its Parlo (I speak) feature lets you type in entire Italian paragraphs to listen to.
Immersion programs are software that let you “dive deep” into a language. They utilize content and strategies to make your studies engaging and fit easily within your daily schedule. Sometimes, they may also let you learn more than just the technical aspects of the language, and they can also expose you to tidbits of Italian culture. Overall, immersion programs work well for the learner who wants to challenge multiple skills at once.
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 learn 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!
That said, 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 Skyping 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 spoken Italian. This is a bit more of an online language tutoring platform than an informal conversation site, but italki is still great for those who not only want to speak Italian but also want to receive helpful feedback for improvement.
Further, you still can find an Italian language partner on the site, and you can do that for free.
While speaking and listening go hand-in-hand, you should have some dedicated tools to get you practicing listening to Italian, as well. The following should be used to improve Italian listening comprehension.
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, and after listening, most will have exercises or comprehension questions to quiz your understanding. Check out these sites:
8. One World Italiano
One World Italiano offers some great online listening exercises. These include nine short recorded readings as well as 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 mastering Italian listening comprehension.
In addition to listening exercises online, there are also 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.
10. ItalianPod101 by Innovative Language
This 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 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.
LearnItalianPod offers paid access to some of the best Italian podcasts, transcripts and accompanying exercises around.
Regularly listening to Italian media will do wonders for listening comprehension. It’s a great way not only to listen to news reports in Italian, but to practice your reading with accompanying written articles. Talk about a multipurpose learning tool! Check out these media sites:
12. News in Slow Italian
News can be spoken quickly and 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 as well as 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.
13. Rai News
Once you’ve gotten a handle on Italian and you’re ready to challenge yourself, try media that’s 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!
14. Italian YouTubers
If hard news isn’t your thing, why not check out some viral Italian videos? While YouTube may not be what you think of when you think 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.
Moving on! The following tools can be used to help you improve your Italian reading skills.
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 be know the meaning of a word if you’ve previously studied a flashcard with it.
You can also bring this old tool into the 21st century. Check out these newfangled flashcards for the tech generation:
15. Duolingo Italian
Duolingo is probably the best-known flashcard-based program. If you haven’t heard about it by now, it is in fact an Italian course that uses flashcard-esque programming to learn grammar and vocabulary and practice reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Best of all, it’s free!
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.
In addition to the two apps above, I do also recommend making your own flashcards!
You can take new words or sentences from anywhere (an Italian course, a section of text, an Italian TV show) and then manually make them into flashcards. You can do this by hand or through an app like Flashcards+ by Chegg. The creation and use of the flashcards adds to your retention of the words on them.
Using real Italian texts is perhaps the best way to improve Italian reading skills. Whether it’s an online article, a newspaper or a good book, they can all be used to master Italian reading. The only issue is, if you live in a non-Italian-speaking area, finding Italian texts in bookstores may be difficult.
The good news: Italian texts are everywhere online. Check out these sites:
17. ITALY Magazine
This option is great for readings 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.
While this website isn’t exclusive to Italian, it offers lots of short stories in the language ranging from crime stories to dramas and even to science fiction and fantasy.
19. 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.
In addition to reading, writing is a skill that should be practiced to get well-rounded Italian proficiency. Check out these Italian writing practice tools to complete your language-learning tool belt!
Dictionaries and Verb Conjugators
First of all, investing in a good dictionary is crucial when reading 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 look-ups. 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!
For a dedicated verb conjugator, check this one out. Log on, and conjugate away!
Writing Practice Tools
In addition to a handy dictionary, actually practicing to write cohesively in Italian is essential. That means you’ll need a way to check the Italian you’ve written. Even if you don’t have a teacher immediately available to correct your work, there are options.
Check out these tools to practice your written Italian skills:
For those who prefer to study on their own, check out LanguageTool.org. 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.
23 & 24. Global Penfriends and Italianpenpals.org
For those who want more purposeful and personal writing experience, try these two resources.
The two sites are 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.
Okay, Italian learner.
Now that you have all the Italian language learning tools you need, you can begin building that majestic Italian fluency!