28 Italian Language Textbooks for Streamlining Your Learning Experience
Italian language textbooks can serve as the backbone to successfully learning Italian.
They also offer a systematic look at the language and often compile grammar with vocabulary as well as cultural tips—all in one place to streamline your language learning experience.
We’ve created our picks of 28 Italian language textbooks that offer all that and more—from beginners to advanced learners. And, we’ll also provide tips on how to get the most out of your Italian textbooks.
So, put your study caps on and let’s dive in!
- 1. “Italian Made Simple”
- 2. “Living Language Italian: Beginner Through Advanced Course”
- 3. “Italian Grammar: Barron’s Grammar Series”
- 4. “Practice Makes Perfect Italian Vocabulary”
- 5. “Italian Verb Tenses”
- 6. “Dirty Italian: Everyday Slang from “What’s Up?” to “F*%# Off!”
- 7. “Italian: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners Who Want to Learn the Italian Language”
- 8. “Talk Italian”
- 9. “Learn Italian for Beginners”
- 10. “Learn Italian: Italian Short Stories”
- 11. “Short Stories in Italian for Beginners”
- 12. “Enjoy Italian: Intermediate to Advanced”
- 13. “Facile facile” (Easy Come Easy Go)
- 14. “Ecco! An Introduction to Advanced Italian”
- 15. “Ultimate Italian Advanced”
- 16. “Esercizi di grammatica italiana per stranieri” (Italian Grammar Exercises for Foreigners)
- 17. “Complete Italian: Beginner to Intermediate Course”
- 18. “Soluzioni! A Practical Grammar of Contemporary Italian”
- 19. “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Italian”
- 20. “English Grammar for Students of Italian”
- 21. “Short Stories in Italian (New Penguin Parallel Texts)”
- 22. “A Reference Grammar of Modern Italian (Routledge Reference Grammars)”
- 23. “Contemporary Italian Women Poets: A Bilingual Anthology”
- 24. “Easy Italian Reader: Premium Third Edition”
- 25. “Streetwise Italian Dictionary/Thesaurus: The User-Friendly Guide to Italian Slang and Idioms”
- 26. “Rick Steve’s Italian Phrase Book & Dictionary”
- 27. “Damnatio Memoriae: A Play”
- 28. “Better Reading Italian (2nd Edition)”
- How to Get the Most Out of Your Italian Textbooks
1. “Italian Made Simple”
This textbook offers a beginner’s look at grammar and vocabulary. Learn Italian with common expressions and a selection of contemporary Italian readings on culture and history.
All the grammar and vocabulary acquired in this textbook is reinforced with exercises, language games and puzzles.
Best of all, this textbook offers a pronunciation guide, an Italian-English dictionary and answer keys to exercises and test questions. This textbook really is a great beginner-Italian package for you to start your language learning experience.
2. “Living Language Italian: Beginner Through Advanced Course”
Boasting a method that’s backed by linguistic science, this textbook really is the complete course for your Italian self-study needs.
Besides the 46 comprehensive lessons, exercises, cultural notes and grammar summary guide, this textbook is more than a textbook—it’s a course! In addition to the three books, “Living Language Italian” comes with nine audio CDs complete with vocabulary drills, dialogues and audio exercises to help you speak Italian like a native.
3. “Italian Grammar: Barron’s Grammar Series”
This textbook is ideal for learners looking to hone their grammar skills and get a systemic look at all of Italian’s intricacies.
Stylized as a “fast-reference” book, this one has you covered for mastering parts of speech, sentence structure, punctuation, verbs tenses and moods. It’s also loaded with exercises to practice and test your fluency, as well as useful day-to-day vocabulary that beginner textbooks may omit.
With sentence structure, punctuation, idioms, and advice on pronunciation included in this textbook, it’s a well-rounded language learning resource.
4. “Practice Makes Perfect Italian Vocabulary”
This textbook is organized by themes and focuses exclusively on building vocabulary so learners can populate their grammatically-correct sentences with useful and topical words.
In particular, it encourages vocabulary acquisition by having learners focus on word-building (the process where prefixes, suffixes and even other words are added to a word to give it a new meaning) and analyzing new words based on the context in order for learners to “discover” new vocabulary on their own.
Additionally, there are over 250 exercises and an answer key that allows learners to practice their newly-learned vocabulary, as well as grammar explanations to assist learners with using vocabulary properly.
5. “Italian Verb Tenses”
In this textbook, each chapter focuses on a different verb tense or mood, so it’s not just a book with tables on each verb individually—it’s so much more.
This guide allows you to learn and perfect the complex rules of Italian verb conjugation, and it features in-depth analyses of all every verb tense imaginable.
Topic reviews, grammar tips, crossword puzzles and exercises let you practice, while fun spoken dialogues allow you to see verbs in their natural habitats.
6. “Dirty Italian: Everyday Slang from “What’s Up?” to “F*%# Off!”
This Italian textbook is a little risqué, but it offers you a chance to acquire phrases and words that you wouldn’t learn in a classroom or a traditional Italian textbook.
This textbook covers Italian insults and modern slang for situations including food, fashion and fun. Vocabulary is sorted into themed chapters ranging from “Howdy Italian” to the more bold “Horny Italian.”
If you’re interested in losing rigid textbook formality and would rather opt for a more relaxed lingo lesson, then “Dirty Italian” is the textbook for you.
7. “Italian: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners Who Want to Learn the Italian Language”
This textbook is actually three manuscripts in one book and is aimed at beginner learners—offering one of the most comprehensive Italian learning programs for those who have little to no knowledge of the Italian language.
The first of the three textbooks offers 10 chapters and is a traditional textbook with grammar explanations, pronunciation rules and tips for learning Italian.
The second textbook is a collection of eight short stories to help you learn Italian in context. The short stories incorporate the vocabulary and grammar from the first book in natural settings and situations.
The third book in the bundle is a phrasebook containing over 1,000 useful words and phrases. Topics in the phrasebook include plurals, prepositions and time.
8. “Talk Italian”
Two levels of textbooks are included in this box set, making it the perfect combination for learners who are looking for an option to bridge multiple stages of the Italian language learning journey.
The first textbook is for absolute beginners, so if you have little to no knowledge of Italian, this is perfect for you.
The second is for upper-beginner and pre-intermediate learners, wherein upon completion, learners can graduate to Italian-only textbooks or bilingual textbooks aimed at intermediate (B1) learners.
Each book contains 10 chapters that focus on various topics such as travel, ordering food and asking for directions. The chapters include readings, grammatical and vocabulary explanations as well as opportunities to practice with exercises.
In addition to two textbooks with exercises, “Talk Italian” comes with four audio CDs which include recitations of readings and dialogues in clear, native Italian speech as well as additional listening exercises.
9. “Learn Italian for Beginners”
This textbook uses conversations between Italian speakers to teach the language.
As such, a book revolving around real Italian conversations prepares learners for real interactions while breaking down the language in a practical and applicable way.
Each dialogue and situation is given in native Italian with an English translation as well as an explanation of the vocabulary and grammar constructions used.
Topics include the basics of a conversation such as greetings and small talk as well as numbers, time and parts of the body. In fact, this book covers most of the common conversation topics that one can expect to have in Italian.
10. “Learn Italian: Italian Short Stories”
Following the book listed above, the author, Paul Riva, has also written this companion textbook containing 18 short stories for learning Italian based on topics that are used in the original Italian textbook.
Each short story is broken into paragraphs alternating between Italian and English translations.
This would be a great complement to the authentic Italian dialogues of the original textbook to have.
11. “Short Stories in Italian for Beginners”
While not sold as a textbook per se with complete grammatical explanations and a thorough breakdown of the language, this book is invaluable for beginner learners.
It is perfect for anyone looking to get exposure to actual readings without being overwhelmed by other native Italian texts available on- and offline.
This book consists of eight “unconventional” short stories. And, while the stories focus on common vocabulary pertinent to the beginner learner, the situations are humorous or interesting enough to be entertaining.
Each story also includes a short summary, a glossary and comprehension questions.
12. “Enjoy Italian: Intermediate to Advanced”
This textbook is written by the company Teach Yourself, which has released multiple textbooks for learning Italian as well as many other languages—teaching intermediate Italian through authentic texts such as poems, songs and conversations between native speakers.
Since the readings focus on native Italian content rather than content tailored to Italian learners, this textbook helps students comprehend advanced grammar topics, colloquial language and complex vocabulary.
In addition to the almost 300 pages of intermediate Italian learning, the textbook also includes two hours of audio for listening comprehension and for fine-tuning that Italian pronunciation.
13. “Facile facile” (Easy Come Easy Go)
While this textbook is completely in Italian it lives up to its name. In fact, instead of being a complete Italian course, it focuses on specific grammar and vocabulary situations to boost language skills.
This is useful for intermediate learners who know what their weaknesses are or for those who are ready to dive into having conversations with native speakers.
Since it is completely in Italian, this textbook is most useful for learners firmly at the B1 (intermediate) level. Lessons here are centered around certain situations such as in the home, the office or on the street and then the situation is broken down for new grammar and vocabulary.
14. “Ecco! An Introduction to Advanced Italian”
The emphasis of “Ecco!” (“Here It Is!”) is growing a more robust vocabulary for advanced learners.
There are over 6,000 Italian words in the textbook for advanced learners to incorporate into their daily speech, and there are over 1,000 Italian idioms that will help learners clear the mud surrounding figurative language in Italian.
Best of all, both the words and idioms are grouped thematically so that you can learn them and look them up in a logical sequence. Explanations of grammar are also given where applicable.
Further, many words and idioms have example sentences so that learners can differentiate where certain words fit naturally and when they sound a bit out of place while speaking Italian.
15. “Ultimate Italian Advanced”
This is another textbook created by the Living Language company for advanced learners.
The textbook itself is 480 pages of advanced Italian explanations and practice, and there are eight 60-minute corresponding cassettes.
Each chapter starts off with a dialogue that uses authentic Italian and focuses on a topic pertinent to advanced learners such as business Italian or government and politics. There is also an in-depth look at the grammar and vocabulary used in the dialogue as well as an opportunity to practice with exercises.
In fact, the focus of this textbook is business and employment in Italian, so this is a great addition for any learner who wants to work in Italy or travel there on business.
16. “Esercizi di grammatica italiana per stranieri” (Italian Grammar Exercises for Foreigners)
Since this textbook is completely in Italian, it is recommended to have at least a B1 (intermediate) or B2 (high intermediate) level in the language to use this textbook.
Essentially, the textbook offers a rundown of Italian grammar from beginner topics all the way to advanced topics with a focus on higher-level grammar.
Each section revolves around a specific grammar topic such as sentence structure or a verb conjugation pattern. It also gives an in-depth explanation of the topic and a chance to practice with multiple exercises.
Further, there is a glossary with answers in the back of the book to ensure that you are using the grammar topic, its rules and its exceptions correctly.
17. “Complete Italian: Beginner to Intermediate Course”
One unique feature of this textbook is that it uses a “discovery” method of teaching.
Sample dialogues are presented in text and on the accompanying audio CDs, while basic grammar and vocabulary are broken down easily.
There are also exercises to help you practice this grammar and vocabulary
In addition, the book offers cultural notes that are enjoyable and provides some context for how the language is actually employed. Such notes help you understand what you should say when you’re trying to function in Italian culture, not just how to say it.
18. “Soluzioni! A Practical Grammar of Contemporary Italian”
This is a fabulous book for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners.
The book is structured by parts of speech, moving from nouns to articles and so on, eventually going on to tame the chaos of Italian tenses.
Using material from Italian media and literature, the textbook offers vocabulary notes and exercises, helping you to see the usage of sentence structuring.
With 650 graded practice exercises and an answer key for self-assessment, you’ll be able to follow how well you’re doing with your study practice lessons.
19. “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Italian”
While the title may throw some people off, if you struggle with verb conjugations, grammar and vocabulary, this book is for you.
The style is conversational nearly to the point of being long-winded, but that can be more reassuring than being left hanging on a tricky Italian grammar point. This edition also includes a one-hour-long audio lesson of the author and a native Italian speaker explaining practice sessions throughout the book.
With language puzzles and conversational practice sessions, this book is great for beginner learners.
20. “English Grammar for Students of Italian”
This textbook covers grammar, nouns, verbs, pronouns, as well as grammatical terms and much more.
Each chapter is divided into two sections: the review book and answer key. The context of the information within the textbook is simple and clear, allowing beginner learners a better understanding of each lesson provided.
There are also diagrams and charts to summarize varying points throughout the book.
21. “Short Stories in Italian (New Penguin Parallel Texts)”
If you want to dive into modern Italian literature but you’re not sure where to start, this could be the book for you.
Nine short stories from late-20th-century Italian writers are presented here with Italian on one side of the page and English on the other. It’s the perfect bilingual language lesson book.
There’s also a brief introduction in English to provide you insight into the writers whose work you’re about to discover, and there are useful notes at the end of the book about some takeaways on the Italian language that each story presents.
22. “A Reference Grammar of Modern Italian (Routledge Reference Grammars)”
This textbook mainly focuses on Italian reference grammar and is written in English.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, you’ll find this book provides clear and detailed explanations so you can easily find the information you need. In addition to reference grammar, it also covers the spelling and pronunciation of words.
It truly is a comprehensive guide on Italian reference grammar that will provide you the foundation you need for solid language learning.
23. “Contemporary Italian Women Poets: A Bilingual Anthology”
This booklet contains the works of 25 female authors published since World War II.
There’s a selection of poems in Italian by each one, with an English translation on the facing page. They’re short, so they make easy pieces of material to dive into when you have a few minutes free to study.
They also make brilliant conversation pieces for an Italian-English language exchange.
24. “Easy Italian Reader: Premium Third Edition”
This book offers super-easy stories for beginning students.
The first part tells the story of Christine, an American in Italy, and prepares learners for not just the vocabulary but also the cultural experiences that they will encounter on a similar trip.
The second part is just a bit more advanced, telling about various episodes in Italian history, while the third part offers some authentic contemporary literature selections.
Each reading is accompanied by flashcards, audio recordings, glossaries and exercises to help you practice the words that you learn.
25. “Streetwise Italian Dictionary/Thesaurus: The User-Friendly Guide to Italian Slang and Idioms”
Learning a new language often comes with learning how to speak like a native and this book does just that.
With over 2,500 Italian slang and idioms arranged in alphabetical topic order, this is a great book for learners traveling to Italy and those who want to learn common, idiomatic expressions in Italian.
There are also example sentences offered with English translations—helping to cross-reference anything you don’t understand quickly.
26. “Rick Steve’s Italian Phrase Book & Dictionary”
The book is small enough to fit into a coat pocket or purse and is great for beginners traveling to Italy who need a phrasebook relevant to the type of experiences that they will have there.
Providing phrases for everyday use, such as ordering a meal or asking where the train station is, this little book is packed with informative and practical information for travelers of all learning levels.
It also offers phonetic spelling and a handy English-Italian and Italian-English dictionary within its pint-size binding. If you’re traveling to Italy, this is the perfect go-to book to carry with you everywhere.
27. “Damnatio Memoriae: A Play”
This bilingual edition book provides insight into what it means to be a citizen of Rome or of anywhere.
It’s a story for pretenders to the Roman throne—and of competing theater troops clashing over the right to stage history. It was written by an Italian-American literary couple, and as it’s a play, the Italian is conversational and the level is quite approachable for the intermediate learner.
The first half of the book is the text of the play in English, the second is the same text in Italian.
28. “Better Reading Italian (2nd Edition)”
This book provides short texts for upper-beginner and intermediate Italian learners on a variety of subjects that would be of interest to those who study the language: slow food, the Italian countryside, fashion, design, Italians’ opinions of American culture and more.
Following each piece written in Italian you’ll find many comprehension questions and exercises to help you get the most out of the vocabulary and structures you’ve learned.
Offering “real-world” texts, Italian vocabulary and phrases, this book is great for advancing your language learning skills.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Italian Textbooks
Step 1: Make a word list
The first step to acquiring any language is to learn the words in said language. So naturally, the first step to getting the most out of your Italian textbook is to start a word list.
Every word you come across that you don’t know should be put in a word list. Organize your words by theme or chapter (i.e. house words, days of the week, etc.) as you come across them.
Take the words from a given themed list and create sample sentences to help you remember them. (Write them and say them aloud.)
Step 2: Do the exercises
The majority of Italian textbooks come with exercises, so do them! Exercises reinforce crucial grammar concepts and even vocabulary (see step one). Do each exercise given in the textbook so you can reiterate what it is that you’re learning.
Best of all, most textbooks also have answer keys. Use these to make sure your answers are correct, and figure out why your answers are incorrect when yours don’t match the key.
Step 3: Make notes on grammar
Writing out grammar rules in your own words will help them stick and make sense.
Every time you come across a new grammar point, make sure to write your own notes on it. Keep those grammar notes beside you when doing exercises, especially during activities where your grammar will really be put to the test.
Make sure to review your grammar often. By the time you reach the end of your textbook, you’ll be as much a grammar expert as the book is!
Step 4: Read out loud
Speaking Italian is crucial to pronouncing words correctly, developing your accent, confidence and competence in the language—no matter what learning level you’re at.
If your textbook comes with an audio CD or online audio resource, great. Listen to the recordings and repeat them after the speaker.
No audio? Not a problem. Read everything in Italian out loud—the readings, dialogues and exercises. This is a helpful and necessary practice to have you speaking like a pro in no time.
Step 5: Quiz yourself
Quizzes and tests are different from exercises because you’re not allowed to view your notes or other learning materials while taking them. This is a great opportunity to test your mastery of the language and see where you need improvement.
If your textbook has regular tests for grammar, once again, do them. Like the exercises, these tests will help you improve as well as gauge where you may need more practice.
If your textbook does not offer tests or you want more practice exams, check out these websites: One World Italiano offers great online tests for grammar and vocabulary, and Online Italian Club has tests for all learning levels.
So whether you’re a beginner looking for a well-rounded textbook, an intermediate learner wanting to sound like a native speaker, or an advanced learner looking to enhance your grammar and conversational skills, there’s an Italian textbook for everyone on this list!