Road Map to Success: 12 Italian Textbooks for Learners of Any Level
Do you ever wish the road map for learning Italian was a little clearer?
It can be hard to choose the right option among the winding paths.
Should you start with vocabulary or basic grammatical structures?
Should you focus on complicated verb tense conjugations or adjective agreement?
And what vocabulary is the most important? Should you study travel phrases, delectable Italian dishes or a mish-mash of the 500 most common words in the Italian language?
While self-studying Italian can be a rewarding and empowering process, don’t you just wish something could point you in the right direction and give you a defined route to follow?
Well, you are in luck, Italian learner. I present to you Italian textbooks!
Italian Textbooks: The Learning Guide You Need
Often available at a fraction of the cost of pricey Italian classes or private teachers, Italian textbooks act as the map a self-studying Italian learner needs to navigate the Italian language and emerge a fluent user!
Not only are textbooks effective road maps, but they also give concise and clear grammar explanations that can be reviewed again and again. Further, they provide vocabulary relevant to their respective Italian levels, often focusing on the most common vocabulary.
Textbooks also give fantastic opportunities for practicing new grammar constructions and vocabulary as well as answer keys to check your work.
Best of all, most textbooks include readings and dialogues in authentic Italian and some even throw in native Italian audio for listening to and practicing the language.
In fact, textbooks are not just for beginner learners: They are crucial at all stages of learning Italian, even for intermediate and advanced learners.
Road Map to Success: 12 Italian Textbooks for Learners of Any Level
Check out the 12 excellent Italian textbooks below, listed chronologically for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners and start your path through the Italian language today!
And while you are browsing these, remember that although textbooks are great for learning the mechanics of a language, they are not always the best at expressing how that language is actually used in real life. For that, we recommend using authentic content to supplement your textbook learning, like the videos on FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Use FluentU’s annotated subtitles, interactive vocabulary lists, flashcards and more to contextualize the information you learn in textbooks along your language-learning journey!
“Italian” by Daily Italian Learning is actually three separate books in one bundle. These books are aimed at beginner learners, and they offer one of the most comprehensive Italian learning programs for those who have little to no knowledge of the Italian language. As such, this textbook bundle is best for beginner learners who want to skyrocket their Italian skills to the intermediate level.
The first of the three textbooks is a traditional textbook with grammar explanations, pronunciation rules and tips for learning Italian. This book is broken into 10 chapters which focus on the most common grammar and vocabulary for topics such as family, work, food and travel.
Each chapter consists of a dialogue or short reading, a breakdown of the topic presented and its associated grammar as well as comprehension and practice exercises for reinforcing the learned concepts.
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.
For example, you can read a story about a barber falling in love, a rebel sheep and a story about how fruit popsicles were first made. These stories also include comprehension questions and summaries to reinforce understanding.
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. They also cover common situations like making an appointment, ordering food and talking about the weather.
This is perfect for learners who want a quick look-up of common vocabulary in a given topic or who want to dive right into speaking.
In the same vein as “Italian” by Daily Language Learning, “Talk Italian” is a textbook boxset that was written in partnership with the BBC. Two levels are included in this boxset, so this would be 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 boxset is perfect for you. The second is for high beginner and pre-intermediate learners. This means that upon completing this boxset, 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.
Further, each textbook includes two check-ins: The first comes after the fourth chapter and is called punto di controllo (control point), and the second is called controllo finale (final control). These act as summaries and mini-tests of your progress as you work through the tomes.
In addition to two textbooks with exercises, “Talk Italian” comes with four audio CDs. These CDs include recitations of readings and dialogues in clear, native Italian speech as well as additional listening exercises.
“Learn Italian for Beginners”
Marketed as “the easiest way to learn Italian fast,” “Learn Italian for Beginners” is a textbook that uses primarily conversations between Italian speakers to teach the language.
This is particularly useful because a primary reason for learning Italian is to converse with locals during trips to Italy or have conversations with Italian friends and family. 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!
Best of all, the author of this book, Paul Riva, has also written a companion textbook called “Learn Italian: Italian Short Stories.” This companion book contains 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.
“Short Stories in Italian for Beginners”
“Italian Short Stories for Beginner Learners” is the last beginner Italian textbook on this list. It is written by Olly Richards, a polyglot and language learning professional who is well-known in the industry as an influencer and YouTuber who imparts his wisdom about language learning to the world.
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. That means that 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.
If you would prefer a digital way to learn, Olly has you covered: Check out his Conversations and Grammar Hero courses to help build a good foundation for learning the language, or find language-specific instruction with his Italian Uncovered course.
“Enjoy Intermediate Italian (Teach Yourself)”
“Enjoy Intermediate Italian” is our first foray into intermediate Italian textbooks meaning that you should have a strong basis in the Italian language before you dive in. If you are going by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, I suggest completing at least an A2 level in Italian before using this textbook. In fact, it claims to bring learners to the B2 (high intermediate) level of Italian proficiency!
The book is written by the company Teach Yourself, which has released multiple textbooks for learning Italian as well as many other languages. “Enjoy Intermediate Italian” teaches 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.
“Facile facile” (“Easy Easy”)
“Facile facile” is a textbook that is completely in Italian and 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 confront Italian “in the wild” (ie. in conversations with native speakers) and just need some quick additional language support.
Since it is completely in Italian, I suggest that this textbook is most useful for learners firmly at the B1 (intermediate) level. Lessons here are centered around certain situations such as the home, the office or on the street and then the situation is broken down for new grammar and vocabulary.
“Italian Short Stories for Intermediate Learners”
“Italian Short Stories for Intermediate Learners” is another book written by Olly Richards, and it is a continuation of its beginner counterpart, “Italian Short Stories for Beginner Learners.” Since it is a continuation, it builds on the reading and comprehension skills from the first book and continues to develop them as it advances the learner toward reading native written content.
This textbook is perfect for intermediate learners looking to improve their reading and enrich their vocabulary. Also consisting of eight specially written short stories, the topics move away from beginner subjects and begin to touch on things that are more pertinent in deeper conversations with Italian native speakers.
As in the first book, each story includes a summary, glossary and comprehension questions to reinforce the vocabulary learned in the story.
“Italian Language and Culture”
The next two books on our list are for learners who have a good grasp on intermediate Italian but who are a little hesitant to dive headfirst into advanced Italian. As such, this pair of textbooks takes learners from the safety of intermediate Italian and moves them slowly to a full-fledged advanced Italian learner.
These two books are released by the edX platform (an online open course provider) to correspond respectively to the intermediate and advanced levels. In fact, these textbooks also correspond to intermediate and advanced Italian language courses offered by edX, and while they can enhance learning in the edX platform, they can be used entirely on their own.
Since they are tied to actual Italian courses, the units are incredibly detailed. Each includes grammar explanations, video transcriptions of the course material, readings, interviews with native speakers and vocabulary and grammar charts for quick reference.
Each book is around 200 pages in length, and there are four units in the intermediate textbook and six in the advanced textbook. Additionally, there are loads of exercises for you to practice your intermediate and advanced skills, and they are bilingual in English and Italian.
“Ecco! An Introduction to Advanced Italian”
The emphasis of “Ecco!” (“Here It Is!”) is growing a more robust vocabulary for advanced learners. This is probably the biggest problem facing advanced learners: They know the grammar patterns and exceptions as well as vocabulary for common conversation topics but struggle with Italian “in the wild” because they lack an expansive vocabulary.
As such, 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, these words and idioms are grouped thematically so that they can be learned and looked up in a logical sequence, and explanations of grammar are 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.
“Ultimate Italian Advanced”
“Ultimate Italian Advanced” is a textbook created by the Living Language company for advanced learners. Living Language offers textbooks and courses for many languages including French, German and Mandarin Chinese and their Italian advanced content is superb.
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. Next, there is 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 to there on business.
“Esercizi di grammatica italiana per stranieri” (“Italian Grammar Exercises for Foreigners”)
“Esercizi di grammatica italiana per stranieri” is a textbook that is completely in Italian. Because of that, it is recommended to have at least a B1 (intermediate) or B2 (high intermediate) level in the language to use this textbook.
Essentially, this textbook is 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 like il congiuntivo (the subjunctive). It 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.
“Nuovo Magari C1/C2” (“New Maybe”)
As the title of this textbook suggests, it is for learners at the C1 (advanced) and C2 (near-native) levels. In fact, this textbook is completely in Italian, and it is specifically aimed at advanced learners who want to fill in all the final gaps in their language knowledge.
In the textbook, there are 12 chapters that each follow a specific theme. These themes generally revolve around Italian literature, and in fact, excerpts of Italian literature are used as the basis for many of the chapters. This includes readings, grammar explanations of advanced language usage and exercises for practice.
Additionally, each chapter has a video component for learners to see the topic being discussed and used by native speakers.
Further, “Nuovo magari” also includes an audio CD for dialogues and additional listening exercises. The textbook focuses on advanced topics such as geography, society, art, history and Italian culture.
Whew! I see that the look of being lost is completely gone from your face.
Now that you have 12 Italian textbooks that can guide you at each stage of learning the language, your next destination is fluency!