So, you’re an Italian media hound.
You’ve also got your trusty Italian translator app by your side to look up all those Italian words and phrases you might not know.
But hold it right there, Italian learners.
Get on your at-home clothes, sit back and prepare yourself to binge watch some of the best Italian TV shows.
How to Productively Learn Italian with TV Shows
While it may seem counter-intuitive, one of the best ways to learn a language is to do what most of us do with television shows: binge watch til you drop!
So, why am I specifically suggesting that you learn Italian by binging TV shows? Watching Italian TV shows is a great way to hear Italian the way it’s naturally spoken, to learn useful slang and informal language and to hear vocabulary related to the content of your chosen show.
That’s why binge watching is uniquely useful to language learning: You’ll hear vocabulary related to the content of the show over and over again, a repetitive method that’s great for helping new words and grammatical constructions stick.
Take that, nay-sayers!
You can’t just play the shows and hope something will stick, though! To really make the most of your Italian TV show study session, keep a list of new words and unfamiliar grammar that you come across in the show you’re watching. Actively watching in this manner will help you understand Italian better, and the list will become a good reference for the future.
Further, you’ll find that as time goes on, you’ll be able to understand spoken Italian better because your ears will get used to the pace of the language from all your TV watching.
5 Exciting Italian TV Shows to Binge Watch Your Way to Language Mastery
Before you dive into full-length TV shows, you can ease into the challenge with more bite-sized authentic videos from FluentU. If you haven’t signed up yet and you enjoy learning with videos, it might be the program that’s been missing from your Italian-learning life!
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons, as you can see here:
FluentU helps you get comfortable with everyday Italian by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with interactive subtitles.
Tap on any word to instantly see an image, in-context definition, example sentences and other videos in which the word is used.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and review words and phrases with convenient audio clips under Vocab.
Once you’ve watched a video, you can use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in that video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
FluentU will even keep track of all the Italian words you’ve learned to recommend videos and ask you questions based on what you already know.
Plus, it’ll tell you exactly when it’s time for review. Now that’s a 100% personalized experience!
The best part? You can try FluentU for free with a 15-day trial.
Get ready to binge watch! Here are the top five Italian TV shows that will make you a master Italian learner in no time.
“Suburra” is a show that’s based on an Italian neo-noir film, which in turn is based on a novel by Carlo Bonini and Giancarlo De Cataldo. It centers on organized crime and Italian politics, and it follows an Italian MP (Member of Parliament) who gets tied up in mafia happenings, drugs, gambling, politics, violence and the Vatican.
It’s an intense and wild ride and, needless to say, it’s super addictive.
Furthermore, the TV show itself is filmed in Rome, mainly along the waterfront, and the cinematography is guaranteed to be awesome. The scenes go from the beautiful streets of Italian cities to breathtaking mountain and ocean views, so when you’re not immersed in the plot, you’ll be wowed by the scenery.
It’s also a great way to hear some useful (and sometimes risque) Italian language related to politics, crime and (gasp!) even murder.
“Suburra” is a Netflix exclusive, which means you’ll need an account to enjoy it. But it’s worth it!
If you’re a fan of medical dramas like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Saving Hope,” the Italian TV show “L’allieva“ (The Pupil) should be right up your alley.
The show follows Alice Allevi, a medical student who has no idea what the future holds for her or even if she wants to continue on as a medical student. After the death of her nonna’s caregiver, however, Alice decides she wants to go into legal medicine—an interesting and, of course, dramatic field.
Long story short, Alice falls for a doctor at the institute where she’s studying but she also falls for Arthur, a fellow student. As you can probably guess, more drama ensues.
While this show can at times be lighthearted, it can also be a tear-jerker (like most medical dramas are). In terms of learning Italian, it gives great glimpses into vocabulary that’s used not only in domestic life but also in the medical and legal fields. Get your tissues ready!
You can watch the show on RaiPlay, but you’ll need to create an account (for free) to get access to it. Even if you don’t watch this show, we recommend that you create an account anyway since the rest of our recommended shows can be found on this streaming program!
Employment and love intertwine again in “Catturandi,” the story of a woman, Palma Toscano, who works as a special agent for a police division hunting for an infamous mafia member, Natale Sciacca.
Along the way, Palma must face her past and most notably, the death of her father at the hands of the mafia. She must also face her own heart as she falls for the same people who she’s meant to arrest: members of the mafia. Love ensues, but so does drama in this intense TV show.
“Catturandi” is not only an intense and gripping show, but it’s a great option for learning political vocabulary and police lingo in Italian.
Furthermore, the actors use various levels of formality when they’re speaking depending on whether they’re talking to lawyers, judges or the mafia members, which is a great way for learners to hear the differences between formal and informal language in Italian.
A bit like Italy’s answer to “Modern Family,” “Come Fai Sbagli” (“How to Do Wrong”) follows two families as they cope with modern life. The series is a perfect mixture of humor and drama, and it sums up what it’s like to raise children in today’s day and age, both the positive and negative sides of it.
If you’re a fan of lighthearted sitcoms with the perfect sprinkling of heart, then this show is definitely a good pick for you. It’s also a great way to see Italian spoken from many demographics: from the parents, the children and even the moody teenagers who, of course, want to distance themselves from their parents as much as possible.
It’s an excellent resource for informal Italian, idioms and even Italian pop culture knowledge.
Sort of in the vein of “Two and a Half Men,” “Zio Gianni” (“Uncle John”) follows a man who’s in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Considering he has no job, no wife, winding up without a home is only made worse when he has to move in with three 20-somethings in order to afford a living space.
As predicted, hilarity ensues ranging from great situational humor to just awkward situations between a 50-year-old man and 20-year-olds. This show is great for learning the “trendy” language spoken by millennials in Italy, and it’s also a great way to learn about the realities of life in Italy in modern times.
Even though the show is hilarious, it touches on real issues like love, unemployment, financial instability and the uncertainty of life.
RaiPlay currently only has the second season of the show but it’s silly enough that you can dive right in, anyway!
Now that you have your options for Italian TV shows to learn with, get out there and binge!
Just make sure you have all your other tasks out of the way first…
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