You can’t make a cake without the ingredients, no matter how shiny your whisk is.
In the same way, memorizing vocabulary is absolutely necessary for full mastery of Italian.
You may be able to conjugate irregular verbs or correctly use the subjunctive mood, but if you’re trying to make a cake, having the right tools won’t get you very far without the materials—and if you’re trying to form a sentence, you’ll need a word.
“I need a….”
“Can you pass me the…”
Being at a loss for words is no fun.
And when it comes to a language as rich as Italian, there are a lot of words to learn.
The good news is that a variety of apps, podcasts, blogs and newspapers offer Italian “word of the day” services. No longer must you rely on bulky bilingual dictionaries and endless flashcard decks to pick up new words!
With Italian word of the day resources, you can have your cake and eat it, too. These services make vocab learning fun and effective, by sending you a new Italian word every single day. You’ll learn beautiful words, untranslatable words, interesting words and just plain useful words.
Think of it as taking a little “bite” out of your Italian learning every single day.
Let’s have some cake!
7 Italian “Word of the Day” Services to Expand Your Vocabulary Every Single Day
If you’re lucky enough to live in Italy, your new word acquisition will happen naturally as you go about your daily life. When you find yourself at a loss for words, you may have to learn a new one on the fly to get that hair dryer or toothpaste you need.
But if you don’t live in Italy, you’ll have to find some other way to get consistent vocabulary practice. That’s where word of the day resources come in handy.
How would you like your word of the day served to you? Delivered to your phone via a handy app? Sent straight to your inbox? Meticulously explained in a daily podcast? Whichever method you choose, we’ve got something for you:
This is a free app available in several modern languages. Be sure to select Italian as your language and then choose your language level. Daily Dose automatically sends you a new word each day that includes audio pronunciation help and a three-minute video on how to use the new word of the day.
This is an excellent app to supplement your more formal Italian studies. Not only is it practical (you’ll learn words you actually need) but it’s a fun way to integrate Italian vocabulary acquisition into your daily routine. All your new daily words are archived, so you can practice and test your retention at the end of each week.
2. ItalianPod101’s Word of the Day (Email List)
ItalianPod101 offers a free word of the day subscription email service. You’ll receive a new word in your inbox every day, including examples of how to use the word in daily life. It’s a great way to make sure you learn a new Italian word first thing in the morning!
If you find yourself enjoying this email service, you’ll be glad to know that ItalianPod101 also has a number of great paid features for Italian learners. If you sign up for ItalianPod101, you’ll gain access to over 800 Italian lessons on grammar and vocabulary, plus a new lesson every week. These virtual lessons are taught by three native Italian speakers, meaning you’ll learn proper pronunciation right from the start. You can even participate in instructor-led group discussions for extra support on tricky subjects.
ItalianPod101 is definitely worth checking out. But if you just want quick and easy access to Italian words of the day, start by signing up for the free daily emails and go from there. Be sure to select your correct Italian level.
3. Transparent Language’s Italian Word of the Day (Email List)
Transparent Language provides a free Italian word of the day lesson when you join their email subscription service. Every morning you can expect a new word in your inbox with full explanations.
Daily words can be any part of speech and include everything from verb conjugations to appropriate use of prepositions. You’ll also receive helpful usage notes that highlight how the word’s use may differ from its English counterpart. A more in-depth companion lesson covering each new word of the day is available for a monthly fee.
4. Let’s Speak Italian (Podcast)
A new episode of this Italian learner podcast is available every weekday. Lasting anywhere from two to five minutes, each episode features a new word of the day.
The podcast highlights a wide variety of highly useful words. For example, a recent episode explained how to use the word questo (this). Another featured the word ricevere (to receive). Each episode also comes with notes that explain the word and its contextual usage. Hearing the daily word pronounced by the host is great for retention and can also help you work on your pronunciation.
5. Parola del Giorno (Blog)
Parola del Giorno, literally meaning “word of the day” in Italian, is a blog that provides a word of the day in line with the season or that has something to do with recent news.
For example, in mid-December they featured addobbare (to decorate), in order to help readers talk about decorating a Christmas tree. Along with each word, you’ll find interesting notes on word origin, cultural explanations and relevant grammar tips. All daily words also include audio pronunciation. The thematic index of past words is also useful when searching for new words or phrases in line with the season.
6. The Local’s Word of the Day (Newspaper Column)
Nearly every anglophone expat in Italy knows the English-language newspaper The Local. It’s a one-stop shop offering everything from job postings to holiday shopping guides and language lessons. Their Italian Word of the Day column is as amusing as it is practical.
For full access to their language column, The Local requires a monthly or yearly paid subscription. This is well worth it if you’re planning an extended stay in Italy.
However, if you don’t want to worry about subscribing, several of their words of the day are available for free.
7. Daily Italian Words (Blog)
A blog curated by a native Italian and a British Canadian, Daily Italian Words is a fun and friendly publication with tips, trivia and cultural commentary. You’ll find a new word of the day and expression of the week right on their homepage, or you can click on “Word of the Day” to access their archive of past words.
Their posts are engaging and funny, and they focus on context to help you learn when to use each word. Sign up for their newsletter or follow them on Twitter to get daily updates and immerse yourself in Italian culture from afar.
How to Practice Italian Words of the Day
Whichever of the resources you choose, remember that consistency is key. There are no secret tricks here. Learning new words is a daily practice. Make it part of your routine. After you brush your teeth and have your morning coffee, dedicate ten minutes a day to learning new words. A little goes a long way if you’re consistent.
Also, don’t overdo it. Try to learn just one to three new words per day. Otherwise, your brain may not retain all the new information.
Here are some tips to help you on your journey:
Make It Your Mission to Use the Word of the Day
After you learn the new word of the day, use it. Try forming a sentence with it. Repeat it over and over. Practice in front of a mirror or with a language partner. If you don’t have any opportunities for speaking practice, write a few sentences with the word. Look for it when you read: you’ll be surprised to see that now your new word will pop up over and over again in your other Italian studies.
Once you have a few words under your belt, set yourself a challenge: How many words can you incorporate into one short story? It doesn’t matter how wacky the story gets. The important thing is that you’re practicing!
Create a “New Word” Journal
Most language learners benefit from writing down new words. It’s up to you whether you prefer digital or handwritten. The important thing is to keep all new words in one place. A physical journal is just fine. Or you can try Evernote (they have dictionary-style templates) or Trello (they feature interactive lists). Stay organized, and if you learn one to two words per day, test yourself at the end of the week.
Don’t just test the literal meaning of the word. Be sure to also test the contextual meaning of each word by using it in a sentence. For example, you may know that gommone means motorboat in Italian, but do you know how to use it in a sentence? (For example, Ho presso un gommone per tornare a Capri — I took a motorboat to return to Capri.)
Visualize the word in context, take a few minutes to daydream about riding a motorboat during an Italian beach vacation and then move on to the next word.
Watch FluentU Videos in Italian
FluentU is a great place to go if you want to reinforce the words you’ve learned. FluentU is an immersive language-learning platform that transforms real-world Italian videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news clips and inspiring talks—into one-of-a-kind learning resources. Since all the videos on FluentU feature native Italian speakers, you’ll learn the language as it’s really spoken. Even better, each video comes equipped with interactive subtitles in Italian and English, so you can follow along and easily look up unfamiliar words.
You can even search the video archives by word to quickly find examples of videos where your particular word of the day appears. This means you’ll have a chance to hear the pronunciation of the word and see how it’s used in context by actual Italian speakers. You can save new words on a customized vocabulary list and practice them as you go.
Why not give it a try and sign up for FluentU’s free trial?
Make a Digital Flashcard Deck
Quizlet is a free program that allows you to create and share personalized flashcard decks. You can even categorize based on theme. By organizing new words in Quizlet, you can practice with flashcards and also create multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank quizzes to retain new words. Quizlet also allows you to share with friends or classmates and take interactive tests together.
Or, check out the customizable flashcard feature on FluentU. These flashcards come pre-made with dictionary definitions, example sentences and intriguing visuals that’ll help you memorize new words. You can use FluentU’s platform to create your own custom flashcard decks: why not create one specifically for your words of the day?
Some like to say that practice makes perfect. When learning a new language, though, there’s no need to pursue perfection. Create a small but meaningful daily routine for yourself and next time you find yourself at a loss for words in Italian, your recall will be swift.
Remember: every missing word is just an opportunity to learn a new one!
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