Learning to speak a new language can sometimes feel like trying to have a conversation underwater.
You can catch a word here and there. You can see facial expressions and hand gestures.
But it’s difficult to understand a full sentence, and meanwhile your mouth just won’t seem to make the right sounds.
Every Italian learner has to go through this stage.
Fortunately, with the right practice, you won’t have to be underwater for long.
So, ready to come up for air?
Ascolta bene (listen well)!
Why Is Italian Audio Learning Important?
Listen, I get it.
When you first start studying a language, grammar and writing often get the most attention. We buy a textbook, we look up written resources online, we write down notes in our notebooks or on our laptops. In fact, as mostly solitary, self-paced activities, reading and writing can feel like the least intense, least intimidating way to start to learn a language.
However, in practice, listening is one of the most useful language skills.
Plop yourself onto the streets of Rome or Naples, and you’ll see what I mean. Listening allows us to navigate the world in Italian and, ultimately, hold conversations with Italian native speakers.
That’s why it’s so important not to neglect audio resources in Italian. Listening to spoken Italian and native Italian accents is crucial to helping us hone our own pronunciation and feel more comfortable with the rhythms and cadences of the language.
It allows us to take down directions. It allows us to understand and respond to questions. It allows us to make Italian friends!
What to Look for in Italian Learning Audio Resources
If you aren’t experienced in finding Italian audio resources for learning, it can be a bit tricky. Here are some key criteria to look for:
- Good audio quality. Clear audio allows you to perfect your ear and imitate the sound of the language without distractions or confusion.
- Matches your learning level. While there’s no harm in listening to Italian radio and not understanding every single word, to get real improvement in listening and speaking, I recommend identifying your proficiency level and then picking listening resources accordingly.
That way, you’re not bored with simple material or overwhelmed by unfamiliar sounds.
- Corresponding comprehension exercises. While this may not be available for all audio resources, comprehension exercises allow us to reflect on what we’ve heard and make meaningful progress in our listening and speaking skills. They force us to actively engage with our audio resource, rather than listen passively.
Learn Italian with Audio Thanks to 14 Rocking Resources
This website is perfect for beginner Italian learners. It has great text-based grammar and vocabulary resources to help learners get a grasp on the basics of the structure of the language. But of course, that’s not the main reason I’ve chosen this website for this list.
In addition to the written materials available, “Don’t Speak Italian” has both listening practice and Italian dialogue audio resources for beginners to get accustomed to hearing native Italian speakers. The audio quality is great and the speaking is slow, which is perfect for students who are starting out.
While there are no comprehension exercises associated with these audio resources, each dialogue or listening clip has a corresponding transcript so you can read along and make sure you’re catching everything. Some also have glossaries with key vocabulary.
To find the audio clips, simply scroll down to the “Listening practice” section in the menu on the right of the page and choose the topic that interests you. The selections in the “Dialogues” portion also come with audio and transcripts, so be sure to check them out, as well!
Looking to boost your listening skills with authentic Italian content?
Look no further than FluentU.
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!
Start using FluentU on the website, or better yet, download the app from iTunes or the Google Play store.
LingQ is a language learning program that was created by acclaimed Canadian polyglot Steve Kaufmann. In essence, LingQ uses audio lessons and built-in transcripts to teach Italian. Audio lessons are sorted by level and by topic.
Each audio lesson and its corresponding transcript offers clickable translations for all words. That means you can get a translation to English for any word or group of words in Italian. There’s also the ability to create flashcards from clicked words. This is because these words are automatically turned into “lingqs” once you’ve clicked them. You can review these “lingqs” and turn them into “known words” the more you practice them.
There’s a free version of LingQ available, but it only allows you to save a certain amount of words as “lingqs.” If you purchase a paid version of the program, you get to create an unlimited amount of “lingqs.”
Learn Italian with Lucrezia is a completely free YouTube channel with hundreds of Italian videos for learners to access. Lucrezia is a native speaker of Italian from the Rome area, and her videos feature slow, clear and Standard Italian speech aimed at learners.
Lucrezia creates content in both English and Italian, although the audio is almost always in Italian. All Italian videos have English and Italian subtitles so you have the option to follow along in both.
Videos from Learn Italian with Lucrezia include vlogs from her daily life and general interest tips about learning Italian. There are also some grammar tutorials and vocabulary hauls. Lucrezia also offers downloads and other materials on her website to help with learning Italian, but many are for paying subscribers only.
Easy Italian is part of the Easy Languages YouTube series and subsequent website for language learners around the world. The concept of Easy Italian is simple: you can watch and listen to dozens of videos of conversations between hosts and native speakers of Italian.
The videos are completely free on YouTube, and each video has Italian and English subtitles. Topics include love, life and politics in Italy, and learners even get access to various authentic Italian accents and dialects.
There are also some videos about Italian grammar and a special series called “Super Easy Italian.” This series is for complete beginners and covers basic topics like ordering from a restaurant.
“Primo Ascolto” is a textbook and corresponding CD (welcome back, 1999!). It might be an old-school learning method, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful.
This resource is especially perfect for beginner Italian learners, and it starts at the very beginning of Italian: there are chapters on basic phrases and verbs and common topics like shopping, restaurants and hotels.
The course can be ordered on Amazon, and it includes multiple listening comprehension exercises on CD such as repetition and Q&A activities, as well as written exercises in the book.
This podcast is a great listening resource and teaching material for intermediate learners. In essence, it offers 10- to 20-minute podcast episodes about a range of topics, entirely in Italian.
While that may sound intimidating, the audio is clear, and the host speaks slowly so that listeners can understand what he’s saying. It’s the perfect introduction to native spoken Italian for learners with a solid foundation in Italian grammar and vocabulary.
Further, while there are no transcripts or exercises accompanying the podcast, each episode has a description in Italian for you to read if you get lost.
Looking for more Italian podcasts? You’re in luck!
Podclub is a Swiss website that has podcasts available in Italian, French, German, English and Spanish. For Italian, there are actually five distinct podcasts to choose from aimed at the beginner to intermediate levels.
Topics vary, and you can find episodes on everything from Italian literature, to everyday life to opinion podcasts on slightly controversial topics.
Perhaps the best feature of these podcasts, aside from the fact that they’re spoken slowly and clearly, is that each one has a complete transcript to follow along with. The transcripts also have handy dictionaries at the bottom for more advanced Italian words.
I suggest giving each episode two listens: one with the transcript and one without. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your listening comprehension improves with this simple exercise!
Here’s an online course for beginning learners that focuses on pronunciation from the first week. You’ll be provided with phonetics and audio that you can play just by clicking on words and phrases.
It also features dialogues and exercises that give you immediate feedback, so you can always stay on track with your learning.
This is a relatively short course that’s great for getting used to the sounds of Italian and learning some practical phrases before traveling to an Italian-speaking area. It’s perfect for beginners who want to get right down to the nitty-gritty of the language with accessible audio and interactive materials.
Are you ready to encounter Italian audio in the wild?
Get your headphones! TuneIn allows you to tune into real radio stations from all over the world. There are dozens of radio stations completely in Italian that you can tune into at any time. And, as if it couldn’t get any better, signing up and tuning in is free!
Despite that, I should say that because these radio stations aren’t necessarily geared toward Italian learners (rather, Italian natives), this resource is best for advanced learners. There are no transcripts or exercises, and you can’t pause and rewind, so if you’re ready for it this is an awesome workout for your ear and preparation for conversing with Italians in the real world.
If you do want some additional support while you’re listening, it’s often easy to find a given radio station’s corresponding website. You can use those websites to read articles about the same topics you listened to on TuneIn.
Not at the advanced level quite yet? Not a problem! I still suggest listening to the radio stations, even in the background. That way, you’re tuning your unconscious mind and your ear to the sounds of the Italian language.
Are you looking for more exercise-heavy Italian resources to really train your Italian listening skills?
Online Italian Club, a site that comes from the same team behind Don’t Speak Italian, has hundreds of listening exercises to help you do just that. The exercises are on a variety of topics such as Italian culture, literature and even everyday basics such as grocery shopping or idiomatic phrases.
Most of the audio clips also have transcripts as well as corresponding exercises to test your understanding. There are audio clips for beginners to advanced students, easily organized by level.
News in Slow Italian is a podcast that can be used to learn the Italian language. Many iterations of this podcast exist. In fact, there’s a News in Slow French as well as a News in Slow German, and these podcasts all have the same general idea. They take current news stories and simplify them to be understood by learners.
The podcasts are free for listening. That means that you can listen to and download the audio files for News in Slow Italian without paying anything for them.
The podcasts cover common news topics like politics, culture and life in Italy. They boil the news stories down to their main ideas and use easy vocabulary and sentence structure for learners to understand.
If you’re willing to pay for it, you can get access to transcripts of each podcast, flashcards, grammar explanations and pronunciation tips.
While not a traditional website for learners of Italian, Lyrics Translate can be a fantastic audio resource! In essence, Lyrics Translate has an extensive library of popular Italian songs.
You can listen to any of the songs by clicking on the title. Each song comes equipped with the original lyrics in Italian as well as a side-by-side translation in English. This makes it super easy to transform each song into a DIY listening exercise.
This website is completely free, and it can be a great way to mine songs for Italian words, phrases and idiomatic expressions as well as slang.
The last resource on our list is perhaps one of the most extensive.
ItalianPod101 is a website with audio-based programs for learning Italian. There are courses available for all levels: beginners, intermediate and advanced learners.
The audio is generally short (around three to five minutes), clear and on a variety of topics that range from grammar and basic vocabulary at the beginner stage all the way up to complex listening comprehension clips.
Further, most listening clips have corresponding exercises to test your understanding, and the clips have transcripts available to follow along.
So, now you’re really ready to ascoltare bene and learn Italian with audio! Check out these resources, and start learning today!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.