Learning Italian? Great!
No money? No problem.
The internet offers lots of free choices for Italian learners. That’s right: It’s possible to learn to speak Italian without ever touching your piggy bank.
But hold up before you dive into learning Italian with any random website. Just because there are a ton of free resources doesn’t mean they’re all good.
It takes some time to separate the relevant, useful and excellent resources from the so-so, not-great or uninspiring ones.
You’re in luck, though. We already did that!
There are some really excellent free Italian courses available online for learners at all levels. Let’s check out some of the best.
Learn Italian for Free Online with 9 Incredible Resources
One World Italiano is an Italian learner’s dream. This resource offers so much material—there’s literally something for everyone. Different options for coursework, including video and YouTube courses, provide for different learning styles. Visual learners might opt for video learning while on-the-go learners might choose some downloadable audio file courses.
One highlight of this resource is its dictation section. Listening and writing practice, with dictation topics offered in levels from pre-intermediate to intermediate, is actually fun. The topics are interesting and it’s a super way to get comfortable writing in Italian.
Cultural information here is both plentiful and informative. Learning about Italian customs, traditions, activities and must-see destinations within The Boot is a snap. There are so many choices, and each one offers information, vocabulary and reading practice. The account of La Bocca della Verità (The Mouth of Truth) is so well-written that I felt as if I were standing there again, nervously placing my hand into the stone mouth!
FluentU is an immersive platform that turns real-world Italian videos—like movie trailers, music videos, news clips and inspiring talks—into language-learning experiences.
FluentU hosts hundreds of authentic Italian videos featuring native speakers, so you know you’re learning the language as it’s really spoken. But FluentU is also much more than a video platform: it’s a comprehensive language-learning program with a heavy emphasis on speaking, listening comprehension and pronunciation.
You can sort FluentU videos by topic and difficulty, or search for videos that contain a particular word or grammar topic. Once you’ve landed on a video, you’ll find that each FluentU video comes equipped with interactive subtitles in both English and Italian. This means that content produced by Italian speakers, for Italian speakers, is accessible even to beginner learners. You can use the interactive subtitles to instantly look up words—without ever navigating away from the video you’re watching—or to build customized vocabulary lists.
Each FluentU video also functions as an all-inclusive mini-lesson, equipped with an audio transcript, a list of key vocab words, a flashcard function and a “learn” mode that quizzes you on the video. Because FluentU tracks your progress, it offers you a completely personalized learning experience, filtering out words you already know and drilling down on areas that need strengthening.
FluentU isn’t free, but it does offer a free trial, during which you’ll have access to all of FluentU’s videos and unique learning features. Once you’ve had a chance to test out the platform, you can switch over to a monthly subscription plan that’s cheaper than even the most affordable language tutor. Then, all you have to do is stick with it—you’ll be speaking Italian like a native speaker in no time!
Speak7 – Learn Italian offers two courses, a beginner course and one that’s a bit more advanced. Absolute beginners could start with the first course and then just progress into the second one.
The course addresses basic vocabulary, verbs, pronouns, tenses and a few other grammar topics, including adjectives and adverbs. There are also phrases and expressions that can help build conversational skills and confidence. The section on Italian idioms and proverbs is wonderfully informative!
The lessons are substantial and cover each topic in detail. There are dialogues, cultural explanations and lots of helpful charts. The verb conjugation charts are excellent and leave no room for confusion. Even learners who have no idea what conjugating verbs entails will understand the skill after learning with these charts.
Learners who need lots of written explanations and who are chart lovers will certainly benefit from these two courses. They’re perfect for anyone who enjoys reading or needs a textbook to make them feel comfortable in a course.
The only drawback I find with this option is that there are no audio materials. It’d be wonderful to hear the dialogues or to have authentic speakers to give learners a way to model pronunciation.
Other than that one small detail, these courses are solid choices for learning Italian.
50LANGUAGES teaches Italian using a 100-lesson course. The topics range from small talk and travel to grammar and business issues.
Each lesson introduces core vocabulary on a particular subject, including helpful sentences. Audio makes it clear just how to pronounce everything, so this is ideal for beginning learners. Even without any Italian skills, a learner can begin to speak from the very first lesson!
There are other resources in addition to the 100-lesson course. Online vocabulary cards teach more than 2,000 words. Crossword puzzles in Italian challenge learners to use their reading and writing skills. Downloadable audio files make this a mobile learning option. Language quizzes and number practice provide essential skill drills.
An interesting feature of this resource is their Translation Trainer. It introduces phrases in English; learners supply the Italian. Stuck on an answer? Reveal the entire phrase either one letter or word at a time. If you really don’t have any idea how to translate it, the whole phrase reveal is also an option. This is a fantastic way to build a core vocabulary or grow comfortable translating basic phrases.
edX is an outstanding resource for learners who aren’t set on a particular learning program. There’s a wide variety of Italian courses available on the site, which makes doing a quick course comparison relatively simple.
The courses are self-paced which makes them ideal for learners who need coursework that fits into an already busy schedule. Do the work anytime, anywhere and complete it on your timeline!
Italian Language and Culture: Beginner is a great course for beginning learners. It teaches the core skills of listening, speaking, writing and reading. Culture is stressed as heavily as the language itself so expect lots of authentic conversation, culturally relevant videos, reading assignments covering cultural topics and interviews discussing Italian cultural issues. Lessons cover grammar and important vocabulary, too, and offer downloadable materials for offline learning.
Fluent Italian learners will benefit from edX’s Italian courses on a variety of subjects—taught entirely in Italian. Storia Economica (Economic History) covers the history of world economics and is a fun way to power up Italian skills while learning something new! (Side note: I’m currently enrolled in this one and am really enjoying it!)
Speak Italian With Your Mouth Full (from MIT Open Courseware)
Speak Italian With Your Mouth Full is an undergraduate course offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This archived course taught by Dr. Paola Rebusco uses cooking to help students learn Italian.
It’s fun and informative—and there are even incredible recipes for learners to use! Believe me, the recipes justify taking the course—the biscotti and eggplant parmesan taste so authentic you’ll think you’re in a Roman pizzeria! I know I did!
This is an excellent method for learning Italian language skills. It’s a super way to gain some cultural insights into Italy, its people and its food. And if you’ve ever wanted to cook like a real Italian, this is the course to take.
There are video lectures, cooking videos, assignments, activities and casual discussions about all things Italian. Learners who need hands-on adventures will benefit from this course. It actually feels as if you’re part of the archived group when you watch the videos and participate (from a distance!) in the activities.
A bonus? The course offers the option of downloading the materials. Future Italian cooking will be a breeze with the recipes, explanations and relevant Italian chats close at hand!
Visual learners will delight in this YouTube Italian course, Learn Italian with Lucrezia. Lucrezia is a 20-something Italian woman living in Rome who’s so charming, learners feel as if they’re visiting with a migliore amica (best friend) rather than taking language lessons!
Videos cover every essential Italian topic—from beginner to advanced. There are grammar reviews, lessons on how to accent words, activities for learning to write basic sentences and so much more. There are recipe vlogs to teach you to make Italian dishes like a scrumptious carbonara. Some videos have subtitles, some have excellent diagrams and charts—and all have the personable teacher who seems to love what she does.
Learn with Lucrezia writes an informative blog in addition to the YouTube channel. Reading the blog in Italian (it’s possible to have it translated into English by choosing that option in the top right-hand corner of the blog’s home page) is a neat way to learn about Italy while powering up reading skills. There are also gorgeous photos on the blog!
Parliamo italiano! features coursework for learners at every level, from basic to advanced. There are reading exercises, grammar and vocabulary lessons and much more.
Beginning learners will benefit from the simple Italian dialogues with English transcripts. These dialogues build upon one another, using words learned in previous lessons. This helps build a strong foundational vocabulary and also allows learners to build some confidence in their skills.
The topics of the course’s lessons vary but many focus on Italian cultural issues. There are fairy tales, lessons on famous Italians and exercises pertaining to recipes. For easily bored learners, this is a super choice for language learning because the content is so varied and dynamic it’s sure to keep almost anyone engaged.
There’s an entire selection on art topics that’s incredibly entertaining. Each topic focuses on a particular area of Italian art. Informative explanations of the topics bring Italian culture to life for learners. And the sections offer additional resources for deepening learning on the topics.
The section on Italian opera will have opera novices and lovers engaged for hours. Every important Italian opera is discussed and explained in detail. This is a fantastic spot for practicing reading skills while learning about some culturally significant music!
ielanguages.com offers Italian lessons that cover enough essential grammar, vocabulary and conversational topics to give even beginning learners a solid foundation in the language.
This is a super resource for building vocabulary. Each lesson offers a long list of relevant words and phrases, and most are presented in chart form so they’re easy to see and understand. And if there’s a word you need to look up, just check a lesson pertaining to the subject. Most likely, the word in question will be listed!
Some of the lessons provide flashcards, like those found in the Useful Words category. Practicing vocabulary with flashcards turns this language exercise into a game, so use the flashcards when they’re available!
This course covers everyday essentials, like shopping and going to the bank. It’s a fabulous resource for anyone who’s planning a trip to Italy and is interested in gaining basic skills before departing. Use the lessons to make a personalized phrasebook and you’ll be all set to chat like a local in any area of Italy!
Learning Italian doesn’t have to be pricey. There are lots of resources for learners to grab some excellent language skills for free.
Choose quality resources—maybe a mix of a few different programs!—and soon you’ll be speaking like a native.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.