“They’re so fast… I have no earthly idea what they’re talking about.”
That’s every language beginner’s gripe about native speakers.
Italians, especially. They whiz by you like a Ferrari, leaving you breathless… and clueless about what they’re saying.
And so, if you’re trying to learn Italian online, you’ll discover that even though there are millions of authentic Italian video clips available, almost all of them are out of reach for the everyday language learner. Such a waste!
But, what if I tell you that we’ve fixed that?
What if I tell you that there’s a special breed of authentic Italian videos out there where the words, “I couldn’t follow, he’s just too fast!” need not be spoken ever again?
Italian language learner, meet FluentU.
What Is FluentU and How Can It Help You Learn Italian Online?
If video is the future of the internet, FluentU is the future of language learning. By turning authentic Italian videos into interactive, personalized language lessons, FluentU delivers inspiring language lessons that hone learners’ listening, reading, writing and speaking skills.
At the heart of FluentU is the interactive transcription technology. The program takes an authentic, but nondescript, Italian clip, say—a commercial, movie trailer or music video—and does everything it can to help you understand it.
First, you’re provided with accurate transcripts and subtitles so you can follow what’s happening in the video. The subtitles come both in English and Italian, and you can turn either on or off as you wish.
Second, these subtitles are more than just transcriptions of the words in the video. Just hover your mouse over or tap on any of the words in the subtitles and the program takes it as you telling it, “I want to learn more about this one.” The video is automatically paused and an information box helps you drill down on that word or phrase.
It tells you almost everything you need to know about it: translation, part of speech, tense, gender etc. Many times, you also get a memorable image to help seal the vocabulary in your head.
For example, if while playing a video you see the word “amici” in the subtitles and want to find out more about it, you simply tap on the word or point to it with your mouse. You’re then shown an infobox which tells you that “amici” means “friends” in Italian and that it’s a masculine noun in the plural form. You even get a photo of a group of friends who look like they’re having a great time.
Note that all that info is given by simply hovering your mouse over the word. (You haven’t even clicked on it!) Guess what happens when you actually do.
Right! More information floods your way. This time, you get native speaker-generated examples of how the target word might be used in different statements. Of course, you’ll have audio recordings of these sentences as well as their English translations to further bolster your study.
And to top it all off, the program even shows you a compilation of all the other instances where the word in question comes up in FluentU videos.
You not only get rich context clues from the video clip itself, but you also get deeply augmented learning from the interactive transcriptions that have been meticulously prepared for you. (So you’ll never forget that “amici” means “friends”!)
That, and a potent array of language learning tools that we’ll talk about later in this post, are in store for you with FluentU.
This makes FluentU ideal for individual language learners and it can even be easily integrated into language classes to replace the old “language lab” (at a fraction of the cost).
A monthly subscription is available if you want to take your Italian learning to the next level, and which also unlocks all the other languages taught at FluentU (Spanish, Chinese, French, English, Japanese, German, Korean and Russian) if you want to take your studies beyond Italian.
Not sure if the program is right for you? You can always sign up for the free FluentU trial today and try it out for yourself.
If you want to understand just how truly powerful this platform is for learning Italian, continue reading and I’ll take you behind the scenes and give you a peek under FluentU’s hood.
Let’s find out why FluentU is the super tool you need to learn Italian online!
Learn Italian Online with FluentU: Videos, Flashcards, Quizzes and More
Super Learning: The FluentU Approach to Learning Italian Online
Here’s what you get when you choose FluentU for your online Italian studies.
Video, by its very nature, is immersive. It can take you to a different place and time. That’s why watching an engaging movie feels like you’re part of the action.
By working with real-world videos, FluentU immerses the learner in the Italian language. It does so by presenting you with the kinds of videos real Italian speakers watch on a daily basis, giving you a taste of the language as it’s really used.
Some of the content you’ll find on FluentU includes:
- Movie trailers
- Music videos
- Talks and speeches
Before the internet, getting immersed in the language effectively meant packing your bags and buying a plane ticket to Italy. You could then mix with the locals, do as the Romans do, and get as much authentic learning your way as you could.
FluentU lets you do all that with your pajamas on and in the comforts of your own room. It makes the learning experience feel like an intimate conversation with a native speaker over a cup of coffee—on a table facing the piazza.
The tools you’re provided with grant you absolute control over the pace, nature, intensity and variety of your learning. Your FluentU experience will be tailor-fit to your needs and objectives as an individual.
You can set your own “Daily Goals” and decide how long or short your sessions are. They can be as short as one minute, or you can study in 30-minute chunks. The time you spend on the platform has equivalent “points” so that the longer you study, the more points you rack up. It’s really all up to you. (You even control what types of notifications and reminders are sent your way.)
You have a say in every step of the learning process—from the language you want to study to the level you want to be in, to the very words you want to learn. That means you can really focus your studies and tackle vocab, grammar and topics that are relevant and interesting to you.
There’s something for everybody in this program.
It caters to different learning styles and offers content for all language levels. So whether you’re an absolute beginner or an Italian junkie, whether you’re a visual or an auditory learner, whether you want a focus on grammar, vocabulary or culture, FluentU’s got you covered on all bases.
As mentioned before, the tools and exercises train and test different linguistic competencies (listening, reading, writing and speaking) so students who’ve gone through the whole Italian program come out as confident and well-rounded communicators.
How is this all possible, you ask?
Well, that’s up next.
The Super Tools: Italian Online Learning Made Super Easy
Just how does FluentU place all this Italian learning at your fingertips? Find out what tools are available through this program!
As you take the Italian program for a spin, you’ll notice very quickly how responsive the FluentU algorithm is, instantly recognizing your strengths and weaknesses. The longer you work through the exercises and quizzes, the better it knows you.
The platform intuitively offers help even before you ask for it. The developers really had learners in mind when they created the interface. And, as usual, the devil is in the details.
For example, when your video is playing and you suddenly want to check some word out, you don’t even need to click on the “Pause” button yourself. As soon as the program recognizes that your mouse is headed toward any of the words, it automatically pauses the video.
The interactive subtitles are inside a gray box, and as long as your mouse is inside the gray area, your video remains on pause, allowing you as much time as you need to study the words. The moment your cursor moves out of the gray area, the video continues to play.
This detail is simple and all “under the hood.” You might not appreciate it fully until you try studying Italian vocabulary without this functionality and find yourself smashing the “Pause” and “Play” buttons over and over again.
There are tons of little things like this that are happening behind-the-scenes, and they’re all working to make your life a little bit better.
Smart Content Sorting and Search
There’s plenty of curated content to go through, but FluentU has made it super easy to find what you’re looking for.
First, there’s a search box where you can type relevant words or phrases. You can also search by topic or theme.
Second, your dashboard (in the web version) neatly lines up functions and features on the left side of your screen, where you’re presented with “Video” or “Flashcard” options.
Click on “Video,” for example, and you’re given filters to sort clips by “Difficulty,” “Topics” and “Formats.” (The app has these filters displayed when you tap on the triangle icon found at the upper right corner of your screen.)
With these sorting and search functions, you can easily zero in on the specific content you have in mind.
Interactive Video Subtitles
We’ve already talked about this in the previous section: FluentU takes ordinary video clips and turns them into Italian language lessons.
The transcripts, by the way, are downloadable. So if you want to go old school, you can easily download them and print away. Or, you can just read them before you begin the video to see how much you understand and get some reading practice in.
Line-by-line Audio Analysis
Let’s say you’ve found a video title that you like, so you click on it.
Before you even get to that video, on the very next page that loads, (and if you scroll down a bit), you have the “Vocab” and “Dialogue” tabs.
“Vocab” gives you a list of key words that you’ll learn in the video. “Dialogue,” especially in more advanced material, contains the lines or sentences contained in the clip.
Beside each item on these lists are speaker icons. Click on one and you’ll hear native-speaker produced audio.
If you think the audio in the clips is too fast, you can just return to these tabs. They help slow things down one word, and one sentence, at a time.
Besides video and audio, FluentU has loads of flashcards that are grouped topically. You get decks on themes like color, months of the year or grammar-related topics like subject pronouns or direct object pronouns.
Make no mistake, these are “smart flashcards” and they’ll blow your grandma’s cardboard cutouts out of the water.
Let’s say you wanted to learn words about the family so you clicked on a deck titled “Family Members.” You’ll then see a green button labeled “QUIZ.” Consider this green button your entrance to a fertile vocabulary training ground. (Don’t worry, you won’t be quizzed immediately.)
You’re now presented with words related to the topic—in this example, words related to the family.
So maybe initially, you’re introduced to the “fratello” (brother) card. There are plenty of memory-enhancing elements in a single flashcard. The most vividly noticeable is the picture/illustration, which summarizes in a single glance what the card is about. You’ll also spot a speaker icon, which is an audio recording of what the word sounds like.
Then come the grammar elements that classify “fratello” as a noun, single (in number) and masculine (in gender). And to top it all off, you’re given two examples of how the word might be used in a sentence. Of course, the sentences themselves come with English translations and audio.
That much info is packed in a single FluentU flashcard. You can take as much time as you’d like learning it. Remember, FluentU wants you to have total control of the pace. Click on “Next” or “Continue” when you’re ready.
And so you can make the most out of your study sessions, there’s an “Already know” button on your screen which tells FluentU to stop showing you that flashcard in the future. This way, you won’t be bored out of your skull seeing a vocabulary word that you already know by heart.
All flashcard decks are full of quick-fire activities that test your understanding of the words. They ask you to do things like type the word left blank in the sentence or choose it from a set of options.
FluentU works on the premise of “spaced repetition.” This means that if you get a question wrong, FluentU thinks, “This person still needs to master this word, so I’ll show this flashcard more often in the future.” In practice, this is a time-saving feature. You only work with words that you’re struggling with and stay away from words that you consider “Too basic!”
The platform has premade decks that are good to go, but you can also make your own mix of cards by creating your own deck.
So besides video and audio, FluentU’s flashcard decks add another layer of opportunity for learners of the Italian language.
Every minute spent on the platform, every video that’s seen, every correct answer on the drills and exercises—these are all accounted for. The program shows you how you’re doing, and the first thing you see on the web version is your progress reports via the “Points” and “Day Streak” graphs.
FluentU’s algorithms are responsive to you. And because the program’s extra attentive to your needs, it can present you with words that are “Ready for Review.” These are words that you learned in the past and need to revisit.
This “nudge” is timed perfectly so that right when you’ve almost forgotten the word, FluentU comes in with a review that improves memory retention.
Since FluentU is continuously curating new content, you can expect that it’s getting better every week. You’ll never run out of learning materials to watch!
On top of that, the FluentU Italian blog is churning out awesome content that’s a perfect pairing for your FluentU subscription. The blog is chockfull of language lessons that help Italian language students reach their ultimate goal. So if you’re looking for study tips, strategies and resources, or even grammar and vocab help, then the FluentU Italian blog is your best friend.
Lastly, you can sign up for weekly emails stuffed with learning insights that can instantly boost your language skills. You’ll also get useful FluentU tips, notices of special events like discounts and contests and more.
Responsive Customer Support
Help is always on the way.
And sometimes, help is already there even before you ask for it.
FluentU has a support and troubleshooting center, where you can use the search box to see if your question’s already been answered. If not, you can generate a support ticket, note your question and someone will get back to you quickly.
So that, my friends, is the world of FluentU. It’s synonymous with 21st-century language learning and a great way to learn Italian online.
But don’t just take my word for it. Start the free FluentU trial and experience for yourself just how FluentU can help you quickly and effectively study Italian.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.