The smartphone generation has taken over.
Radio is way outdated, right?
Well, okay, radio may not be popular in the way we used to know it, but all we need to do is take a closer look.
With the popularity of streaming services and podcasts, radio hasn’t gone away into irrelevancy.
It’s just gotten a new look. And there’s more than just Top 40 and show recaps to be found out there.
By checking out the wide variety of resources at your disposal in the digital age, you can use radio to boost your Italian language skills to new heights.
That may seem a little weird, I get it.
Your first thoughts about radio might be morning show banter and prank phone calls. Not quite ideal study material.
There is, however, a big world of broadcasting around the globe that can sharpen your Italian up big time.
All you have to do is listen in.
What Makes Learning Italian with Radio Resources Effective?
Learning a new language can easily become an overwhelming process. When you’re surrounded by books, apps, videos and blogs, it has a way of making your head spin some days.
Radio is first and foremost unique in its role as an audio-only medium. This means you can take a deep breath, lay back in a comfy spot and work on vital skills like listening and pronunciation without getting in over your head. This is just the beginning, though.
Radio doesn’t just offer a more laid-back learning experience. It offers students valuable insight into Italian culture, in a way that invites listeners both into the everyday and the bigger cultural landscape.
Music, for example, is a big part of the Italian lifestyle and Italian history. From the legendary operas of the past to the bouncy synthesized pop of the ’80s, there’s a rich timeline of musical achievement you can be a part of just by tuning in. Even outside of music, things like talk radio offer valuable insight into the everyday life of Italians and the information that they get at home.
Newer takes on radio, like podcasts, have also been instrumental in creating a wealth of straightforward learning material for languages, including Italian. There are hundreds of podcasts and radio shows made for language learning, and plenty that will teach you Italian in a lesson format.
As you can see, there’s a lot to explore, and the list below will help you get started.
But first: visual learners, rejoice! If you love learning with authentic audio but wish it came with engaging video, FluentU’s got you covered.
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!
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Start using FluentU on the website, or better yet, download the app from iTunes or the Google Play store.
Learn Italian with Radio: 5 Online Radio Resources That Rock
Rai is probably one of the more well-known Italian media outlets in the English-speaking world, with its television network being available in a number of homes across America. It’s also, however, a particularly large media presence back home, and has quite a few radio stations to its name.
Rai is an extremely useful resource when practicing your Italian and getting in your immersion. Being such a large part of Italian media, it covers a number of different topics and its website will give you multiple shows to choose from in your search. Whether you like talk shows, news or music, there’s plenty of standard radio fare to choose from, all readily available in Italian.
Using Rai might be better geared towards more advanced learners, as it’s made by and for native Italian speakers. If you’re a beginner, though, Rai also has a number of programs geared towards children, which you can find under Radio Kids and are typically simpler in their language. Regardless of your level, it’s a solid source of immersion, as Rai is arguably the biggest media group in the country. How big? It’s literally owned by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, and has been the country’s public broadcasting company since the 1920s.
All this adds up to one thing: an educational, highly cultural listening experience.
Radio Italy Live
Not all Italian resources come from Italy itself. In fact, there may be plenty of quality content you can find right at home, thanks to the work of Italian immigrants across the world.
Radio Italy Live is a simple, useful little stream that easily broadcasts Italian music and culture into your home, wherever you are. What sets it apart from most other streams is that the station is sourced directly from New York City rather than Italy. The stream is easily accessible at the link above, and plays a large selection of Italian-made music for listeners to enjoy.
You might, of course, be out of your house for whatever reason, unable to access your computer—that’s fine, they’ve got you covered. The station can also be accessed through its Android app (downloadable from the same link above), or straight through a mobile web browser (an iOS app is on the way). The station itself may be best suited to students ranging from intermediate to advanced, but it never hurts for even the newest Italian learners to absorb some Italian culture and art, even if they don’t quite understand it yet.
You can listen in live whenever you please, so jump on in and pick up some Italian culture close to home.
This post wouldn’t be comprehensive if there were no podcasts, right? Podcasts are currently bigger than ever, and have carved out their own spot in the radio landscape as a new, installment-based format of tuning in whenever you please. There are quite a few Italian education podcasts to choose from, but here we’ll fill you in on one of the most popular.
The ItalianPod101 podcast comes from a collection of language education podcasts made by Innovative Language. This podcast has a wealth of information that can benefit learners at any level. This includes over 1000 audio and video lessons that cater to every kind of student, from very beginner to particularly advanced, taught by native speakers. It isn’t just a language podcast, of course. It takes you into the greater scope of the language, offering lessons on cultural standards and life in Italy. It’s a comprehensive program, jam-packed with content that any student can find useful.
Since ItalianPod101 is the exception on this list in that it includes video and is not actually a radio station, it’s probably best to use this one when you want to do some focused learning, rather than when you just want to take a step back and let the sounds of Italian wash over you.
The typical bonuses of online podcasts make it complete: ItalianPod101 has a lot of free content and can be easily accessed both from your computer and on mobile devices. You can take a whole range of Italian lessons anywhere with you, and subscribing on their site will allow you access to all kinds of useful learning tools, like PDF lesson notes, access to a learner community and vocab learning tools.
News in Slow Italian
Some radio might be a bit much for someone who’s just beginning. Listening skills and pronunciation help are useful, sure, but listening only to things made by and for native speakers can be a lot if you’re just starting out. The good news is that there are plenty of resources designed with newbies in mind.
News in Slow Italian is a unique radio show that presents the news of the day in Italian, but (as the title suggests) slowed down for students to take in more easily. Listeners still get the experience of authentic Italian and hearing it presented in an everyday context, but the relaxed pace allows new learners to absorb information at a more understandable rate. New listeners can get used to Italian pronunciation and speaking and gradually grow more accustomed, eventually becoming able to work their way up to standard speaking.
The site caters to students, offering transcripts, quizzes, translations and much more to provide an engaging, comprehensive learning experience.
The best part? The show updates weekly, so there’s almost always something new to listen to.
Italy’s a big country. As anyone could probably imagine, it’s got plenty of different radio stations. If you’re new to Italian culture, you might be a little confused as to where to begin with imported Italian radio. The internet, however, is a very useful place that’s always ready to offer a hand.
Italia.FM offers listeners a hefty selection of stations to choose from, and allows you to tailor them to your tastes. It offers the basics, like the Rai stations, but also ones you may not be aware of yet. There are stations that get listened to every day over in Italy, so you’re getting a truly authentic experience. There’s also plenty of choice in the way of genre. Listeners can tune in to a number of different music types, ranging from hip-hop to love songs to classics. Even beyond that, you can easily tune in and listen to some Italian sports coverage. You won’t be lost for choice on this site.
These stations are probably best-suited to intermediate to advanced learners, as they’re again made by and for Italians who live in Italy. But don’t be afraid to experiment and take in the diverse entertainment Italian culture has to offer!
Honing your listening skills isn’t always an easy feat, especially if you live in a country where Italian isn’t commonly spoken.
With the internet at your disposal, however, you can learn Italian in and out, and maybe pick up a few new favorite songs along the way.
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