It’s a lie we’ve all heard countless times.
But most of us never stop to think how crazy it is.
You’ve seen it while shopping.
You look at the tag on a coat or hat or slipper and there it is…
One size fits all.
Of course you know it’s crazy to think that the same coat will fit snugly on you and your 12-year-old nephew and the bodybuilder in the gym across the street.
And yet, the one size fits all concept can be found everywhere—and the world of language learning is no different.
There are so many Italian learning methods that are supposed to work for everyone. Vocabulary flashcards and word lists are a big one. You’re supposed to sit down, buckle up and cram those words into your brain.
And that certainly can work for many learners. But what if you learn best from visual or audio aids? What if you prefer to learn new words in the context of Italian sentences? What if you just get way too bored from memorization drills?
The trick is to explore a wide range of vocabulary building tools to find the ones that work best for you.
This post will be your guide, providing you with several Italian vocabulary resources that cater to different learning styles and goals. Give them a try, and you’ll be going to heights you never thought possible!
Why Should You Personalize Your Vocabulary Learning?
We all have our own talents, weaknesses, schedules and goals. Figuring out the language tools and methods that work best for you makes your studying more efficient, and it can eliminate a lot of unnecessary frustration from the learning process.
This is true whether you’re learning Italian, learning to ski or picking up a new instrument. But it’s particularly relevant to vocabulary building because many people don’t realize there’s a wide variety of options out there for different kinds of learners. If you’ve only ever been fed long word lists to memorize cold, it’s time to discover how interactive and entertaining tools will impact your studying.
Plus, not everyone needs to learn the same sets of vocabulary. If you’re studying Italian for tourism you should focus on different words than someone who’s trying to enter the Italian job market. The tools below will let you choose themes that matter to you and even study custom vocabulary sets.
5 Vocabulary Tools to Match Your Italian Learning Style
If You Like Authentic Material: FluentU
This one’s particularly great for visual learners, but anyone who wants some Italian entertainment in their life should pay attention!
For that matter, anyone who wants to learn authentic Italian—the way native Italians really speak it—should check this out.
There are loads of Italian videos available online and often for free, made by native speakers. Using such visual resources to pick up a language and boost your vocabulary is a highly effective method that can make a big difference for struggling students. It’s just so much more fun when you’re getting a dose of native Italian culture, too.
Wait a minute, though. How would you even know where to start with all these videos online? And how can you successfully learn new vocabulary from them?
FluentU has your back.
This app offers authentic Italian videos, like movie trailers, inspiring talks, funny YouTube clips and more. Each video comes with interactive captions that you can click for instant definitions and pronunciations of any word you don’t recognize. That means you’ll be picking up new words in the context of real-world Italian speech. And the entertainment value of these videos makes it hardly feel like memorization at all!
FluentU also comes with a “Learn Mode” where you can find exercises and digital flashcards with visual learning aids based on the videos. It’s a great way to make sure those new Italian words stick in your brain after you’re done watching.
One of FluentU’s strongest tools is its portability, making video lessons easy to access wherever you have an internet connection. Start learning on the website, or check out the mobile app for iOS or Android to take fun vocabulary studies anywhere.
If You Like Flashcards: Tinycards
Ah, flashcards. They’re a go-to for students around the world when test time arrives, and language learners are no exception. It’s a simple way to review what you’ve learned and pick up new material.
They can be a little overwhelming, though. As your vocabulary grows, you’re going to keep racking up cards and creating an ever-growing stockpile of paper to dig through whenever you want to review. They’re not exactly easy to tote around, either. Suddenly this classic vocabulary tool gets a little frustrating.
Don’t worry, though. The internet’s got you covered.
If you’ve explored any Italian language learning apps, you’re probably already familiar with a popular game-based one called Duolingo. What might be lesser-known, however, is Duolingo’s related flashcard app, Tinycards.
Tinycards allows you to create and use flashcards in a digital format, for free! Better yet, the app is designed to follow your learning patterns and remind you of words before they fade from your memory.
If you already use Duolingo for Italian studies, then you can sync your progress to your Tinycards flashcard deck. It’s a big time-saver and it can make your learning experience more uniquely built for you. You can also create your own card deck, adding another layer of personalized content.
The program is available both on mobile and on browser, providing a helpful review experience that can be taken anywhere.
If You Like Games: MindSnacks
Let’s be realistic here. Learning vocabulary can get boring.
You can only stare at the same word so many times, trying to burn it into your brain, before you get tired of it.
But the thing is, learning vocabulary doesn’t have to be dull. In fact, it can even be (dare we say) fun.
MindSnacks is a series of apps designed to do just that: make learning fun. They cater mostly to language learners, including Italian. The goal is to help users learn their target language by playing a variety of games that turn memorization into something you can enjoy.
The more you successfully memorize, the more experience points you’ll be rewarded with. There’s also a little mascot who acts as your companion and avatar, hatching out of an egg and growing stronger with every level you reach. It’s not only a great motivator, it’s also an entertaining one. Learning feels like less of a daily chore and more like going for the next high score at the arcade.
MindSnacks Italian has over 1,000 words and phrases to learn, giving plenty of vocabulary growth to anyone who works hard. The game also has personalized algorithms, creating a unique experience for each student. You can, indeed, have fun studying.
If You’re an Aural Learner: ItalianPod101
Podcasts are a relatively new way of picking up languages, and ItalianPod101 is a great one for vocabulary building.
It’s got a comprehensive layout of audio lessons, allowing students at any level to jump in and start learning something new. These are clearly labeled in their title, letting you know whether they’re intended for beginners or more experienced students. And it’ll be a while before you ever run out of lessons! There are more than 1,400 on the platform with more added every week.
The best vocabulary resource in ItalianPod101 is their “Vocab Builder” series. These episodes are all distinctly titled and can be found easily. There are over 100 of these lessons, all specially made to improve your Italian vocabulary for a variety of real-world situations, including going out and getting around. This can be especially helpful if you’re traveling.
If You Like Routines: Italian Word of the Day
Even just a small boost can make a difference when you learn.
Students should attempt to learn a set number of words per week (the number can vary from person to person), but even just one new word per day can be the start of building something. This is where a word-of-the-day tool can come in handy.
Transparent Language’s Italian Word of the Day is a great way to pick up Italian words, even in your busiest of schedules. Each daily word comes with a definition, two sample sentences (one in Italian and one translated into English) and a pronunciation clip. That means you’re not just memorizing translations but actually learning how to say the word and use it in context.
If you’re more social and want to integrate this tool into your day, it’s also available on Twitter. Or you can subscribe to the Word of the Day email. No matter how packed your day is, there’s always a way to fit in some time for a new Italian word!
No one study method is perfect for everyone, and that’s totally fine. What matters most is figuring out what makes sense for you as a student and helps you learn at your best. Take a look at these resources and see what gets your brain in top form!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.