What do make-up, dancing and learning Italian all have in common?
Less is more.
In this post, I’ll share 11 YouTube channels that can help you learn Italian in the time it takes you to drink your coffee.
But before I get to those, let me share three important reasons why taking things five minutes at a time is actually a good thing and why great things come in small packages.
3 Reasons to Learn Italian with 5-minute YouTube Videos
1. Your brain loves small chunks of information.
Psychologists have discovered that “chunking”—the technique of dividing large pieces of information into smaller, manageable “chunks”—unleashes the power of your working memory. For example, instead of memorizing a long number sequence like “194917661040,” you can chunk it into “1949, 1766, 1040,” and you’ll find the numbers easier to memorize. (Try it!)
Your brain is capable of amazing feats of memory… but only when you work with it and chunk large data.
So what does this psychological trick have to do with folks trying to hack their way to Italian fluency?
It means that instead of going for long stretches of lessons, you can maximize your learning by studying in short bursts.
When you’re learning Italian with YouTube, search for clips that are in the three- to seven-minute range. Instead of watching one-hour talkathons where teachers try to stuff your head with too much information, go for the shorter, more focused bits of knowledge that you can learn in one sitting.
2. Hey, listen! So you don’t space out.
In this day and age when available attention is inversely proportional to the amount of available information, a short clip can be your best friend. Shorter videos are less taxing on our attention spans and therefore have a greater chance to be really seen and heard.
There’s no use playing a two-hour video when you’re asleep at the wheel 95% of the time. It’s much better to take on a five-minute clip and get to know it on a deeper level than to finish a long episode but have only a nebulous idea of what it’s really all about.
Many language learners think that the longer the video, the more information is up for grabs. Well, that might be true—but only as long as you’re able to focus on the material. Otherwise, good night baby!
3. Shorter clips leave you with enough time to repeat and review.
“Repetitio est mater studiorum.” That’s a fancy way of saying, “Repetition is the mother of learning.”
Let’s be honest here: You’ll probably need to listen to a language video several times before you can really internalize what it’s about.
Many Italian language learners think that reaching the end of a video automatically means mastering its content. Nuh-uh! In order to really know it back and forth, you’ll need to repeat and review the material. You’re going to have to wrestle with it several times, listen closely and even take down notes.
Sometimes the teacher can talk so fast, it’ll sound like she’s speaking Japanese. You’re actually welcome (and expected) to smash the replay and rewind buttons so you can go over things you may have missed.
Imagine doing that for a 60-minute Italian lesson on verbs. How much can you really retain? There’ll be too many balls in the air. And that’s why we go for the five-minute mini-lessons.
Okay, now that we got those reasons covered, let’s get right to 11 awesome YouTube channels that make learning Italian a breeze, five minutes at a time.
Learn Italian with Youtube in 5-minute Bursts: 11 Channels for Bite-sized Learning
Ready to dive into the Italian language, five minutes at a time? Before you head off to these 11 excellent YouTube channel resources, you’ll also want to check out FluentU.
The FluentU Italian learning program takes authentic YouTube videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning experiences.
This means you can take any of the hundreds of FluentU videos and turn each one into a full language lesson! It’s an entertaining method to immerse yourself in Italian the way native speakers really use it, while actively building your vocabulary and grammar skills.
Let’s tune in and check out some excellent ways to learn Italian with five-minute YouTube videos.
This channel houses short Italian songs specially made for kids. They come with catchy tunes, simple lines and colorful graphics to boot. If you’re an Italian native speaker, this is one of the channels you’d definitely want your kids to be watching since it’s a great way to help children learn Italian.
As an Italian learner, consider yourself a baby in the language. It doesn’t matter that you’ve already shaved three times today: If you’re a beginner to Italian then you’re essentially a bambino (baby). So suit up (bib and onesie optional) and get ready for a lot—and I mean a lot—of repetition.
ItalianPod101 is one of the leading names in language education, producing high-quality and high-value content. Under this umbrella program is a short course called “Italiano in Tre Minuti” (“Italian in Three Minutes”).
I mean, the title says it all. Each clip is a three-minute hack which teaches you some vital Italian you’re going to need when you find yourself in specific situations—like when you want to ask somebody if they speak English, when you want to apologize because you’ve made a booboo or when you want to haggle with a seller whose smile makes you forget your name.
I leave you in the good hands of Consuelo, your host and teacher for each three-minute video. She’ll give you native speaker tips that’ll make your Italian sound like you’ve been studying it for years.
(If you’re reading this article on a plane, get with the program immediately!)
Easy Italian (from Easy Languages)
Let’s skip class for this one and get an authentic experience on the streets, instead. While the previous channel on our list is perfect for when you want to prepare for a trip to Italy, this one can make you feel like you’re already there—in the streets of a lively Tuscan town.
Easy Languages’ idea of a lesson is interaction with local, native speakers who put on full display their use of the language.
In a typical video, an interviewer asks some random local a question, like: “What are you doing today?” After the initial shock of having a microphone foisted up one’s snout, the native speaker answers… and you fall in love with Italian all over again.
The clips come with both English and Italian subtitles so you can follow along, feeling like a welcomed snoop. These videos are the perfect example of how video length doesn’t necessarily reflect the robustness of the content. These clips, though short, are seriously loaded with linguistic gems.
Manu is the guy behind this YouTube channel. He’s really a linguist at heart and you can sense the passion in his videos.
His channel is a mix of both long and short clips, but for our purposes here we’re interested in mining those shorter ones.
For instance, the playlist “Top Italian Mistakes You Could Be Making—and How to Fix Them!” is rich with insights and is a must for any learner who wants to smooth out the corners of his Italian tongue. The “Italian Alphabet,” on the other hand, is for every beginner who wants to correctly spell and pronounce Italian words.
Finally, his “Ask Manu Italiano” playlist has slightly longer videos, but it’s a gold mine of information. The series deals with those issues and questions that have been silently bugging people for a while, like how to compare things in Italian.
He promises new videos every Tuesday and Sunday but dude, the channel’s a gold mine as it is.
This online course is taught by Veronica, an energetic native speaker from Sardinia.
The great thing about the channel is that the lessons have been curated according to the standards set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). On this channel, you’ll find lessons for A1 (beginner), A2 (elementary) and B1 (intermediate).
The first lessons are short and sweet, with the duration getting longer as you progress. If you’re the type who wants to learn nuanced grammar, Veronica can help you hack that side of the language.
The Italian versions come with subtitles but really, even if you’re a complete beginner, you can watch the videos in their full Italian glory and still comprehend the input.
Veronica uses props, visual aids, gestures and repetition quite effectively. So regardless of your level, your time will be well spent on this channel.
Marta and Cynthia’s channel blends both language lessons and rich cultural insights.
You not only get to learn about Italian genders (in the grammatical sense, that is), but you’ll also know what Easter is like in Italy. And if you love to get busy in the kitchen, they also let you in on some modern interpretations of old classic recipes, like pesto di zuchine.
Come and check out these ladies’ channel. They have upcoming videos marked, so you know exactly what’s coming and when. As of this writing, they’ve just about rounded up the language lessons for beginners and are about to get into intermediate territory. (You can still play catch up!)
That said, you might want to know that the following videos on this list won’t be in the format of language tutorials anymore. Instead, they’ll be short authentic videos made by native speakers for other native speakers. Watching them, you’ll get a sense of how a language is truly spoken in the field.
Language learners might find “real life” Italian too fast or convoluted, but watching the clips over and over will get your ears attuned to the beautiful aria that is Italiano.
This channel is perfect for absolute beginners. The clips aren’t too heavy on the Italian, but you do get a decent sprinkling of it at the right moments.
Vincenzo is an Italian food ambassador and he enlists his family to teach the world one Italian recipe at a time. For sure, you’ll love the culinary delights on this one—sometimes it might seem like the aroma is wafting out of your screen.
For your daily dose of Italian, pay special attention to the videos of Vincenzo’s nonna, like the one where she explains how to make the world-famous Italian limoncello, or the one where she spills the secrets to making a great gnocchi. You’ll love nonna’s nonchalant attitude as if she’s thinking, “What’s with the camera pointing at my face?”
Keep watching and before the dish is finished, you’ll have picked up morsels of Italian that’ll make you full for life.
Nope, this isn’t a BTS-related site or the page of some Hollywood celebrity showing off what she had for breakfast.
The Italian “Fan Page” is about serious and poignant stuff. This YouTube channel tackles social issues confronting today’s Italians. It features surveys, interviews and news reports about the latest developments in politics, business, lifestyle and entertainment.
For example, check out the heartwarming episode on violence against women. The creators wanted to elicit little boys’ reactions when a girl is presented in front of them and they’re instructed to slap her. (The boys’ reactions are priceless!)
Basically, by watching the interesting short Italian videos on this channel, you’re picking up on both the culture and language. (There are subtitles to help.)
And that’s the beauty of watching authentic videos: Nobody’s teaching you the language. They just give you the context and you gradually pick up vocabulary and grammar rules without them being explicitly handed out to you.
The Pills is a series of shorts and sketches about three friends living in the same Italian apartment. Well, “series” is actually more like a bunch of non-sequitur episodes about the quirky lives of mid-20s millennials navigating through the challenges of adulting, relationships, careers, etc.
Some of the language might not be suitable for the faint of heart and some subjects might require you to “confirm your age.” But if you want Italian with all the grit and grease, then you’ll have that and more in this YouTube channel. Think “Scrubs” but without the stops.
The dialogues here are priceless. Intermediate and advanced Italian students can milk every episode for linguistic nuances.
Euronews (in Italiano) covers the political and social comings and goings in the region, with clips ranging in length from one to four minutes.
With Euronews, you not only learn about the latest politician embroiled in a raunchy scandal or whether or not the UK has finally decided if it really fancies Theresa May—but you also get an authentic dose of Italian. The broadcast is aimed at native speakers so language learners get the same news that native speakers actually watch.
For Italian learners, the channel provides a living context to language learning by using current events as an engaging backdrop. Studying the language then ceases to be an academic enterprise and becomes a practical and useful way of seeing and describing the world.
Besides, watching the news in Italian can be a good way to check just how universal political incompetence and institutional corruption really is. (Whoa… I think I need some comfort food.)
Thank heavens for channels like Digitechmedia. This channel actually has a variety of videos, but I want you to pay particular attention to the Italian translations of “Late Night With David Letterman.”
The folks at Digitechmedia peeled their eyes away from Netflix and took the time to subtitle those David Letterman celebrity chats in Italian. So if you think the back-and-forth between guests and David are gold in English, just wait ‘til you see it in Italian.
The channel has Italian subtitled material on Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Adam Sandler, Kevin Spacey, Jim Carrey, Martin Scorsese, Bruce Willis, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and so many more. Talk about hacking language learning! You’re not only laughing at Letterman’s quips—you’re really laughing your way to Italian fluency and reading practice.
The videos are a bit longer, usually around 12-17 minutes (though Obama’s was a solid 35 minutes but hey, he earned it.)
You can deal with these longer videos by studying them in manageable chunks. In this case, for example, maybe you can divide the interviews into segments—meaning, you “cut” right before they go to commercial or after each question.
With this in mind, I’d like to close this post with a bonus section that very briefly talks about a trend related to the length of YouTube videos.
Extra! Extra! Shorter YouTube Videos Are Going Extinct!
As YouTube is seriously trying to compete against other streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime, the YouTube algorithm these days is starting to favor longer video content (10 minutes or more)—where longer videos are rewarded with higher rankings in search results.
Content producers have noticed the shift and have responded by purposely stretching their videos to cross that 10-minute threshold. That’s not such good news for us here who wanted to hack Italian in five-minute intervals. So how to do we deal with these longer videos?
Well, you may have noticed that some of the channels included on this list have videos that linger for over 30 minutes. You might think, “Oh, nice video. But too long.”
Don’t pass by that opportunity to learn just because the video is long! The key is to do the chunking yourself.
Create your own segments. For example, you might make the decision to just focus on the first five minutes before moving on. Or you can watch the entire video once, then go deeper by watching shorter segments one at a time until you’ve milked them for all their learning potential.
However you handle them, don’t let longer videos scare you away. Just chunk them! That’s really the biggest difference between sitting for a live class discussion and watching the same lecture on YouTube: You can’t keep pausing and restarting a live teacher but with YouTube, you can even have a coffee break between segments.
I wish you the best of luck on your Italian journey!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.