Learning Italian is easier than ever in rete (online).
In fact, you can now become fluent in Italian without even stepping foot in Italy.
While I strongly recommend a visit to reinforce your skills and reward yourself for a job well done (key word being “strongly”!), there are ample resources on the web to get you mastering Italian in no time.
Whether you are being exposed to Italian through Italian blogs, listening to the best Italian podcasts or singing along to catchy Italian songs, the internet is teeming with resources to help you learn the language.
How can you join in on the fun?
Get started on your digital learning journey with an awesome online Italian course. This is the best option for learners looking for freedom, independence and structure all at once.
We have rounded up some of the best online Italian courses!
What Makes a Good Online Italian Course?
So, you are ready to take the jump into an online Italian course, huh?
Well, first you should know what to look for.
All good Italian courses—yes, even online ones!—should span the four key language learning areas, namely: speaking, listening, reading and writing.
Most commonly, audio and video components allow learners to listen to and repeat Italian. Exposure to conversational Italian, spoken by natives, is an absolute must. If all the spoken Italian in the course is scripted and read super slowly for learners, then you are barking up the wrong tree.
Furthermore, your Italian course should be equal parts grammar and vocabulary with lots of exercises and quizzes to reinforce the things you have learned. Nothing should be presented that is not thoroughly practiced afterwards, preferably in varying, dynamic, interactive ways.
Most online courses are for those self-studying Italian, so they know you are in the market for speaking practice tools. A truly stellar course will connect you with a community of learners or guide you toward finding a language exchange partner or tutor.
Courses do not always include a one-on-one language partner, but many include forums to help engage you in the learning community and use your acquired language in spontaneous settings.
Still others have accompanying blogs that recommend excellent outside resources in this area.
Remember: Some of the most meaningful language acquisition comes from using language in real conversations. So, even though you are learning the language all by your lonesome on the internet, do not be afraid to put yourself out there and find a new Italian buddy!
Italiano in Rete: The 15 Best Online Italian Courses in 2021
Strap on your helmet, Italian learner.
It is time to check out 15 of the best online Italian courses on 2021 to get you speaking la bella lingua (the beautiful language) in no time!
iLUSS Italian Online
This course is based out of Florence, Italy. Even if you are not planning to step foot in Italy in the near future, it is comforting to know that this course is developed by everyday speakers of the Italian language.
When the time actually comes to buy that plane ticket, you will know what is in store for you on the streets of any Italian city.
There are two tiers to this Italian course: free and member-based. The free courses include four levels of Italian lessons (beginner, elementary, intermediate and advanced). As you advance in your Italian language learning, the complexity of the lessons advances right along with you.
Furthermore, each level includes lessons covering topics ranging from the basics like the alphabet and numbers, to more advanced details like direct and indirect object pronouns.
If all that weren’t good enough, each lesson is color-coded so you know exactly which linguistic skill is being developed. Red is for grammar, purple is for vocabulary, green is for reading and the little speaker symbol is for listening and speaking.
Should you decide to pay for iLUSS, the options for learning Italian are limitless. Members get access to many more dynamic grammar exercises and vocabulary-building activities to reinforce what they are learning. You will also be able to work with a wider variety of interactive courses and readings to bring your Italian to the next level.
Not a beginner, and not sure what level you should start at? Not a problem! iLUSS also offers a proficiency test so learners can figure out which level is best for developing their current skills.
Now playing on a computer, iPhone or Android device near you, I present… FluentU Italian!
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’re learning, and give you extra practice with difficult words.
Plus, it'll tell you exactly when it's time for review. Now that's a 100% personalized experience!
The best part? You can try FluentU for free!
Start using FluentU on the website, or better yet, download the app from iTunes or the Google Play store.
Duolingo is an online program and app that has over 14.5 million learners of Italian—and with that many people learning Italian with Duolingo, it is easy to see why it is so awesome.
Duolingo is free and can be accessed online or through its iPhone and Android apps. You can take a proficiency test to ensure you start the course at exactly the right level, or you can opt to simply start the Duolingo course from scratch.
The way the Duolingo program works is that learners must complete lessons and modules to complete a language learning tree. By “tree,” I mean that it begins with a firm rooting in the basics, and then the diagram of lessons branches out into more advanced and specific topics.
The exercises are largely vocabulary-based, but they use the four areas of language learning to increase your overall Italian skills. You will listen to clips and use a voice recognition system to respond. There are even pretty in-depth grammar lessons that accompany each module of lessons. Modules range from topics such as basic conversational phrases, animals and food to the present progressive tense and Italian culture.
Duolingo also offers an “immersion program” where learners can access readings, articles and audio files to increase their fluency in Italian.
Once you have mastered your Italian language learning tree—or while you are still working on it—you can take advantage of the fact that Duolingo has an extensive community of learners who meet, chat and hang out with other learners on a large, highly active forum.
Want to learn Italian more conventionally, and do not mind paying for it? Babbel is the place for you.
Babbel offers (paid) courses for all levels, but they are primarily beginner and intermediate courses of various degrees. This is not necessarily the right place for an advanced or nearly fluent learner.
This site also offers specific courses that cater to each learner’s individual needs or desires. For example, you can take a course exclusively on Italian grammar, listening and speaking skills, writing skills as well as general Italian culture courses taught in the Italian language.
Regardless of which course option you choose, each Babbel course invariably offers in-depth lessons as well as grammar explanations, exercises and listening and speaking practice. In fact, Babbel has an integrated speech tool that allows you to start fine-tuning your pronunciation of Italian right from the first lesson.
Best of all, Babbel also offers their courses in app format so you can take them with you on the go!
Instant Italian from ed2go
Another paid but affordable course, Instant Italian from the site ed2go has a little bit more structure than some online courses, as the idea is that you have access to an interactive discussion area for a limited time following each part of the course you complete.
It even includes a Final Exam, which may make some learners nervous, but this course is ideal for those who need to really buckle down and commit to their Italian before something in the future that requires it (a trip, for example, or another situation in which you will need to speak Italian).
Just six weeks long, the course covers the basics of Italian, travel situations and “survival” Italian, so will probably be best for learners who are planning on traveling to an Italian-speaking destination in the near future.
In any case, it is a great way to nail down your dedication to the language without making too big of an initial commitment, and get off to a running start!
One World Italiano
One World Italiano has one of the best free online courses.
Their beginner’s course has already been developed, while a second intermediate-level course is being created as we speak! There is bound to be more coming soon, so get started now and stay tuned for more additions.
With One World Italiano, learners have access to 37 in-depth units for beginners. Each one includes a dialogue, grammar notes and exercises to test your understanding and the skills acquired in the lesson.
Topics include beginner subjects such as introducing yourself and family and work, then move up in complexity to include topics such as the park and planning a trip to an Italian city such as Naples.
Aside from the online course, One World Italiano offers many other resources to get you mastering and speaking Italian. There are links to dictation practice to help you better understand spoken Italian, YouTube videos and exercises to test your listening comprehension as well as a video course.
Furthermore, learners have access to an Italian Verb Conjugator to help you master those tricky verb tenses as well as links to Italian news and, most importantly, a grammar reference (grammar nerds unite!).
The Italian Experiment
The Italian Experiment is a great resource for beginning learners! The site offers free online Italian lessons with audio. Topics cover all the essentials, like days of the week, months, counting, shopping, eating and more. Each lesson has simple explanations about the material being covered, example sentences and audio of the Italian passages.
This is a super spot to pick up basic vocabulary, foundational phrases and even practice pronunciation. Use these materials as a solid introduction to the language.
In addition to the core lessons, The Italian Experiment has a selection of children’s stories for learners to access. Listen to the stories for entertainment purposes as well as to hear the natural rhythm of this language. The transcripts for the stories are available in Italian with English translations, as well. Native speakers read these stories so whether learners read along or just listen, this is a delightful way to experience Italian!
Future Learn offers six Italian courses for beginning learners. They are all free and are designed to provide a basic level of Italian language skills. The lessons in these courses focus on speaking, reading, writing and listening so the fundamentals are covered.
The courses are each four weeks long, during which learners are introduced to basic grammar and vocabulary. Exercises and activities are geared toward practicing everything, including speaking. The courses actually stress that speaking in Italian as soon as possible is very important so learners begin that part of the program right away!
Offline learning resources are available for purchase with these courses. Audio downloads of the course material for mobile learning make this a go-anywhere, learn-anytime option.
Topics are not confined to grammar and vocabulary. These courses include interesting lessons about Italy and its culture, as well. The lessons take learners from meetings and greetings right up to traveling in Italy, so this is an ideal way to grab some Italian skills before heading out on an Italian adventure.
Mondly is a smart method for beginning learners to gain some Italian language skills. The program stresses the importance of building a core vocabulary so it introduces learners to common words and basic conversational phrases. The material is spoken by native speakers so their daily lessons feel wonderfully authentic.
One of the best features about this program is the virtual conversational partner that can chat with learners. So often, it can be challenging to find a language partner—this aspect of the program takes that issue off the table. This resource is especially useful for learners who don’t want to access a classroom setting but still aren’t comfortable going completely solo. The virtual partner is almost like having a language learning companion—without the stress of communicating with a real person.
Mondly also uses speech recognition software that is able to correct learners and provide feedback about how to power up pronunciation. Instant suggestions for improvement are available so you can start speaking the language as soon as possible.
And if you are trying to master that all-important conversational vocabulary, the “smart repetition system” introduces phrases at spaced intervals. Previous material is repeatedly brought into new lessons until it has been gone over so often that it becomes learned material!
Study Italian Language
Study Italian Language is a course designed for learners who have no prior knowledge of Italian. The course consists of 33 lessons that are separated into five modules. Modules include greetings, transportation, dining, shopping and basic communication skills.
The program is designed to be self-taught, with quizzes available to check progress at the end of each lessons. Grammar topics are at a minimum with the focus being put on conversational Italian skills, instead. Core vocabulary emphasizes common words and phrases so this is a wonderfully worthwhile course for building that foundational vocabulary base that is so important.
This course features over 300 exercises for learners to practice skills. Additionally, there is a substantial amount of audio content, with over 12 hours of dialogues and lessons for getting the basics solidly in hand.
Loecsen is intended for Italian language learners who want to gain maximum conversational skills without intensive or lengthy study. The beginner’s course focuses on rapid learning—with basic conversational words and phrases being the most emphasized points of this course.
This course is ideal for travelers. It makes it possible to learn how to carry on basic exchanges with locals!
Different modules are presented to learners, each with a themed set of vocabulary and phrases. Learn and memorize the material, then proceed to the next module. The material builds upon previously learned material, while repetition makes responding to questions and replying to narratives feel almost natural.
Loecsen stresses the importance of proper pronunciation. In addition to native Italian-speaker audio, there are helpful pronunciation tips for learners.
As a nice bonus, the audio and PDF files are downloadable—so this is a resource that can be utilized anytime, anywhere.
The expressions are exactly what a traveler would need to know to navigate the streets of any Italian city. Travelers might not need any other language learning aside from this course!
Language Transfer is an unstructured method for language learning that is so stress-free, fun and natural that it does not feel like learning. There is a transcript of the lessons but the course emphasizes listening over reading and writing. Learners are actually coached not to take notes but rather to listen, pause when needed and think about the language as they hear and learn it. This an individualized learning experience that recognizes learners all learn at their own pace—and it encourages everyone to proceed at a comfortable speed.
The basic premise of this teaching method is that learners learn best when they are given the opportunity to think about the material they are studying. Each language has a distinct course that suits the particular language.
Italian is not taught with a template of translated materials. Rather, Italian learners are introduced to the language in a conversational, natural way. Lessons consist mostly of conversations with the speaker, who waits for learners to formulate replies in their own time.
The course utilizes audio lessons geared toward learners with absolutely no prior Italian learning, so it is very basic.
As this course progresses it builds on previous material. The whole format is conversational and feels as if you are sitting with an Italian friend who is teaching you the language over a cup of coffee.
It is definitely casual learning—but it works! I tried a course in an unfamiliar language and was impressed with the method. Also, I learned more than I thought I would in just a short amount of time!
Italy Made Easy
Learning to speak Italian using these YouTube videos is a wonderfully engaging method that is sure to delight learners who appreciate a little entertainment with their coursework!
There are so many videos to choose from that it is a challenge to limit viewing time. Italian culture, listening and comprehension practice, fast and easy methods of learning, funny videos and Italian podcasts are just a few options available. Videos not only teach the language, they show the beauty of the country!
The premise of this method is that the Italian language should be fun, easy and quick to learn. The massive video content used to deliver the language supports that theory. Even grammar lessons, which are often dry and dull, are interesting and insightful. There is enough content on this YouTube channel to satisfy beginner to advanced learners!
While no longer actively updated, the BBC offers two online interactive courses for Italian learners.
The first is called “La Mappa Misteriosa” (The Mysterious Map). If you are looking to immerse yourself in Italian while indulging in mysteries and secrets, “La Mappa Misteriosa” is the course for you!
The other is called “Talk Italian,” and it is more of a straightforward conversation course.
Both series include audio clips, vocabulary building materials and grammar explanations as well as games and exercises for reinforcement.
Furthermore, the BBC doubles as a great hub for resources. BBC Italian links to many other websites such as Italian online news agencies and radio stations to support learners as they become more familiar with Italian and are ready to use it and understand it in a real-world setting.
Lastly, there is a handy Italian proficiency test for learners to figure out what level of Italian speaker they are, so they can get right into learning.
Online Italian Club
The Online Italian Club offers six levels of Italian lessons for learners. Following the European Common Framework for Foreign Language Learning, these levels are beginner, pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper intermediate, advanced and proficiency.
Each level has countless lessons for vocabulary and grammar to get you speaking Italian fluently in no time. These lessons include beginner topics such as the present tense up to more advanced topics such as relative pronouns, tense agreement and beyond—they will take you all the way to fluency. Each lesson has corresponding exercises to reinforce whichever topic was just learned.
Furthermore, the Online Italian Club offers more than 60 audio files of Italian conversations so learners can practice listening to the language and hear it being used in everyday conversations. Add in a proficiency test and a verb index of over 600 common verbs, and this online course is one of the most extensive as far as free goes!
So, what are you waiting for?
You have seen just how far the internet can take you.
Take the plunge into an online Italian course today!
Michael Cristiano is a Canadian writer and language enthusiast. His latest ramblings on foreign languages and language learning can be found on his YouTube channel, The Polyglot Files.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.