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’re being exposed to Italian through 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.
And to help you out, I’ve rounded up some of the best online Italian courses!
What Makes a Good Online Italian Course? 4 Factors to Consider
So, you’re 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.
Let’s look at four factors to consider when hunting for the perfect Italian online course:
- Uses audio and video materials. 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’re barking up the wrong tree.
- Teaches grammar and vocabulary. Furthermore, your Italian course should be equal parts grammar and vocabulary with lots of exercises and quizzes to reinforce the things you’ve learned. Nothing should be presented that’s not thoroughly practiced afterward, preferably in varying, dynamic, interactive ways.
- Helps you find a language exchange partner. Most online courses are for those self-studying Italian, so they know you’re in the market for speaking practice tools. A truly stellar course will connect you to a community of learners or guide you toward finding a language exchange partner or tutor.
- Has a forum. Courses don’t 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’re learning the language all by your lonesome on the internet, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and find a new Italian buddy!
26 Top-tier Online Italian Courses to Achieve Fluency in 2021
Strap on your helmet, Italian learner.
It’s time to check out 26 of the best online Italian courses of 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’re not planning to step foot in Italy in the near future, it’s 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’ll know what’s 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 Italian numbers, to more advanced details like direct and indirect object pronouns.
If all that wasn’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’re learning. You’ll 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 which 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 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. When you start learning Italian with Duolingo, you’ll likely understand why so many other people have chosen to do the same.
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.
Duolingo’s mascot, Duo, is a feisty green owl. He hangs out in language learning trees. Each “tree” 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’ll listen to clips and use a voice-recognition system to respond. There are even pretty in-depth grammar lessons that accompany each module.
Modules range from topics such as basic conversational phrases, animals and food to the present progressive tense and Italian culture.
As a supplementary resource, Duolingo also offers Stories. These are short readings in Italian, with dramatized audio and interactive questions to test your understanding of the texts.
Once you’ve mastered your Italian language learning tree—or while you’re 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 don’t mind paying for it? Babbel is the place for you.
Babbel offers (paid) courses for all levels, but they’re primarily beginner and intermediate courses of various degrees. This isn’t 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, writing skills or listening and speaking skills.
In addition, there are 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. Your enrollment in Instant Italian will also give you limited-time access to an interactive discussion forum.
It even includes a Final Exam, which may make some learners nervous. That said, this course is ideal for those who need to really buckle down and commit to learning Italian.
Just six weeks long, the course covers the basics of Italian, travel situations and “survival” Italian. It’s probably best for learners who are planning on traveling to an Italian-speaking destination in the near future.
One World Italiano
One World Italiano has one of the best free online courses.
Their beginner’s course is perfect for those who are just starting out, while the intermediate-level course is superb for those who already have a grasp of the language.
There are bound to be more options 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. They move up in complexity to include topics such as the park and planning a trip to an Italian city like 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 an effective way to pick up basic vocabulary, foundational phrases—and even practice pronunciation. You can 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.
Whether you read along or just listen to the native-speaker narration, this is a delightful way to experience Italian!
Future Learn offers six Italian courses for beginning learners. They’re 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. Speaking practice is encouraged right from the start.
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 aren’t confined to grammar and vocabulary. These courses also include interesting lessons about Italy and its culture, as well.
The lessons take learners from greetings to Italian travel terms, making them an ideal way to prepare for an Italian adventure of your own.
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.
With native speaker audio, their daily lessons also feel wonderfully authentic.
One of the best features of 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 a typical classroom environment 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’s able to correct learners and provide feedback about how to power up their pronunciation. Instant suggestions for improvement are available so you can start speaking the language as soon as possible.
And if you’re 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’s 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 lesson.
Grammar topics are at a minimum, with the focus being put on conversational Italian skills. Core vocabulary emphasizes common words and phrases—so this is a wonderfully worthwhile course for building that essential vocabulary base.
The course features over 300 exercises for learners to practice skills. Additionally, there’s 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, emphasizing basic conversational words and phrases.
This course is ideal for travelers, teaching them how to carry on simple exchanges with locals.
The vocabulary in each module follows a topical theme. Learn and memorize the material, then proceed to the next module. The material builds upon what you’ve already previously learned, and repetition makes responding to questions and replying to narratives feel almost natural.
Loecsen stresses the importance of proper pronunciation. In addition to native Italian audio, there are also helpful pronunciation tips.
As a nice bonus, the audio and PDF files are downloadable—so this is a resource that can be used anytime, anywhere.
Language Transfer is an unstructured method for language learning that’s so stress-free, fun and natural that it doesn’t feel like learning.
There’s a transcript of the lessons, but the course emphasizes listening over reading and writing.
Learners are actually coached not to take notes. Rather, they’re urged to listen, pause when needed and think about the language as they hear and learn it. Language Transfer recognizes each learner’s individual pace—and encourages everyone to proceed at their own comfortable speed.
The Language Transfer lessons give each learner the opportunity to think about the material they’re studying. Italian isn’t taught with a template of translated materials. Rather, learners are introduced to the language in a conversational, natural way. Lessons also 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’s very basic.
As this course progresses, it builds on previous material. The whole format is conversational and feels as if you’re sitting with an Italian friend who’s teaching you the language over a cup of cappuccino.
It’s definitely casual learning—but it works! You’ll almost certainly learn more than you expect, in just a short amount of time.
Italy Made Easy
Learning to speak Italian using these YouTube videos is a wonderfully engaging method that’s sure to delight learners who appreciate a little entertainment with their coursework!
There are so many videos to choose from, covering topics like Italian culture, listening and comprehension practice, fast and easy methods of learning, funny videos and Italian podcasts.
In fact, there are so many that it can be hard to stop watching. Plus, the videos not only teach the language, but they also show the beauty of Italy itself.
The Italian language should be fun, easy and quick to learn. Italy Made Easy’s extensive video selection demonstrates that principle. Even grammar lessons, which are often dry and dull, are interesting and insightful.
Lastly, there’s enough content on this YouTube channel to satisfy beginners to advanced learners!
While no longer actively updated, the BBC offers an online interactive course for beginning Italian learners.
Called “Talk Italian,” it’s a straightforward conversation course.
You’ll find audio clips, vocabulary-building materials and grammar explanations, as well as games and exercises for reinforcement.
Furthermore, BBC Italian links to many other websites such as Italian online news agencies and radio stations. These supplemental resources support learners as they become more familiar with the language and start understanding it in a real-world setting.
Lastly, there’s 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 Common European Framework for Reference, these levels equate to beginner, pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper-intermediate, advanced and proficient.
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. The corresponding exercises reinforce whichever topic was just learned, so you can practice your way to full fluency.
Furthermore, the Online Italian Club offers more than 60 audio files of Italian conversations, as well as a proficiency test and a verb index of over 600 common verbs. This online course is one of the most extensive free resources out there!
What’s the buzz about Busuu?
Well, aside from well-structured Italian lessons and lots of interactive grammar and vocab exercises, Busuu harnesses the power of its learning community to give you feedback on your Italian writing and speaking.
Every time you have a writing or speaking activity to complete, your work is submitted to fluent and native Italian speakers for review. When you receive their feedback, you can interact with them directly.
Ask them questions and get more information about how to refine your Italian word choices and phrasing—or perfect your Italian pronunciation, accent and intonation.
Busuu has also partnered with McGraw-Hill Education to offer you opportunities to earn Italian language proficiency certificates.
You can display these certificates on your CV or LinkedIn profile, showing prospective employees just how much Italian you’ve learned. This will come in handy when you want to apply for a job as a liaison with an Italian corporation.
MIT Open Courseware: Speak Italian with Your Mouth Full
Part of the Experimental Study Group curriculum now available for free on the MIT Open Courseware site, Speak Italian with Your Mouth Full is billed as “a seminar about Italian language, culture and food.”
The professor is Dr. Paola Rebusco, an Italian theoretical astrophysicist. Rather than le stelle (the stars), her focus in this course is on teaching her native language through one of her other passions, cooking.
If you share this passion, this unique course might be your perfect gateway to learn beginner’s Italian.
Produced in 2012, the course includes both straightforward video language lectures and Italian cooking videos (taken from actual classroom instruction). There are also recipes, with instructions in English. However, the ingredients are in Italian—so stocking up on Italian food vocabulary will help you really get cooking with this course.
Among the course materials are lesson PDFs, dialogues, games and downloadable MP3 audio clips. (Just right-click on the MP3 player in your browser and select “Save as…” to make a local copy of any MP3 on your computer.)
For behind-the-scenes information about the course, check out the professor’s blog.
Not exactly like a traditional classroom course, Memrise is more like an addictive game that drills you on Italian vocabulary and grammar concepts.
Through matching, fill-in-the-blanks and a heart-thumping Speed Review mode, Memrise teaches you new words and keeps your recall of Italian strong.
With plenty of pronunciation examples from native speakers, you’ll get a lot of exposure to Italian intonation as you learn both common words and zesty idiomatic expressions.
Memrise has an official Italian course with seven levels. This is probably the most reliable and feature-filled of all the Italian courses available on the platform. There are even grammar lessons and video clips for vocab.
However, the community-contributed courses on Memrise shouldn’t be overlooked.
While the quality of these may vary, some crowdsourced courses target very specific goals—such as reading giornali italiani (Italian newspapers), learning Italian verbs, mastering Italian grammar or mastering the most common Italian words.
Coffee Break Academy: Italian
If you’ve ever tried Italian coffee, you know it’s strong stuff—no amount of cream or sugar can mellow it out.
The same strength can be found in Coffee Break Academy’s Italian courses. Cleverly disguised as podcasts, these themed courses pack a big punch of learning into the space of a short coffee break.
Learn the most basic Italian words and phrases quickly with One Minute Italian, described as an “espresso shot of Italian.” Travel through Tuscany via the Coffee Break Italian Travel Diaries. Lastly, improve your Italian reading compression and add dozens of words to your vocabulary with the Coffee Break Italian Reading Club.
You can order each course à la carte, only selecting what interests you.
In addition to the podcast audio, there are reading texts, vocabulary lists, exercises with answer keys, pronunciation practice and videos that illustrate the concepts.
You won’t get conversation practice or do a lot of writing, but you’ll definitely learn Italian grammar, vocabulary and cultural information in a natural and entertaining way.
Italian Virtual School
Based in Turin but available everywhere there’s an internet connection, Italian Virtual School has offerings for students at every level, based on the CEFR standard for language mastery.
The teachers at Italian Virtual School all have advanced degrees and certifications for teaching Italian to non-natives, as well as extensive experience.
You take a free trial class before you invest in lessons with the school; lessons are offered one to three times per week, and you have your choice of individual or group lessons.
There are courses with standard Italian lessons and separate classes for children. Lovers of Latin and Greek classics, Italian film buffs, amateur etymologists, budding Italian conversationalists and takers of standardized tests can all find a course to fit their needs.
The courses incorporate multimedia sources of Italian into the lessons, including videos, podcasts and reading passages.
Information about Italian culture and history is woven into the courses, as well. Many of the school’s students report that the interaction with the professors greatly increased their confidence and fluency as Italian speakers.
Un mercato (a marketplace) for courses presented by self-styled experts, Udemy is known for frequent sales that can deliver courses with discounts as high as 85% off the sticker price.
The instruction is primarily video-based, although most courses will also have written assignments and downloadable lessons.
While live oral conversation generally isn’t part of these courses, most courses do have a discussion board where you can converse in Italian with the instructor and your fellow students. Some of the courses also maintain social media presences, such as private Facebook groups, where students and instructors can interact.
Through Udemy, Italian learners of all levels can find everything from survival and traveler’s Italian to courses on Italian sentence structure and more advanced grammar.
There are courses taught entirely in Italian, as well as Italian language courses designed for speakers of English, Spanish or Turkish.
You’ll have the opportunity to preview one or more videos (and other material) from any course before you purchase it. You can also see other students’ ratings and read their reviews.
If you purchase a Udemy course and find that it isn’t meeting your needs, you’ll have 30 days from your purchase date to request a refund.
Conversely, if you’re really enjoying the Italian courses you’ve chosen on Udemy, you’ll be pleased to know that you’ll have lifetime access to them—along with any future updates the instructors make.
Ecampus at Oregon State University
Want to learn Italian in a more traditional undergrad format and earn college credit for your Italian studies?
Through Oregon State’s acclaimed Ecampus, you might find the online courses that’ll build both your Italian fluency and college transcript.
Consistently ranked highly in the list of Best Online Programs from “U.S. News & World Report,” Oregon State’s online program can give you a solid grounding in the Italian language.
Oregon State usually offers courses for both first- and second-year Italian learners, and you can use the Ecampus course schedule to see what’s currently available.
To get an idea of what it would be like to study Italian at Oregon State’s Ecampus, check out their demo video. Most of the Italian courses use electronic textbooks, which you can purchase at the Beaver Online Store or through Amazon.
Europass Italian Language School
From the home of the Medici family, Michelangelo’s David and Brunelleschi’s astonishing cupola comes Europass Italian Language School.
This online program, taught by all native speakers, gives learners several options:
- Live online courses with other learners
- Europass Agile Platform (individual study with weekly live stream Q&A)
- One-to-one, customized Italian lessons
- Italian conversation course
- Italian course for children
Europass uses the Moodle learning management system. You can log in to access learning resources, like texts and exercises in Italian.
If you’re not sure about your level of Italian fluency, you have the option of taking placement tests to see how much you already know.
And if you’re interested in earning an Italian language proficiency certification, perhaps to bolster your résumé, there are Europass online courses designed to prepare you for standardized Italian language exams.
If you’d like to enrich your learning with magnificent scenery and firsthand experience of Italian culture, Europass also offers group lessons, intensive (and not-so-intensive!) courses, summer programs and more, hosted in Florence.
Would you like an Italian course that’s fatto solo per te (made just for you)?
Highly customizable, OUINO’s Italian course lets you blaze your own language-learning trail—taking lessons in the order that makes the most sense for you.
The multimedia course also comes with controls that let you tweak its settings to your heart’s content.
You can make the pronunciation audio play faster or slower, give yourself more time to repeat new vocab or opt to do away with subtitles. With these customizations, the pace of the lessons will suit your individual needs.
OUINO also addresses all four language skills (reading, speaking, writing and listening), although the “speaking” practice is more pronunciation than conversation. Still, with hundreds of sentences of varying lengths and complexity to try, the pronunciation exercises can help you become more confident speaking aloud in Italian.
You can use OUINO as an app or on your browser.
Finally, although it’s colorful and filled with stimulating media and interactive exercises, OUINO Italian is a course for serious learners. It provides solid structure and numerous examples, to give you a good foundation in Italian grammar, syntax and vocabulary.
Michel Thomas Method
Like a modern-day Auntie Mame, or a Suzuki Method for language learners, linguist Michel Thomas believed that “Learning should be about excitement, not work.” His eponymous Method proposes to teach you Italian without books, notes, homework, writing or stress.
Listen and learn along with two other first-time Italian learners.
In this Italian course, the teacher bears sole responsibility for your learning. All you need to do is relax and let the learning happen to you.
You’ll be gradually guided through some of the most common and useful Italian words, and the teacher will suggest mnemonics to help you remember them in a very natural way.
One of the strengths of this method is that it teaches Italian in a relaxed manner. And, since relaxed minds are more likely to remember information, this approach can take some of the apprehension out of your Italian-learning adventure.
The focus here is on improving your listening and speaking skills in Italian. If you want to learn Italian reading, writing or explicit grammar rules, you’ll need to combine the Michel Thomas courses with other resources.
For a commute-friendly way to learn Italian, the Pimsleur courses are a tried-and-true method.
Based upon the work of Dr. Paul Pimsleur, this audio-based approach starts you speaking immediately. You’ll be taught a limited amount of vocabulary in every lesson—perhaps, less than you might expect.
This is deliberate. The Pimsleur Method presents Core Vocabulary and gives you time to get comfortable with it—introducing it, asking you questions and waiting for your response.
Words and phrases are taught within the context of conversations. By avoiding vocabulary in isolation, you have the chance to learn Italian in a more organic way.
Plus, there are some visual components to the Pimsleur Italian courses. However, on-screen exercises are sparse and grammar isn’t covered in an explicit manner.
Nonetheless, if you’re looking to quickly become comfortable with speaking Italian—and more intuitively understanding what you hear—Pimsleur can help you progress.
So, what are you waiting for?
You’ve now 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.
Michelle Baumgartner is a language nerd who has formally studied seven languages and informally dabbled in several others. In addition to geeking out over slender vowels, interrogative particles and phonemes, Michelle is an education blogger specializing in language learning topics. Find out more at StellaWriting.com.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.