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 towards 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 8 Best Online Italian Courses
Strap on your helmet, Italian learner.
It is time to check out eight online Italian courses to get you speaking la bella lingua (the beautiful language) in no time!
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.
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.
All in all, it makes learning Italian intuitive, entertaining and just plain easy for learners of all skill levels. Each lesson is based around fresh, hip Italian content found on the web. While watching these real-world videos, learners can also access instantaneous subtitle translations so they are never in the dark about what the video is saying.
Enable Italian or English subtitles—or both!—and hover over any word that you would like to learn more about. Right away, you’ll see a definition with audio pronunciation, a relevant image and in-context usage examples on your screen. Click to add that word to your personalized vocabulary lists, and you can revisit it later for further study.
Perhaps the most interesting part of FluentU is its quiz mode, which takes videos and turns them into language learning lessons. The lessons are fully personalized, so that your learning history is taken into account when presenting questions.
Your lessons will be 100% uniquely geared towards you and your knowledge, interests and study history—no two learners have the same experience!
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 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.
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!).
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. Each includes 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.
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 slightly 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.