We carry the universe in our pockets.
Smartphones today have around 100,000 times the speed of an early computer.
How amazing is that?
Now, if only we could harness all that power and use it towards learning Italian…
Oh, wait, we can!
Today’s your lucky day. Because today, you’re going to discover just how easy it is to learn Italian. To do this, you’re going to use the power of your smartphone.
First, we’ll discuss three simple reasons why learning Italian is easier than you thought. Then, we’ll dive into seven awesome apps that’ll have you speaking Italian in no time.
Great! Pull that universe machine out of your pocket, and let’s learn some Italian.
Why Learning to Speak Italian Is Easy
If you know English, you already speak Italian… sort of.
You might not realize this, but by knowing English you already know a little bit of Italian.
That’s because English and Italian have cognates galore. Cognates are words that look almost the same in both languages. And guess what? They also mean the same thing.
information — informazione
situation — situazione
Just by looking at these words, you know quite instinctively that informazione means information, don’t you? Add to this the simple notion that most -tion words in English often translate to -zione in Italian and you have a powerful vocabulary booster.
In the same manner, English words that end in -ty often translate to -tà in Italian. For example:
authority — autorità
capacity — capacità
Some English and Italian words are spelled so similarly that they have just one letter difference, like:
problem — problema
modern — moderno
And that’s not all! Everyday English is peppered with words lifted straight from Italian.
So even as you start your day sipping your favorite espresso and listening to a powerful concerto, or as you end your workday sitting at the park alfresco and incognito from the rest of the world, you know in your heart of hearts that you’ve been speaking a little bit of Italian all along.
Italian pronunciations are easier than other languages.
Italian is a straightforward language. What you see is what you get.
Italian is spoken as it’s spelled. So an Italian language learner like you has a much easier job than, say, English language learners who had to contend with words like colonel, phlegm, knead or subtle. (And don’t even get me started with French, which has a whole alphabet of silent letters that makes you wonder, “Why even bother writing these letters?”)
The Spelling Bee is often celebrated in America, where the brightest and most disciplined students invest hour upon hour of daily practice to win coveted honors and awards. It’s not so much of a big deal in Italy.
Words are often spoken the way they’re written. So when you ask a student contestant to spell a word, say calendario (calendar), the student would say: “It’s spelled exactly the way it sounds!”
Getting some practice is easier than you think.
This one right here, admittedly, is not unique to Italian. Getting language practice, whether German, Spanish or even Klingon, has become very easy. And it’s all thanks to the current time in human history. Technology has created the internet and made practically anything and anyone within reach.
Not too long ago, when you needed course materials you’d go to the bank or ATM, withdraw some money then go to the store to buy the book or tape you wanted.
Today, even in your five-day-old pajamas, you can instantly get at those materials (often free) and start learning immediately. There are literally tens of thousands of language products waiting for you online.
Today, you can have private tutoring sessions with somebody on the other side of the world. You can put hundreds of e-books on your smartphone, without your phone getting an ounce heavier. You can download apps and learn Italian on the go, wherever in the world you happen to be—whether you’re waiting for a friend at the coffee shop or standing in line at the ATM.
And on that note, let’s look at seven amazing apps you can download, that’ll help you speak Italian in no time.
Speak Italian: 7 Amazing Apps for Learning the Language
Do you like to watch videos on your phone? Why not watch videos and learn Italian at the same time?
FluentU presents you with this two-for-one deal by taking real-world, authentic videos—like interviews, movie trailers, music videos and concerts—and turning them into language-learning gold.
Each video has interactive subtitles that you can check for a definition. Want to know more about a certain word? Click on it to be taken to its definition, pronunciation guide and links to other video clips where it appears.
In addition to providing tons of videos to learn from, FluentU also offers downloadable audio dialogues and transcripts to use later when you’re offline.
Plus, the program provides plenty of tools which can be used to actively practice your Italian vocabulary and grammar, like multimedia flashcards, customizable vocabulary lists and more.
And if that’s not enough, the quizzes improve as you do! As you learn, you can test yourself with review sessions that take what you’ve already learned and adjust accordingly. Now that’s smart learning.
No iPhone? No problem! You can also use FluentU right in your browser.
The app gets the lessons rolling with a simple conversation between native speakers, in full, excellent audio. conversations contain the target words and phrases which you’ll be drilled on in many different ways.
The app checks your understanding with various testing modes like matching words to their English translations and forming sentences and phrases through translation. With the help of Mondly’s non-repetitive exercises, you’ll assimilate the vocabulary into your long-term memory.
There are daily lessons and a leaderboard to keep you motivated as well as awesome graphics and cool pictures.
Like FluentU, Mondly uses adaptive learning technology. This means the app is responsive to the quirks and eccentricities of individual language learners. So, if the app notices you making mistakes on a specific word, it’ll keep presenting you with the word until the app says, “Ok, I believe he gets it now.”
There are so many ways to learn here. You can check the phrasebook, do some crossword puzzles or play “Find the Opposites,” to name just a few. Learners will be most interested in the phrasebook, which contains the bulk of the word list and the lessons in the app.
The 50 Languages Italian app powerfully pairs text and audio to teach vocabulary.
Male and female native speakers take turns pronouncing the vocabulary for you. You can repeat the audio pronunciations as often as you like. And if you want, there are also flashcards to help drill the words into your head.
When you think you’re ready to be tested, choose from the five tests available: written answer, multiple choice, word order, fill in the blank and even a bubble game.
Our favorite is the bubble game, which is a fun exercise where English and Italian sentences are written on floating bubbles. Train your eye as they move about because your goal is to pair a sentence and its translation. Answer correctly and those two bubbles disappear, making your job a little easier.
The interface is a little bit more basic than the previous app, but it can still teach you a thing (or 10) about Italian.
Available: Google Play
“What verb form should I use?”
“What’s the difference between ‘mangiare’ (to eat) and ‘mangio’ (I eat)?”
Italian verbs can be quite challenging for many language learners, so here’s an app that’s dead easy to use and helps you come to grips with the intricacies of Italian verb conjugation.
Nothing is as simple as this app. There’s a box that you type your verb into. Press “Conjugate” and out come all the possible conjugations for your verb. (The app has a bank of around 10,000 verbs, so you’ll most likely find the conjugation you’re looking for.)
Note that this is only a conjugation machine. The app doesn’t explain how it comes up with the results. It’s a handy and quick guide for when you want to know a specific verb form to use.
However, if you’re a complete beginner and need something to take you by the hand, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
In 24 Hours: Learn Italian
This app wants to teach you Italian in “24 hours.” Talk about lightning-fast!
Now, whether you want to take this claim literally or not is yours to decide, but the app does align itself with this “24 hours” theme. It gives you the most useful words and phrases in the language, dealing only with the most common adjectives, adverbs and nouns.
There are 24 sections to the app, and in addition to the “common words” already mentioned, you have sections that deal with money, directions, time and other useful topics.
Each section is really a collection of the most pertinent vocabulary. You get two things: the translation and pronunciation. So, for “Excuse me,” you’ll get “Mi scusi” and an audio of how it should be pronounced. That’s it!
The app is perfect for travelers, tourists and for anybody who needs some quick, painless Italian lessons. If you find yourself stuck in the airport, spend some time with this app, and by the time you land in Rome you’ll know what to say to your cabbie.
iTranslate is your translator and dictionary rolled into one.
The really cool thing about it is that it has voice recognition technology so you can speak into your phone’s mic and say something in English (or Italian). The app will then translate it into Italian (or English) audio (text translations will also appear on your screen).
Simply show this to a native speaker and when he speaks into the phone’s mic, his Italian will be translated back to your English.
Here’s an example of what that might look like:
Maybe you’re in a restaurant in Rome and want to know where the restroom is. So you say:
“Where is the bathroom?”
The app will give you a translation which says:
“Dov’è il bagno?”
You show it your waiter and he says:
“La tua casa” (your house).
This gets translated back to English and, by that point, you realize that a tip is definitely out of the question.
iTranslate needs an internet connection, but you can also use it offline if you download the Italian language pack.
Learn Italian Vocabulary
This app was originally made for kids but that can be our dirty little secret. Get this app for yourself. (And enjoy the colorful graphics.)
From the Home screen, you’re shown many different icons.
The topmost horizontal line of icons refers to the general categories. There you can find vocabulary lists related to food, shopping, work and transport. Swipe left or right to choose the category you want. (Your choice is highlighted in orange.)
The second horizontal line contains the subcategories. For example, let’s say you chose “Work.” You’ll see subcategories like “Law,” “Farm,” “Construction” and “Professions.”
The third horizontal line of icons contains the activities that you can choose from. Let’s say you chose “Professions.” I would recommend you always choose “Vocabulary” as your first activity since this is the one that actually introduces you to the vocabulary words related to “Professions.”
After that, you can take your pick of exercises that allow you to practice what you’ve learned. You can choose activities like “Find Image,” “Listen & Write,” “Match Words” and four more options, so if you find yourself losing interest, just switch activity types!
Now that you’ve got the dirt on these apps, go ahead and download them. They’ll prove to you just how easy it is to learn Italian.
Of course, there will be challenges along the way, but that’s true for any learning experience. Stick with it and you’ll be on the road to speaking Italian like a native!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.