If you've already gotten a start with your Italian lessons, you may be finding that you're just not getting enough of this language that you love best during your week.

None of us is able to take language lessons five days a week for hours, simply doing grammar and vocabulary exercises. Not only is this no fun, but it's also expensive!

The problem is, whether you're learning Spanish, English or any other language, being constantly engaged, day after day, is key if you want to improve from, say, beginners to intermediate level.

This is where the importance of having learning resources learners can use to practice outside of their course comes in. And you're in luck...

Not only are resources abundant both online and in other forms, but there are also plenty of free materials from apps to an audio download to native speakers, all of which will help you improve in the best way!

Whether online or on your phone, we've looked at a huge range of Italian language learning resources, to bring you a list of ready-to-go tools to practice everything from how you read to your speaking and pronunciation to your grammar.

You'll go from beginners to speaking la lingua italiana easy peasy...

 

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Apps: A language learning resource like no other!

Lucky for any budding Italian speakers or tourists preparing for their dream holiday to Italy, learning the basic lessons has never been easier (or cheaper for that matter!)...

Just type 'Italian' in your app store, and you'll be amazed at just how many free options there are for learning this language!

Of course, having so many options can make it difficult to know which one to choose, but don't worry people... Superprof has done the research for you! Read on to find our ranking of free apps...

1. Busuu

This easy-to-use app is best for beginners who are trying to get a handle on vocabulary, to intermediate level students who want to consolidate their learning.

Each lesson is based on a particular topic, for example, parties, where you will learn connected vocabulary such as festeggiare (celebrate), regalo (present) and torta (cake).

One of the best things about the courses is that they put the vocabulary in context, encouraging students to read about Italian culture and gain knowledge, not just phrases.

To check your understanding, there is a variety of test activities, from filling in a sentence to writing down what you hear to check listening comprehension.

2. Duolingo

Whether you're studying English, Spanish or Mandarin, any student in a language course has probably heard of Duolingo, the phone app that teaches verbs, vocabulary and more.

This free app has been set up in a way that turns practice and learning into a game. You can earn points, test yourself and move through lessons, from beginners to advanced level.

You'll start with a little test to check your current level, meaning if you're an intermediate student already, you can go straight to the more difficult courses.

If you've only just started your first Italian course, your Duolingo lessons will focus on simple vocabulary like ragazzo (boy), gatto (cat), giallo (yellow) etc.

Similar to Busuu, this app is best for vocabulary development and consolidation.

Talking regularly will help increase your Italian fluency
You may end up meeting up with other Tandem learners in real life for a chat. | Photo Credit: sterlinglanier - Unsplash

3. Tandem

Changing it up a little bit, this free app is not for people who want to learn the Italian language from grammar exercises, flashcards or listening to scripted conversations.

Instead, Tandem is what we call a language exchange app. This means that once you download the app, you'll have access to a worldwide community of native speakers.

Of course, this isn't only for Italian learners! Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, English... you name it!

All students have to do is download the app, sign up and create an online profile. Once you've done that, you can look through all the other profiles to find a partner to practice with.

Generally, you want to find someone who is a native speaker of the language you want to learn, and who wants to learn the language you speak. Once you find a match, you can start to chat!

While this might seem difficult, with hundreds of thousands of language students signed up around the world, it's actually pretty easy to find a great match.

The app allows you to send text, audio and video messages, and there are correction and translation tools built into the messaging feature.

This app is really a great choice for anyone who wants to practice their Italian speaking skills with a native speaker.

Who knows... you could be doing Italian classes in Sydney and connect with someone in Italy and even go visit them one day!

If you're interested in studying grammar rules at a more in-depth level, there may be another app for you...

4. Babbel

Similar to Duolingo, anyone who studies languages has probably heard of this world-famous app.

Most of the apps on this list are free, although you can pay for additional features. Unfortunately, Babbel is a paid app, but we've included it because it has something these others don't...

Grammar! While that might not sound as exciting to you as it does to us (we're learning nerds after all!), learning grammar is an important aspect of any decent language course.

It allows you to create phrases and sentences that make sense, so you can communicate your ideas clearly. There's nothing worse than speaking a foreign language and not being able to say what you really want to.

Knowing a variety of grammar structures allows you to express nuance and complexity in your arguments.

Unfortunately, it also takes time, effort and maybe a little money. Babbel breaks down each grammar point into digestible lessons that aren't overwhelming.

Each Babbel lesson is also designed to build on what you've learned from the one before, meaning you're constantly improving and reviewing.

For students who really want to move forward with their Italian speaking, listening, reading and writing skills, Babbel may be worth the small monthly subscription fee to get a fuller understanding of the language.

Of course, if you're already paying for lessons with a tutor or group, it's probably more worth it to go with one of the free apps, simply to consolidate what you learn in your Italian classes.

 

Get Into Culture: Real Italian Resources to Help you Learn

If your skills have passed from a basic beginner level to intermediate or high intermediate, you should be very excited!

Not only have you put in the hours and effort to make real, tangible improvements in your language level, but you're also now able to access something that may have been out of reach before... the Italian world!

From film to music to news to sport, the web is full of genuine Italian resources that are made for Italians and can be extremely beneficial for students.

Authentic texts, audio and video allow us to see how the Italian we learn in each lesson is used in real life. After all... what's the point of doing a hundred exercised on the passato prossimo if not to recognise and use it in real life?!

So let's check out some of the exciting and authentic resources you can use to diversify and further your Italian skills...

News Websites

Reading newspapers will help you learn more
Learners can find physical newspapers or look online for Italian-language news. | Photo Credit: Suzy Hazelwood- Pexels

Italian news websites are full of up-to-date information that won't only help practice how to read Italian, but also let you get to know the Italian political and social situations.

Similar to the ABC, SBS, The Age and The Australian, these sites are generally free and feature text, audio and video sections.

Here are some of the most Italian popular newspapers:

All three of these are national newspapers that feature news and opinions on all of the twenty regions of Italy, from Trentino to Calabria.

The first two are broadsheets that can pique your interest in many aspects of Italian culture, from politics to economy, cooking to film, science to literature.

Il Corriere is based in Milan, and it has been producing news since 1879, making it one of the most trusted sources, although it does have a centrist bias.

La Repubblica bends slightly more to the left, but still includes the important information you need to know from across the country.

Now to the more niche papers:

Il Sole is similar to Forbes, in that its major focus is on economic situations both in Italy and worldwide.

For students who are taking an Italian course to then look for work in Italy, it could be a good idea to keep an eye on the economic situation, especially if you work in the business sector.

And, as you can probably tell by the name, La Gazetta dello Sport provides Italian readers with global sports news, including video highlights and interviews.

Once you've found a site that you like, you can spend even just fifteen to thirty minutes every day reading up on your favourite topics.

Film and TV

A really fun way for people to learn outside of their Italian courses is simply by watching films and TV. Not only is it fun, but it'll give you insight into how people in Italy actually speak.

You might think 'but I'm just reading the subtitles in English... how could that help?"

Well, watching and listening gives learners a glimpse into the many accents of Italy, and how pronunciation changes from area to area.

If you consume a lot of this type of media, you'll find you can naturally recognise some common phrases, especially slang phrases that Italians actually use when they speak.

Of course, if you're looking for a challenge at home, simply change the subtitles to Italian, so you get some reading practice in as well.

Luckily for people in Australia, SBS often features TV programs in different languages including Italian. You could try a news program or a detective show like Montalbano.

Don't forget that SBS also has a great on-demand site where you can stream films and TV, which is especially helpful because you can pause and learn something new like phrases or a particular pronunciation.

If you're a film buff in English, you'll probably be excited to know that every year there are Italian Film Festivals around Australia.

These festivals generally bring the newest and most well-regarded films to different Australian cities, which is definitely an exciting way to practice your Italian skills!

Taking advantage of these cultural resources can also be a great way of preparing for your Italian exams because you'll be doing plenty of listening!

 

Making the Most of your Italian Resources

You'll need a notebook next to you when you read
If students take proper notes when doing reading and listening exercises, it can help them understand more easily. | Photo Credit: Surface- Unsplash

While reading, watching, listening and speaking is great practice in all languages, it's important to do it in a way that's actually productive and will help you learn.

In order to get the best out of your reading and listening, you should always have a notebook and pen with you. Here are some useful steps to follow:

1. Skim: Try to read or listen to the article, page, audio, scene etc. once quickly, just to get the basic meaning. You don't have to understand every word, simply get the gist.

As you go, simply underline the words you didn't understand and keep going. If you like, make some notes about what you understood.

2. Vocabulary: If you've underlined 20 words, you're probably not going to remember all of them, even if you look them up. It also probably means the article is too difficult.

Choose around 6-8 of the words that seem important in the sentence, or that you really can't understand even from context. First, try to guess what they might mean from the context.

Then look them up in an Italian dictionary, like the WordReference Dictionary. If you still really don't understand, only then should you translate them into English.

Write each word down with an example sentence and making a note of the type of word it is (noun, verb adjective etc.).

3. Read for more detail: Now that you have a little more information, read or listen again, this time a little more slowly. You can pause the listening or video every now and then, or rewind if you need to.

Check if what you understood the first time was correct, and think about what extra details you got the second time.

4. Make it personal: One of the key ways to ensure we remember new words and concepts is by thinking about how they fit into our own context.

After you read an article, make some notes about your opinions or feelings on the issues, any experiences you've had that are relevant or any questions you might have.

While these may seem like a lot of steps for simply reading a news article, or watching a video, they will make your time and effort much more productive and effective.

Hopefully, it's clear that, if the cost of a private Italian tutor is a little much for your budget, you can still begin learning.

So now you know where to look, all you need is to check out some of these resources and decide which ones work best for you.

Just remember, learning languages does take time and effort, but it's also supposed to be interesting and inspiring. Try to find resources that you are generally interested in!

Divertitevi! Have fun!

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Giulietta

Giulietta is an English-language teacher currently working in Italy who loves fashion, history and finding the best restaurants in whichever city she finds herself in!