Italki (referral link) is an online community of language learners and teachers to help you take whatever foreign language you’re learning to the next level.
What’s cool about it is that you can learn directly from home via Skype on your own schedule and skip the traditional school curriculum – which I love because I’ve always been a rebel.
It’s totally affordable, too. I spend $10 an hour with my tutor Giulia – a native speaker – for each 45-minute session, and the lessons are based on what I want to learn, which helps me retain information because I’m genuinely interested.
This style also encourages me to take note of the areas I need to strengthen throughout the week when I watch Italian movies, read books or newspapers, and talk to friends from Italy.
Signing up with Italki is completely free, and you can use the site to find language partners for free until you feel ready to hire an informal or professional teacher.
Go to Italki.com (referral link) and start tackling those problem areas you’ve been dealing with alone, like those pesky prepositions, the endlessly confusing sentence structure, and that subjunctive tense that’s been driving you crazy.
Visit Italki.com (referral link) now and sign up for a free account.
Read this article to for step-by-step articles on how to use it: How to Learn to Speak Italian Without Ever Being in Italy (or why you should hug people with big ideas for language learning)
Rocket Italian will offer you the structure you’ve been craving with learning Italian, tools to whip your pronunciation into shape, and plenty of review for what you learn as you go along the course.
My favorite part about Rocket Italian is their healthy balance between the phrases that are fun to learn, the grammar you need to know, the practice for understanding Italian, and the pronunciation that will get you speaking with confidence.
Memrise uses mems, audio, and constant practice to help you learn.
You can choose mems that are most likely to stick in your memory, and you can make them as well, which will earn you extra points for contributing. It has a game-like feel as you are moving up levels, racing against the clock and gaining points.
Duolingo – Duolingo is cool because it’s free + useful.
You determine your level, go through levels, unlock higher ones, and then translate some text that ends up being translated on the interwebs for the people reading in other languages. They also have an iPhone and Android mobile application that’s free.
Contexto-Reverso is a mix between a search engine for sentences and a dictionary.
Type any word or phrase into the search bar, and it will bring examples of that word/phrase used in a sentence for you.You’ll learn more from context and be able to put together sentences that Italians would actually say as opposed to what you might translate from English.
Anki is my favorite spaced repetition memory flash card program (not that there are a whole bunch to choose from or anything).
You create a deck, add vocabulary, and start learning. Based on what level of understanding you have of each word/phrase, you will see it repeated in minutes, days, or months.
They also have a neat iPhone app, which makes learning on the go much more convenient. However, the app isn’t free.
Want to find out how to use it? Click here to watch this quick video tutorial.
– WordReference – Word Reference is my go-to dictionary for all things Italian, Spanish, and French. It hosts other languages too, but I don’t use them as much. I also have the iPhone app. There are times when their expressions are outdated or just plain wrong, but it’s definitely more accurate culturally than online translators.
– Corriere della Sera – Basic dictionary in Italian
– L’espresso | Slangopedia – I don’t use this one as often as I should, but it’s like the Urban Dictionary for the Italian language. It’s great, basically.
Italian Language + Culture Blogs:
– Diario di Studentessa Matta – Besides being one of the kindest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting online, Melissa is amazing because she’s committed her online space to flexing her Italian language muscles. Props. Read her posts. They’re good for practice.
Listen to this interview with her: How Melissa Muldoon Went ‘Matta’ for Italian and What She Built from Her Craziness
– Not Just Another “Dolce Vita” Blog – Sarah Mastroianni is in love with Siena and has used the language to connect back to her Italian roots. Read her site if you’re interested in listening to her stories about her time there, learning the language and the mindset of Italians.
Listen to this interview with her: How Sarah Mastroianni Made Siena Her Italian Hometown and Built a Career Around Italian
– Renovating Italy – Lisa Chiodo and her family made the move to Italy twice to renovate two farmhouses. They’re now currently living in the north of Italy and living a rustic life. Read her site if you love hearing about tiny moments of joy in Italy and want to learn more about relocating to Italy.
Listen to this interview with her: How Lisa Chiodo and Her Family Followed Their Dream and Renovated a Farmhouse in Italy
– Becoming Italian Word by Word – Dianne Hales is a serious Italophile and the author of the book La Bella Lingua. She writes weekly about Italian culture + weaves in phrases and vocabulary for you to learn.
Listen to this interview with her: How to Eat the Language, Love Opera, and Become Italian with Dianne Hales
– Mozzarella Mamma – Trisha Thomas moved to Italy over twenty years ago from the states and has raised her entire family in Rome. She’s a journalist and writes all about politics, culture, and the language.
Listen to this interview with her: What it Means to Be an Italian Mamma and Build a Career in Italy with Trisha Thomas
– Better Way to Italy – Lisa Condie visited Italy for three months and felt her soul calling for a longer stay. So she quit her job, sold her home and moved to Florence permanently. She writes about her explorations in the culture and the language.
Listen to this interview with her: How Lisa Condie of Better Way Italy Listened to Her Intuition and Permanently Moved to Florence, Italy
– Rick’s Rome – Rick Zullo was hooked on Italy even before he met his Italian wife. Now he gives Italophiles resources for moving abroad to Italy, getting your visa, and navigating the culture.
Listen to this interview with him: How to Get Your Visa and Work Abroad in Italy with Rick Zullo
Italian Language + Culture Podcasts:
– ItalianPod101.com – The Fastest Way to Learn Italian Guaranteed (referral link) – If anything, you should listen to this podcast for the fancy opera intro. No really, the content that they have is valuable for the fact that they’re quick and help you develop your ear with vocabulary.
– LearnItalianPod – I affectionately think of this podcast as the vampire podcast because really, the male host sounds a lot like Dracula. I totally don’t discriminate though. The free content they put out is really valuable for ear training and comprehension.
Listen to my interview over there: Learning to Speak Italian
Language Hacking Blogs:
– Fluent in 3 Months – Benny is a boss at language hacking. He has these awesome mini-missions where he learns languages in, as the name says, 3 months. His tips are invaluable, and his Irish accent makes me happy. Definitely get on his newsletter list & check out his Language Hacking Guide.
Read this guest post I wrote here: 9 Reasons You’re Hitting Language Learning Walls ( & How to Break Through Them to Finally Become Fluent)
– The Polyglot Dream – This language blogger is Italian. When I discovered his blog and found this out, I was immediately thrilled and obviously biased. He has really detailed posts about language structure, so if you’re a language nerd, you’ll be all over it.
Where to Stay in Italy + What to Do
– Toscana Mia – If you’re looking for a cooking + language school in Tuscany, this is the place you have to go. It’s run by two amazing sisters, Simonetta and Paola, and they live in a tiny village with just 30 people.
Listen to their interview here: Explore Authentic Italian Cooking with Simonetta and Paola of Toscana Mia
– “Matta” Italian Language & Culture Immersion Trips – This is a great choice if you’re interested in learning the language in a structured (& really fun) way while in Italy. She plans trips in regions like Tuscany, Le Marche, and Puglia.
– Better Way to Italy trips – This is a great choice if you’re interested in exploring your passion while also exploring Tuscany.
Books to Read in Italian
– Ambra Chiaro series – chapter books for children [UPPER BEGINNER]
– Il Giorno in Più – a romance novel by the lovely Fabio Volo [UPPER INTERMEDIATE]
– Fai Bei Sogni – a story about family, drama, and love [UPPER INTERMEDIATE]
– Il Piccolo Principe (The Little Prince) (Italian Edition) [UPPER INTERMEDIATE]
– Viva il congiuntivo! Come e quando usarlo senza sbagliare [UPPER INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED]
– Viva la grammatica! La guida più facile e divertente per imparare il buon italiano [UPPER INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED]
Books to Read on Italian Culture
– La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language
– La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
– Seven Seasons in Siena: My Quixotic Quest for Acceptance Among Tuscany’s Proudest People
– Too Much Tuscan Sun: Confessions of a Chianti Tour Guide
Language Learning Books
– Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners
– The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life
– Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything