The best way to learn Italian, or any language, is through immersion. But if you are unable to throw yourself into a new language environment or take an in-person course, there are numerous ways to learn online.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been improving my Italian with help from Duolingo. The app has an easy, intuitive interface and feels like a game. Yet its lessons are challenging, giving users the opportunity to read, speak, listen, and translate while learning vocabulary and grammar rules. I enjoy Duolingo so much that I am also finally studying Latin, something I have wanted to do for a long time.
While Duolingo is great, I recognize that some people don’t want to gamify their language learning. So I’ve been investigating other options for learning Italian online.
Following is a list of a few courses and blogs that will help you learn Italian online.
Founded in 1997, Cyber Italian is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) single programs for learning Italian online. Cyber Italian offers self-study courses, tutored programs, and private Italian lessons for those who are serious about taking their Italian knowledge to the next level. It has been recommended by Italian state broadcaster RAI, the New York Times, and the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF).
One of the things I really like about Cyber Italian is its companion blog, which offers frequent dual-language posts about current topics. The posts are grouped by activities ranging from recipes to learning lyrics to writing a CV in Italian. Full disclosure: Cyber Italian recently featured this blog under a reading activity by posting a translated excerpt of an Italofile post.
Cyber Italian offers a two-week free trial for self-study students. Rates start at a very affordable $4.95/month.
Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta — the Crazy Student — who has been writing about her Italian language learning journey for more than a decade.
Written in Italian, the Studentessa Matta blog started out as a way for Muldoon to improve and practice her language skills. But the “Matta” brand has since branched out into many services to help others learn Italian, from one-on-one chats to immersion trips to Italy. Muldoon also has a very engaging YouTube channel and podcast.
I’ve been following Studentessa Matta for many years and I really appreciate Muldoon’s learning philosophy: “Anything and everything is possible if you go a little crazy and let go of your inhibitions.” She offers many ways for Italian learners to nurture and practice their language skills in an informal, non-judgmental environment.
Conversational Italian for Travelers
Maybe your goal isn’t to become fluent in Italian. But you would like to learn enough of the language for when you can travel there.
Conversational Italian for Travelers by Stella Lucente publishing company offers simplified, interactive lessons for some of the most important conversations that travelers would likely have in Italy, from taking a taxi to visiting the beach.
Audio lessons and the Learn Travel Italian blog provide language learners tips and context for learning just enough Italian to get by in everyday situations. The site also offers several downloadable and printable books, including a full course textbook and mini guides for vocabulary, verbs, and grammar.
Other Italian Language Learning Resources and Ideas
- Udemy lets experts sign on to teach courses in any number of subjects and set their own price. As of this writing, there are more than 100 Italian courses on the site.
- Coursera is a marketplace for online courses offered by universities from around the world. As of this writing, there are no specific courses for learning the Italian language on Coursera. However, there are many courses on Italy-related topics. Some of these are in Italian, so they are ideal for the Italian language learner operating at a high level.
- As an addendum to Coursera, check your own alma mater to see if they are offering courses to alumni. Many universities let former students audit classes for a deep discount and (no) thanks to the pandemic, most institutions are now better equipped to offer online courses.
- Language learning website Fluent in 3 Months has a long list of free resources for learning Italian, including links to downloadable textbooks, podcasts, and YouTube courses.
- Another great way to improve your Italian is to read the news. Browse Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, Il Messagero, and/or La Stampa as part of your daily language learning. You can also browse this list of Italian newspapers online.
- You may already know your smartphone like the back of your hand. So consider changing its operating language to Italian! You can also switch the language of Siri or other voice assistants to Italian so you are forced to speak and listen to Italian.
- Listen to Italian music and radio. Visit TuneIn to find live stations.
I will update this post periodically when I discover other helpful tips and resources.