Italian

20 Best Podcasts To Learn Italian In 2021

There are many good podcasts that you can use to improve your listening comprehension skills in Italian. Some resources I’ll mention are aimed specifically at language learners, others are simply podcasts in Italian.

For easier reference, I’ve divided them into free and paid resources for less advanced learners and Italian podcasts for more advanced language users.

You should also check out our post of the best apps for studying Italian.
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The 30 Best (And Worst) Online Italian Courses In 2021

While it’d be great to hop on a plane to Rome and study Italian for six-months, that’s simply not an option for most people.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be in Italy to study Italian.

There are actually some online Italian courses that are as good (if not better) than any university course you’ll find. Of course, there are also those that, frankly, are pretty awful.

It can be hard to figure out which ones are worthwhile and which ones are junk without spending tons of time trying them all out.

Fortunately, we’ve tried out the majority of online Italian courses and have written super in-depth reviews of them.

In this post, we’ll give a rundown of all the best online Italian courses. They’re loosely organized with our favorites at the top, the okay ones in the middle, and the worst courses towards the end of the list.

Let’s get started with the best Italian course…

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News in Slow Italian

Quick Review

4.5 

Summary:

News in Slow Italian is an excellent learning resource; it’s very comprehensive and offers all the necessary tools to be able to practice all the aspects of the language. It’s also one of the most fun and original language learning tools I’ve seen and manages to be so without sacrificing on quality. This program is helpful for anyone who wants to learn Italian.

Quality

They really thought of everything when creating this program – audio lessons, PDF files, exercises, grammar and expressions catalogs, podcasts.

Thoroughness

Clear and explanatory grammar lessons, expressions and idioms included in every lesson, lots of vocabulary to practice and plenty of information to help you become fluent.

Value

News in Slow Italian is a great learning resource and students of all levels should try it.

Price

7-day free trial, then $19.90/month. You also have the option to prepay for any amount of months at a time, which doesn’t change the monthly price.

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Mondly

Quick Review

2.7 

Summary:

Mondly is a language-learning app that teaches basic vocabulary and grammar structures. It seems most appropriate for learners with little to no exposure to their target language.

The activities mostly rely on passive recognition of vocabulary and phrases, and therefore are not very challenging. However, they are varied enough that you probably wouldn’t get bored with short, daily practice sessions.

Although I wouldn’t recommend Mondly to anyone looking to seriously learn a language, it may be appropriate for individuals studying languages with less available resources, or for individuals who are preparing to travel abroad.

Quality

Both the interface and the course itself could be designed better.

Thoroughness

It’s decent for learning vocabulary, but I thought a lot of the material wasn’t explained very well.

Value

It’s fairly inexpensive.

Price

There are three plans…
$9.99 per month for one language
$47.99 per year ($4/mo) for one language
$47.99 per year ($4/mo) for all languages

Strangely, I was able to access multiple languages even though I only signed up for one month at $9.99.

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Lang Workbooks

Price: $5.99

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For learners of languages that use unfamiliar writing systems, the Lang Workbooks series can be a helpful and practical way to master the intricacies of writing in their target languages. Among numerous other writing systems, the series includes the Korean, Russian Cyrillic, and Armenian alphabets; Persian and Thai script; the Hindi Devanāgarī abugida; Chinese characters; and Japanese Hiragana and Katakana. The series also covers languages that use the Latin alphabet with diacritical (accent) marks, such as French, German, and Portuguese.

Many books in the series have been translated into other languages, such as Italian, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. The series also covers writing systems that may have fewer available resources for learners, such as Lao script and the Cherokee syllabary.

Each book in the series presents its featured writing system with suggested pronunciations. The practice pages in each workbook have useful features for each letter, symbol, or character, such as a recommended stroke order, font variations, example words, and a “Trace and Learn” section.

Each workbook is relatively inexpensive. In addition, the publishers of the series have granted teachers and students a license to make photocopies of the workbook pages for personal use, so you can get unlimited chances to practice. Considering the depth of information in each language’s workbook, the books in this series can provide great value for learners.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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LingQ

Quick Review

Summary:

LingQ is a language learning platform that makes it easy to read and listen to interesting content at varying difficulty levels. As you read, words will be marked as known and LingQ tracks the total number of words you “know”. The content comes from lots of different places with very little of it being original. They also make it very easy to upload your own content.

Quality

The LingQ reading app is enjoyable in most languages, easy to use, and can expand your vocabulary. However, I found the user content frustrating to navigate.

Thoroughness

With the import function, users can choose to study almost anything they want.

Value

Now that other apps provide similar functions, the monthly subscription may be a bit overpriced. However, the yearly subscription seems fair.

Languages

Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, English, Korean, French, Russian, German, Portuguese, Italian, Swedish, Dutch, Greek, Polish, Esperanto, Belarusian, Latin, Ukrainian. There are also 20 additional languages in Beta.

Price

Premium membership costs $12.99/mo, $71.94/half-year, $107.88/year, $191.76/2-years; single-language lifetime membership costs $199

When I first signed up for LingQ, I wasn’t very impressed. Its seemingly random lesson library, filled with custom cover photos and inconsistent title formats, made me want to click on just about anything to get away from that page.

However, after exploring every function I could find, I realized that the reading tool has several useful functions for anyone trying to learn a language through extensive reading. Most importantly, it makes reading in other languages feel manageable.

The site has three main pages: Lessons, Tutors, and Community. Within them, you can find free and purchasable lessons, coins, an avatar, writing exchanges, a community forum, audio playlists, and challenges.

I mostly used LingQ for reading in Spanish and dabbled in French, Chinese, Japanese, Swedish, and Korean.

Choosing a Lesson

Three of the first articles that appear on the application's homepage with the percentage of unknown words highlighted in red.

Judging by how LingQ advertises learning a “language from content you love”, I assumed that the lesson library was where the gold is. However, I felt like I was looking at a pool of random content rather than curated texts and struggled to identify lessons that sparked my curiosity.

Although LingQ lets you browse the lessons by topic, the lessons didn’t always match the topic I had chosen. I eventually chose a guided course, which consisted of a more organized series of lessons within a specific theme.

Each title in the library displays the percentage of new words within the text plus the number of words from which you have created LingQs (we will get more into that in a moment).

As you read and differentiate between known and unknown words, you will be able to assess which content is most suitable to your level.

You can also see how many people liked the lesson and the level category (although these are determined by whoever uploaded the text, so they are not always accurate).

It seems that users contribute most of LingQ’s content and source it from podcasts, books, magazines, news sites, textbooks, and more. Sometimes I found high-quality lessons uploaded by paid resources themselves to advertise their products.

Although LingQ does its best to delete copyrighted content, they do not seem to be actively filtering through the lessons and courses. Therefore, you may occasionally find plagiarized books or other media on the site.

LingQ has a series of guided beginner courses whose lessons build on one another, introducing a limited number of new words each lesson and continually reinforcing them in each section. Unfortunately, after you go through the basic lessons, you will mostly be on your own to find content appropriate for your level.

Several words in Swedish from a beginner lesson with words highlighted in blue and yellow.

Finally, the “Lesson Store” tab includes paid material. At the time of this writing, they were only available in Spanish and included material by popular products such as Linguaphone and Spanish Stories by Olly Richards.

Importing Your Own Material

Page for importing lessons manually

The best part about LingQ is that they make it easy to import almost any ebook, blog post, news article, YouTube video, and even Netflix subtitles into the app.

Space to import ebooks into the application

With the LingQ browser extension, it gets even easier — I could import blog posts and news articles in seconds and open the lesson directly from that page.

And that’s not all.

Quick-Import screen from the LingQ Chrome Extension

The LingQ browser extension can also import any YouTube, Animelon, or Viki video with subtitles. Then, it will create a downloadable audio file from the video that you can sync with the subtitles. Sometimes it takes a bit of tinkering to get the audio and text to sync, but the platform makes it relatively straightforward to do.

YouTube video from EnchufeTV with highlighted subtitles

I enjoy watching YouTube videos in Spanish, but I’m often not sure how much I actually understand. My favorite way to use LingQ was to import a video, then read and listen to the subtitles one by one. After several repetitions, I was able to listen to the audio without the text and identify words that I had originally only understood through context. A similar tool is available on Yabla, but it doesn’t let you import your own content, nor does it highlight your unknown words

Lessons: LingQs and Definitions

The first page of El Principito in the LingQ reading tool with all the words highlighted in blue.

The first lesson that you open, whether it be from LingQ, another user, or personal imports, will have a mass of blue words. Your goal is to turn all of those words either yellow or colourless to complete the lesson.

By clicking on blue words or phrases, you automatically turn them yellow and create a LingQ. These LingQs earn you coins and also appear in SRS flashcards for later review. You can then choose a common definition from the community or write your own from a dictionary of your choice.

The Spanish word, náufrago, highlighted in dark yellow The Spanish word, náufrago, highlighted in yellow The Spanish word, náufrago, highlighted in light yellow and underlined The Spanish word, náufrago, underlined

Although there is also the option to identify how well you know the word on a scale of 1-4, this is only relevant if you consistently use the SRS flashcards or if you want to see your words appear in different shades of yellow.

A page of definitions and choices for different dictionaries within the LingQ reading tool

Once you have chosen a definition, you can see a list of common questions about the word or ask a community tutor in the forum.

A series of community questions and a text box to ask your own question

Flipping to the next page will mark all blue words as known, while the arrow in the bottom right-hand corner allows you to review all of the LingQs from the current page through SRS flashcards.

Page with user's chosen definition of a given word

A neat feature in English, French, Portuguese, Italian, German, and Russian, is that verbs will automatically generate a series of tags to identify who is speaking, the infinitive form, and the verb tense. Keep in mind that identifying one verb tense as known does not identify any other conjugation of that verb as known.

Many lessons also include an audio file with adjustable speeds, which will be added to a playlist after you have completed the entire lesson. I found it helpful to listen to the audio after reading the text to test my listening comprehension.

Page from the book,

Of all the functions LingQ’s reading tool provides, I was primarily motivated by watching blue words decrease in frequency as my LingQs and known words increased.

Flashcards

Adjustable settings for flashcard review

There are several types of SRS flashcards that you can use for reviewing LingQs, either with specific words at the end of each page of a lesson or in the vocabulary section at any time. These include regular flashcards, reverse flashcards, cloze deletions, multiple-choice questions, or dictations. They are based on the definitions and contexts from which you chose each word.

A flashcard with the Spanish word, A flashcard with an English definition A flashcard with a word in Spanish and multiple choice options A flashcard with an audio file and a text box to type a response

If you are a beginner or intermediate learner, you may be intimidated by the numerous LingQs that appear for review by the end of a lesson.

Button showing 171 words for review

But, fear not — LingQ explicitly states that the purpose of the platform is to learn words in context, and it is not necessary to go back and review hundreds of LingQs at a time.

Personally, if there were 6 – 7 LingQs on a page I was reading, I reviewed them for extra practice, but any more than that and I moved on.

Lessons in Chinese and Japanese

LingQ’s structure is not necessarily a best-fit for all languages. I found LingQ enjoyable, motivating, and effective for my Spanish studies, but far less so for Chinese.

Unless you want to read as much of your own content as possible, I think that Chinese and Japanese learners will find more specialized support from graded readers. Typically, these provide context-specific definitions and explanations.

For example, The Chairman’s Bao identifies grammar, keywords, and proper nouns, in addition to providing writing practice, stroke order diagrams, and flashcards. Satori Reader for Japanese also identifies key grammar points and vocabulary explanations for how words are used in specific contexts.

Given that LingQ serves so many different languages, it’s understandable that most of these very helpful features are not available on the platform. However, LingQ’s lack of specialization does make it difficult to recommend for these languages.

Other Features

Combined with the SRS flashcards, the reading tool was the only part of the site that I enjoyed using. The rest of the platform seems to mush features from several other resources together, most of which detracted from my overall experience.

Community Features

In theory, it can be motivating to have a community of fellow language learners who interact with the same resource. However, I found LingQ’s approach to integrating these features less effective than with other apps.

There’s a community forum for language learning discussions, a series of language learning challenges, and an area for writing exchange.

I found the writing exchange feature to be less interactive and customizable than those in LangCorrect or Busuu. This could be because users can’t filter the language they want to provide corrections for. Therefore, whether or not you receive a correction may be dependent on if a native speaker is looking to correct someone’s work at the exact moment that your sample appears near the top of the writing feed.

Tutors

Anyone can become a community tutor and set a rate for both speaking and writing corrections. Like Verbling and italki, LingQ takes 15% of the charged fee. Unlike Verbling and italki, there don’t seem to be any student testimonials, and I couldn’t see how many students contributed to the tutor’s star rating. Ultimately, I prefer to use iTalki or Verbling, where the application process for tutors and teachers requires more verification.

Avatar

The purpose of the reading tool is to create LingQs, which in turn earns you coins. However, the only way to spend these coins is on your avatar’s clothing and background. Therefore, one might assume that the avatar would be an important feature on LingQ.

Not so much.

Judging by the outdated Comic Sans font in the avatar store, and everything else about it, I don’t think it has been updated in several years.

The way users can interact with the avatar items is limited. Each clothing item is attached to an outfit, so as much as I tried, I could not make my flamenco dancer wear soccer shoes.

Additionally, several background items require the purchase of a previous background item, but these items cannot be used simultaneously.

A small blue creature with feet but no arms A blue creature with arms and legs, flamenco dancer hair, and high heels

I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t use my LingQ coins for anything useful, or at least enjoyable. Hopefully, LingQ will change this in the future.

LingQ Does Not Provide the Same Support as Graded Readers

LingQ’s approach to providing level-appropriate content is based on the user’s experience using the app and not on pedagogically curated material. Therefore, I would only use it at times when my goal is to read as much content as possible. Otherwise, I would still prefer graded readers or graded reading apps.

Du Chinese, the Chairman’s Bao, and Pleco’s graded readers are still my first recommendation for Chinese.

Beginner and intermediate German learners with Android devices may prefer Readle, which has reading comprehension questions at the end of each level-appropriate lesson.

Although I have not tried Satori Reader, our team’s review paints it as an ideal app for advanced Japanese learners who are nearly, but not yet ready for native speaker content.

Only the Premium Version is Worth It

Given that the best part about LingQ is being able to identify known and unknown words at the glance of a page, the free version is pretty much useless.

It only allows 5 imported lessons and 20 LingQs total — whether or not you delete them from your vocabulary list. Exceeding this limit prevents you from looking up definitions, marking words as known, or identifying unknown words. To me, this completely defeated the purpose of the app.

Text describing how much 1 on 1 conversations, group discussions, and writing corrections cost.

On the other hand, the Premium Plus version at $39.99/mo adds 3000 points each month, which allows you to purchase live classes, writing corrections, group discussions, and lessons from the lesson store. All of these features can be easily replaced by higher quality services, such as italki and LangCorrect.

So, I would only recommend the premium version, which costs $12.99/mo or $107.88/year.

Downgrading to the Free Version is a Pain

One frustrating part about LingQ is that the developers make it very difficult to downgrade to the free membership.

First, LingQ will try to entice you with several different offers to make you stay. One of them gives you 50% off three months. Another offers you the “Vacation Plan,” which costs $2/month to store all of your data. Lastly, it will offer you a lifetime plan for one language.

Once you get to the last offer and click “delete my data,” you will probably encounter a popup that informs you to delete all but 5 of your lessons.

It is impossible to downgrade unless you go back and manually delete your lessons, which is disappointing if you were planning on using them for the remainder of your payment period.

Similar Resources

OPLingo has many similar features to LingQ, including allowing you to import your own text, embed YouTube videos with subtitles, and identify unknown and known words. The free version allows you to look up unlimited words, but like LingQ, it also limits users to adding 20 unknown words.

I am a huge fan of OPLingo because of how they use their subscription fees for international outreach projects, but LingQ currently has a more intuitive and developed user interface.

Readlang also has a similar, limited free function, which allows you to identify words you are learning across texts. It also rates the difficulty of each text in the library based on the CEFR scale (although the accuracy of this is questionable). Unfortunately, it only supports .txt and .epub imports, and it takes far more effort to sync YouTube subtitles compared to LingQ.

Final Thoughts

I found LingQ most effective and enjoyable for Spanish, which I can read at an intermediate level. It was least useful for languages in which I have no background or am mostly fluent.

Although I did not enjoy the lesson library, I’m sure that others would see it as a goldmine for interesting content. I was more than happy to use the import functions for my own material without sifting through community content.

I would not use LingQ for any feature except for the reading tool, but this feature is so useful that it would be worth the subscription price.

The SRS flashcard system is great for reviewing vocabulary on specific lesson pages, but I would never try to learn all of my accumulated LingQs through regular review. I prefer to learn new words through paying special attention to those I had previously highlighted and incorporating some words into writing for correction by my Spanish tutor or the LangCorrect community.

Overall, I have a lot of criticisms about the platform as a whole, but I think the reading tool is great. If you don’t need to look at a fancy user interface or import PDF files, Readlang and OPLingo are fine alternatives.

Our top picks for language resources vary by language — you can find our favourite reviews for the language you’re learning at the bottom of this page.

MOST RECOMMEND RESOURCES BY LANGUAGE

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OPLingo

3.5 
Price: Freemium, Premium Subscriptions cost $6.99/mo, $60/Year

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OPLingo is a community-oriented, non-profit language learning site. It essentially combines the functions of LingQ, LangCorrect, Readlang, iTalki, and HelloTalk.

The free version gives you limited access to some functions, but by paying for a membership you support ethical causes — such as building a primary school in Tanzania.

You can browse user-contributed texts or easily import your own YouTube videos, articles, or ebooks into the Reading Tool. OPLingo has also developed hundreds of audio conversations in several languages, including Tagalog, Cebuano, Thai, Swahili, and Russian.

Within each page, you can read a transcript and get definitions and pronunciations of unknown words. By identifying which words you don’t know, the next passages you read will highlight the number of known or unknown vocabulary words.

In their Write & Correct section, you can write in over 100 languages and exchange corrections with other users, although Spanish, French, and English learners have a better chance of receiving corrections than other languages at the moment.

You can also practice a language by texting with fellow community members, or by hiring a teacher in your target language.

OPLingo has a lot of potential and is a good alternative to LingQ, but it needs a community of learners to help it grow — so check it out!

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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AmazingTalker

2.5 
Price: From around $10 per 50-minute class

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AmazingTalker is an italki and Verbling competitor that lets you book classes with language teachers and academic tutors of your choice. It has a lot of attractive features for students, but teachers complain about high commission rates and lack of support.

It boasts a 3% acceptance rate for teachers and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy with your class, they’ll rebook you another one for free. There are lots of teachers to choose from, or you can also use their AI Matching Service to find a tutor. The teachers’ profiles include videos, reviews, and their résumé.

However, AmazingTalker doesn’t seem a great choice for teachers. It charges English and Japanese teachers astonishingly high commission rates of up to 30%. While these rates fall as teachers earn more through the site, they have to make $1,500 a month before the commission reaches levels comparable to italki and Verbling. Making it worse, there’s an additional 8% fee for payment processing and tax that all teachers have to pay, no matter what language they teach. 

There have also been complaints on Reddit from teachers claiming to have been harassed by students and fellow teachers. However, we cannot corroborate these.

Given all this, we’d recommend trying italki (review) or Verbling (review) first. Alternatively, check out our guide to the best platforms for online language classes.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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Verbling

Quick Review

4.6 

Summary:

Verbling is an online language-class marketplace where you can take lessons with teachers of your choice. It has some student-friendly extra features, including a built-in online classroom, flashcards, homework calendar, and a filing system for lesson materials. There are also useful but disorganized forums where you can discuss languages, share writing for critique, and do free language drills and exercises.

The lessons are generally high quality and well structured, plus the filters make it easy to find teachers who specialize in everything from accent reduction to interview preparation. 

However, it can be slightly pricier than alternatives, so if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to look elsewhere. It also has fewer languages than some of the bigger competitors, so it might not be a good choice if you want to study Azerbaijani, Khmer, or Yoruba.

Teacher Quality 

There are some less experienced teachers, but I found the lessons to be more consistently high quality than on italki.

Platform 

The classroom technology, flashcards, and filing system are fantastic for learners and easy to use.

Value

Some teachers charge more than on italki, but you get better classroom technology, more privacy, and fewer disorganized teachers.

Languages

Verbling lists 65 different languages on their platform, from Spanish and Mandarin Chinese through to Twi and Berber. Not all of them have available teachers, however.

Price

Prices are set by the teacher and range from $5 to $75 for an hour-long lesson. You can get discounts for buying packs of 5, 10, or 20 lessons with a teacher. Every student gets one free trial lesson, after which they’re $6 each.

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Olly Richards 101 Conversations

3.7 
Price: Kindle books cost $0.99

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Olly Richards, the creator of I Will Teach You A Language, has written a series of books for beginner and intermediate learners to improve their conversation skills in several languages. He also has a Short Stories series, but this review focuses on 101 Conversations.

His 101 Conversations series has a beginner and intermediate book for every language, though both books are appropriate for level A2 on the CEFR scale. You will learn natural phrases that you can use in everyday conversation through following the story of six people. Each chapter has a dialogue between some of these characters, which you can engage with through the practical learning methods that Olly outlines at the beginning of each book. While the first chapter in the first book may have one-sentence exchanges, the characters get chattier and the grammar becomes more complex as you continue reading.

Overall, Olly’s 101 Conversations series is fun to follow, particularly because each book sets out to solve a mystery. They are less expensive than his Short Stories series, but also contain less content (there are no comprehension questions or summaries at the end of the chapters, but there are short vocabulary lists). Nevertheless, both are probably a good investment to advance your conversational Spanish abilities.

The current rating is our best estimate. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to more thoroughly evaluate this resource, as we do for our full reviews.

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