While it’d be great to hop on a plane to Rome and study Italian for six-months, for most people, it’s just not possible to do so.
That’s not a problem though. You don’t need to be in Italy to study Italian.
There are some online Italian courses that are as good (if not better) than any university course you’ll find.
But, there are also more than a few courses that, frankly, kind of suck. It can be hard to figure out which ones are worthwhile and which ones are junk, that is unless you try a bunch of them.
Fortunately, we’ve tried pretty much all the online Italian courses and written super in-depth reviews of each 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…
Quite often the best courses for learning any particular language aren’t made by a huge company but rather one dedicated, experienced, and skilled teacher. For Italian, I really believe that Italy Made Easy is the best course you’ll find.
It’s created by Manu Venditti, who has been teaching Italian for over 20 years. He has several courses, some of which are available for free on his website. The courses are ridiculously thorough. There are lots of activities and you’re really pushed into actively using Italian.
It’s also structured exceptionally well, with lessons building on previous material and appearing at the most logical time. Manu’s very charismatic and keeps the lessons interesting, mixing Italian and English into the lessons so that you get listening practice but also makes sure you understand everything well.
Basically, everything you would need to know is covered in these courses and explained thoroughly. But not only that, you’re constantly having to use the Italian you’ve learned. You can even opt to receive personalized feedback on assignments.
The courses aren’t cheap, however, with most costing between $197-$248 each. While that’s more expensive than most, the depth and quality of the lessons easily make them the best option for anyone who’s serious about learning Italian. Review.
Moving from a one-man course that is Italy Made Easy, to one of the biggest language learning companies on the planet, Pimsleur would be my second choice but with a few caveats.
Pimsleur does a phenomenal job teaching Italian communication skills – listening and speaking. It’s an audio-centric course that requires you to get involved and speak throughout. You can’t simply sit back and listen and expect to absorb everything.
But, while Pimsleur is great for improving your speaking skills quickly, it ignores grammar and barely touches on the written language. The positive is that you’ll find yourself speaking Italian quicker and better than with most other courses, but you’ll need to find other resources to balance the non-oral components of Italian.
The other big caveat is that I’m primarily referring to their subscription option which costs less than $20 per month. Purchasing their complete Italian course outright costs $575, which I think is far too expensive given its limitations. Review.
News in Slow Italian is available at three different levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. However, the beginner level is the only level that’s structured as a course.
The beginner course is quite interesting as it’s structured as a play, with different characters and acts. Each character has their own story that unfolds throughout the lessons, making it more fun than most typical Italian courses. One weakness is that it can be a little bit too passive, without requiring you to speak and use Italian as much as I’d like.
Although the intermediate level isn’t a course, I think it’s a wonderful supplemental tool for those that have progressed to that point with their Italian. As you’d expect, it’s most known for their weekly current events episode that’s narrated and discussed at a slower pace. But, there are also huge grammar and expressions catalogs, which teach these two things in a very natural and fun way.
All three levels of News in Slow Italian are available for $19.90 per month. Review.
Italian Uncovered was created by Olly Richards of the popular blog, I Will Teach You a Language. His language learning philosophy makes use of lots of stories, and this course is no different.
In fact, the first part of each lesson involves reading and listening to a chapter in an Italian story. At first, this can be quite difficult, especially if you haven’t studied much Italian before. Next, you’ll focus on finding cognates – Italian words you already know because they’re similar in English. You’ll find you know more Italian than you may have thought.
There are also videos where the grammar and vocabulary found in the story are explained. Additionally, there are worksheets, pronunciation videos, and speaking activities that you could work with a language exchange partner or tutor from italki.
Overall, I really enjoyed using Italian Uncovered, though there are definitely some things that could be improved. The course costs $297. Review.
Babbel is a language learning app and website that in many ways is pretty similar to Duolingo. However, it’s better for those who are a bit more serious about studying, as such, it’s not as good for very casual learners who love the game-like elements of Duolingo.
Babbel also uses lots of exercises to teach Italian but they focus more on conversational language that you’re likely to use in real life. Babbel also does a pretty good job of explaining grammar. Another thing I appreciate is that the sentences are all recorded by native Italian speakers.
Although the lessons and activities aren’t the most unique or inspiring thing around, it’s a solid course and quite affordable. A one-month subscription costs $12.95 per month and gets cheaper if you subscribe longer. Review.
Language Transfer provides a fantastic introduction to Italian and doesn’t cost any money to use. Besides Italian, there are several other languages available and all are created primarily by one man, Mihalis.
What’s more impressive is that he doesn’t actually speak all of the languages that he teaches. While having a non-fluent speaker may sound like a terrible idea, his methodology works really well. He calls it the “thinking method” as it gets you thinking about how the languages actually work.
Throughout the 45 beginner Italian lessons, you’ll listen in on a lesson between Mihalis and another student. The student and you will be prompted to put together words and sentences in Italian using what you’ve already learned.
He does an exceptional job of explaining and simplifying things, providing a great foundation for those looking to study independently. Unfortunately, you won’t hear any native speakers or longer dialogues in the lessons. Review.
Duolingo is an impressive platform that has made it easier for anyone to learn a language regardless of their economic situation. It wouldn’t be my first choice for very studious and serious students. However, for those that are just curious about learning Italian or don’t have a ton of time to commit, it’s a great way to get started.
The lessons are structured as lots of short exercises. So, you learn Italian more by doing rather than being taught in a traditional manner, though you’ll find grammar lessons on the desktop version of the site as well.
The lessons don’t take much time to complete, only a few minutes, so it’s easy to get yourself to do a little each day. Additionally, you’ll earn little rewards and can build streaks for studying each day. All these features can help people get in the habit of studying Italian.
There are some downsides though. For example, the audio is text-to-speech so it can sound a little unnatural. Additionally, a lot of the sentences are non-sensical that you’d never use in a real conversation.
Duolingo is completely free to use. If you want to remove ads and get a few other benefits, you can subscribe for $9.99/mo for Duolingo Plus. Review.
Rocket Italian isn’t the most exciting course around. The lessons can feel too scripted and the dialogues and jokes are often very corny. It can be pretty boring and dry as well and I could see it being hard to stick with if you were to use it long-term.
But, it’s not a bad course by any means. Its approach is more balanced than a lot of other courses, providing a mixture of all the main skills – listening, speaking, grammar, vocabulary, reading, and writing. Though, reading and writing focus more on individual words and not on longer content.
The course is structured pretty well with the content building upon what came before it. To get the most out of the audio lessons, you need to participate and speak aloud in the gaps provided. They do a good job of explaining how Italian works while getting you to use what you’ve learned.
There are also tons of exercises for you to practice what you’ve learned. While these will definitely help, they can get very repetitive.
There are three levels available. Level 1 costs $99.95, Levels 1 & 2 cost $249.90, and Levels 1,2 & 3 cost $259.90. Review.
edX offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from universities around the world. On their platform, you can take high-quality courses on a ton of different subjects, including learning Italian.
Wellesley College offers four courses for Italian learners, including a beginner, intermediate, and advanced course. They’re self-paced so you can enroll whenever you’d like and take as long as you need. Each of these courses is meant to last around 12 weeks, studying 2-5 hours per week.
For those that already speak a lot of Italian, they can take courses in Italian about other subjects, such as philosophy, chemistry, or programming.
The courses on edX are free but you can get a certificate upon completion for $49.
If you’re familiar with Glossika, which I’ll talk about later, then Ripeti Con Me’s course structure is quite similar, though a lot better.
Essentially, you’ll learn Italian by listening to and speaking a ton of sentences. It may not sound like the most exciting thing to do but it’s a great way to improve your spoken Italian. But, beyond that, you’ll improve your listening comprehension, vocabulary, and grammar.
This course doesn’t explicitly explain all of these things, but the way Stefano structures the sentences, you’re able to pick these things up naturally. For example, while looking at the PDF, each place the grammar point is used, it’s written in bold.
The sentences are structured really well too, with things you’ve learned previously showing up again later on. The sentences are also specific to Italian culture, making it much more relevant to learners.
A pack of 15 lessons costs 14.40€ and can be cheaper if you buy more lessons at once. Review.
The Foreign Service Institute of the US government has created free courses for a bunch of different languages, including Italian. There are four Italian courses available and they’re very extensive.
Each course has ebooks with hundreds of pages and audio files totaling 8+ hours long. There are lots of exercises and drills for you to utilize what you’ve learned as well. The courses are super thorough.
The only big weakness of these courses is that they’re also very dated. The most recent course was created in 1992. So, the text isn’t the most modern and the audio isn’t the clearest recording, but they’re still a solid resource.
Although ItalianPod101 has a massive library of lessons, it’s much better as a supplemental resource and not a standalone course.
Their lessons are primarily audio-based and structured similar to a podcast. Typically, a pair of hosts will listen to a dialogue in Italian and discuss it, explaining key vocabulary, grammar, and cultural context. There are also grammar notes, flashcards, and a bunch of other tools available on their platform.
ItalianPod101 has been around for a long time. Some of the content is excellent while some of it isn’t great. It’s also not a course where you can just follow it from one lesson to the next as most of the lessons aren’t connected.
There are lessons for beginners, intermediate, and advanced level students. However, the majority of the content is at the beginner level. Review.
Online Italian Club has a lot of free content across six levels – from beginner to advanced.
Included in the resources are a ton of grammar lessons and online exercises to check your understanding. There are also listening exercises with transcripts, conversation prompts, vocabulary lessons, verb conjugations, and more.
It may not be the most modern course around but there’s lots of good content.
Udemy is a platform where anybody can sell courses on just about any topic imaginable. Although the prices vary by course, they constantly offer discounts which lower the price of courses significantly.
There are dozens of Italian courses on Udemy, with some being quite good and others being pretty bad. Luckily, seeing how many people have taken the course, the rating, and reading reviews makes it easy to figure out which of the courses are worth your time.
One nice thing about Udemy is that the large number of course creators can lead to some unique Italian courses. So, if you’d prefer to focus on grammar, learn Italian through song, or want something specific to travelers, you may have better luck finding it on Udemy compared to other places.
The Mimic Method’s 32 Elemental Sounds of Italian Master Class is a unique type of course. It doesn’t intend to teach you any Italian grammar or vocabulary. Instead, it’s a course that’s 100% focused on pronunciation.
It can be pretty technical at times which some students may enjoy but others will get bored from. By the end of the course, you’ll know how to pronounce all the sounds of Italian.
At $197, it’s not particularly cheap. For a course so limited in scope, I was disappointed that there weren’t more exercises to force you to practice your pronunciation. It would also have been nice to see more focus on mastering the rhythm of full sentences, but unfortunately, there wasn’t any of that.
Still, if you want a highly technical course to learn everything about all the sounds found in Italian, it’s good for that purpose. Review.
I wouldn’t really go out of my way to recommend Mango Languages. It’s not bad or anything, but for the $19.99 monthly cost, there are better alternatives. However, many libraries have a copy that you could use for free, so that may be worth checking out.
They offer courses in an absurd number of languages, even things like Pirate and Shakespearian English. The courses all focus on the beginner and don’t go past the intermediate level.
The lessons include lots of drilling, along with grammar and cultural notes. There are also some unique features like giving you the option to see literal translations or translations based on meaning. Overall, it’s a solid but not exceptional platform to get started with. Review.
Live Lingua takes free Italian courses from places like the FSI, DLI, and Peace Corps and arranges private 1-1 lessons over Skype. It describes itself as a “boutique” language school probably due in part to the fact that their teachers are “higher” quality than most.
The lessons are actually pretty affordable, starting at $29 per hour and becoming cheaper if you purchase more. However, you could just as easily use these free materials, and find a tutor on italki for about half the price. I tend to prefer the cheaper and more flexible options, but the fact that the teachers have more experience with the materials could make it worthwhile for some.
If you’re willing to purchase a large amount of hours to bring the cost down and/or take part in their specialized courses that you probably couldn’t find elsewhere then Live Lingua may be for you. Review.
This website was created by an Italian language school in Italy. Like Online Italian Club, it’s free to use and there’s quite a bit of useful content.
You’ll find a beginner level course, along with a short video course, some dictations, dialogues, exercises, grammar explanations, and more.
It’s not the most exciting content and a lot of the listening material is quite short. You would definitely need to combine the materials on this site with materials found elsewhere, but still, it’s hard to complain about something that’s free and helpful.
Glossika is a useful resource for language learners but not something I’d recommend strongly to many people, especially not to those who are learning Italian. If you like their approach, Ripeti Con Me works similarly but is done much better.
With Glossika, you’ll essentially learn a language by listening to and speaking lots of sentences. It’s not the most exciting thing but it is an effective way to improve your listening comprehension and get more comfortable speaking.
The reason I don’t love Glossika is more because of their product than their methodology.
All the sentences come from the same source so you won’t learn anything about Italian culture. The sentences are often too long and the gaps for you to speak are too short, making things feel rushed. There are also more than a few mistakes in their courses as well.
Finally, the $30 per month subscription fee is just too high for what they offer, in my opinion. Review.
Busuu is a bit unique because I wouldn’t recommend paying for a subscription but it’s worth using as a free resource.
It’s an extremely popular app and website for language learners. One of my favorite things is that you can submit writing and recordings to native Italian speakers and get feedback on your mistakes. Because of how many users they have, it’s generally quite quick to get help, and that part is completely free.
They also have some courses which are pretty similar to what you’d find on other apps and websites such as Duolingo, Babbel, Mango Languages, and others but not as well-done.
They also don’t provide much emphasis on grammar making it hard not to resort to other resources for help. Some of the lessons also don’t provide translations necessary for comprehension making you wonder if you truly understood the content. Despite this, the interface itself is easy-to-use and engaging which makes the parts of the app that do work well enjoyable.
It’s not terribly expensive, costing $9.99 per month for a Premium subscription and $13.99. However, there are many better options available. Review.
You can’t have an article about Italian courses without including Rosetta Stone. Perhaps the most popular language learning platform in the world, Rosetta Stone is a huge disappointment.
They have moved away from the ridiculously expensive CD style courses and into subscriptions. However, their courses are still far too expensive for the value they offer – costing $79 for three months of access.
You won’t find any English at all in their Italian course. While this sounds nice, in theory, as a way to really immerse yourself in the language, there are a few drawbacks. The biggest being that not everything can be easily inferred from a picture and repetition. Sometimes, getting a quick explanation in English can save countless hours of struggling and second-guessing yourself.
Additionally, the exercises get very repetitive. For the most part, you’ll be matching words and audio clips to pictures. They don’t do much as far as teaching culture either.
But, the positives are that the platform is well-designed and the courses are well-structured. The recordings are professionally done as well. Review
Mondly is another platform that offers courses in a bunch of different languages but doesn’t do a particularly good job of doing so. Although a subscription only costs $9.99 per month, it’s not worth paying for.
With similar issues as busuu’s courses, Mondly’s aren’t much (or any) better. The courses are the same in every language, including a fair number of mistakes and they don’t explain grammar well. Making things worse, the exercises are similar to what you’d find elsewhere and the user interface is below average.
They have created some AR and VR features which I haven’t had the chance to try. But, considering how poor their courses are, I’m not particularly optimistic. Review.
I found LearnItalianPod to be really disappointing. Although it’s not terribly expensive, costing $14.95 per month, it’s not at all worth the price.
The platform feels a little bit dated but that’s far from the biggest problem. The lessons just aren’t very good. They often lack explanations that would make things much easier to understand. The recorded lessons are spoken excessively slow and the repetitions are hard to listen to.
The course structure doesn’t always make much sense either and in general, it feels like it was put together without any proper plan. Basically, it’s not worth using. Review.
Language101 offers courses in ten different languages and claims to be able to bring beginner students up to an intermediate level in speaking and comprehension — it doesn’t do this well.
The often messy and bizarre lesson progression doesn’t offer any grammar, reading, or writing practice and certainly doesn’t include any explanations. Instead, your task is simply to mimic Italian phrases.
What’s more, you’re expected to fly through the lessons at incredible speed (aiming for seven seconds per phrase).
You might think that a resource offering so little might be inexpensive or free, but you’d be wrong. For access to one language, you’ll have to pay anywhere from $147 to $342. Best to avoid this one. Review.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of options for Italian courses.
It’s also worth mentioning, just because I prefer certain courses over other ones, doesn’t mean everyone will feel the same way. Even if I only sort-of like a course, that doesn’t mean you won’t love it.
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