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The 30 Best (And Worst) Online Italian Courses In 2020

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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…

Top Tier

These are our favorites. They’re the courses that provide the most value and are definitely worth considering.

Italy Made Easy

Best Overall Course

Price: Each level is $197 for lifetime access. The VIP version is $248.

Quite often the best courses for learning a particular language aren’t made by a huge company but rather by 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, they contain lots of activities, and you’ll really be pushed into actively using Italian.

It’s also structured exceptionally well, meaning lessons build on each other in a logical way. Manu is very charismatic and keeps the lessons interesting, mixing Italian and enough English to keep you from getting lost.

It’s on the expensive side, but it’s also the best option for serious Italian learners. Review.

Visit Italy Made Easy

Pimsleur

Best for Practicing Oral Communication

Price: A subscription is $14.95/month. The entire Italian course is $575.

Pimsleur is one of the biggest language learning companies on the planet and would be my second choice – with a few caveats.

Pimsleur is great at teaching Italian communication skills. It’s an audio-centric course that requires you to get involved and speak throughout.

This is great for improving your speaking skills quickly, but the tradeoff is that it ignores grammar completely and barely touches on the written language. 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.

Visit Pimsleur

Italian Uncovered

Story-Based Learning

Price: $297 for the entire course.

Italian Uncovered was created by Olly Richards of the popular blog, I Will Teach You a Language. His language learning philosophy involves the use of stories and is something you can see in this course.

The first part of each lesson involves reading and listening to a chapter in an Italian story. Naturally, this can be quite difficult at first, 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, in addition to worksheets, pronunciation videos, and speaking activities that you could use with a language exchange partner or tutor from italki.

Overall, it’s a good course that’s better for those who want to be challenged a bit while learning. Review.

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Visit Italian Uncovered

Babbel

Like a More Serious Duolingo

Price: $6.95 – $12.95/month

Babbel is a language learning app and website that’s similar to Duolingo in some ways. However, Babbel is better for those who are a bit more serious about studying, meaning it isn’t as good for very casual learners who are attached to the game-like elements of Duolingo.

There are a variety of exercises that Babbel uses 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. Review.

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Visit Babbel

News in Slow Italian

Entertaining Lessons for Improving LIstening

Price: $19.90/month

News in Slow Italian is available at three different levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. The beginner level, however, is the only one 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, not requiring you to speak and use enough Italian.

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. The resource gets its name for the weekly current events episode that’s narrated and discussed at a slower pace, but there’s also a wealth of information teaching grammar and expressions in a fun and natural way. Review.

Visit News in Slow Italian

Coffee Break Italian

Like learning from a friend

Price: Free for audio podcasts, $104 per season of online course

Coffee Break Italian can feel a bit more relaxing than some other courses. It doesn’t have the gamification elements of some popular apps and isn’t as intimidating as some other courses.

The lessons feel as if you’re sitting in on a lesson with a friend and their teacher. In fact, one of the hosts will be learning from the Italian teacher with you. The courses are well-designed as well; it’s clear that a lot of thought went into the lesson progression.

What really makes Coffee Break Italian stand out is how much value they give away for free. The audio lessons are available for free on any of the podcast platforms. Those who really enjoy the lessons may be interested in upgrading and joining the paid courses, which adds in video lessons, notes, and bonus audio material. Review.

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Visit Coffee Break Italian

 

Second Tier

Ripeti Con Me

Improve Your Speaking and Listening Skills

Price: Starts with a 7-day free trial and then $18.90 a month

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 super exciting, but it’s effective.

The course doesn’t offer explicit explanations, but you’ll be able to pick things up naturally by the way Stefano structures the sentences. For example, grammar points are marked in bold in the transcript PDF.

The material is structured really well, too – things you’ve learned previously continue to show up as you progress. There’s also added value in the fact that content is specific to Italian culture. Review.

Visit Ripeti Con Me

Duolingo

Good For Gamified Practice

Price: Free

Duolingo is an impressive platform that has made it easier for anyone to learn a language regardless of their economic situation, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for serious students. Instead, it’s better for learners that are just curious about Italian or aren’t able to commit to more serious study.

The lessons are structured as lots of short exercises, and grammar explanations are limited (nonexistent on the app).

Since the lessons don’t take much time to complete, it’s easy to get yourself to do a little each day. Additionally, you’ll earn little rewards and can build streaks for consecutive study days. All these features can help people get in the habit of studying Italian.

Downsides include text-to-speech audio that sounds unnatural and nonsensical sentences that you’d never use in a real conversation. Review.

Visit Duolingo

busuu

SOlid Course that Integrates Writing and Speaking Feedback

Price: $5.41 – $13.99/month

Busuu is fairly similar to Babbel and Duolingo but has its own take on things.

One of my favorite things is that you can submit writing and recordings to native Italian speakers and get feedback on your mistakes. This integrates really well with their regular lessons and because of how many users they have, it’s generally quite quick to get help.

They don’t provide much emphasis on grammar as Babbel, and some of the lessons don’t provide necessary translations, making you wonder if you truly understood the content. Despite this, the interface itself is easy-to-use and engaging which makes their courses quite enjoyable. Review.

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Memrise

Good for Vocabulary Practice

Price: Free, or $8.99/month

Memrise is probably used mostly as a free resource for vocabulary study, but there’s also a more comprehensive course for Italian that’s available with a subscription.

Similar to the free courses, the official Memrise Italian course uses SRS flashcards to teach vocabulary. It also includes short videos of native Italian speakers to listen to, as well as some grammar explanations and a variety of practice activities.

Memrise is fun to use and makes a great free supplementary tool for vocabulary practice, but the paid version doesn’t offer a whole lot more. Review.

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Language Transfer

Good Free Beginner Course

Price: Free

Language Transfer provides a fantastic introduction to Italian and doesn’t cost any money to use. There are also 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 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.

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Rocket ItalianRocket German

Good, Not Great

Price: Level 1 costs $99.95
Levels 1 & 2 cost $249.90
Levels 1,2 & 3 cost $259.90

Rocket Italian isn’t the most exciting course around. The lessons feel too scripted at times, and the dialogues and jokes are often very corny. I could see it being hard to stick with because of this if you were to use it long-term.

That said, 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 language skills.

The course is structured pretty well and progresses logically. It does a good job of explaining how Italian works while getting you to use what you’ve learned. You’ll do this in audio lessons by participating and speaking aloud in the gaps provided.

There are also tons of exercises for you to practice what you’ve learned which are helpful, if repetitive. Review.

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One World Italiano

Limited But Free Practice

Price: Free

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, 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 it’s hard to complain about something that’s free and helpful.

Visit One World Italiano

Grammar Hero

Engaging Grammar PRactice

Price: $197

This is another one by Olly Richards of the popular I Will Teach You a Language blog. Here again, stories are used to present the language in a meaningful, memorable way.

This course pays special attention to, you guessed it, grammar. Participating in the course primarily involves reading stories and seeing how different grammar points are used in context. Explanations paired with examples in context are an efficient way to wrap your head around even the more challenging concepts.

There are also production exercises in which learners are asked to practice writing, translating, and error-correcting. The course is most suitable for learners at the intermediate level. Review.

Visit Grammar Hero

Third TierYou can find free Chinese courses on edx.

edX and Coursera

Free University Courses

Price: Free, a certificate is available for purchase upon completion.

These platforms offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from universities around the world. You can take high-quality courses on a ton of different subjects, including Italian.

Wellesley College, for example, 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, you can also take courses in Italian teaching other subjects such as philosophy, chemistry, or programming.

Visit edX            Visit Coursera

FSI Italian

Super Thorough but Dated Material

Price: Free

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. There are lots of exercises and drills for you to utilize what you’ve learned as well – these courses are super thorough.

The only big weakness of these courses is that they’re very dated. The most recent course was created in 1992, meaning the text isn’t the most modern and the audio isn’t the clearest, but this is still a solid resource.

Visit FSI Italian

Live Lingua

Live Lingua

Live Lessons + Free Materials

Price: $29/hour, cheaper if you purchase more hours.

Live Lingua provides two language services. One is a library of free learning resources, the other is private one-on-one lessons over Skype.

The free library includes ebooks sourced from places like the FSI, DLI, and Peace Corps. For popular languages like Italian, these aren’t super valuable considering the amount of better material available online.

The private lessons are unique to other platforms in that Live Lingua pairs students with a class coordinator and a customized curriculum. This is why it describes itself as a “boutique” language school and charges more than similar platforms like italki.

If you’re willing to purchase a large number of hours to bring the cost down and are looking for a more personalized tutoring service, Live Lingua could be right for you. Review.

Visit Live Lingua

ItalianPod101

OK Podcast Lessons

Price: Starts at $8/month for the Basic Plan and $25/month for the Premium Plan

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 its content is excellent, some of it isn’t great. It’s also not a progressive course, meaning lessons are disconnected from one another.

There are lessons for learners of all levels, but the majority of content is at the beginner level. Review.

Save 25% with the coupon code ‘ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES‘.

Visit ItalianPod101

Online Italian Club

OK Free Practice

Price: Mostly free.

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 you can use 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.

Visit Online Italian Club

Udemy

Courses by People for People

Price: Varies by course.

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, and the variety means you’ll have to check reviews to sort through courses with varying levels of quality. The variety also means that there are some unique options – 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.

Visit Udemy

Mango Languages

Not Bad, but Doesn’t stand Out

Price: $7.99/mo for one language, $17.99/mo for all languages

I wouldn’t really go out of my way to recommend Mango Languages. It’s not bad or anything, but there are better alternatives that are pretty similar. Many public libraries have a copy that you could use for free, however, 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 notes on grammar and culture. There are also some unique features, like 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.

Visit Mango Languages

Glossika

Not as Good as Ripeti Con Me

Price: $30/month

Glossika can be a useful resource for some language learners, but it isn’t something I’d recommend 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 method, but it does provide effective listening and speaking practice.

A major downside is that the sentences for each language come from the same source, meaning you won’t learn anything about Italian culture. The sentences are also often too long and the gaps for you to speak are too short, making things feel rushed. There are more than a few mistakes in their courses as well. Review.

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Courses to Avoid

Rosetta Stone

Immersion without Explanations

Price: $36/three months

You can’t have an article about Italian courses without including Rosetta Stone. It’s perhaps the most popular language-learning platform in the world, yet a huge disappointment.

Their renowned immersion approach means you won’t find any English at all in their Italian course. Unfortunately, not everything can be easily inferred from a picture and repetition. You’ll likely spend hours struggling and second-guessing yourself when a quick explanation in English would have cleared things up.

The exercises also 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.

The platform is well-designed, the courses are well-structured, and the recordings are professionally done, but it’s just too expensive for what it offers. Review.

Visit Rosetta Stone

Mondly

Interesting AR/VR, not Much Else

Price: $9.99/month

Mondly is another platform that offers courses in a bunch of different languages but doesn’t do a particularly good job with any of them. It’s not even worth the inexpensive subscription price.

The courses are the same in every language, include a fair number of mistakes and don’t explain grammar well. Add the fact that the exercises are similar to what you’d find elsewhere and the user interface is below average, and you’ve got a sub-par resource.

They have created some AR and VR (Augmented/Virtual Reality) features. We had the chance to try out their VR, and while it’s great to see innovation in the language learning space, it didn’t add much value. Review.

Visit Mondly

LearnItalianPod

Low-Quality Lessons

Price: $14.95/month

I found LearnItalianPod to be really disappointing. Although it’s not terribly expensive at $14.95 per month, it’s not at all worth the price.

The platform feels a little bit dated and 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.

Also, the course structure doesn’t always make much sense and it generally feels like it was put together without any proper plan. In short, it’s not worth using. Review.

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Language101

Expensive and Minimally Useful

Price: $147 – $342 for access to Italian

Not to be confused with LanguagePod101 (ItalianPod101), Language101 is one of the worst deals out there.

It 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). It’s also really expensive. Best to avoid this one. Review.

Visit Language101

Michel Thomas Method

Hit-and-Miss Courses

Price: Courses range from $11.99 to $100

This is another course that’s extremely popular but also overpriced. The courses take the form of audio lessons featuring students learning from a professor. It can be insightful to listen to other learners grapple with the language while learning yourself, but the Michel Thomas courses are hit and miss.

Some people come away fond of the experience, having picked up some useful phrases, others are maddened by the teaching method and find it ineffective and tedious. Your mileage may vary, but we’d suggest finding a less expensive option. Review.

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Transparent Language

Only Good if it’s Your Only Option

Price: $24.95/month or $149.95 per year

Transparent Language offers courses in a ton of languages. As is the case with many resources of this kind, the quality of instruction isn’t outstanding.

The course aims to teach basics to beginning learners of Italian, but it focuses heavily on repetition and memorization, making the experience monotonous and dull. You’ll also miss out on any relevant cultural information and grammar explanations.

Basically, it would only possibly make sense to purchase a Transparent Language course in a rare language for which there aren’t other resources. Review.

Visit Transparent Language

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there’s no shortage of options for Italian courses.

It’s also worth mentioning that this list ultimately includes some subjectivity. Just because I prefer certain courses over others doesn’t mean everyone will feel the same way. Even if I only sort-of like a course, there’s a chance you’ll find you love it.

Fortunately, many of them offer free trials, and you can try them out for yourself – hopefully this list points you in the right direction.

If you’re looking for more resources for studying Italian, you may want to read our posts about Italian YouTube Channels, the best apps for learning Italian, and our favorite podcasts.

Did I miss any of your favorites? Be sure to let us know!

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Comments (1)

Hi again Nick!

Just an ammendment to my previous comment: To be more clear, when I said that I think Duolingo has added grammar “tips” on the app version, I meant that for most skills on the Italian tree you can read a grammar explanation “tips” page before you start the lesson on the app now.

Grazie!
Matt

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