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Italianpod101 Review – Solid But Has Room For Improvement

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Quick Review

3.5 

Summary:

This online tool is useful for people who already have a basis in Italian. It can be a great way to improve vocabulary and pronunciation, but beginners might want to look for alternative resources when it comes to learning grammar and the basics. ItalianPod101 comes in handy as a complementary tool to a more structured learning plan.

Quality

The platform is easy to use and well designed, but the structure of the modules is not the best.

Thoroughness

It covers vocabulary and pronunciation in depth, grammar less so. There are no exercises aside from a vocabulary quiz.

Value

It’s useful, but there are better resources out there for the money.

Price

Free trial for 7 days. If you pay for one month at a time, the Basic plan costs $8/month, the Premium plan costs $25/month, and the Premium+ plan costs $47/month. There are varying durations with lower prices for longer commitments which extend up to two years.

Use the promo code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES” to save 25% on a subscription to ItalianPod101. 

ItalianPod101 – A Podcast-Style Italian Course

ItalianPod101 is a user-friendly online platform that can help you improve your Italian – emphasis on improve.

Upon a closer look at the lesson structure, I think this tool is better suited for people that already speak some Italian: people who want to enrich their vocabulary, improve their pronunciation, or learn idioms and a few cultural facts about Italy.

I would not recommend it as the first resource for a beginner. Most of the materials are based on various real-world situations one might encounter, such as how to ask for particular things in certain contexts. They’re quite broad, but they lack a well-defined structure.

I imagine I would give up my subscription rather fast as a beginner, as it can be quite confusing to figure out what lessons they offer for each level.

For example, I browsed through a few modules and lessons and couldn’t find information on avere (to have) or essere (to be). I feel that these are the first few things you should be introduced to as a beginner.

However, let’s review the whole platform — the good parts and the things I believe could be improved.

The course lacks a well-thought-out structure

ItalianPod101 is nicely designed and the interface is easy to use. The material is structured into modules with a particular thematic topic, and each of these modules can have up to 50 lessons.

The lessons have a lot of cool features like downloadable materials and plenty of audio files that are great for repeating words and sentences out loud. However, one key element is missing – a lack of practice exercises.

Vocabulary can be tested with a quiz in every lesson, but nothing more. I think adding more practice opportunities is one of the biggest improvements they could make.

The overall structure of what they provide feels quite random. Lessons are suggested on your dashboard, but I couldn’t figure out what these suggestions were based on, to be honest. I couldn’t find the connection between my previously studied module and the one they added to my list.

The content they add to each lesson is fairly comprehensive —  it’s clear and easy to work through.

I will talk a bit more about this aspect later on; for now, let me walk you through using the resource in greater detail.

Getting started is very easy

ItalianPod101

Using the platform for the first time is very easy. There aren’t a lot of input fields to fill in, and registration takes less than one minute.

Signing-up is mandatory and entails selecting your level, adding your email address and responding to a confirmation email sent to your inbox. Alternatively, you can sign up through Facebook.

The Lesson Library gives you suggested pathways for your level as well as a more comprehensive list of recommended lessons which includes a variety of topics. These lessons don’t seem to have a particular order, though, and I thought they appeared to be listed somewhat arbitrarily.

The user has the option to filter the listed results in the list by choosing from the drop-down menu sorting by Alphabetical, Recent, or Popular.

ItalianPod101 Lesson Library

The Dashboard section – this is where you can find your suggested pathways. The platform offers lessons that it thinks you should study for your level, and you can also add or remove which pathways you’re studying.

Adding a pathway leads to the lesson library, where you can choose which pathway to add to your dashboard. Removing pathways from the dashboard is as simple as selecting “Edit Pathways” and then the “Remove” button.

The platform also automatically adds more pathways to your dashboard as you progress through the lessons.

ItalianPod101 Pathways

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The Vocabulary tab – here you can find many free resources to fill out your study plan including dictionaries, words of the day, 100 most commonly used words, etc.

The Flashcards are a valuable attribute of the platform. They allow you to learn new words and include audio playback for pronunciation as well as a context for each word in a sample sentence.

ItalianPod101 Flashcards

After reading the example sentence on a flashcard, you have to mark it as correct or incorrect. After you click on the correct answer, it takes you directly to the next flashcard.

My teacher tab – this is only available starting with the Premium Plus plan. However, I think it’s safe to say that finding a teacher on italki will be much more flexible, cost-effective, and convenient.

Lessons are well structured, but the organization of Pathways could be Better

Each pathway is made up of short lessons (anywhere from 3 to more than 50), each of which includes audio files and a brief description of what the lesson holds.

ItalianPod101 Lessons

Once you open a lesson, you get some really practical features of what you can do with the files – download PDFs (Lesson Notes, transcripts, checklist), share the lesson, add to favorite lessons, add notes and download all audio and video files.

ItalianPod101 Intermediate Lesson

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The bottom of the browser also displays a handy playback toolbar that you can use.

Each lesson starts with a dialogue; you have the option of listening to it and recording yourself so you get to practice your pronunciation — note that the recording feature is not included in the basic package. An English version of the text is available as well.

ItalianPod101 dialogue

The dialogue section is followed by a vocabulary breakdown of the words used in the previous text. You have the option of selecting an example of a context for the word too.

ItalianPod101 Vocabulary

This feature of the lesson is one of their big pluses; you can hear the pronunciation of the word, see it being used in a sentence and, most importantly, you get these options at the end of the module: Add to Flashcard Deck, Add to Word Bank, Slideshow (where you can hear the words again) and Take Quiz to test your knowledge.

Quizzes are useful but not sufficient

ItalianPod101 Quiz

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The quiz has two sections: a multiple-choice test and a writing test, both of which provide the correct answers and the percentage you answered correctly upon completion.

The questions are in English and they ask you to write the Italian equivalent of the word.

The Quiz settings allow you to change the language in which you want your writing questions to display, meaning you can choose to perform translations into Italian or into English.

ItalianPod101 Quiz

 

Use the promo code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES” to save 25% on a subscription to ItalianPod101.

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Lesson Notes explain grammar and offer cultural insights

The next section of the lesson structure is the Lesson Notes. It’s basically a summary of the lesson that explains relevant grammar rules, provides examples to explain usage, highlights exceptions to rules and provides other helpful details.

ItalianPod101 Lesson Notes

Another interesting offering is the Cultural Insights aspect. It explains certain cultural elements important in that culture and things the learner should be aware of.

ItalianPod101 - Cultural insights

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You have the option of downloading the PDF file of these, which is very clearly structured.

The last section of the lesson is the transcript which details all of the elements presented before in the lesson, with the option to download it as a PDF document as well.

A section of comments is available at the end of the lesson where users can share their opinions and debate multiple aspects of the lessons.

The website is well-designed, but there aren’t enough exercises

As you move along through the lessons and mark them as complete, the platform automatically displays how many lessons of that particular module you’ve finished.

The Newest Lessons tab from the main navigation bar directs to all recently added lessons.

ItalianPod101 - new lessons

The design of the lessons is appealing, clean, and easy to follow. The downloadable materials are a huge bonus, and you are also able to share the lessons with other people via social media or email.

The structure of each lesson is logical and clear, and the information is extensive. They cover a lot of topics: grammar, vocabulary, cultural tips, audio, and pronunciation.

Unfortunately, one major downside of this platform in my opinion is the lack of exercises and methods for testing your knowledge.

The only available test is in the vocabulary section, but I feel that it should also provide tests for listening, comprehension and grammar exercises. I have to say, the vocabulary test provided for the intermediate level was quite basic; I think even a beginner would manage to pass the test.

The lessons seem like a good tool to accumulate information and learn some grammar and vocabulary; but, I’d recommend using a good grammar book as well.

This might seem suitable for someone who is self-studying but who also benefits from other ways to practice the language and test his/her knowledge. A positive point that I might add in regard to the lessons is the fact that they’re structured based on various situational topics, e.g. making an appointment.

The price varies according to the chosen plan and subscription length

Use the promo code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES” to save 25% on a subscription to ItalianPod101.

There are three plans the user can choose from: Basic, Premium and Premium Plus. These plans have various price points with the monthly plans being the most expensive per month and the 2-year plans being quite a bit cheaper per month.

Features of the Basic package – $8 per month or $4/month with a 2-year subscription:

• Complete lesson access
• In-depth Lesson Notes
• Basic access on other devices such as iPhones, iPads, and Android tablets
• 100 core words and phrases

Features of the Premium package – $25 per month or $10/month with a 2-year subscription:

• Line-by-line audio dialogue
• Premium access on other devices
• HD Video
• 2000 core words and phrases
• Recording option, daily new lessons, custom words lists, season vocabulary, word bank, audio dictionary, grammar bank, vocabulary slideshow, spaced repetition flashcards
• All features of the Basic package

Features of the Premium Plus package – $47 per month or $22.88/month with a 2-year plan:

• Premium Plus access on all other devices
• Access to a teacher
• Personalized learning curriculum – this plan is structured by the teacher according to your goals, level and study needs
• Ongoing professional assessment
• Assignments
• All features of the Premium package

Which, if any, plan should you consider?

Comparing all these plans, I really don’t see a reason for subscribing to the Premium Plus package. italki would be a much more convenient and affordable place to find an online Italian teacher.

You can easily benefit from the information that’s available in the Basic or Premium plans and find other ways to check your knowledge.

The Basic and Premium plans are of OK value, especially if you plan to focus on vocabulary and improving your listening comprehension.

They’re also pretty good for pronunciation, but if you’re interested in a thorough pronunciation course, it may be worth considering The Mimic Method, though that’s also a bit pricey.

There is a 60-day 100% money-back guarantee policy in case you are not satisfied with the package you purchased. You can also access all the content for free without giving payment information with their 7-day free trial. 

Alternatives

For learners looking for a more structured approach than is available with ItalianPod101, here are some quality alternatives worth looking at.

Italy Made Easy

If an incredibly thorough course is what you’re after, you’ll want to check out Italy Made Easy. The resource boasts several courses, all of which are structured exceptionally well and come with a ton of practice exercises.

The courses were developed by Manu Venditti, a dedicated Italian teacher with over 20 years of experience teaching the language. He’s a charismatic teacher that keeps lessons engaging and uses an appropriate mix of both Italian and English. Here’s our Italy Made Easy review.

News in Slow Italian

News in Slow Italian has a fairly similar layout to ItalianPod101 in that it offers audio lessons that are supplemented with helpful extras. The Beginner level of this resource is a course that’s structured as a play, which makes it engaging to follow along with. The Intermediate level isn’t structured as a course, but it can make for a great supplementary tool.

A potential downside of this course is that much of the practice you’ll get is passive, meaning you won’t get a ton of speaking practice. That said, it delivers helpful grammar instruction and useful information on expressions in a way that’s fun. Read our full review of News in Slow Italian.

Pimsleur

Pimsleur is a longstanding language resource with a reputation for excellent course structure. Audio lessons get learners listening to and speaking Italian right off the bat — there’s no passive learning with this one.

Learners that prefer to learn via reading and writing may struggle with Pimsleur, as it doesn’t offer much at all in these areas, but it’s a great place for aural/verbal learners to get used to interacting with the language even as a beginner. The course structure is solid, and lessons build on each other nicely. Here’s our Pimsleur review.

italki

If you’re looking for personalized instruction and feedback from a real human, italki can make a much cheaper alternative to the ItalianPod101 Premium Plus plan. It’s an online directory of language tutors with literally hundreds of Italian teachers. They each set their own schedules and prices, meaning you’re sure to find several that match what you’re looking for.

italki also has a nifty Community feature on its app where users can find partners for language exchange or get free feedback on their writing and pronunciation from other users. Read our italki review here.

Of course, these alternatives don’t even scratch the surface of what’s really out there for learning Italian. If you’d like to see more, be sure to read our posts on the best online courses for Italian, the best Italian language apps, the best podcasts for learning the language, and some great YouTube channels for Italian learners.

ItalianPod101 is fairly good as a supplementary resource

ItalianPod101 is convenient as an additional source to a more structured and solid study plan, but I wouldn’t use it as my only resource. The lesson plans seem to be randomly placed on your dashboard, which can be confusing, even if they’re of high quality.

It seems like the materials they upload aren’t released in a sequential order that’s designed to help you progress in a logical manner.

I can see it being effective for people willing to put in the extra work and effort aside from their regular learning method.

But, if you plan on learning Italian strictly from this platform, I think it’ll be a challenge.

You can learn words, basic grammar, phrases, idioms, and improve your pronunciation, but don’t expect to develop a comprehensive foundation in the language exclusively from these lessons.

In all fairness, ItalianPod101 is a good tool to use when you learn Italian, but not extensive enough to depend on it alone.

Use the promo code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES” to save 25% on a subscription to ItalianPod101.

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