While Italy Made Easy offers several Italian courses, The one I’ve focused on when writing this review was the Beginner Italian Level 1 (A1).
Italy Made Easy’s course for absolute beginners (A1) is very well designed and full of useful information and tips. The tool gives you enough practice to learn how to have a simple conversation and write basic sentences, in other words, express yourself just as you should at this level.
The platform also offers a comprehensive course for the next level (A2) and some additional programs. Additional levels are being developed and will be released as they become available.
Italy Made Easy is a learning platform on which you pay separately for each course that you want to attend. It’s different from many other services as it does not work on a subscription basis.
The Beginner Italian Level 1 includes 14 complex units which consist of lessons, assignments and other language practice.
There are plenty of diverse exercises for you to complete. You’ll find tools such as flashcards, dictation, translation, and comprehension. There are also scheduled repetitions of what you’ve learnt so far.
To start learning with Italy Made Easy, you should choose your course. The platform offers a self-diagnosis tool to help you check whether the course you’re considering is right for you. Currently, Italy Made Easy only offers comprehensive courses for beginners but more advanced courses will be coming soon.
Once you’ve made your choice you can pay for the right course, which will grant you unlimited access to it.
Before you start working on your first course you may want to explore the course “Intro: Academy Walkthrough”. It gives you tips on how to use the platform and what’s the best way to benefit from it.
It’s commendable that the tutor aims at using Italian from the very beginning. Initially, however, beginners will likely find it difficult to understand much of what he’s saying.
I do prefer this over the typical style of courses such as ItalianPod101 where English is overused.
Just like with any other part of a course on this platform, you have to mark the lesson as “complete” yourself. This is to prevent you from getting confused from automatic marking, if for instance you started the video but never finished it or you don’t think that listening one time was enough.
The walkthroughs contain some important information and short 1-2 minute videos.
You can also choose to skip them entirely and still comfortably use the courses as they’re well structured enough to do so.
Additionally, the beginner course itself contains videos with instructions regarding the content of the course as well as tips about, for instance, how much you should study weekly in order to achieve the results you’re looking for.
Once you’re done with whichever introductions you thought were necessary to watch, you can start with the actual course. In each unit, you can expect a number of theoretical lessons about grammar, pronunciation or vocabulary, assignments, and exercises.
The main part of the lesson is a video recording. The language concepts are thoroughly explained in the videos. It’s unlikely you’ll need to do any additional reading. If you prefer, you can also download lessons in MP3 format or as a PDF (the latter is actually a summary of the lesson).
Once again: if you’re done with your lesson, remember to mark it as done so that you can track your progress on the right side of the screen. With such a large number of units and subunits, it could be very confusing to try to remember what you’ve completed and what you haven’t.
The tool is absorbing even for a long time user. There’s an impressive number of units and comprehensive lessons within them, which faithfully cover all you should learn on level A1. There’s nothing I’d add to the explanations of language concepts.
They’re also specifically discussed in a way to suit an English speaker. If I wanted to add any improvements, it would be to get rid of some of the content which is related but not necessary for understanding. I’m sure though, there are plenty of students that would prefer to have this extra content.
Apart from the theoretical part of the course, I was also pleasantly surprised by all the language practice included. You can tell that Manu has a lot of experience in foreign language teaching.
He assumes the problems that students are going to have and includes additional explanations and tips so as to meet their needs.
Sometimes the course groups a few theoretical, thematically linked lessons together and only then introduces some practice. With more demanding topics the exercises follow the theoretical lessons directly or are provided as a part of them.
The exercises are aimed at practicing different skills and Manu has tried his best to prepare the student for the “out there” experience. He uses quite a bit of Italian, which is very beneficial for a new student.
Beginner Italian 1 really contains everything you need to start to speak the language.
You’ll learn how to pronounce particular Italian words, read in Italian, understand spoken language and spell. You’ll also get the gist of all the necessary language concepts such as conjugation of verbs, definite articles, tenses and many many others.
To complete the practice, apart from theoretical lessons and exercises, you’ll have to prepare assignments. They have to be submitted, and unlike nearly every other resource I’ve come across, will me checked by a real person.
When I submitted my answers I received feedback the very same day.
The quick turnaround is an obvious plus, as you shouldn’t be moving on to the next chapter without making sure that you’ve understood what‘s been covered so far.
Italy Made Easy doesn’t offer a dictionary or a conjugator within the platform but there are numerous recommendations for free online resources which can be used to help you complete the assignment.
My favorite functionality within the language practice is interactive flashcards for vocabulary learning. As a beginner, you need to learn a lot of vocabulary and Manu teaches you more than the bare minimum.
Their flashcards are fortunately much more than typical cards, which you just flip around to see whether you do know the word you’re being asked about. Italy Made Easy’s flashcards are a fun and surprisingly complex tool. They offer numerous study modes, which you can see on the following screenshot on the right:
By clicking on flashcards, you’ll find what you’re most likely accustomed to – a simple, yet effective way of memorizing words and checking your knowledge:
The other available study modes are:
This study mode is based on the same idea as snap. You need to match the Italian words with corresponding English translations. You’re being timed as you play. The faster you do it, the better.
The game also informs you how well you’ve done in comparison to other users and keeps your best score. It’s really fun to try to improve your time but remember that there are penalties for wrong answers to prevent you from mindless guessing.
In this mode you’re given an Italian word and you need to translate it to English, by typing it. If you don’t know the answer, you have to click “Don’t know?” and the game will ask you to type the provided Italian word yourself so that you can learn.
The Test mode provides you with a few English words, which you have to translate to Italian by typing them. You need to correctly spell the whole word to have your answer counted as correct.
The study mode “Spell” teaches you listening comprehension as you have to type the Italian word, which you hear Manu pronounce. You can see the English translation of the word to help you if you’re stuck.
You can also visit the website Quizlet to gain access to the study set directly, without using Italy Made Easy’s platform.
All these tools are great for vocabulary learning. The drilling will help your memory easily access stored words and find the right expression during a conversation. Typical flashcards are a good source of practice too but they do get boring during prolonged use. These vocabulary learning tools make learning much more entertaining.
There are also many standalone practice exercises for sentence creation during the course. Manu has even come up with a way to make you speak. As a participant in the course, you have group chats available. They allow you to practice with other students.
Unfortunately, there are certain limitations with conversations between students who have limited knowledge of the language. For instance, both students may be making mistakes and not be aware of it. In the long term, this can cause more harm than not practicing at all. This is why the platform offers a functionality called “Amico Extra”.
This allows you to chat not only with other students but also with native speakers via text, video and voice call as well as participate in scheduled video chats. You have to pay for it separately but at 48 dollars per year, the fee doesn’t seem excessive.
An alternative option to get more conversation practice would be to find a tutor or language exchange partner from italki.
The course also includes dictation exercises, numerous challenges, translation and pronunciation exercises.
In addition to these tools, there are also unit quizzes. They check your knowledge from the whole set of lessons to give you an idea, whether you should go through some part of the material again.
The only practice that the course seems to be missing is more elaborate writing exercises. That’s not a problem though. Using italki’s notebooks feature, you can practice writing about any topic and get feedback from a native Italian speaker, for free.
I strongly feel that both the practical and theoretical sides of the course are extremely well prepared and will give you everything you need to learn Italian at the A1 level.
The course is really good, and almost certainly the best you’ll find, but that doesn’t make it perfect.
Manu sometimes talks too much which makes it difficult to filter the most important information out from the lesson. This can be especially challenging for beginner students. Again though, I’d take too much Italian over too much English any day.
The videos seem largely unedited which can occasionally be annoying.
You’ll also find some mistakes in the written English text. This obviously doesn’t take away from the learning experience, but it can be distracting and makes the course quality seem a little lower than it actually is.
You may also experience a little bit of information overload with all the vocabulary so intensely added throughout the lessons. This is in contrast with resources such as Pimsleur where the instruction can feel tediously slow at times.
More importantly, Italy Made Easy is still developing courses at the higher levels. If students progress faster than the courses are developed, they may feel discouraged to look for new resources after they used something they’ve been happy with.
This is really minor criticism. Italy Made Easy’s course for A1 students is really comprehensive and entertaining. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s a beginner wanting to self-study Italian and looking for a reliable tool.
If the worst part of a course is that higher levels aren’t yet available, it’s obviously really good.
Plans and Prices
As I have mentioned before, Italy Made Easy isn’t a subscription service. To get access to any of the courses offered on the platform, you have to pay a one time fee.
The beginner courses Italian 1 and 2, for levels A1 and A2 respectively, cost 148 USD each for lifetime access. This isn’t cheap but it’s not particularly expensive either. There are plenty of worse courses that cost far more and few, if any, courses that are as good of value for the money.
Italy Made Easy is an excellent investment in your Italian learning and is money well spent.
It’s perfect for students just starting their journey with Italian or for false beginners willing to refresh their knowledge.
There are also some other courses available:
- Speak Italian from Day 1 at 97 USD
- Speak Italian Like an Italiano at 29 USD
- Top 400 Most Frequent Italian Words at 29 USD
Additionally, the platform offers a supplementary functionality, Amico Extra. It allows students to interact with native Italian speakers for more practice. The cost of the tool is 48 USD per year.
Italy Made Easy has a forum where you can find answers to numerous questions you could have. If you can’t find the answer you’ve been looking for anywhere on the platform, you can submit your question via a special form. You’ll receive the answer during a Q&A webinar.
I must admit I was smitten with this tool.
The course for A1 students discusses in detail all the important concepts for this level, at the same time making sure that your knowledge will be safely stored in your brain rather than forgotten the next day.
The teacher is knowledgeable and charismatic. Diverse exercises give you an opportunity to practice what you’ve learnt without getting bored or discouraged.
The assignments which need feedback are graded quickly by an actual person.
Last but not least, you get an opportunity to practice your skills with other students.
Italy Made Easy is designed in a way to get you speaking and start off your Italian learning with a strong foundation.
I absolutely loved using this platform and am looking forward to more advanced courses being released in the future.