One thing I’ve found to be true from trying out tons of different online language courses is that the best courses aren’t typically made by some huge corporation. Instead, my favorite courses are often made by a single person that has lots of experience teaching the language.
I think the reason for this is that big companies often try to replicate the same course for each language they teach, making them kind of boring, lacking personality with low-quality instruction, and no cultural relevance.
Courses made by experienced teachers, such as Manu of Italy Made Easy, usually end up being far better than their more well-known counterparts.
Manu has been teaching Italian for over 20 years and this experience shows. He’s able to spot the mistakes that learners are likely to encounter before they do so. He’s extremely charismatic and his lessons make you feel more as if you have your own personal teacher.
The courses are absurdly in-depth, providing more information than you would need to know, along with lots of opportunities for you to use what you’ve learned.
This review will focus on his From Zero to Italian series, which currently consists of four courses Beginner 1, Beginner 2, Intermediate 1, and Intermediate 2.
For now, let’s take a closer look at these courses.
On Italy Made Easy’s platform, you’ll pay separately for each course. It’s different from many other services as it does not work on a subscription basis. So, you pay once and get access for life.
There are a few free courses available on the website, as well as some courses that aren’t part of the From Zero to Italian series. Additionally, if you want to get a feel for Manu’s teaching style before paying, he has a popular YouTube channel with tons of excellent videos.
Each of the levels in the From Zero to Italian series is available as a separate purchase. They aren’t cheap but you’ll get much more and far higher-quality content than you’d get from other sites.
Each of these courses includes over 10 units that are super in-depth. In each unit, you may find anywhere from 10-20 different parts. In addition to the video lessons, you’ll find quizzes, homework, dictation exercises, speaking assignments, vocabulary flashcards, and more still.
While some of the video lessons are short, it’s not uncommon for them to last 30+ minutes. Basically, there’s an absurd amount of content in each course.
It’s also really well-structured, guiding students to exactly where they need to go next. It may be the only Italian course you’ll find that wouldn’t require using outside resources to fill in gaps, as there simply don’t seem to be any of those.
To start learning with Italy Made Easy, you should choose your course.
For each course, there are two options, the first is cheaper and includes all of the course materials. The second option is VIP and is a little more expensive. This option lets you submit assignments, such as voice recordings, and get feedback on them, as well as a Certificate of Completion at the end of the course.
If you’re not sure which course to sign-up for, there’s a self-diagnosis tool to help you check whether the course you’re considering is the right level for you.
Once you’ve made your choice you can pay for the right course, which will grant you unlimited access to it.
Manu also does a great job of using Italian throughout the lessons. At the beginner level, of course, you won’t understand a lot but he’ll also explain things in English. As you progress to the higher levels, more and more Italian is used in the lessons.
Still, the important things that you need to completely understand, such as how to use a grammar point, will be explained thoroughly in English.
At the beginning of the courses, you’ll find some information about how to use the material. You’ll also find a bit of review material before moving into the rest of the course.
The main part of the lessons is recorded videos. 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).
When you finish with a 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.
These courses are absorbing even for a long time user. There’s an impressive number of units and comprehensive lessons within them, which faithfully cover everything you would need to learn. There’s nothing I’d add to the explanations of language concepts.
The language concepts are 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. However, I’m sure that 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.
These courses contain everything you need to speak Italian.
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 assignments. For those that have opted for the VIP course, these will need to be submitted and checked by a teacher.
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.
An excellent addition to the courses is the integration with Quizlet’s flashcard system. Growing your vocabulary is essential to improving your Italian and this will make your time studying vocabulary more effective.
These flashcards are fortunately much more than typical cards, which you just flip around to see whether or not you know the word you’re being asked about. They’re more fun and a rather complex tool. They offer numerous study modes, such as games, spelling, tests, and more.
You can also access the flashcards from their app, making it easy to study in those random gaps of time where you may otherwise waste your time doing mindless things on your phone.
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.
With the purchase of a course, you’ll also get 30 days free of a program called Amico Extra. This gives you more opportunities to practice speaking Italian.
You can book lessons with a teacher but you’d still need to pay per lesson. As such, I don’t see any benefit to using this instead of finding a tutor on italki. Although, being able to send text and voice messages could potentially be pretty interesting.
I didn’t try Amico Extra so I can’t comment too much on whether or not it’d be worth paying for after the initial free month.
From Zero to Italian 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.
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.
The courses are really good, and almost certainly the best you’ll find, but that doesn’t make them perfect.
Manu is very talkative. For the most part, this is a positive and aids in the understanding of the lessons and can keep things feeling more relaxed. However, sometimes it makes it difficult to filter the most important information out of the lesson.
The PDF files can help with this as those distill the key points of the lessons. That makes them pretty helpful as a quick wrap-up or summary of the most important information.
The videos occasionally feel a little unedited. I don’t really mind this as I’d prefer the personal approach Manu provides over a perfectly edited video, but it’s something to be aware of.
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 some other resources where the instruction can feel slow and limited.
These are all really minor criticisms. Italy Made Easy’s courses are comprehensive and entertaining. I’d strongly recommend them to anyone who’s serious about self-studying Italian.
Perhaps the biggest weakness though is that the courses aren’t cheap. The value they provide is worth the high price but a lot of people will be instantly pushed away when they see the price.
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.
Each course has two versions – the course only and VIP option. The courses are identical, except the VIP version lets you submit your assignments and get feedback from a real person, and receive a Certificate of Completion and the end of the course.
Each level of the From Zero to Italian courses cost either $197 or $248, depending on the option you choose.
Again, these courses aren’t cheap, but they’re much higher quality and more comprehensive than other courses you’ll find. With a lot of other courses, you may need to supplement them with additional resources, but the courses on Italy Made Easy contain everything you’d need.
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
I was extremely impressed with Italy Made Easy.
It’s very rare that a course can provide you with everything you need to learn Italian. It’s even rarer for a course to do that without being monotonous and boring.
I’ve tried a ton of resources for learning Italian and Italy Made Easy is by far my favorite.
The courses are exceptionally thorough as they’re taught by a teacher who is not only knowledgable about the issues learners will face but also charismatic enough to keep them engaged.
The abundance of exercises, activities, and quizzes will make sure that you’re progressing with the course and not passively consuming the material.
If you go through this course, you’ll learn to speak Italian. It won’t be quick and easy, you’ll have to put in the work, but everything you need is laid out for you here.