It wasn’t too long ago that using apps to study Italian wouldn’t have gotten you very far. Well, a lot has changed in the past few years. Now apps can do quite a lot, and while they shouldn’t be the only way you study Italian, they’re worth taking advantage of.
They’re no longer limited to teaching the language through games or basic phrasebooks. Many entire courses, even the old-school ones, have developed apps to accommodate the growing number of people studying on their phones.
The huge number of apps for studying Italian has made this list quite long, and it’s still in no way a complete compilation. We’ve instead included our favorites in addition to some popularly recommended options, sorted by what they do best.
Best Course Structure: Babbel
Best Course for Practicing Oral Skills: Pimsleur
Best Free Course: Duolingo
Most Enjoyable Vocabulary Practice: Memrise
Best for Customizable Vocabulary Practice: Anki
Best for Learning Words in Context: Clozemaster
Best Dictionary App: WordReference
Best Lessons in the Style of a Podcast: ItalianPod101
Best Listening Content: News in Slow Italian
Best Italian Radio App: Radio Italia FM
Best Reading Content: LingQ
Best for Side-by-Side Reading: Beelinguapp
Best Pronunciation Dictionary: Forvo
Best for Pronunciation Feedback: Speechling
Best for Writing Feedback: italki
Best for Finding a Tutor: italki
There are tons of Italian courses available as apps. Some of these feel like they were designed with the mobile experience in mind, others like courses that were crammed into an app as an afterthought. What they have in common is that they make an attempt to cover multiple areas of language learning and are the closest thing to a one-stop-shop that you’ll come across.
Best Course Structure
Although I’d consider Duolingo to be better in terms of gamification and motivating students to continue, Babbel is a much better product overall (it also isn’t free). One of Duolingo’s weaknesses is that it uses a lot of nonsensical example sentences. In contrast, Babbel is much more focused on teaching useful language that you’ll end up using if you go to Italy.
The types of exercises are fairly similar between the two programs, meaning lots of matching words to pictures and organizing sentences, but the lessons on Babbel are much more in-depth. You’ll find grammar points have thorough explanations and that lessons build upon each other well.
Babbel would be a good option for those looking for a course that’s similar to Duolingo in form but offers a lot more. Read the full review of Babbel.
Try it out: 20-day money-back guarantee.
Best Course for Practicing Oral Skills
Pimsleur is a course that focuses on communication and oral language. You’re required to speak often, right from the first lesson. Their lessons require your full attention and push you to actually speak Italian. Unfortunately, grammar, reading, and writing are either completely missing or brushed over.
In the past, I’ve described Pimsleur as ancient and absurdly expensive, advising people to stay away. However, they’ve since added a new subscription option which lowers their prices significantly, making it a solid choice. They’ve also added a new app that works far better than their old one.
Pimsleur’s lessons aren’t the most exciting thing you’ll come across, but the courses are high quality, and you’ll improve your speaking skills pretty quickly. Read our full review of Pimsleur.
Try it out: Free 7-day trial.
Best Free Course
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of this one. It’s free, fun to use, and available in a ton of languages. But just because it’s popular and free, doesn’t necessarily mean you should use Duolingo to study Italian. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, either. Clearly, I have some mixed feelings regarding Duolingo.
I really like how they’ve democratized language learning by creating what’s probably the best free language learning platform you’ll find. That said, if you’re serious about studying Italian and not just looking to casually learn a little bit here and there, Duolingo won’t be your best bet.
Duolingo is best for those looking to casually study Italian, dip their toes into the language, or for those that struggle with self-motivation. Read the full review of Duolingo.
The apps below also fall into the General Courses category, but they aren’t our favorites. They’re apps that are frequently recommended or that have some good things going for them and could be right for some learners.
Busuu has a solid course, with a great built-in language exchange function, and it’s fun to use. We rated it a bit lower than Babbel due to their weaker grammar explanations, and poor job with non-Latin based languages, but if you’re interested in learning Italian, that won’t be an issue. Read the full review of Busuu.
Although I prefer other courses, Mango Languages’ are worth considering for beginners – especially if you’re interested in studying multiple languages. A subscription to Mango Languages gives you access to courses in over 70 languages. Read the full review of Mango Languages.
Rocket Italian is best for serious students who aren’t scared away by the high-ish price tag. With interactive exercises and a more traditional-course feel, it’s hard to say whether or not it’s worth the higher price. Luckily, they have a generous trial and refund period. Read the full review of Rocket Italian.
edX is a popular platform where you can find free online courses from universities around the world. The courses cover tons of topics, such as computer science, psychology, business, and most things you could think of, including Italian.
What edX is to universities, Udemy is for everyone else. You’ll find courses from lots of different people covering lots of different topics, most of which are targeted towards beginners. The quality of courses varies quite a bit, so be sure to check out the reviews before paying for anything. Also, keep your eyes out for frequent discounts that happen on the platform.
Obviously, learning new words is an extremely important aspect of learning Italian. The following apps can be useful for helping you in that endeavor.
Most of these apps are flashcard based and use a Spaced Repetition System (SRS). An SRS automatically adjusts the intervals in which you review a word. The more you get it right, the less often you see it. If you struggle with a word, you’ll see it more often. It’s something you should expect with good vocabulary-learning apps.
Most Enjoyable Vocabulary Practice
Memrise is mostly free, insanely popular, and pretty fun. It uses gamification in a similar way to Duolingo to encourage students to come back and study a little bit each day.
Although you can use Memrise to study more than just vocabulary, that’s what it’s best suited for. There are a bunch of user-created courses that are free to use in addition to official Memrise courses that offer limited access for free. The content type and quality can vary quite a bit from course to course, but that’s kind of the beauty of the platform.
Memrise can be a really useful tool for building your vocabulary, but it probably shouldn’t be your only resource. It’s best for those that want a fun way to get started practicing new vocabulary right away. Read the full review of Memrise.
Best for Customizable Vocabulary Practice
Similar to Memrise, Anki is an app that makes it easy to review words (and really anything) using flashcards. It’s not as quick to get started using and doesn’t have any gamification elements, but it makes up for this with powerful customizability.
There are also some shared decks that other users have created. You can download these and use them if you aren’t interested in spending the time to make your own.
They do charge a hefty $24.99 to download the Anki app in the Apple store, but it’s free everywhere else.
Anki is best for veteran language learners looking to have a customized learning experience.
Best for Learning Words in Context
Clozemaster is a gamified platform that helps learners of all levels learn words within the context of a sentence. You do this by basically completing tons of fill-in-the-blank questions either by selecting the best option from a multiple-choice list or by typing in the answer.
This is really beneficial because you aren’t learning words in isolation. Instead, you not only learn what the word means but also have an example sentence of how it’s used. They also have some gamification elements akin to an older video game that make using Clozemaster a bit more fun.
Unlike some services where the free version is really limited, Clozemaster’s free plan is excellent; most users won’t feel like they’re missing out on too much by not opting to pay for the Pro plan. Read the full review of Clozemaster.
best Dictionary App
This extremely popular dictionary app is available in tons of languages. You can see the definition in English or Italian, and you can also use it from Italian to Spanish if you’d like. Definitions come with example sentences and helpful information like parts of speech.
One of the biggest benefits of using WordReference is its built-in conjugator. You can quickly look up verb conjugations for any tense.
WordReference is really for everyone. Who doesn’t need a dictionary and conjugation app?
Below you’ll find additional apps for learning vocabulary that didn’t make our group of favorites for one reason or another. They each have their strengths, though, and are worth considering.
The Mosalingua app comes with pre-made flashcards and audio recorded by a native speaker. You can also go in and create your own flashcards. The focus is on practical language, and there are also grammar notes and a variety of practice activities.
Drops may be the most visually appealing of all the apps on this list. While you won’t learn how to use words in sentences or see them in context, it’s a pretty cool app. Drops is best for people casually studying Italian who just want to learn a few words. Read the full review of Drops.
This is another really good dictionary app with lots of extra features. Look up words, save them in your phrasebook for later review, and see lots of example sentences and can play the audio for them. It’s best for those that don’t like WordReference for whatever reason.
If you’re just looking for a phrasebook to get you through some tough situations in Italy, Bravolol may be a good option. You’ll find lots of sentences with audio recorded by a native Italian speaker in a variety of topics. It’s best for those that just need to learn a few phrases before a trip to Italy.
Listening and Reading Skills
Raising your listening and comprehension to a level where you can understand Italian when people are speaking naturally is one of the greater challenges of learning the language. The same goes for understanding text written by native speakers. The apps in this category are best for improving listening and reading skills.
Best Lessons in the Style of a Podcast
ItalianPod101 provides plenty of listening practice in the form of podcast lessons. It can work really well as a supplementary resource but should be used alongside something with a bit more structure
The individual lessons themselves are pretty good, it’s just that they don’t progress in a clear and logical order. The lessons do come with practice in the form of quizzes, grammar notes, cultural information, and a few other useful features.
ItalianPod101 would be best for those that are already following a course or using a textbook and want to supplement those resources. Read our full review of ItalianPod101.
Try it out: Free 7-day trial without needing to provide payment information and a 60-day money-back guarantee.
You can save 25% on a subscription with the coupon code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES”.
Best LIstening Content
News in Slow Italian is pretty awesome. It’s one of the few resources that manages to be original and fun without sacrificing the quality of content.
The beginner level course is designed as a language theater with new lessons taking the form of acts. The addition of exercises and grammar explanations along with the well-planned course structure really make it a solid standalone resource.
Intermediate and advanced level students will find the lessons aren’t necessarily designed as a progressive course, but rather based on current events. You’ll still find flashcards, grammar explanations, transcripts, quizzes and more.
News in Slow Italian is a good option for lots of people. Absolute beginners and upper-intermediate level students will both be able to find good value here. Read our full review of News in Slow Italian.
Try it out – You can access shortened versions of the weekly current event episodes for free. They also have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Best Italian Radio App
With Radio Italia FM, you’ll be able to listen to dozens of radio stations from Italy. This gives you access to tons of Italian listening opportunities, including music and discussions on a wide range of topics.
This isn’t the only app you’ll find that allows you to listen to Italian radio but it does seem to be the best. Some individual stations have apps as well but many of them don’t seem to be as well designed.
Radio Italia FM is best for intermediate or higher level students looking to learn more about Italian culture and music.
Best Reading Content
LingQ is a bit unique. They have quite a few different types of articles at various difficulty levels and from lots of different sources. It’s also easy for users to upload their own content.
One interesting feature with LingQ is that it keeps track of how many words you know by paying attention to which words you look up. It then uses color-coding to visually represent your familiarity with the words in a text.
This makes for a cool way to get extra reading practice while naturally reviewing words as you read. You can also access their content in any of the many languages that they offer, making it great for those that may want to review or study more than one language.
LingQ is best for those that plan to read often and is suitable for beginners as well as learners at more advanced levels. Read our full review of LingQ.
Try it out – There’s a free limited version of the app.
Best for Side-by-Side Reading
With Beelinguapp you can listen to and read stories with the text in your target language, a translation, or both side-by-side. There are 13 total languages available, meaning you can choose to study Italian via any of these languages.
In karaoke mode, one or both texts are highlighted along with a recorded reading. There’s also a night mode and an option to slow down audio playback. After each story, there are a few comprehension questions.
The majority of the content is children’s stories, but there are also articles related to culture and science, as well as some news stories.
Beelinguapp is best for intermediate level students, especially if they would like to study Italian with a language other than English.
Try it out – Some stories are available for free.
Best Pronunciation Dictionary
Forvo is the largest pronunciation dictionary there is. You can listen to words being pronounced by native speakers all over the world. You can also add clips of yourself recording words to help others.
You can look at the map and see where the person who recorded the word was from. For some words, several people will have added their recordings, so you can click on different locations and hear regional differences in pronunciation.
Forvo is best for those that want to focus on the pronunciation of individual words.
Try it out – It’s free online. If you end up liking it and feel it’s worth it, purchase the app.
There are tons of apps that help learners with reading and listening skills. Below, we’ve listed some other good options that are worth considering, even if they didn’t make our list of favorites.
FluentU uses videos with interactive captions to make it easy to quickly look up the meanings of words as you watch videos. Access to videos with authentic Italian is useful, but this one isn’t quite worth the price. Read the full review of FluentU.
Yabla fits into the same category as FluentU but has better videos and practice activities for half the price. A subscription doesn’t grant access to material in multiple languages like it does with FluentU, but it’s worth considering for Italian. Read the full review of Yabla. Also read our Yabla vs FluentU review.
This is Amazon’s audiobook service, and it’s a pretty good way to get lots of listening practice. You can find thousands of audiobooks narrated in Italian or even those that were created for language learners.
Spotify is obviously great for streaming music, including Italian music, but it’s also a good place to find podcasts and other audio courses for learning the language. If you’d like to find out which podcasts are worth trying out, I’d suggest reading our post about the best podcasts for studying Italian.
With more than 1000 children’s stories, Italian Bedtime Stories gives you a chance to improve your Italian by reading and listening to stories. These stories are a bit easier than those written for adults, but they’ll still be too tough for beginners to handle. This resource is free!
Flowlingo is a fairly new app that makes it easy to look up words in native content and then review words later on. You can browse websites like Rai News, La Stampa, and Wikipedia or find your own Italian content that you’d like to read. One cool feature is that it automatically does a google image search, so you can easily set an image for the flashcard.
Speaking and Writing Practice
The productive language skills are arguably the most exciting to become proficient in. Unfortunately, it’s also extra difficult to find quality methods for practicing them with apps.
The main reason for this is that both speaking and writing require an audience, and computers just aren’t able to give great, nuanced feedback like humans can. Not yet, at least.
The apps in this category solve the problem by actually getting real people involved.
Best for Pronunciation Feedback
Speechling aims to teach pronunciation through mimicking, a technique that works really well. Of course, doing your best to mimic native speakers is only so useful without getting feedback from someone with a trained ear.
With Speechling, you get to record yourself saying a word, phrase, or answer to a question in Italian. A native speaker will then listen to your recording and provide useful feedback for how you can improve. This experience can be extremely insightful!
There is a basic version of Speechling for free with a limited number of recordings per month; a paid subscription allows you to get feedback on as many recordings as you like. Read the full review of Speechling.
Save 10% on a subscription with the coupon code ‘ALR123‘.
Best for Writing Feedback
This platform is most well-known for being a great place to find a language tutor in just about any language you can imagine. Equally useful is its lesser-known Notebooks feature.
The feature provides users with a platform to publish their own pieces of writing in their target language. You can write about anything at all, and it will become public for other users to see and provide feedback and corrections. This type of writing feedback is hard to come by and it can be quite useful.
Perhaps the best thing about this feature is that it’s free – simply sign up and start writing. Read the full review of italki.
Tutors & Language Exchange Apps
It’s not uncommon for people to assume they need to wait until they travel to Italy to get a lot of speaking practice. This isn’t entirely the truth. In fact, even if you’re living in Italy, you may find that it’s more convenient and affordable to get conversation practice by using one of these apps.
Best for Finding a Tutor
italki is one of the only resources I recommend to everybody regardless of the language they’re studying. There are currently over 200 Italian teachers offering classes on this platform with the majority charging less than $15 per hour.
Teachers set their own hours and rates on italki. Because there are so many tutors to choose from, you’ll be able to find someone to fit your budget, schedule, and learning style rather easily.
They also offer a ton of useful free features. For example, it’s a very popular place to find a language exchange partner. It’s a great place to ask questions and even get your writing corrected for free by members of the community. Read our full review of italki.
Try it out – Trial classes are offered at discounted prices, and the community features are free.
Best Language Exchange Apps
HelloTalk is probably the most popular app for language exchange. They have over 10 million members and support 150+ languages.
It comes with some really cool built-in language tools that make it easier to communicate in Italian. Easily translate words, give and receive corrections, make voice or video calls, and more.
HelloTalk provides pretty much everything you could want in a language exchange app, and it’s got a good community of learners. The free version is all most people will need, although it limits the number of translations you can use in a day. Read our full review of HelloTalk.
Tandem is another language exchange app with an easy-to-use and modern interface. It has many of the same features as HelloTalk, and where it differs most is probably its aesthetic.
It’s got most of the same built-in language tools and has a large community of helpful and interested language learners, making it an equally good option to HelloTalk.
The overall feel of the app could appeal more to some users, meaning the only way to find the one you like best is to try them out. Luckily, this one’s mostly free to use as well – a paid subscription unlocks unlimited translations. Read our full review of Tandem.
Not satisfied with our favorite apps for tutors and language exchange? Here are a few more that are worth considering – they’ve each got their strengths.
Verbling, like italki, is a platform where teachers offer their tutoring services online. In general, teachers are a little bit more expensive than on italki. It has its benefits, such as a better payment process and interface, but the community features aren’t as active as those on italki. Read our full review of Verbling.
With Lingbe, all you do is click call and you’ll be connected with a native Italian speaker. It’s free to use, but the initial time you’re given is limited to just 15 minutes. Earn more time by helping other learners practice your native language or purchase minutes in the form of “lingos.” This is a decent option for connecting with an Italian speaker without wasting any time.
You won’t get in-depth Italian practice with HiNative, but it’s a great place to go for quick answers to language-related questions from proficient Italian speakers. It’s a Q&A app that pairs language learners with questions and those with answers. Basic features are free to use. Read the full review of HiNative.
As you can see, there are mountains of apps available to help you learn Italian. There’s certainly no reason for you to use all or even most of them, but you should definitely be able to find a few that suit your needs.
While apps can make seriously useful tools in studying Italian, it’s best to include additional study methods to get a more well-rounded education. For more options, check out our list of best podcasts for studying Italian, the best online courses, and our favorite Youtube channels for learning the language.
Whatever skills you’d like to improve, there’s an app that can help you. All there is to do is try a few out and see what you like!
Are there any good ones that are missing from this list? Let us know!
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