Not long ago, using apps to study Italian wouldn’t have gotten you very far. Well, a lot has changed in the past few years. Nowadays, apps can take you a long way, and while they shouldn’t only use them to study Italian, not using apps at all would be a waste.
They’re no longer limited to learning 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.
Because of this increasing prevalence to study Italian on phones or tablets, our list of useful apps has become quite long. Nobody should use every one of these, but you should definitely use at least a few of them.
To make things a bit less chaotic, they’ll be loosely organized into the following categories…
- Duolingo, Babbel, Busuu, Mango Languages, Rocket Italian, Pimsleur, edX, and Udemy
- ItalianPod101, News in Slow Italian, FluentU, Audible, Radio Italia FM, Spotify, and Forvo
- LingQ, Beelinguapp, Italian Bedtime Stories, and Flowlingo
- Italki, Verbling, HelloTalk, Speaky, Tandem, and Lingbe
- Memrise, Anki, Clozemaster, Mosalingua, Drops, WordReference, Reverso Translation Dictionary, Bravolol Phrasebook
There are tons of Italian courses available as apps. Some of these are better designed for the mobile experience, while others are more like actual courses that felt obligated to join the modern world and put their materials onto an app.
Price – Free, $9.99/mo for offline access and no ads.
Just because it’s first on this list, and free, doesn’t necessarily mean you should use Duolingo to study Italian. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either. 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, then Duolingo won’t be your best bet.
When you get started on Duolingo, they ask you to set a goal for how long you study each day, with 20 minutes being considered Insane. Obviously, it’ll take you more than 20 minutes per day to learn Italian, unless you’re much more patient than I am.
What they lack in thoroughness, they make up for in motivating students who might otherwise have given up studying. A point of pride for many users is their study streak. A little bit every day and you’ll make progress eventually.
Duolingo is best for those looking to casually study Italian, dip their toes into the language, or for those that struggle with self-motivation.
Try it out – Free and easy to get started.
Price – Varies depending on the length of subscription. $12.95/mo, $6.95/mo if you purchase an annual subscription.
Although I’d consider Duolingo to be better with regards to gamification and motivating students to continue, Babbel is a much better product (which you’d expect since it costs money). One weakness of Duolingo 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 with lots of matching words to pictures and organizing sentences. However, Babbel adds a lot more depth to their lessons. You’ll find grammar points have thorough explanations and the overall structure of the lessons build upon each other well.
Babbel would be a good option for those looking for a course sort-of similar to Duolingo but with a bit more depth and don’t mind spending a little bit of money.
Try it out: 20-day money back guarantee
Price – $9.99/month for Premium and $13.99/month for Premium Plus
I’m not a big fan of Busuu. They offer similar style lessons as Babbel and Duolingo but don’t think they pull it off as well as either. Probably the biggest problem with the app is that grammar is emphasized at all only lightly touching on concepts that you probably wouldn’t pick up on your own.
One cool feature is that they have a language exchange component. So, in the lessons, you’ll have a part where you’ll be asked to answer a question or describe a picture or video. This forces you to actually produce sentences using the Italian that you’ve learned. Then, another user, usually a native speaker, will come in and give you feedback on your answer. This is really cool and it’s actually available for free without needing to upgrade to the premium plan. Another good thing about Busuu is that the interface itself is easy-to-use and engaging making it enjoyable to use the parts of the app that actually work well.
Alternatively, you could use italki’s Notebook section to get feedback on your writing or find a language exchange partner for free.
Busuu would only be a good choice for those looking to try out their language exchange feature but I wouldn’t recommend paying for a subscription. This is especially true considering there are other apps out there that cost about the same.
Try it out: 7-day money back guarantee and a basic (though limited) free version.
Price – $19.99/mo or $199.99 for an annual subscription
Like all of the other apps we’ve talked about so far, Mango Languages would only be suitable for beginner to intermediate level students. Although their courses are more expensive, they’re worth considering.
This is especially true if you’d be interested in studying another language in addition to Italian. A subscription to Mango Languages gives you access to all of their courses in over 70 languages.
Mango has useful grammar and cultural notes throughout the lessons. Rather uniquely, they also include a simplified phonetic spelling of words which may help you figure out pronunciation. You’ll also see sentences translated both literally and with what they actually mean – a feature that I really like.
Another cool feature is that sentences are written with each word in a different color. This way, you can look at the Italian and English sentences and see which words correspond to which words in the other language. It makes it pretty quick and easy to compare the structure of sentences and meanings of words.
Mango Languages would be the best option for those who would like to dabble in a few different languages. It may still be worth using for beginners focused on Italian.
Try it out: 2-week free trial.
Price – One-time purchase price of $99.95 for level 1 or $259.90 for levels 1,2, and 3.
With Rocket Languages, we move away from the subscription plans and into a different style of app/course. Their course quality can vary a lot depending on the language, we found Rocket Italian to be a good course but we weren’t so fond of Rocket Chinese or Rocket Portuguese.
Unlike the other apps we’ve talked about so far, Rocket Italian feels like it was designed as a course first and then the app came second. So, it’s more similar to a traditional course but still has a lot of those interactive exercises.
The lessons are well-structured and build on each other in a logical manner. They provide everything you need – vocabulary, grammar, cultural notes, and an abundance of exercises to practice.
Rocket Italian is best for serious students who aren’t scared away by the high-ish price tag. It’s hard to say whether or not it’s worth the higher price, luckily, they have a generous trial and refund period.
Try it out: Free-trial (no credit card needed) and a 60-day money back guarantee.
Price – $14.95 – $19.95 per month. Purchasing the courses would cost $575 for the bundle.
In the past, I’ve described Pimsleur as ancient, absurdly expensive, and advised people to stay away. When it comes to purchasing the courses at their regular price, I still stand by that 100%. However, they recently added a new subscription option which lowers their prices significantly, making it a solid choice. While doing this, they also added a new app which works far better than their old one.
Pimsleur is a course that focuses on communication and oral language. From the very first lesson, you’ll be speaking often. 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.
Pimsleur’s lessons aren’t the most exciting thing you’ll come across but you’ll improve your speaking skills pretty quickly.
Try it out: You can try a free 7-day trial.
Price – The courses are free but if you want a certified certificate, that’ll cost $49.
edX is a popular platform where you can find free online courses from universities around the world. These courses cover tons of topics, such as computer science, psychology, business, and most things you could think of, including Italian.
There are a few courses from Wellesley College that focus on learning the Italian language and culture, stretching from the beginner to advanced levels. Although the courses are available on edX’s app, they resemble traditional university courses. All of the courses are self-paced and tend to last somewhere between 8-12 weeks, with 3-8 hours of studying per week.
For those that already have reached an advanced level of Italian but would like to continue practicing the language while learning new skills, they’ll have quite a few interesting courses taught in Italian to choose from.
Try it out: The courses are free and enrolling is quick and painless.
What edX is to universities, Udemy is for everyone else. There are over 50 courses found when I searched for “Italian”, though I didn’t take the time to count the number of these that were really about Italian cooking.
I did find some older courses by Manu Venditti of Italy Made Easy as well. I actually reviewed his other courses not long ago and found them to be outstanding. You can find our full review of Italy Made Easy here.
Back to the point though, on Udemy you’ll find courses from lots of different people, covering various topics. Not surprisingly though, the majority are targeted towards beginners. You’ll also find that the quality of courses varies so be sure to check out the reviews before paying for anything.
Each course has its own price, some of which are absurdly high. However, Udemy is always having sales lowering the price of each of their courses to around $10. Likewise, if you add a course into your shopping cart, then wait a few days, you’ll almost certainly get an offer for the discounted price.
Try it out: Some courses will have short preview clips. Udemy also offers a 30-day money back guarantee on any course.
Apps to improve your listening comprehension
Raising your listening comprehension to a level where you can understand Italian when people are speaking naturally can be a challenge, but its essential. These apps will help you improve your listening skills. Some of them could also be considered courses or would also fall within the reading category, but so be it. You can also find lots of useful podcasts in this post.
Price – Varies depending on length and type of plan. For one month, it’s from $8-$47/month. Long-term subscriptions lower the cost significantly. You can save 25% on a subscription with the coupon code “ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES”.
ItalianPod101 is a podcast style course. Although it can be a very good supplementary resource, we’ve found the structure of the lessons to not be very well planned out. A beginner student, only using ItalianPod101, would likely find themselves with some important gaps in their knowledge.
The individual lessons themselves are pretty good, it’s just that they aren’t put together with a clear path. There are also some quizzes, grammar, and cultural notes, and other features included.
ItalianPod101 would be best for those that are already following a course or using a textbook and want to supplement those resources.
Try it out: They offer a free 7-day trial without needing to give them payment information. Additionally, they have a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Price – $19.90/mo
News in Slow Italian is pretty awesome. It’s one of the few resources that is original and fun without sacrificing the quality of content.
The beginner level course is designed as a language theater with new lessons being described as acts. The addition of exercises and grammar explanations, along with the course structure, really make it a solid standalone resource.
Intermediate and advanced level students will find the lessons aren’t necessarily designed as a 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 can both find good value in using this resource.
Try it out – You can access shortened versions of the weekly current event episodes to get a better feel for the lesson style. They also have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Price – $15/month for the Basic plan and $30/month for the Plus plan. It’s a bit cheaper if you opt for an annual plan.
FluentU is a popular platform for studying any of a number of languages. They use Youtube videos as a means of teaching Italian. Their interactive captions make it easy to quickly look up the meanings of words as you watch videos.
While I like the idea and a lot of people seem to enjoy using FluentU, I’m not a huge fan. I’ve found that an overwhelming number of videos are very short, oftentimes being commercials. Because the vast majority of the videos are disconnected, it becomes difficult to get into a study routine.
The Basic plan gives access to all of the videos and audio files. The Plus plan adds in flashcards and quizzes.
A possibly suitable, and free, alternative would be Caption Pop.
FluentU would be best for students who get disengaged with audio-only resources and are using other resources to add structure to their learning plan.
Try it out – They offer a free 15-day trial but you’ll need to give them your payment information.
Price – There are two plans, Gold costs $14.95/mo and Platinum costs $22.95/mo. Annual plans are also available and lower the monthly cost.
Amazon’s audiobook service, Audible, is a pretty good way to get lots of listening practice.
You can find thousands of audiobooks narrated in Italian. This could be a good fit whether you’re interested in listening to some Italian classics, famous books like Harry Potter, or something a bit more obscure about whatever subjects that interest you.
You wouldn’t need to have a high Italian level to get use out of Audible though. They also have lots of audiobooks for language learners. So, you can get access to lessons from Pimsleur, Michel Thomas, ItalianPod101, Earworms, along with various short stories written for learners.
Audible would be best for intermediate or higher students looking to get more listening practice with longer, more in-depth stories.
Try it out – You can get two free audiobooks with their 30-day free trial.
Price – Free
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.
Try it out – Just download the app, it’s free.
Price – Free with ads, $9.99/mo for Premium.
Spotify is obviously great for streaming music, including Italian music. Not only that, you can find lots of podcasts and other audio courses.
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. That’ll give you some recommendations.
You’ll find some of our favorites on Spotify, such as Coffee Break Italian, News in Slow Italian (the free episodes), and Italiano Automatico.
Spotify is best for anyone that loves music or podcasts.
Try it out – Download the app and start listening.
Price – Free online, but the app costs $2.99
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 pronunciation.
Try it out – It’s free online. If you end up liking it and feel it’s worth it, purchase the app.
Apps to improve your reading and writing
There are several different apps in this section that could have just as easily fallen into the previous section. Many of these apps include both written text and audio recordings, making it easy to practice both reading and writing together.
Only one of the apps is really helpful for improving your writing and that’s italki. I’ll talk more about them in the next section, so for now, I just want to mention that they have a notebooks section that makes it really easy to get feedback on your writing for free.
Price – $10/month, limited free functionality
LingQ is a bit unique. They have quite a few different types of articles, at various difficulty levels, coming from lots of different places. This is largely because they make it easy for users to upload their own content to the app.
LingQ also keeps track of how many words you know. When you first start with LingQ, all of the words are highlighted in blue. You can click on the word, see the meaning and hear the pronunciation. Doing this will turn the word to yellow, which basically means that you’re learning it. Later on, when you come across this word, you may recognize and can then change the shade of yellow. Eventually, the highlight disappears and it’s considered as a word that you know.
It’s a pretty 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 more advanced level learners.
Try it out – The free version of the app has limited functionality but will give you an idea of the content and how it works.
Price – The pricing seems to have changed a few times recently. Before it was around $1 per story, then there was a subscription that cost a few dollars per month. Now I’m able to read all of the stories for free, but I suspect this is a bug or a temporary thing.
With Beelinguapp you can listen to and read stories with the text written in two languages next to each other. As there are 13 total languages available, you can choose to study Italian via one of those other languages. That works great if English isn’t your native language or if you’d like to review another language while studying Italian.
As you listen to the text, the sentence will be highlighted in both language. You can also slow down the audio. The night mode makes reading at night quite a bit more comfortable. After each story, there are a few comprehension questions
The majority of the content is children’s stories, but there are some other ones related to culture, science, and other popular stories. Recently, they’ve also added news stories, though these don’t include audio.
Beelinguapp is best for intermediate level students, especially if they would like to study Italian via a language other than English.
Try it out – You can try out some stories for free.
Price – Free
With more than 1000 children’s stories, Italian Bedtime Stories gives you a chance to improve your Italian by reading and listening to stories. Because they’re made for kids, these stories can be a bit easier than those written for adults. However, they’ll still be too tough for beginners to handle.
Italian Bedtime Stories is best for those with around an intermediate Italian level and don’t want to spend any money.
Try it out – It’s quick and free to start using.
Price – Free
Flowlingo is a fairly new app that makes it a bit easier to read native content and then review words later on. You can browse websites like Rai News, La Stampa, Wikipedia or find your own Italian content that you’d like to read.
When you’re reading an article, you can tap a word that you don’t know and will see the translation as well as hear it pronounced. Later on, you can review the words that you tapped with their flashcards. One cool feature is that it automatically does a google image search, so you can easily set an image for the flashcard.
Flowlingo is best for intermediate and higher level students looking to get more practice reading native content.
Try it out – The app is free to use so all you need to do is download.
Tutors & Language Exchange Apps
A lot of people tend to assume that they need to wait until they travel to Italy to get much speaking practice. This is far from 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.
Price – Lots of free features, price of tutors varies but likely lower than you’d expect
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.
WIth italki, teachers set their own hours and their own rates. 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. It’s a very popular place to find a language exchange partner. There are also other community features where you can ask questions and even get your writing corrected for free by members of the community.
italki is best for anyone looking for a tutor or feedback on their writing.
Try it out – You can have trial classes at discounted prices or use the community features for free.
Price – Varies by teacher
Verbling, like italki, is a platform where teachers offer their tutoring services online. They set their own prices and schedule. Although the total number of Italian tutors to choose from is lower than italki, there are still more than enough to find one that works for you.
There are also far fewer teachers falling in the under $10 per hour range. In general, teachers are a little bit more expensive than on italki.
There are some benefits to Verbling though. Instead of having to leave the platform and go to Skype, lessons take place right on Verbling. The payment process is also much better, not requiring you to first add money to your wallet.
While there are some free community features, they’re not as active as on italki.
Verbling is best for those looking for a tutor and for whatever reason don’t like italki.
Try it out – Most teachers offer a free 30-minute trial class.
Price – Free, $4.99/mo
HelloTalk is probably the most popular app specifically for language exchanges. They have over 10 million members and support 150+ languages.
Typically, people think of language exchanges as simply talking over Skype. However, HelloTalk has tons of extra tools integrated within the app that makes the language exchange simpler. They make it easy to translate words, correct writing, make voice or video calls and more.
They also have voice to text capabilities, allow group chats, you can post public moments to easily have questions answered. Finding people to talk to is really easy to do as well and you can search by location.
Pretty much everything you would want in a language exchange app, HelloTalk can do.
HelloTalk is best for those looking for language exchange partners instead of tutors.
Try it out – It’s easy to get started and talking to Italian speakers.
Price – Free, $6.99/mo
Tandem is a language exchange app with an easy to use and modern interface. It has many of the same features as HelloTalk, but the overall feel of the app may appeal to a different audience. For those looking to make friends, and practice Italian with native speakers, Tandem is definitely worth trying out.
Try it out – The free version includes most features.
Price – 15 minutes free. If you want more time you’ll need to help others or purchase lingos.
Lingbe is the last language exchange app we’ll include in this list. While it’s not as widely used as the other options it does do things a bit differently.
It erases some of the wasted time with language exchanges where you’ll be browsing profiles, organizing a time to talk, and so on. 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. It’s easy enough to earn more time by helping other language learners and accepting their calls. Alternatively, you could purchase their Lingos, but if you’re going to do that, you’d probably be better off paying for a tutor from italki.
Lingbe is best for those that just want to get started with their language exchange right away.
Try it out – Just sign-up, make your profile, and click the call button.
Apps that can help you grow your vocabulary
Obviously, knowing a lot of words is extremely important for improving your Italian. The more words you know, the better your listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing will be. The following apps can be useful for increasing the number of words that you know.
Most of these apps are flashcard based and use a Spaced Repetition System. This adjusts the interval that you review a card. The more you get it right, the less you see it. If you struggle with a word, you’ll see it more often.
Price – Free, Pro costs $4.90 per month.
Memrise is one of the most used language learning apps around. In some ways it’s similar to Duolingo – both are free, insanely popular, and pretty fun. They use gamification in a similar way to encourage students to come back and study a little bit each day.
Although you can study more than just words with Memrise, that’s what it’s best suited for. Many of the courses are created by users though some are also created by Memrise staff. The content focus and quality can vary significantly depending on the course.
In addition to learning common words, you’ll also find courses learning Italian grammar, animals, advanced colors, and a bunch more. I think that Memrise can be a really useful tool for building your vocabulary but you shouldn’t use it as your only resource.
Memrise is best for those that want to use flashcards and want something that they can get started using right away.
Try it out – The free version offers plenty of utility and is quick to start using.
Price – Free on Android and online. Costs $24.99 for Apple users.
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 the gamification elements. However, it makes up for this by making it easy for users to customize their flashcards and learning experience.
There are also some shared decks that other users have created. You can download these and use them instead of making your own. Using these will save you some time but they’re also not as personalized to your own learning needs.
They do charge a hefty $24.99 to download the Anki app in the Apple store. You can still use it in your phone for free if you don’t mind using the browser version.
Anki is best for veteran language learners looking to have a customized learning experience.
Try it out – Go to the website or download the app to start using.
Price – Free. Pro costs $8/month.
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 this way. 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 that make using Clozemaster a bit more fun. The design will probably remind you of an older video game.
It’s also available for learners of all levels. Unlike some services where the free version is really limited, Clozemaster’s free plan is excellent. Most users won’t feel like they’re not missing out on too much by not opting to pay for the Pro plan.
Try it out – Sign-up and start using it.
Price – $4.99 for the app. The web version has extra features and different pricing.
Another flashcard app, Mosalingua is a bit different. They have lots of pre-made flashcards in their system with audio recorded by a native speaker. You can also go in and create your own flashcards.
One of the biggest downsides of Anki is that it can be a pain to manually create all of your own cards. Using Mosalingua can make that a bit less of a hassle.
The focus is on practical language. You’ll also find some dialogues to give you more study material. There are several ways to practice what you’ve learned and you can find grammar notes as well.
Mosalingua is best for those that aren’t happy with Memrise or Anki and want to try something a bit different.
Try it out – You won’t be able to try it without first purchasing the app.
Price – Free for 5 minutes per day, $2.99 – $7.99 per month
Drops may be the most visually appealing of all the apps on this list. This app is strictly for vocabulary and available in quite a few different languages. There are a number of different topics that you can go and study the words for.
While you won’t learn to use these words or see them in the context of sentences, it’s nonetheless a pretty cool app. You’ll swipe words towards pictures as well as completing other activities to help you remember the words you encounter.
Like many apps that have content for a large number of different languages, their content is the same for each language. So, you won’t help you with Italian specific content.
Drops is best for people casually studying Italian who just want to learn a few words.
Try it out – It’s free to use though you’ll be limited to using it for 5 minutes per day if you don’t opt for their paid plan.
Price – Free, $4.99/year to remove ads
This extremely popular dictionary app is available in tons of languages. You can see the definition in English or Italian if you’d prefer the challenge. You can also use it from Italian to Spanish if you’d like.
One of the biggest benefits of using WordReference is the built-in conjugator. You can quickly look up verb conjugations for any tense.
WordReference is best for basically everyone. Who doesn’t need a dictionary and conjugation app?
Try it out – Just download and start using.
Price – Free, Premium costs $12/year
Another really good dictionary app that has lots of extra features built in. As you look up words, you can save them into your phrasebook, making them easier to study later. You’ll also see lots of example sentences and can play the audio for them.
It also supports voice search which adds in a bit more convenience.
It’s best for those that don’t like WordReference for whatever reason.
Try it out – Download the app and start using.
Price – Free with in-app purchases
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.
There are quite a few different topics to choose from as well, from weather to hobbies, health, and more. It’s also available offline.
It’s best for those that just need to learn a few phrases before a trip to Italy.
As you can see, there are a ton of apps available to help you learn Italian. There’s no reason for you to use each of these, or even most of them. But, I think it would be a waste to not use any of them.
For pretty much every skill that you’d like to improve, you’ll find an app that can help you. Try a few out and figure out which ones you really like using.
Are there any good ones that are missing from this list?
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