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Italian Resources

Drops App
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Drops is a phone app for iPhone and Android that covers 33 languages. Daily games test the user on thousands of vocabulary words, and many of these words are ideal for everyday use. Drops has an entertaining, user-friendly interface, but it also lacks grammar lessons, and it works better for some languages than others. For anyone looking to supplement their vocab lessons, this app is worth considering; however, the free version might be more worthwhile than the paid version.

Rocket Italian
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Rocket Italian is a good, comprehensive and easy-to-use course that’s ideal for beginners and lower-intermediate students. It’s an independent learning resource that can definitely teach you how to speak and write Italian on its own.

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Preply is an online educational platform that matches tutors with students. There are tutors on Preply offering instruction in a wide range of languages and other subjects. As a learner, you can find a tutor that works best for you by browsing their demo videos and filtering by price and rating. Each tutor’s teaching style is their own.

Live Lingua
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Live Lingua is an online language school that pairs students with certified teachers for one-on-one online classes. The platform aims to provide a more personalized service than online tutor directories by assigning a personal class coordinator and a customized curriculum for each student. Lessons are available in seven different popular languages and for a variety of different courses.

Bite Size Languages
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Bite size language was developed by the creator of the Actual Fluency Podcast. Each of the 5 languages consists of 100 lessons for beginners to develop their listening comprehension and pronunciation. You will learn grammar within the context of short dialogues and acquire relevant every-day vocabulary.

Each lesson seems doable within a 15-25 minute study session; they contain lesson notes, transcripts, translations, vocabulary, and a grammar section.

It seems like the dialogues speed up slightly as you advance through the lessons, but the final lessons do not reach a natural speed. This is understandable, however, as the program is aimed at beginners who have little or no exposure to the language (you can listen to some sound clips from various lessons here). You may be expected to repeat every lesson a few dozen times to get the most out of the course.

If you are studying Russian, the creator emphasizes that you don’t need to learn the Russian alphabet because the dialogues are the core of the lessons. But, all of the accompanying materials, including transcripts of the dialogues, are written in Russian.

Italian in Your Pocket
Price: Premium subscriptions start at $37/month
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The Italian in Your Pocket program offers a mini-course, a series of training videos, and two membership tiers for learners (paid monthly). A basic membership includes downloadable lessons with dialogues, synchronized audio (phrases highlighted as the dialogue audio plays), and progress checks. At the more expensive VIP level, you’d get coaching calls with a native speaker and access to a private Facebook community, in addition to all the basic membership features.

The program doesn’t promote itself as being a fast learning solution, but a thorough one. Learners are asked spend 30 to 60 minutes daily on their Italian in Your Pocket lessons, much of which is audio material.

Based on previews and testimonials, the program appears to be comprehensive and well-organized. Its focus on Italian conversation and culture could give it extra value for learners. However, it’s a greater investment of time and money compared to other Italian courses. Casual learners would probably find it too pricey, although serious learners might consider it.

While there’s a 30-day, money-back guarantee for this resource, there are no “try-before-you-buy” options. Also, no mobile app seems to exist for the program. Instead, subscribers are given instructions for mobile access.

UPDATE, February 2021: To access the sign-up links for Italian in Your Pocket programs, you will need to click on the rounded orange buttons with the white text on the main page of the website. (The links in the Pinterest-style images above the buttons are defunct.)

Reverso Translation
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Reverso is a translation and spell check app. Its features primarily target French and English learners, although it also translates into a handful of other languages.

Compared with BonPatron, Reverso’s spell-check function (available only for French and English) is less attuned to general mistakes, such as capitalization or inappropriate commas. Reverso only catches some of the errors related to inappropriate accordance of genders or numbers from “The House of Être” verbs. Nevertheless, it does a decent job of catching obvious mistakes, and it will provide you with synonyms to enrich your writing. You are encouraged to use the spell check function at each stage of the writing process because when you correct one error, the program may identify new ones. The free version allows you to check 1200 characters at a time, and upgrading to a premium version will allow you to check unlimited characters.

The Reverso Contexto dictionary is an excellent resource for most of the available languages. While Linguee takes examples from relatively formal sources, Reverso Contexto provides example sentences professionally translated from movies, dialogues, official documents, websites, and newspapers. 

Other resources include Reverso’s dictionary (which is usually from Collin’s) a verb conjugator, French and English grammar articles, a thesaurus, and a document translator.

Price: Freemium, prices vary
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Like Coursera, many of edX’s courses were developed by accredited universities, and you can obtain certificates of completion at the end of your studies. Unlike Coursera, edX’s courses are all free to audit, non-profit, and open-source. It was originally founded by Harvard and MIT, and since then has been joined by universities around the globe.

The Spanish and Italian courses in particular have many activities to reinforce your learning, including writing, reading, speaking, and listening activities. The Chinese course is less comprehensive, but could still teach you the basics if you don’t mind watching lots of videos — although, the Peking University courses on Coursera may be a better option. The Steps in Japanese series also includes lots of videos, but these videos are interactive and quiz you on the material.

Overall, Coursera seems to have a better platform than edX, and their courses may be more intuitive to navigate. However, that shouldn’t stop you from trying out what edX has to offer, especially considering that you can get most of it for free. After you have learned the basics, you can enrich your knowledge through Open Learn’s free language courses.

Open Learn
Price: Free
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Open Learn offers an entire section dedicated to language learning, with beginner, intermediate, and advanced content for German, Spanish, and French. You will also find some basic courses for Chinese, Welsh, English, and Italian.

The courses seem to emphasize understanding the culture that the language originates from, and will teach you vocabulary through specific topics (like food and drink for beginner Italian, or ‘getting around’ for beginner Spanish). This may feel a little over the top when you end up studying holiday plans for 20 hours, but at the same time, you will probably feel quite confident in your abilities by the end of the course.

Most of the beginner courses, other than Chinese, German, and Welsh, seem to be for false beginners. You will probably need to develop a basic foundation of your target language (maybe a section or two of the Duolingo tree, or the introductory courses on Coursera) before diving in, unless you want a challenge.

Overall, Open Learn language courses are good for improving your language skills on specific topics, but you may not feel fulfilled in the area of practical conversation. Moreover, the user interface is not as attractive or easy to navigate as other resources, like Coursera.

For some other free options that may give you more practical language skills, check out Coursera, edX, Deutsche Welle (German), TV5 Monde (French), Duolingo, HelloChinese, or Language Transfer.

One World Italiano
Price: Free, courses cost between 19€ - 149€
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One World Italiano provides online courses, in-person classes, and free resources to learn Italian. The website includes 61 beginner and intermediate lessons, plus grammar explanations, formal and informal dialogues, dictations, quizzes, and YouTube videos. It’s a bit unorganized but full of useful practice activities. The entire website is in Italian, so total beginners may have difficulty navigating the site without a tool like the Readlang Chrome Extension.

The free lessons include dialogues with audio recordings by native speakers, basic grammar explanations, and links to supplementary vocabulary for the lesson. At the end of each lesson, there is a multiple choice quiz with links to other exercises, dialogues, or grammar explanations. Although the vocabulary lists are just pages of text, there are matching activities for proverbs and idioms.

The paid courses are for elementary, intermediate, and advanced learners. You will want to have a basic level of Italian, as there are no English subtitles or translations. Each lesson in the course alternates between a video, audio recording, PDF transcription, and quiz. Based on the sample lessons, the courses seem to be engaging and of high-quality. Unfortunately, they are a bit pricey. You could probably curate your own free course using similar materials on YouTube, but this may be a good option if you want to move through the material step-by-step.

You can also check out Online Italian Club for a plethora of well-organized Italian activities for all levels.