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Italian language learning programs best

Traveling to Italy a year from now alittle off the beaten path and I want to start learning the language as much as I can in that time. I know the Rosetta stone is sooooo popular but was wondering if anyone has found anything better or that was different or any tips on learning Italian?? This will be my first attempt to learn a new language...😁 hope this is the right forum for this question

Posted by
247 posts

I have Rosetta stone, and it is ok. It is a very good way to jump in and practice saying the words and to learn some vocab. However, I found most of the phrases/vocab they teach weren't that useful in real life situations. For example, you'll find yourself learning how to say "little girl" or "cat" weeks/months before you learn the words for "bathroom" or "excuse me" and after a while it got a little frustrating. I'm sure there is a scientifically proven method behind it all but if you just want to focus on the important travel related stuff it is not ideal. In short, Rosetta stone is a good program but only if you have hundreds of hours to dedicate to it. It's probably an excellent option if you have a long-term plan to live in Italy at some point in the future.

I found a free course on Youtube, and it helped me nail the pronunciation of words and understand basic useful phrases. Learning how to say the vowels correctly is the key to making complicated words easy to pronounce. This instructor has a full course on Italian on Udemy for travelers that I plan to purchase soon, but he has lots of content offered for free on his youtube channel also:

Babbel's online app is a good way to practice real life situations (ordering food at restaurants, meeting new people, checking in at a hotel etc.)

Most experts seem to agree that the best and the only real way to become fluent in Italian is to put many hours speaking only Italian with native speakers. For this, you'll need to join an Italian class in your city. My hometown has an "Italian Club" at one of the universities, and there's also an Italian Heritage Society where native speakers gather a few times a week. Usually, they are happy to talk to you and let you practice your Italian.

Posted by
48 posts

Fantastic thank you very much!!!!! So helpful!! I will defiantly check out all of those links!! Your right about speaking directly to PPl who are fluent I will look for something like that in my area there is a large Italian popular where I am shouldn't be too hard! It's such a beautiful language!!!!

Posted by
792 posts

For me, live conversation is the best way to learn. I contacted Italian teachers at nearby colleges and found someone willing to do private tutoring. There are also several meetup groups in my area of people trying to learn Italian.

Posted by
8590 posts

I think you have to be realistic in how much time you have to commit to studying and practicing. I've done Rosetta, at least part of it, once, and it was great, but requires many, many hours to do (and not inexpensive). I've done local classes at communtiy education which is good too, but also you need hours to do the homework or else its just a gradually dwindling group of people telling travel stories. For my Italy trip, I got one of those audio CD sets (Living Language?) and just listened to one after another duing my daily commute for about 5 weeks, and got enough out of it to get by. So consider how much time you will actually be able to put into it. I decided I would not have enough time to learn much beyond the basic travel-Italian and that's what I got.

Posted by
4 posts

I've been using a free app called Duolingo to start learning Italian and love it so far. The time commitment is set by you (as little as 5 mins/day) and it reminds you if you haven't used it by 8 pm or so. It does have the same issue as Rosetta Stone in that you're learning many words you probably won't use before bathroom even comes up, but you can get the easy, important ones in any guide book or "Basic Italian" cheat sheet. Highly recommended! I really can't believe they don't charge for it.

Posted by
353 posts

As others have noted, I find that the best way to learn is by practicing with native speakers. You might see if your local community college offers conversational Italian classes. That way you are more likely to study and practice if you need to go to class one or more days per week.

As far as other resources, I've used the Pimsleur series and found them pretty good. Many local libraries have these on CD and you can check them out for free and burn them to your iPod for listening at your leisure. Many libraries also have free online language learning tools you can access via your libraries website with your library card. I like the Mango language series. Duolingo is a fun app I have on my iPhone.

Posted by
10344 posts

People working in the Italy tourist service industry (who may not be Italian, but anyway...) that you'll be interacting with 90% of the time, will speak better English than your Italian. Unlike France, you can get by unscathed in Italy with English. But would be nice for you to make an effort and know the greetings and politeness phrases (thank you, etc).
It's not France. So just learn the politeness phrases and as much other Italian as you prefer, but don't feel that Italy is like Paris, how good your Italian is will not make a big difference in how you are received by tourist industry workers, who are paid to be polite to you.
So just Just do as much language learning as you want.

Posted by
259 posts

I've used the Pimsleur series for both German and French, and listen on my commute which is usually the length of a lesson (about 25 min.) Their method is to teach you the way children learn to speak -- specifically by repeating and learning words and phrases. It has been helpful, though I have a few quibbles. Sometimes seeing how a word is spelled is actually helpful to understanding how it is pronounced or conjugated. In some cases, I've entered the word or phrase into Google Translate for clarification. The other issue is that you are sort of forced to figure out the rules of grammar on your own, and how word forms and order change with the tense. The instructors rarely explain this in much detail.

Posted by
167 posts

Babel uses the same method as Rosetta Stone but so much cheaper. Download as an app. Also like it much better than dulingo.
Best language program I have ever used .

Posted by
152 posts

Going in the fall, so started using Pimsleur Italian I a few months ago - love, love this - Had tried a couple other programs, but this one has been incredible easy for me. I also use Google Translate - it is a great combination. Ciao!

Posted by
32244 posts

I've also used Pimsleur and find that their teaching method really works well for me. I'd rather not sit in front of a computer and learn the words for "cat", "book", etc. so Rosetta Stone probably wouldn't work well for me (it's also VERY expensive). I like the Pimsleur method of introducing new words and then reinforcing them in subsequent lessons. There are four levels and each of the 30 (or so) lessons in each level are about 30 minutes. That works for me as I listen to them at the gym and the timing is perfect.

The program was developed by Paul Pimsleur, a scholar who worked in applied linguistics. He studied the way children learn to speak and he modeled his program after that. You might try a FREE Lesson to see if you like it.

Posted by
15413 posts

I don't have a specific product to recommend for learning Italian since I'm a native speaker. However in my experience learning other foreign languages (even English at the time) I found the following tricks are invaluable:
1. Watch Italian TV programs instead of American TV. Your cable or satellite provider should carry RAI ITALIA (formerly Rai Internazionale). The monthly cost is only $10.99. If you get it, make it a point to watch it constantly. Together with the courses you are taking little by little you will gradually understand more and more.
2. Read Italian papers online.
(They are the top 3 newspapers. Left wing, center, right wing respectively)
3. Most importantly, DAY DREAM OUT LOUD IN ITALIAN. All of us day dream all the time. Just carry a dictionary and start day dreaming in Italian. If you don't know a word, look it up and keep day dreaming. Speak out your day dream, not just on your head. I know you will look crazy talking to yourself but nowadays nobody can tell whether you are crazy or just talking to your cell phone via blue tooth. Do that especially while you drive alone. A car is the best day dreaming place.

Posted by
12040 posts

"'m sure there is a scientifically proven method behind it all" There isn't. Rosetta Stone takes a one-size-fits-all approach to all languages. Most of their programs are exactly the same, which means that you learn none of the nuances of the individual languages, but they save on developmental costs by relying on a limited number of easily translated stock phrases. It's great for learning how to say things like "The small boy stands in front of the blue car.", but terrible for actually learning anything of substance about the target language.

Posted by
503 posts

I, too, find Pimsleur to be the language learning course that I have tried. Each lesson is about 25-30 min. long and the time goes by fast because you are immediately engaged in a conversation, repeating phrases, not just one word at a time. While it is true, as mentioned above, that grammar is not explained very well, you do get to the point where things begin to sound right or wrong to you. At least that was my experience.

Posted by
4543 posts

When I was researching this I found some sites that compared and contrasted all the main programs. There are quite a few, and they're all a bit different. So fire up the google and find some of those articles. Just beware of the ones that are actually disguised ads for one technique or the other.

I used Duolingo before my recent trip to France and found it entertaining but useless, the phrases they chose and the ways they repeated them have nothing to do with earth's reality. But it is free, after all.

Also read reviews on Amazon, many of them are practically academic treatises. Rosetta inspires a lot of emotion, pro and con. And it also goes on sale fairly often so don't pay full price.

Posted by
387 posts

Another vote for Pimsleur if you can get it from your local library. Don't bother going past the 2nd set of 30 lessons, and in fact I'd say after the 1st 30 its time to find another method to go farther such as Assimil. There are whole websites for people learning languages on their own so you can get lots of advice. One program useful from the start to learn vocabulary is Memrise, available online for free.

I encourage you to learn some Italian before you go, the more you can speak the better if you're traveling off the beaten path for English-speaking tourists such as the Adriatic side, but since you write "This will be my first attempt to learn a new language" its worth mentioning that with part-time study on your own you're unlikely to reach a level where you can hold a conversation. The State Department estimate for employees that already speak several languages and are in small classes where all they do each week is learn the language need around 600 hours of class time and about as much time doing homework in order to reach general proficiency. See You might not want to reach that level so you don't need as many hours, but on the flip side you're not working in a class of six or less with a trained instructor.

Posted by
795 posts

Try Transparent. Their courses are great and many public library systems have signed up to offer these courses for free to patrons. You can check to see if yours is included. They also offer free samples and free learning resources. Many universities, public libraries, corporations, individuals, and even the military use these courses. They are the best! I am fluent in French, German, Italian and Mandarin and have taught them to my children in homeschool using Powerglide courses for the first three (bought from Rainbow Resource Center at which discounts everything) and courses directly from Beijing for the Mandarin in addition to Transparent.. Powerglide is excellent. Mango is another program offered free through libraries- I find Rosetta Stone to be less than effective along with Pimsleur. If you use Transparent, Powerglide or Mango, you will learn to think in the language and not just learn some tourist words. Rosetta Stone has no "feel" for any of the languages they try to teach.

Posted by
48 posts

Wow such great advice thank you everyone!!! Roberto I love those ideas it amazing how TV can have such a helpful effect!!! Presto!! Ciao ciao