Here are some tips for improving your Italian. These are things that I do on a daily basis to practice my Italian language Skill. Even if you don’t live in Italy, it is possible to create your own immersion program following the tips below. Click on the pull down links under the LEARNING! TAB to discover schools and materials that are also available to you through this site at discounted rates.
Here are some posts I have written on how to practice & improve Italian language skills
• 10 Things Learning Italian has taught me : Lingua.ly 2015
• 10 Ways to Practice Pronunciation : Transparent Language 2014
• Learning a Language is like a masterpiece by Leonardo
• How Much Time Do You Spend on Italian Every Day?
• Addicted to Duolingo
1) ITALIAN TV, FILMS & RADIO, CDs
To speak a language well, it is extremely important to do some “active listening” in order to train your ear to the sounds and the rhythms of the language.
Italian TV On-Line
Yabla Language Immersion Through Online Video
Netflix: Rent or Stream Movies Netflix has a surprisingly large selection of Italian films for viewing
Repubblica TV Watch short news videos and current events in Italian, streaming live on web, accompanied by short written descriptions. Great way to practice audio and reading skills!
RaiRADIO3 (Portale for Radio Stations and Podcasts)
Italia.FM (Portal for Radio Stations)
Listenlive.eu (Portal for Talk Radio Shows)
Radio Capital (Italian Talk Radio)
LatteMiele (An Italian Radio Station that features all Italian music – with the occasional American song every hour)
Audio Books / Audio Magazines
Amazon Films & Audio Books Check out my Italian film & Audio book selections in my Amazon Matta Italian Store
Maxmondo Audio Magazine/Rivista Intermediate Italian Audio Magazine / News Articles
Tutto Italiano Published six times a year, Tutto italiano will not only significantly improve your fluency, it will also help you understand this beautiful and diverse country and what it is to be Italian. Magazine with Audio CD Put together by a team of professional narrators, each 60-minute CD provides well-paced readings of the key articles from the magazine.
Digital Audio / CDs
Tutti Matti per l’Italiano: Improve Italian language skills with this podcast that is presented in Italian and features stories, clips & conversations with native Italian speakers. It explores all aspects of Italian culture, music and current events as well as language learning tips. Parliamo e ascoltiamo la lingua poetica with Melissa la studentessa matta. The podcast is available on the Matta Blog and on itunes. You can now find the “Tutti Matti per l’Italiano” podcast also on itunes!
ItalianPod101 (Beginner-Intermediate) : This podcast is very educational in nature because they walk you though a dialogue (that has the transcript) and then review the new words and grammar structures presented within that dialogue. ($8/month)
News in Slow Italian (Beginner-Upper Intermediate) Weekly Language Learning News Podcast in two speeds: Slow & Fast (Paid subscription)
La Bomba (Upper Intermediate-Advanced) content geared toward natives and two hosts talk about weird things happening in the news, entertainment, and online
3) READ BOOKS, MAGAZINES, NEWSPAPERS, COMIC BOOKS IN ITALIAN
Reading improves your vocabulary and grammar. Try to read without stopping to look up every word you don’t know, but rather glean the meaning from the context of the paragraph. I suggest selecting books you might already be familiar with in English. Harry Potter books are great, as well as mystery novels that have plots that keep you engaged and interested.
Amazon Books: Hard copies & downloadable to ipad (Shop my collection of Italian book suggestions)
IBS On-line Italian Book Store (IBS is an Italian on-line store & books are shipped to you directly from Italy)
Children’s Library : This site has 30+ free children’s books to practice with if you’re an upper beginner in Italian.
Italian Easy Readers Here is a great little find! Beautifully designed and illustrated easy reader books complete with grammar and comprehension exercises
Vanity Fair : Vanity Fair in Italiano
Fumetti/Comic Books – Fotoromanzo/Photo Romance: Comic books and Photo Romances are easy reads! Try “Topolino”, “Tex”, “Diabolik”, “Dylan Dog”, “Julia”, “Sogno”. You can buy these in any newspaper stand in Italy or on-line. There are even a few Italian magazines you can subscribe to on your ipad
Il Post : Il Post a news source that features current events in Italy and abroad in categories like politics, sports, entertainment, and culture.
Corriere della sera : News specific to Italy
La Repubblica : News specific to Italy
4) YOUTUBE CHANNELS
Studentessa Matta YouTube Channel Welcome to my channel! Here you will find short messages in Italian, Italian song playlists and videos made by my Italian friends – all for your viewing pleasure and to help you with the Italian language learning and to learn more about Italy!
Learn Italian with Lucrezia YouTube Channel Lucrezia is an Italian native who records short, fun weekly videos to help you learn Italian. In English & Italian
Grammatica caffè great little videos that are presented on Alma.tv that written and produced by Roberto Tartaglione, director of Scudit, scuola d’italiano in Rome. In the time it takes to brew and espresso in his Moka caffettiera Roberto doles at an interesting and amusing language lesson. Two thumbs up!
Sgrammaticando : Grammatica Italiana YouTube Channel These videos made by an Italian communications major focus on Italian Grammar. The project was started with focus audience being Italians, but it is a great site for Italian students as well!
One World Italiano : Learn Italian with Veronica from Sardenia
Italiano Automatico : Learn Italian with Alberto!
The Language Blogger / Vloger TomTxxytu : Learn Italian & English with Tom
Peppa Pig Great resource of upper beginners and intermediate learners
Girls4teaching.com : Girls4teaching is a project that wants to unify people all over the world providing reliable foreign language lessons with mother tongue teachers through smart video lessons, try it out now!
Italian StackExchange : Italian Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Italian language. It’s 100% free, no registration required.
Cher Hale – Iceberg Project : On-line learning community helps you dive deeper into Italian language and culture
Becoming Italian Word by Word : Dianne Hales author of “The Bella Lingua”, writes a blog in English that highlights Italian culture and vocabulary
Parlate : Mirella, a native Italian shares her passion for languages and teaching in learning blog
Italian for my Girlfriend : This site has hundreds of vocabulary words drawn into images. The artist also records the words in a video often so you can hear the pronunciation
Italian About Language learning articles that will answer your questions on grammar and vocabulary while also providing exercises (and the answers) for you to see how much you’ve understood
Giallo Zafferano : Italian site for recipes – all my Italian friends use it!
6) ON-LINE TRAINING
DuoLingo is a free language-learning website that works somewhat like a video game as you you work your way up a “tree of learning” gaining points and “lingots” and mastering up to 25 skill levels. Post I wrote about Duolingo: Addicted to Duolingo
Anki is a program which makes remembering things easy. Anki is a spaced repetition flashcard program. You can create your own mnemonic cards adding images found on Google image search and sound bites using FORVO (see below) to enhance your audio retention.
Lang-8.com Language exchange social networking website geared towards learners.
HiNative.com HiNative is the place where you can ask all your language and culture questions directly to native speakers. Can a dictionary or web search give you more examples? Answer your follow-up questions? There’s no better source than a native speaker. And as a native speaker yourself, you can also help others! Read a post I wrote about HiNative
Lingua.ly Put away your textbooks! Collect new words from across the web with Lingua.ly’s smart dictionary. Use your new vocab to surf foreign websites, social media or your own Gmail, Twitter and Facebook feeds while you learn new language. Immersion is the ultimate way to learn a language. Read a post I wrote about Lingua.ly
Italian Verbs Conjugator type a verb and have it instantly conjugated!
Bliu Bliu Read real articles from the internet. Bliu Bliu highlights all the words you don’t understand. Click on any word to change the status. Bliu Bliu adapts showing you better texts and videos you understand and you are interested in. Post I wrote about Bliu Bliu: The Beautiful Simple Story of Bliu Bliu
Babbel is an online language learning software and e-learning platform available in various languages. Interactive courses offered on the babbel.com web page can be completed online without installation. There are beginner and grammar courses, vocabulary lessons, as well as courses with tongue-twisters, sayings and songs.
Rocket Italian Rocket Italian has a healthy balance between the phrases that are fun to learn, the grammar you need to know, the practice for understanding Italian, and the pronunciation that will get you speaking with confidence. ($250/levels 1 + 2) Post I wrote about Rocket Italian
7) ITALIAN LANGUAGE REFERENCES & TOOLS
Word Reference: Online dictionary
Word Reference Forum: A great place to ask scholarly questions about the language, inquire about words and grammar nuances, as well as inquire about how to properly translate something obscure
Dizionario Italiano Italian On-Line Dictionary
UltraLingua Dictionary Dictionary / Conjugation App for ipod/iphone
Treccani : Italian Encyclopeida
Fraze.it : Enter a word or a short phrase andFraze will pump out sentences for you in context
Google Translate ATTENZIONE!!! The Google Translator should be used with caution! It is not accurate and should be used by those who already have a reasonable understanding of grammar and idioms and can determine when a translation comes back a false friend.
Typeit.org Handy Italian keyboard with shortcuts that take zero time to learn; Switch between character sets while typing
Learn Italian Pronunciation Series : Manu Venditti has six brilliant + free pronunciation lessons on YouTube spanning from vowels to a range of difficult letter combinations. If you finish the free videos and you’re looking for something that goes even deeper, you may want to try out his course on pronunciation on Udemy ($79)
Forvo is a great little site where you can listen to native speakers pronouncing words in their own language
How to Acquire a Native Accent : Luca Lampariello, an Italian polyglot, recorded three videos on how to acquire a native accent
Italian Pronunciation Trainer : This trainer, created by Gabriel Wyner will train your ear to understand the basic pronunciation system in Italian along with the words that sound slightly the same in the language (like “pala” and “palla”). I attended a seminar in San Francisco with Gabe and wrote a post about it. Here is an Interview I conducted with Gabe about the Italian Pronuncation Trainer
Surface Language : Site where you can practice and learn the pronunciation of the 500 most commonly used words in Italian
8) ITALIAN GAMES
Aworded (Apalabrados) Scrabble game app for ipad, computer, phone. Play with Italians and other language learners
Mindsnacks Mindsnacks is a game that you can play on your phone meant to help you learn vocabulary, phrases, verb conjugations, and grammar. Also includes audio so you can learn pronunciation
More Words Italia involves a race against time, to search for the most number of Italian words. I think it is a fantastic way to enrich vocabulary and reinforce the spelling of words that are already known Read a post I wrote about More Words Italia
On-line Word Game Puzzles Beginner level
Barzellette (Italian jokes)
The Game of Taboo is a word guessing party game published by Hasbro. The objective of the game is for a player to have their partners guess the word on the player’s card without using the word itself or five additional words listed on the card. Play this game in Italian to enhance your ITALIAN Vocabulary
YouTube You will find all your favorite Italian singers on Youtube and can listen and watch music videos to sing along to. This a link to my YouTube Channel – will be adding to my favorite playlists
Amazon (shop my music suggestions)
On itunes: Some of my Favorite Artists Giorgia, Biagio Antonacci, Mango, Gianluca Grignani, Negrita, Jovanotti, Malika Ayane, Alessandra Amoroso, Fiorella Mannola, Samuele Bersani (Che Vita!), Madreblu, Nek, Antonio Maggio, Mina, Patty Pravo, Pupo, Niccolò Fabi, Sergio Cammariere, Mario Venuti, Masini, Lu Colombo & Maurizio Geri Swingtet, Arisa, Paola & Chiara, Pooh, Laura Pausini, Eros, Vasco Rossi, Zucchero
10) RECORD YOUR VOICE
Let’s face it. No one likes the sound of their own voice! Horrors of horrors if you record your own voice in another language! But seriously, making a recording of yourself speaking in the target language can be quite effective and illuminating as you learn to self-correct your own speech. You can simply use your iPhone or iPad to record yourself reading from a book or newspaper. Or record a daily “to do” list in Italian on your mobile phone.
News in Slow Italian Weekly News Podcast in two speeds: Slow & Fast – Has the option to also record your voice and compare to a Native Speaker
Rocket Italian Online Language Language program that also features voice recording practice & comparison to native voice
iPhone App Voice Memo Record your voice where ever you are, practice speaking, reading from a book and evaluate your own pronunciation
Sound Studio Program for your computer to make live recordings
11) WORK WITH A VOICE COACH OR A TUTOR
A private tutor will also help with enunciation, word emphasis, and phonic recognition.
Cyber Italian : CyberItalian offers varying types of instruction: Self-Study Courses, Tutored Courses, Private Lessons & Italian Coaching Programs.
Impariamo Italiano Chat Room This is where I first got started on-line. Great forum / chat room where you can exercise your Italian skills with madrelingua and other students of Italian
Interpals : Interpals is specifically for finding language partners that you can chat with via text, Skype, email or letter if you’re feeling old-fashioned
Omniglot Search for a Language Tutor on the site the is “the online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages”
WyzAnt Helps you find expert tutors at affordable prices in your area
Craigs List Services Section Search the “Craigs list service” section for tutors in your area
12) CHAT WITH ITALIAN FRIENDS ON SKYPE & SOCIAL MEDIA
Learning a language is all about making conversation. So go out there and find a language partner. Trust me. It is the best way you can break through inhibitions and start feeling comfortable with speaking. You can make friend connections through these social media sites
Skype set a FREE Skype account and find some friends to chat with. In California there is a 9 hour time difference between me and il bel paese. I find the best time to connect with my Italian pals is between 12pm – 3pm west coast California Time (In Italy it is their 9pm -12am)
Palabea The Palabea site is especially interesting as you can create your own “topic of conversation” based on your own personal interest. If you are passionate about “Baroque Art” or “Italian Movies” you create a “palabea” and invite others to have a conversation with you about that subject. My chat partners have become great friends and we have even met in person during my travels in Italy. Palabea has it’s own chat software, so you don’t need Skype to use Palabea.
Live Mocha Explore the world through practice and conversations with millions of people from over 190 countries. Live Mocha has it’s own chat software, so you don’t need Skype to use Live Mocha.
13) WRITE IN ITALIAN
Writing in Italian on a daily basis is a great way to keep the connections and synapses in your brain alive and well. It reinforces spelling and grammar constructions. Start by simply writing a sentence a day.
Facebook Like & join Italian Facebook pages and comment in Italian. Check out the Studentessa Matta Facebook Page where I am post daily news and special interest stories, language tips, expressions, fun photo, recipes and current events. This is a great launching point to articles in Italian to read and keep up with all things Italian. For an EXTRA good time, you can even change your Facebook language settings to “Italian”. Practice by responding to posts! Mi piacerebbe!!!!!
Texting Send messages on your mobile phone to friends in Italy and other countries for free! To make message sending in Italian even easier activate the Italian keyboard/spell check on your phone.
Word Press Blog Take a page out of my book and start your own Italian language blog! Let me know and I will come and be a fan!
Creative Writing Exercises
• Keep an old fashioned journal Maintain a handwritten or digital diary of your daily activities. Great way to catalogue all the new words you learn each day.
• Unleash you inner expository writing skills Make up your own short stories in Italian. Write a review of a movie. Read an article in an Italian newspaper and write an editorial. Compose a poem.
• Write your grocery lists & your “to do” lists in Italian
14) JOIN AN ITALIAN MEETUP GROUP OR START YOUR OWN CONVERSATION / MOVIE GROUP
Wherever I go, my Italian radar is always active and functioning. Whether I am at the park, watching my son’s soccer game, or shopping at the supermarket, I am tuned in and listening for spoken Italian around me, ready to introduce myself and have a conversation. Keep your language radar up and running every day!
Meetup groups that meet on on a weekly or monthly basis. Simply visit the site and search for a location nearest you. If the Meetup is too far away, do what I did start your own!
15) HOST AN EXCHANGE STUDENT
If you’re serious about practicing the language, hosting an exchange student is a great idea. I hosted an Italian. I have hosted two Italian students in my home. Francesca through AFS for an entire school year and Marta, from Lecce in Puglia for 2 months. It is the most personalized and profound way I have found to practice my Italian language skills
AFS Study Abroad Intercultural Programs AFS arranges exchanges with students from more than 90 countries, and countless other exchange organizations exist, so you’re bound to find a speaker of your language of interest!
16) TRAVEL TO ITALY ON AN ARRANGED LANGUAGE IMMERSION TRIP
Traveling to the target country is always a great way to get some practice in speaking the language. Since 2012, I have co-lead 6 language immersion programs in Italy. I partner with Italian schools and event planners to create unique learning experiences, including working with local pastry makers, olive oil producers, and wine makers. You will be amazed how much your pronunciation will improve when you are traveling with like-minded language learners. Laughter, wine, and camaraderie are wonderful catalysts for loosening up tongues, starting conversations and improving fluency.
Studentessa Matta Italian Language Immersion Trips Small group travel experience (up to 10 individuals). Travel with Melissa and her Italian co-leaders/Italian Schools to immerse in language and culture. Morning language classes and afternoon excursions. Join us in Rome July 5-14 and Lucca September 11-22.
A Homestay Italian Language Vacation offers you the chance to immerse in Italy’s language and culture in a comfortable family environment. I am pleased to offer readers of the Studentessa Matta Blog several choices for Italian Homestay Language Vacations
• Venice / suburbs with Monica Cesarato (Monica is booked through November 2015, but is accepting reservations starting December 1, 2015)
17) ITALIAN LANGUAGE SCHOOLS
Lucca Italian School Study Italian in Lucca Italy
Sunflower Florence Study Italian in Florence Italy
Lucia’s HomeStay Vacation near Lago Maggiore Live & Study in the home of an Italian teacher near Lago Maggiore
Monica’s Home Stay Study in Venezia Live & Study in the home of an Italian teacher in Venice
Tiziana Balestra – Italian Instructor at College of San Mateo Adult School
Gloria Acerboni – Private Italian Instructor, Fremont California