Learning Italian - Adults

If you want to learn Italian online, check out these free sites. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but can all be useful to supplement other courses which you're following.

The BBC Italian site has a number of resources starting with a level test to help you assess which of their programmes is right for you. If you're a beginner you can try the course Italian Steps to prepare yourself for a trip to Italy, or go into more detail with Talk Italian or Italianissimo. Weekly E-mails are also available to help you with your learning. And if you don't want a complete course, but just to learn a few phrases to help when you're on holiday, try their Quick Fix . At intermediate level, there's less on offer - the transcripts of a two-part TV documentary Italy Inside Out, Cool Italian - a guide to Italian slang and, if you're thinking of working in Italy, Italian for Work. On the site you'll also find games, quizzes and details of Italian language learning programmes currently being broadcast on BBC TV and radio. You'll also find these in our section Language Learning News - click on the link in the sidebar.

RAI, Italy's state broadcasting company, also has an on-line course at elementary level. It's not particularly user friendly and is not suitable for complete beginners. There are dialogues, a dictionary, a grammar section etc but none of these are connected. In particular, although the instructions are available in a variety of language, the dialogues are only in Italian, so that if you don't understand something you have no choice but to look it up word for word. There's also inadequate practice and the dialogues are sometimes a little strange. It would seem that Italians have the habit of accosting complete strangers and offering them an ice-cream .... Useful for listening practice but not much else.

Corso di Italiano On-line has some very nice material. Again, complete beginners would probably find themselves a bit at sea, but for elementary level up it would be useful. The listenings are fast, but natural and the transcripts are available, though again only in Italian. The course is clearly divided into units, and the the practice activities relate to the dialogues in each unit.

Parliamo Italiano! describes itself as an Italian course for English speakers. It's not, it's just a collection of exercises on nouns, articles and numbers. Hardly a complete course. but if you're looking for extra grammar practice in these areas, it's worth a look.

For more grammar and vocabulary practice, try the
University of Victoria's Italian 100 exercises. Again, only a small number of grammatical categories are catered for, but they're still useful.

You'll find more grammar and vocabulary at the
Centro Studi Italiano. Click on The Electronic Classroom for grammar explanations and The Exercise Mill and Games for practice activities. Or go to Verbs On-line to test your understanding of verbs which you've studied previously.

If you're at a intermediate or advanced level, you'll find some interesting listening and reading at
Guardian Unlimited. Each activity is based around a newspaper article about Italy and written in Italian. If you're at Intermediate level, try reading the article first, and then listening without the transcript. Finally listen and read at the same time. If you're at an advanced level reverse the first two stages. Listen first, then read before listening atnd reading at the same time. And why not try shadow reading too? Read the transcript at the same time as the tape, trying to keep your speed, rhythm, pronunciation and intonation identical to that on the recording.

Finally, for Italian with a vocational twist try the
Vocational Languages Resource Bank. they have downloadable activities with audio at elementary level, many of which are equally suitable for general purpose learners. Select Language from the first dropdown menu, and then Italian from the one which appears next. Then click on go.