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      December 18, 2017

Home  >  Italian Lessons  >  Detailed Reviews

Best

Italian Lessons

  1. Rosetta Stone
  2. Cyber Italian
  3. Pimsleur
  4. Innovative
  5. Transparent
  6. Ling Q
  7. Unforgettable
  8. Strokes International

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Italian Lessons Better Business Bureau Reliability Seal

Learn Italian with Rocket Languages Today! From romantic gondola rides in Venice to traditional foods and so much more, Italy is a country that intrigues many people. You already know that Italian is spoken there, but did you know that it is also an official language of Switzerland, Malta, and San Marino?

More than 85 million people speak Italian worldwide, and with both the increase in travel and interest in reconnecting with one's roots, Italian is growing in popularity for language learners.

Continue reading below reviews

2017

Italian Lessons Reviews

5 stars
Rocket Languages

ROCKET LANGUAGES Visit Site

Cost:

$99.95 for Level 1

$249.90 for Levels 1 & 2

$259.90 for Levels 1, 2, 3

$299.95 per level for coursework delivered via audio CDs

TopConsumerReviews.com Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Rocket Language's Italian lessons program is well-rounded and easy to use, helping you quickly gain conversational skills in Italian. Whether you simply need to ask "Come ti chiami?" ("What's your name?") Or you are trying to get directions from the Colosseum to the Pantheon, Rocket Italian will improve your ability to converse in Italian at your level and beyond.

Each level within the Italian package contains the following:

  • Twenty-five minute interactive audio lessons (30+). These lessons contain conversational Italian, focusing on common phrases and vocabulary used in everyday life. Listen to each lesson as many times as needed to train your ear to respond to each prompt.
  • Language & Culture Lessons (30+). Rocket Italian provides step-by-step explanations in English to help students learn exactly how Italian works.
  • Voice recognition phrases (2,200+). Rocket Record allows you to improve your pronunciation by evaluating your recorded phrases against its voice recognition tool, bringing your accent as close to a native level as possible.
  • Flash Card sets (64). Improve your active recall of the phrases you learn with a set of Flash Cards for each and every lesson.
  • 24/7 Forum and Email Support. Rocket Italian believes there's no such thing as a dumb question. Students have unlimited access to discussion boards and forums where they can get answers from Italian teachers, native speakers, and fellow Italian students.

Other course features include the My Vocab vocabulary builder, the Phrase Finder, progress tracking with badges and leaderboard access, lifetime course access, and three "Survival Kits" that help students quickly master targeted vocabulary within specific conversational situations.

Rocket Italian is so sure that students will learn with their program, they provide a free trial with four hours of lessons ( no credit card information required), in addition to a 100%, 60-day money-back guarantee. Judging from their customer reviews, Rocket Italian is a terrific value for the investment with 1,500+ students that have given Rocket Language's programs a perfect five-star rating.

It might seem scary to learn a new language, but Rocket Languages' Italian program will help students enjoy the process. We particularly like their multi-dimensional methods of teaching, their free trial, and their money-back guarantee. We give Rocket Languages our highest rating among providers of Italian lessons, and they should have you parlando italiano in no time!

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4.5 stars
Rosetta Stone

ROSETTA STONE Visit Site

Cost:

$179 for 12-month online access for 1 user (regular price $299)

$249 for lifetime online access for 1 user (regular price $249)

Other options available for downloading individual levels/sets

Rosetta Stone is a popular, effective way to learn Italian. Trying to replicate the way native speakers learn Italian, Rosetta Stone uses "Dynamic Immersion" with interactive technology and speakers whose first language is Italian to recreate that experience as much as possible. Unlike some programs that rely heavily on translation from English to Italian and back, or on plain memorization, Rosetta Stone seeks to help students learn Italian more naturally.

As students learn Italian with Rosetta Stone, they will have ample opportunities to fine-tune their language skills, especially their spoken ability. A number of microphone-based activities allow students to compare their speech—words, phrases, even whole sentences—against a database of native speakers, until their recording matches the native speakers' speech patterns as closely as possible.

We recommend that prospective customers try the free Italian demo provided on the Rosetta Stone Italian website. You'll have the opportunity to learn several words (they won't be translated for you, in keeping with the immersion-based method Rosetta Stone uses throughout its Italian course) and see a sample of basic reading, listening, and even speaking exercises.

Rosetta Stone offers a somewhat confusing array of options for accessing their courses. Regular pricing is spendy, but it appears that there are almost always special offers that bring the total down. The cost for Rosetta Stone Italian depends on whether the course is accessed as an online subscription ($149 for 6 months, $179 for 12 months, and $199 for 24 months) or instant download ($199 for levels 1-5, $179 for levels 1-3). We were unclear on how Rosetta Stone prices its "lifetime" memberships; while lifetime access for a single user seems to match the description, the "lifetime" Italian Family Pack for up to 3 users is described as access for only 24 months.

We noticed that Rosetta Stone has improved its guarantee/return policy in the recent past: previously, their 30-day, no risk, money-back guarantee could only be requested when purchasing their CD products, but it now includes any of Rosetta Stone's Personal or Homeschool editions, whether that's purchased as an online subscription, download, or CD-ROM.

Rosetta Stone is visually appealing, well-rounded, and well-researched. Many customer reviews describe learning Italian with Rosetta Stone as fun, effective, and worth the money. It should be noted, however, that some language students criticize Rosetta Stone for making unlikely claims: specifically, that their method of language instruction allows students to learn as easily and naturally as a child learns his mother tongue. Naturally, it is almost impossible to provide a genuinely immersive language experience comparable to living in Italy, despite Rosetta Stone's best efforts.

In general, Rosetta Stone is a very reputable option for learning Italian at any level—with the understanding that no program can deliver complete fluency in a box (or online subscription).

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4.5 stars
Cyber Italian

CYBER ITALIAN Visit Site

Cost:

$39 for one self-study course (Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced)

$99-$149 for tutored courses (6-12 weeks)

$239 for 6 hours of one-on-one private lessons

$1,400 for personalized coaching with CyberItalian founder Maura Garau

Based on a course that was originally created for the United Nations in New York, CyberItalian has the widest variety of options we found for students of Italian. From traditional online self-study classes, to tutoring, private individual lessons, and even personalized coaching with the founder of CyberItalian, students have the ability to learn Italian—language and culture—in the way that works best for them.

We highly recommend that prospective CyberItalian students take advantage of a sample lesson, to see if the learning methods are a good fit. The lessons are very text-heavy, usually providing instructions in Italian with the translated text immediately below or next to it. We worked our way through the beginner's sample lesson and felt somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer amount of material to read through, but we came away feeling like it would give us an excellent platform for learning Italian authentically.

We love that CyberItalian not only provides a placement test but also sample lessons for beginners, intermediate, and advanced students; in this way, those who already have experience with Italian can start at the level that is most appropriate.

It is also important to note that the main courses featured on the site are designed for adults; and, we were pleased to see that CyberItalian is one of the few programs, if not the only one, that offers self-paced courses for middle and high school students, including an authorized AP Italian Language and Culture course.

CyberItalian has a unique way of checking pronunciation: students click on the "Pronuncia" button, which pops up a new window where they can enter the target word or phrase in Italian. That phrase is then read by the animated guide, Maria, and students can record themselves saying the same phrase. On the one hand, we like that students can enter any word they wish and have it read to them in Italian; on the other, oral exercises that automatically compare the students' recordings to a database of native speakers are more likely to be effective than relying on the students themselves to evaluate how closely they have mimicked a true Italian accent.

Finally, CyberItalian offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee within the first 30 days of purchase; students can get a full refund of any fees paid for the self-study programs, or a refund of any unused portion of the private and/or tutored instruction.

CyberItalian is one of the best choices available for learning Italian language and culture, and we highly recommend it for students of all proficiency levels.

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4 stars
Pimsleur

PIMSLEUR Visit Site

Cost:

$150 per level on DVD (30 lessons)

$450 for levels 1-4 on DVD (120 lessons)

Options available for MP3 and CD delivery

Pimsleur is a respected name when it comes to learning a new language. Because its primary emphasis is on learning Italian through simple, 30-minute audio lessons, Pimsleur is an ideal choice for those who prefer to learn by listening rather than reading. Pimsleur offers a free 30-minute Italian lesson that can be downloaded from the website, so that prospective customers can get a feel for this auditory approach to learning the language. When we practiced using the sample audio, we felt that we came away with a decent understanding of a basic conversation in Italian.

On the other hand, there was no way to try out the non-audio components of Pimsleur's Italian program, which includes flashcards, matching games, and other visual components when purchased as a DVD set. Given that 40% of students learn best with visual input, compared with 10% of students who learn best by hearing, we would have liked to see more of what Pimsleur offers in that regard so as to make a more accurate comparison with the other programs in our review.

Pimsleur does offer a return policy that they call a "Proficiency Guarantee": if a customer purchases the Pimsleur Level 1 Italian program, completes the course, and fails the provided novice-level test (hosted independently of Pimsleur itself), Pimsleur will issue a full refund. The site is unclear as to whether or not this would apply if the customer purchased levels 1-4 as a package.

Among all of the Italian language programs we reviewed, Pimsleur is the most expensive investment: four levels of Italian provided via DVD (i.e. including both visual and audio lessons) sells for $450 and includes 120 lessons, while single levels can be purchased for $150. Although you might think it would save money to buy only the MP3 or CD edition, you're in for a surprise: 81 hours of MP3s costs $550, while those same lessons cost $1,190 on CD!

Given its strong emphasis on learning by listening, Pimsleur is a proven choice for students who want to learn Italian while on the go: in the car, on an MP3 player (though you may want to download the audio tracks from the DVDs rather than buying the MP3s, given the price difference), or while working in the yard.

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3.5 stars
Innovative Language

INNOVATIVE LANGUAGE Visit Site

Cost:

$4+/month for Basic plan

$10+/month for Premium plan

$23+/month for Premium + plan

Innovative Language's ItalianPod101 program provides a wide variety of language instruction levels, from brand-new language learners to those looking to refine their accent or even learn about using Italian in a romantic environment!

The high-pressure sales pitch used by Innovative Language might make some prospective customers uncomfortable. The main site promises a free account with lifetime access, but no further information is available until you enter your name, email address, and level of learning (beginner, intermediate advanced), and then activate your account once you receive the email. The confirmation page then takes you to a "limited, one-time offer" that includes the following:

  • One month of premium access (regular price of $25/month)
  • One free product download (starting at $9.99)
  • 7-day Fluency Fast Course
  • Ultimate Getting Started with Italian Lesson Pack, with 60 Italian audio lessons and lesson notes, 10 bonus video lessons, and user guide

In order to access this "one-time offer", you'll need to pay $1 as a "bandwidth fee". Otherwise, click on the "No Thanks" link and it will take you to your main account page. On that page, we got yet another "special offer", explaining that we had now been given a 7-day free trial with access to the entire lesson library and Premium tools, but we could get a 10% discount if we upgraded to a subscription plan that day. Fortunately, the sales pitch seems to finish there, as you can jump directly to audio Absolute Beginner Lesson 1, "Greeting Your New Friends with Perfect Italian".

In that sample lesson - which walks new students through both the language and the cultural insights needed for greetings in Italian - we particularly like that the audio speed can be changed right on the main screen if you need to hear the lessons more slowly (or more quickly!). Also be sure to check out the spot at the top of the lesson that says "Download PDFs". Here you'll find a transcript of the lesson, lesson notes (including cultural notes and grammar explanations), and checklists to help you track your progress through the materials.

From that point, we found it difficult to know the recommended path(s) for logically progressing through the lessons. We saw that there are also video lessons, so we went to the series "Learn Italian in Three Minutes" found under the "Lessons" heading on the main page. Those videos made more sense than the audio files, but we weren't sure if we needed to follow the instructions to "add course to dashboard". Additionally, the learning dashboard shows the recommended lesson progression under the "My Pathway" heading, access to flashcards and other tools, and access to the "My Teacher" feature included with Premium Plus memberships.

We recommend that students go to the Lessons navigation at the top of the page, and select "Learning Paths": here you will find groups of lessons categorized as Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. The content initially looks skimpy - for example, under the "Advanced" section of the Learning Paths, it appears to only contain two areas of instruction. However, looking more closely, we saw that the "Flexing Your Fluency" area alone includes a total of 60 lessons with more than three hours of total content.

Don't be confused by Innovative Language's packages. On one page, it states that their packages are priced at $4/month for the Basic plan, $10/month for the Premium package, and $25/month for Premium+; however, on the main pricing FAQ page, the prices are listed as nearly double those amounts. Why? The higher prices are for a 1-month subscription, and the lower prices reflect a 50% discount given for a 24-month subscription. Keep that in mind as you decide which plan meets your needs and your budget, and be sure to compare the features offered at each subscription level (for example, interactive voice recording is included with Premium and Premium+ only, while printer-friendly lesson notes are included with all paid memberships).

Innovative Language does offer a satisfaction guarantee. If you are unsatisfied with your membership at any level, you may request a refund within 60 days. Be aware that you will only be refunded for the unused time remaining on your membership plan.

Because of the breadth of the content offered and the solid variety of teaching approaches (audio, video, MP3 downloads, mobile apps), we give Innovative Language's ItalianPod101 a respectable rating. This rating could improve with fewer hoops for prospective customers to jump through in order to check out what the Italian program has to offer, and less emphasis on the sales pitch.

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3.5 stars
Transparent Language

TRANSPARENT LANGUAGE Visit Site

Cost:

$29.95/month for Online Italian monthly plan

$24.99/month for Online Italian 6-month plan

$16.66/month for Online Italian 12-month plan

$49.95 for Everywhere Italian Audio Course

$29.95 for KidSpeak Italian desktop program

Transparent Language's promises that it gives Italian students "radically better language learning, in one complete experience". Transparent Language makes use of a variety of techniques—speaking practice that allows users to compare their speech to that of a native speaker; questions that involve multiple choice, dictation, and listening recognition; detailed grammar lessons to help learners understand the mechanics of Italian; and much more—comparable to the best programs we found in our review. We were unable to determine anything that makes Transparent Language's Italian program remarkably superior to other programs.

Transparent Language does offer a 14-day free trial of their online program (with no credit card information required). Because Transparent Language's structure is much less sequential and rigid than other Italian programs, we suggest that prospective customers use that free trial to see if Transparent's more self-directed approach to teaching Italian is a good fit.

We also like that Transparent Language offers a full refund for all of its products, within six months of purchase for any physical/downloaded product, and a full refund prior to the next billing cycle for Transparent Language Online.

Transparent Language is unique among Italian Language programs because it has an option to receive live instruction and/or tutoring in Italian. These services aren't cheap—$299 for an 8-week, customized online course that meets once a week, and/or $99 for 90 minutes of private online tutoring at the student's proficiency level—but for those Italian learners who want individualized teaching in the comfort of their own home, Transparent Language may be the ideal place to find it.

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3 stars
Ling Q

LING Q Visit Site

Cost:

Free for 5 lessons/month and 20 LingQs (target words), no Conversations access

$10/month for unlimited lessons and LingQs, 50% discount on Conversations "points"

$39/month for unlimited lessons and LingQs, 3,000 free points/month, 50% discount on additional points

LingQ (which is said like the word "link") targets highly motivated Italian learners who want to master the language in an authentic manner. LingQ makes use of text selections from actual Italian print material such as magazine articles and novels, audio lessons for reviewing the texts, and connections between Italian speakers and students.

Although we like the real-world approach LingQ takes to teaching Italian, the demo lesson in the sample video didn't impress us. The research backing LingQ's method of teaching Italian seems to stem strictly from the experience of creator Steve Kaufmann, instead of any proven, researched approach to language learning. Kaufmann asserts that deep personal motivation is necessary to succeed using the LingQ method; unfortunately, this may make the LingQ program unsuitable for those who are learning Italian to satisfy a requirement rather than to pursue a passion or other motivation.

We were also somewhat confused by the "pay to play" nature of LingQ's connection system: to work with a native speaker of Italian, students need "points". 3000 points are included with the highest tier of membership, and a 50% discount is offered to those with the $10/month membership. How much does it cost, then, to make a connection with one of LingQ's native speakers? A one-on-one conversation costs 500 points ($5) for 15 minutes, and a 100-word writing correction goes for 333 points ($3.33). In our research, Italian students can usually get free help from native speakers, both online and in "real life", instead of paying for each interaction.

That being said, we also found a surprising number of testimonials—not just on the LingQ site, but also on other blogs and user reviews—that say that LingQ has been successful for many language learners. Our recommendation is that prospective customers try LingQ's free, limited membership first, to see if their method of teaching Italian is a good match for their own level of motivation and their learning style.

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2 stars
Unforgettable Languages

UNFORGETTABLE LANGUAGES Visit Site

Cost:

$32 for Italian Complete Course Levels 1-4 (download)

$48 for Italian Complete Course Levels 1-4 (CD version)

Unforgettable Italian seeks to promote strong vocabulary skills using "Linkwords" to commit words to memory: students associate new Italian words with familiar English words and phrases (e.g. ""The Italian word for BIRD is UCCELLO. Imagine the conductor in an animal orchestra saying to a BIRD, ‘YOU CELLO, me conductor'."). Students are directed to hold each image in their mind's eye for ten seconds, in order to keep the word association. However, we noticed that the English words suggested as mnemonic devices had the tendency to promote poor pronunciation in Italian: "tender" for "tenda", "whisper" for "vespa", and so on. Also, Unforgettable Italian does not offer a voice recognition tool for students to check their pronunciation against that of a native speaker.

Unforgettable Italian does offer four levels of Italian instruction in one download or set of CDs, at a price that is considerably more affordable than many of the other programs we reviewed. On the other hand, it is difficult to see how Unforgettable Italian can transmit the same depth of instruction with respect to grammar and pronunciation as offered by other courses when strictly using memorized vocabulary drills.

One plus that we do like about Unforgettable Italian is the satisfaction guarantee: customers can get a full refund for any reason within 30 days of purchase.

Unforgettable Italian can be a helpful tool for students who are struggling to remember vocabulary; they even suggest that their program is excellent for those who are dyslexic, given the heavy emphasis on auditory learning. But, with little or no written lessons, the inability to compare one's speech against that of a native speaker, and apparently no way to check one's mastery (e.g. quizzes, knowledge checks, etc.) vocabulary that feels out of context (e.g. the demo taught words like "tree", "plate", and "red"), Unforgettable Italian feels more like a great set of flashcards than a comprehensive program for language instruction. For that reason, we recommend that students consider other products in our review if conversational and written skills in Italian are a priority.

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1 star
Strokes International

STROKES INTERNATIONAL Visit Site

Cost:

$60 per downloaded level (discounts available for purchasing multiple levels)

$67 per DVD level (discounts also available for purchasing multiple levels)

Strokes International's Easy Learning Italian claims that it meets European Union learning standards for beginning, intermediate, and advanced business students of Italian. However, even at first glance, there are basic errors on the website itself—"dictionnary", "conjugations with 1,300 verb" - and with absolutely nothing on the page labeled "Program information", it is nearly impossible to determine if Easy Learning actually meets those standards.

Strokes International does offer a three-lesson Italian trial via download, but given our concerns regarding the program we opted not to install the file. Also, Strokes' free mobile apps for learning Italian and other languages have very few reviews, possibly because the apps apparently haven't been updated since 2014. This adds to the overall impression that Easy Learning is not likely to provide high-quality, comprehensive language instruction.

Easy Learning Italian also falls short with respect to customer satisfaction and returns policies: looking at the "Shipping & Returns" section of the website, it only references the costs for shipping within and outside of Europe and makes no mention whatsoever of any kind of return policy or satisfaction guarantee, unlike most of the other Italian language programs we reviewed. If parlando italiano is a priority for you, we recommend that you choose another program, as Strokes International's Easy Learning provides too little information to determine whether or not their Italian language program can deliver results.

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Continued from above

Whether you're brand-new to studying the Italian language or hoping to sharpen your Italian grammar and pronunciation, you have a variety of programs from which to choose. When deciding which program will be your wisest investment, you should take a look at each program's methods.

Some Italian programs can easily meet the needs of different learning styles - visual, auditory, and so on - making use of flashcards, games, multiple choice questions, audio lessons, and pronunciation practice using a microphone to compare your accent with a native speaker's.

On the other hand, a few Italian language programs emphasize one single strategy (for example, 30-minute mp3 lessons for on-the-go learning) that may or may not fit with your most comfortable learning environment. Fortunately, most providers of Italian instruction offer some sort of free trial, to help you decide if their program is a good match for your goals, learning style, and budget.

When comparing Italian programs, begin by considering the following:

  • Instructional Methods. Do the Italian lessons use a teaching style that fits your personality? Do they deliver instruction in a variety of ways or just focus on a single method?
  • Skill Level. Are the Italian lessons primarily for beginners or for experienced speakers? Do the lessons let you move from one level to another for the money paid, or do you have to purchase additional products to keep progressing?
  • Value. Is the progress you expect to make worth the amount you need to spend?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Italian Lessons available today. We hope these reviews help you learn one of Europe's most romantic languages quickly and easily!

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