It seems like being jobless in a pandemic has made me more creative, at least in terms of finding new ways of learning a language for free.
As you may be aware of, if you have read any of my previous posts, the coronavirus found me in Italy visiting my sister. Instead of seeing this as a drawback (which is, anyway, how I initially saw it as), I eventually decided that it was best to turn this unexpected circumstance into an opportunity to start something anew from Italy.
One of the main problems was that I didn’t speak the language. Not having an income and the lock-down didn’t make it easy for me to start a course or to meet Italian people with whom to practice.
So I decided to turn to the wise advice of my good friend Google, and this is what I found. Obviously, it is not a comprehensive list of all the free material that exists online to learn Italian, but just the resources that I have been using during this time and which I have found extremely useful and which have allowed me to get by until now.
- Online Italian Club (https://onlineitalianclub.com/) This is a pretty useful website and the first one that I used when I started to study Italian. The material is organised by levels (A1, A2, B1..) and by types (grammar, listening, verbs, vocabulary…). I started with level A1 and followed the order of the lessons proposed in there. I liked the exercises and the amount of information this page has, however, it got to a point when I wanted something that felt more like I was taking an actual course, with a bit more of structure to it.
- That’s how I ended up looking for an online free course in EdX, a free online platform where you can access tons of courses taught by leading universities. In there I found the course series: Italian Language and Culture by Wellesley University. It has three courses of three different levels: beginners (https://www.edx.org/course/italian-language-and-culture-beginner-2019-2020), intermediate (https://www.edx.org/course/italian-language-and-culture-intermediate-2019-202) and advanced (https://www.edx.org/course/italian-language-and-culture-advanced-2019-2020). I’m currently studying the beginner course and, although I found the videos a bit boring at first, I can now see how this course is putting the lessons that I had learned from Online Italian Club together by providing some context with these videos. This course has been definitely helping me to improve my understanding and usage of the language.
- Not having a job and, therefore, having more flexibility with my timetable has also resulted in me spending more time in the kitchen cooking for the family. Cooking is something that I enjoy, but it can be a bit time consuming. So, in order to make the most of my time in the kitchen, I decided to start looking for podcasts that could help me with my Italian. A quick search in Spotify pointed me towards Slow Italian, Fast Learning (https://open.spotify.com/show/15i6ajsiotwriLwovZFevk?si=UcwN1qI5R2ejKED4IM9jPw), a podcast from SBS. This is without a doubt one of my favourite resources to learn Italian for free. The wide diversity of Australian population is what makes SBS such a popular broadcasting choice for non-native Australians, since with SBS they can listen to the news of the country they live in in their own language. The podcast Slow Italian, Fast Learning, discusses relevant Australian news in a very slow Italian with inserts in English as well (which I found very helpful for checking whether I was following the Italian bits or not), and I found it an excellent way of getting used to listening to the Italian language. I’m learning quite a bit about Australia too, which isn’t a bad thing either!
- Another great podcast that I found in Spotify is Oggi Parliamo by Andrea Callegaro (https://open.spotify.com/show/1UwxCPBAIe3wxdaMx31TqX?si=fiocPT4NQzKWo6T6jc9_Zw). I absolutely love how he has structured his podcast: one day he talks about a grammatical rule, another one he reads a news piece and another one he talks about something related to the Italian culture (which you can tell he is very passionate about and he knows quite a bit about). It is specially helpful how he starts each episode with an explanation on key words that you will hear during the episode, as this aids greatly in the understanding of the episode. I highly recommend giving this podcast a listen!
- Another great resource that I have found, this time in YouTube, is the channel of Alberto Arighini, Impara l’italiano con Italiano Automatico (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChJtl-bJFgQit_BmjL5axtg). With loads of videos in Italian (some with subtitles in English although most with subtitles in Italian) this is a channel that encourages a new way of learning the language: don’t rely so much on just learning the grammatical rules and spend more time listening to natives listen, listen and listen. From my experience with English, I definitely agree with this, although I think some understanding of the Italian grammatical rules are first necessary before you can make the most of this channel and this method of learning.
- Last but not least is the world-famous Duolingo app. Available both for Android and iOS, it is a very popular app for learning a wide range of languages. And while the usefulness of some of the sentences it teaches you is a bit questionable, the amount of vocabulary that I’m learning with this app in undeniable. Also, the fact that is like a game and a lesson can be completed in 5 minutes, makes it much easier for you to come back to it everyday. It has been a great addition to my Italian learning for sure.
So these are the resources I have been using in these past few months. I have to admit that although my initial plan was to use at least one of these resources every single day, I have not been that consistent with it. Still, my level of Italian has gone from absolutely 0 to A2 in a few months and with not that much effort, which I’m quite pleased with! Obviously, I must add that being Spanish makes it much easier for me to learn Italian and probably the fact that I already speak another language makes it easier for me to learn a new one. Regardless, I would still encourage anyone who wants to learn Italian to have a look at these resources and try them out, they are free at the end of the day!
Let me know in the comments below if you do try any of these resources out and tell me what you think! And if you know any other free resource to learn Italian, don’t hesitate to add it to the comments too!
Looking forward to hearing from you! 🙂
P.S. There are no affiliate links in this post, I’m not getting paid to advertise any of these websites, I just wanted to share them because I found them useful and I thought other people might too. 🙂