Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Think learning how speak Italian means breaking the bank? Think again. The internet is teeming with Italian language lessons that cost nothing. The only problem?
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What I like about ItalianPod is that it suits a whole range of learners from absolute beginner level right up to advanced and is delivered in both audio and video format.
I sent some questions over to Innovative Language a while back. Most lessons, then, begin with a dialogue in which a language skill is introduced in context. The rest of the lessons then go on to talk more about the cultural context in which the dialogue takes place, and the key vocabulary, phrases, morphology, and syntax that allow the learner to carry out the particular language task. ItalianPod focuses on real language and grammar instruction is minimal. I then asked about the freedom that ItalianPod teachers use for lesson creation: The native speakers who create the content have a lot of freedom to choose what they teach, though we have a few standard series, such as Survival Phrases, that teach roughly the same kinds of expressions across all of our languages.
Innovative Language lessons are aligned to CEFR levels, and we typically ask that teachers try to teach to a standardized set of internal Can Do statements when preparing the dialogues and the grammar and vocabulary information. This is a way of grouping together lessons into topics, goals or areas of interest so you can follow a more linear path in your learning. Just to give you an example, they currently have a module named Talking About Yourself which contains 21 lessons equating to 3 hours and 56 minutes each module has a completion time like this.
You can either complete modules according to your interests or move through them sequentially. ItalianPod allows you to choose your own path with lots of options Since the ItalianPod dashboard can be quite overwhelming there is such a thing as too many features! It is optional of course for learners like myself who feel limited by imposed structure. Lessons range from Introduction covers some absolute basics as well as cultural information that may interest some people through to Advanced unfortunately not a whole lot of lesson content at the highest level.
You can select either audio or video lesson content. Video lessons in ItalianPod range from great to downright terrible Like some of the other Innovative editions, the ItalianPod videos need work.
The rest of the videos are very low quality in my opinion. They belong in the audio lesson category. There seem to be about 50 lessons in total by the Italian host Ilaria that are great quality. Overall including the low quality videos there is a lot to work through on ItalianPod — which will suit learners who prefer a visual learning style. ItalianPod audio lesson style The audio lessons in ItalianPod are presented by multiple hosts in English with Italian lesson dialogues.
As it uses a podcast style delivery, the lessons generally consist of quite a lot of conversational banter in English which can be a little annoying to listen to in my opinion. It sounds very scripted at times! I prefer to get straight into the meat of the Italian vocab and dialogue. What this means is that you theoretically have the option of downloading the entire course content without having to renew your subscription.
This is something I also loved about Rocket Italian. In the audio lessons, you can record your voice and compare it with the native speaker audio material rather than use their Premium Plus correction service.
Like I intimated above, there is such a thing as having too many features. ItalianPod has so much to offer that it can be overwhelming. Take for instance the grammar section. You could find more useful information online for free with a simple search! But thankfully, explicit grammar instruction is not what ItalianPod aims to do anyway.
There are other features for Premium Plus members such as the My Teacher Messenger where you can request assistance with Italian directly from an Italian native teacher. I also recommend combining their word bank in-built dictionary feature with the in-built flashcard app they have and you have a very handy tool for memorizing words and phrases outside of the lessons. Is ItalianPod worth the money? I have mixed feelings about ItalianPod Advanced: not so much.
This means that the content becomes really disorganized. The recently-added Learning Paths feature definitely improves this however and helps to structure the content. Also check out Rocket Italian and italki. Used ItalianPod before? Comment below!
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