Have you been meaning to brush up on your Italian skills? Perhaps you suddenly find yourself with a lot more free time, or maybe you decided that there is no time like the present to learn the language for your next trip. One of the easiest ways to plug into a new language and stick with it on the go is to use apps to learn Italian.
Our phones are always at the ready, and these apps offer diverse ways to experience and improve the language. Maybe you have a couple of minutes during a public transportation commute to play word quizzes to increase your vocabulary.
Depending on your budget, language level, and time commitments, these are my favorite apps for practicing Italian.
Best Apps to Learn Italian
Duolingo: The best known and one of the most popular language-learning apps in the world, Duolingo is a great way to practice Italian on your phone. When you first sign up, you will be given a short Italian test to identify your level of fluency. From there, the app can create lessons that are customized to your level of Italian. The type of games includes multiple-choice questions and translation challenges. The app will also test your pronunciation. As you learn vocabulary and grammar, the app will check your progress with short tests and recalibrate the necessary lessons to help you move forward in learning Italian.
Price: The basics are free but you can buy credits to unlock new lessons.
Pimsleur: The Pimsleur app has lots of fans around the world. The methods used to teach reading, writing, and comprehension were developed by Dr. Paul Pimsleur 50 years ago. The app can be used on your smartphone or on the web, and progress is then synced across your devices. The Italian language lessons include phonetic reading, listening to conversations and answering questions, flashcards, and quizzes to match words and meanings. The lessons are 30 minutes long but you can stop and start as needed. It is a bit old school for my taste, with lots of listening and repetition. However, it is a system that has been proven to work.
Price: You can sign up for a free lesson to test out the system and then get a 7-day free trial. If it seems like something that will work for you, there is then a monthly price. The monthly fee $19.99 for unlimited access to 150 lessons, or you can pay by level ($159.99) and the courses never expire. Up to three people can use the same account.
Busuu: Busuu is an easy-to-use app that focuses on teaching 11 different languages, one of which is Italian. The app is a good option if your main goal is to improve vocabulary and learn some grammar basics. The free version focuses on language flashcards so you can flip through and quickly learn new words. However, you must upgrade to the premium version if you really want to take advantage of the app. The monthly cost grants you unlimited access to detailed lessons, interactive learning experiences, and tests.
Price: The core product is free. The price for premium varies depending on if you purchase 1, 3, 6, or 12 months at a time.
Babbel: I remember the Babbel website way back when I was taking high school Spanish. It was like a very bad Google translate, with an extensive forum. However, Babbel has evolved massively since then and now offers a great app for learning Italian (and a range of other languages). Their app is subscription-based and offers 10-15 minute lessons to keep you focused and on track. The app helps with vocabulary and grammar, of course, but there is a big emphasis on listening comprehension and pronunciation, as well. You can also follow the lessons online, and sync your progress across devices.
Price: The price to use Babbel is paid per month and varies depending on how many months you subscribe to upfront. There is a 20-day money-back guarantee if you find that the program is not working for you.
HelloTalk: When people are moving to Rome and ask me how to improve their Italian, I always suggest setting up a language exchange. This is where you meet someone who wants to improve their ability to speak a language that you are fluent in, and they in turn will help you with Italian. Not only do you get to work with a native speaker, it is free, and you usually make a friend. Now you can do that virtually with HelloTalk. The app will connect you with a mother tongue Italian speaker, and you will help them learn English while they help you learn Italian. The app allows you to set up the language exchange by text, audio messages, or video. They also offer translation tools to make sure that everyone is understanding the exchange.
Price: Free, with in-app purchases to unlock premium features.
Tandem: Tandem is another free language exchange app that allows you to connect with a native Italian speaker for free. You pick a partner based on their profile and start a conversation. The messaging app allows you to ask questions about the language, or simply practice back and forth with your new virtual buddy.
Price: Free, with the possibility to make in-app purchases.
Other Italian Language Apps
If you are still looking for more options after the main list above, other apps to learn Italian include:
- Memrise (a game-based app that might appeal to younger learners)
- Learn Italian Words Free (Google Play only)
- Fluent Forever
- Fluenz (no free version)
Craving more ways to stay connected to Italy? Here are six Italian museums you can visit online, plus the best Italian news sites in English. If you want more ways to use your smartphone to reach Italy, these are the best podcasts about Italy.