Elevate your Italian learning with these Italian textbooks for beginners.
Whether in a classroom setting or on your own, I recommend using a combination of three books to structure your Italian learning experience:
- A short story book: Choose one that is tailored to your language proficiency level. It will help you piece together all the bits and pieces of grammar and vocabulary you have learned along the way. If you haven’t used short stories yet, read my guide here on how to make the most of them.
- A textbook: Old school or not, a textbook is essential for progressing from level A to B, as it provides a structured foundation. Textbooks are more effective when used with a teacher, but they can also be valuable for self-study.
- A grammar-focused textbook: A reliable grammar book will be your lifelong companion, and it’s often best to have one in your native language.
These are the same books and textbooks that my private clients use.
1. Due Amiche e Un Album di Fotografie
Italian reader in super easy Italian
If you’ve studied Italian for just a few months, I recommend using this short story in VERY easy Italian, which uses the top 100 most common Italian words. Unlike many other similar products, this book is indeed geared towards beginners and upper-beginner Italian learners. Every chapter is bite-sized, and sentences are short enough not to feel bogged down. The book is also a bilingual language book (Italian-English) and is complemented by a set of recall exercises to reinforce what you’ve learned in the chapters. It’s set in scenic South Tyrol, one of most beautiful corners of Italy.
2. Le Avventure di Paul a Roma
Italian reader for beginners and lower-intermediate learners
“Le Avventure di Paul a Roma” is a short story book set in Rome. Paul, the protagonist, goes on a one-week solo trip to the beautiful capital city of Italy. However, his life is turned upside down by an unexpected job offer. This book is a good fit for beginners, upper-beginners, and lower-intermediate learners. It features the most common Italian verbs and words you need at a beginner level, along with a set of retention activities at the end of each chapter and cultural insights to learn interesting facts about the city.
3. Easy Italian Step By Step
Italian Grammar Book in English (for beginners and intermediate learners)
This is an excellent reference grammar book for both beginners and intermediate students of Italian, written in English. Whether you are just starting to learn Italian or have been studying for a while, this book will be a valuable companion. It provides clear grammar explanations in English for both beginners and intermediate topics, along with an extensive list of grammar exercises. Answer keys are also included at the end of the book.
4. Gramm.it for English Speakers
Italian grammar textbook for beginners A1-C1
Gramm.it I for English Speakers, is a beautifully designed grammar book that covers all essential grammar topics, from beginner to upper-intermediate levels (A1-C1). Each topic is presented clearly with charts and illustrations and is followed by a list of exercises. This book serves as an excellent reference for beginners and is equally great for intermediate learners seeking a go-to resource for refreshing and practicing specific grammar topics. Unlike many other Italian textbooks, this one provides prompts in English.
5. English Grammar for Students of Italian
Highly recommend if you’re struggling with all aspects of grammar.
Is grammar painful? Then you must get this reference book, which has been designed to help English native speakers break down complex grammar topics (e.g., what’s a pronoun, a conjugation, or a preposition, etc.). This is a book that every English speaker with not-so-strong grammar foundations should get before embarking on the beautiful journey of learning Italian.
6. In Alto A1
Italian textbook for beginners
In Alto A1 is a fantastic textbook for those who are just beginning to learn Italian. It includes dialogues, listening exercises, grammar lessons, and reading activities. Each unit touches on a different vocabulary topic and will gradually take you from level A1 (complete beginner) to level A2 (upper-beginner). It’s better to use it with a tutor, but you can still navigate the book on your own. This textbooks is entirely written in Italian, and includes a downloadable audio file.
7. New Italian Espresso
Italian textbook for beginners and intermediate learners
Probably one of the most popular Italian textbooks of all time, it’s designed to take students from a beginner to an intermediate level. It’s also available in a digital format. The instructions for the activities are provided in English, making it suitable for following a structured learning path. It’s more effective when used with a teacher rather than for independent learning.
8. Le prime parole italiane
Vocabulary textbook for beginners
This is an Italian book designed to help beginners acquire the most common Italian words. It includes exercises and answer keys. Unlike many other similar products, this one focuses on the 1000 high-frequency words and verbs. If you master how to use those, your conversational Italian will improve significantly.
9. 501 Italian Verbs
Italian grammar textbook for verbs
Verbs are at the core of the Italian language as they provide direction to our sentences. Finding verb conjugation difficult? All you need is extensive practice, which this book provides. It’s not only meant for beginners but for all levels. Therefore, if you’re a beginner, try to focus only on verb tenses that are useful at your level (present tense, passato prossimo, imperfetto, future tense).