Learning Italian with a self-paced online course
For almost ten years, I’ve been teaching Italian to native English speakers as a professional language teacher and learning content designer. Many students have succeeded in developing their ability to speak Italian, while others have given up due to a lack of structure and consistency.
After ten years of private tutoring and hundreds of students, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two main types of learners:
- Those who learn in a structured manner and describe their learning journey as a marathon.
- Those who learn informally and describe their learning journey as an on and off race.
Who do you think has the best chance of succeeding?
Learning Italian with Rocket Languages
Rocket Italian is one of the most well-known online Italian language courses, and it’s the only one I recommend to my private students in addition to their in-person classes.
Why, as a private educator, am I recommending an online self-paced Italian course?
In my ten years of teaching, I’ve seen many students drop out due to a lack of structure. Hiring a teacher is still the best option if you want to improve your learning, but most people will find it impossible to take a lesson with their teacher every day.
It’s also true that most students won’t learn Italian on the fly with a weekly lesson, but they do need a structure to help them build a framework for their Italian, especially at the beginner level.
While practicing Italian with tutors or teachers is beneficial, having a course to fall back on every day will help you progress in leaps and bounds in the long run.
How does Rocket Italian work?
There are three levels to this course.
What I like about Rocket is that it has three levels, the first of which is for complete beginners. It’s good practice for those who want to get started but aren’t sure if they’ll fall in love with the language.
- At Level 1, you will get a real taste of beginner Italian as well as the most fundamental conversation topics.
- At Level 2, you’ll build on your beginner and intermediate knowledge.
- At level 3, they’ll help you progress from intermediate to advanced Italian.
Why do I recommend Rocket Italian as one of the best self-paced online courses?
- Because they created a platform that is very clean and simple to use and follows a very well-structured learning itinerary that will guide through your desidered level (unlike many other self-paced online courses).
- The cost is reasonable (Level 1 costs less than $100 and lifetime access costs around 260 dollars) and will keep you occupied for a while, whereas one-on-one Italian classes from a good professional should cost at least $60 per hour.
- Every lesson is presented in the form of theme-based dialogues so that you can learn contextually and with real-life situations
- They use English to teach you the grammar and important aspects of the language. (I really don’t understand the point of those full immersion courses or even teachers who start speaking only in Italian from the beginning or even explain complex grammar rules in Italian).
- It’s highly interactive: you’ll be the star of the show as you complete numerous learning tasks.
- The lessons are organized in a logical manner, with no advanced topics thrown in too soon.
- There is plenty of planned repetition and exercises to ensure that you retain the new concepts and vocabulary.
- They have a 60-day refund policy (which means they’re confident in their work).
How does the course work?
Every level has seven modules, and each module is divided into lessons, as shown in this screenshot from Level 1.
Every brief dialogue is followed by activities to help you understand and consolidate the new concepts, just like I do with my students. This demostrates my point that information (like a new language) is not internalized when consumed (e.g., reading or listening to a dialogue passively)—it is internalized when studied (through repetition and exercise).
How do the lessons work?
When every conversation is presented, you can listen to it while reading the transcript. In addition, the dialogues’ Italian parts are then broken down so that you can listen to them and repeat them, such as this:
Once you’ve gotten to the bottom of the conversation, you can continue learning through a variety of activities to help you remember everything you’ve learned so far: flashcards, hear it! say! (a listening and repetion task), write it (a simple writing prompt ), know it, and a quiz. You can also download a PDF file or the audio file with the entire lesson.
As you can see, they go out of their way to ensure that you cover all of the essential aspects of language learning: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. This is the only way to learn a language well from a linguistic standpoint.
My unvarnished opinion
Learning Italian, or any other foreign language, is a fascinating intellectual endeavor, but it is not something that can be accomplished overnight. You’ll need a learning itinerary, a solid foundation, and consistent work to get to a nice conversational level. Let me say, as a professional language educator and a passionate language student, that there isn’t just one way to learn Italian. However, combining a self-paced course with regular language lessons and reading and listening to short stories could give you the superpower of speaking in a foreign language.
And remember, it will be more of a marathon than a race,
The reward will be priceless though.