Do you want to learn Italian but you’re always on the go? If this is your case, you should check out ItalianPod101. It enables you to fit lessons into your busy agenda using your mobile phone, tablet, iPad, laptop or desktop PC.
ItalianPod101 is produced by Innovative Languages who also has courses for 33 other languages. The platform has an intuitive interface making it very easy to use. The lessons are of high-quality and we believe they’re a good match for those starting to learn the language.
We recommend this platform to anybody that’s at a beginner or intermediate level. For those in an advanced level, we would not be energetically suggesting it.
Have you already made up your mind to join ItalianPod101? Click here.
For those of you that came for a throughout and honest review of this course that uses a podcast style delivery, please continue reading.
Getting started is very easy
Italianpod101 offers the possibility to test drive their course for free during 7-days. You could take advantage of this and see if you like their format or not.
The process of signing up is very straightforward. There aren’t a lot of input fields to fill in and registration would typically take less than 1 minute.
Signing up is mandatory. And to do so, you’ll be asked your Italian language level and to add an email address. An email will be sent into your inbox. You need to confirm it and that’s it! You’re good to go.
I think it would be useful to mention you can alternatively sign-up through your Facebook account too.
How does ItalianPod101 approach the language?
They believe you should be exposed to natural contexts in which natives speak the language. Along the course you’ll listen to practical expressions you would hear in Italy.
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) agrees with this way of teaching a language.
To achieve this goal, most lessons start with a dialogue in which a language skill is introduced in context. Then you’ll be walked through the cultural background in which the dialogue takes place. After that you’ll go over the key vocabulary found in the dialog. Phrases, morphology, and syntax will also be explained.
ItalianPod101’s focus on grammar instruction is minimal.
A quick walkthrough the header menu in ItalianPod101
Once you sign in, you’ll find this header menu. Let’s walk you through it in order to get you started as quick as possible.
The Dashboard tab: here the platform offers lessons that they think you should study according to your level.
These lessons are put together in what they call “pathways”. The platform automatically adds more pathways to your dashboard as you progress through the lessons.
These learning pathways have been implemented recently. Before, ItalianPod101 had a problem with messy, unstructured lessons.
By employing this way of grouping together lessons into levels, topics or areas of interest they have improved at presenting a more organized and linear route for learning.
So let’s give you a couple of example to show you what we mean.
They have a pathway called “Level 1 Italian”. It contains 78 lessons equating to 14 hours and 59 minutes. This module also includes 29 assignments.
They also have another pathway called “Survival Phrases”. This contains 60 lessons equating to 6 hours and 48 minutes.
And so on. You now have an idea what these pathways are and how they’ve organized their content.
The Lessons tab: here you’ll find lesson library, newest lessons and favorites.
This tab basically allows you to check and highlight pathways to follow as you judge convenient. There are lots of options when it comes to paths.
If you’re one of those that don’t feel comfortable with self-directed learning, then you should follow the pathways given to you on your dashboard (the previous tab we checked).
If you feel limited with imposed structure, then finding your own lessons on the lessons tab (this tab we’re reviewing right now) is definitely for you.
The Vocabulary tab: here you can find many free resources applicable to your study plan. Just to mention a few, in this section you’ll be able to see: An Italian dictionary, Italian key phrases, word of the day, 100 most commonly used words, etc.
You’ll also be able to find a very useful flashcard tool. We’ll give you more details about this in the next segment of our post, where we’ll highlight the main features available in ItalianPod101.
My teacher tab: here you’ll be assigned a private teacher who sits down with you and personalizes your learning curriculum. To do this, she takes into consideration your goals for learning the language, your present level and study needs.
This feature is optional and we recognize that not all students want or need it. This feature is an exclusive to the Premium Plus plan. Further on in this article, we’ll describe the different plan ItalianPod101 offers.
Main features available in ItalianPod101
As we have discussed above, each pathway is composed by a set of lessons. Due to the fact that ItalianPod101 follows a podcast style delivery, these lessons are usually in the form of audio lessons. Because of their importance in the course, we’ll start addressing them.
These audio lessons are 100% downloadable. That means that you theoretically have the option of downloading the whole course content without having to renew your subscription. You aren’t limited to online use only as you are with other online courses. With ItalianPod101, you own what you pay for.
These audio lessons usually feature a native speaker and a non-native speaker. Although there are exceptions, they usually are short and concise, lasting 10 to 12 minutes.
However, we should also mention that some users don’t like that throughout the audio lessons, conversational banter in English takes place. Another criticism is that the lessons sound very scripted. I believe we all have different things that make us click or turn us off. You have the last word on these!
Diving into the structure of the audio lessons, we find out that most follow this pattern:
Dialogue in Italian at normal speed
Dialogue in Italian slowed down
Dialogue with English translations
Vocabulary breakdown of the words used in the previous dialogue
We must mention that when learning Italian, it’s important to make distinction between formal and informal speech. Italian people, in given contexts, tend to be more formal than people do in English. So these audio lessons offer dialogues for both informal and formal speech.
The last section of the lesson is the transcript which details everything you heard in the audio (both the parts in English and Italian). You even have the option to download the transcript as a PDF document. We had already mentioned that the audios could be downloaded and now we’re telling you that the transcript can be downloaded too.
For those that don’t like to listen to the parts that are spoken in English there is the option to go straight into the meat of the Italian vocabulary and dialogues.
If there are words you would like to review further on, you have at the end of the module the option to add words to: Flashcard Deck, to Word Bank, Slideshow (where you can hear the words again) or Take Quiz to test your knowledge.
A section of comments is available at the end of the lesson where you can share your opinions and discuss any aspect of the lessons.
A commendable tactic they employ in these lessons to capture your attention is that they have structured them based on various situational topics. They selected authentic situations you’ll encounter in Italy (rather than just presenting grammar points, as old text books used to do). For example, lessons would be like: at a restaurant, on the bus, asking for medical assistance, etc. You kinda immerse yourself into the scene they paint.
Take a look at the online lesson player. It will be your study-buddy as you learn Italian. With it you can listen to the full track, just the Italian audio or even go over the lesson again. This review track is especially helpful when you want to practice your own pronunciation or listening skills.
Imagine we were given the task of summarizing our opinion about the audio lessons in three words. We would pick: logical, clear and extensive.
ItalianPod101 also features short video lessons. In them, you practice answering questions and listening to explanations. With video you can see how the speaker is using their mouth to mimic the sounds they make.
Concerning video lessons, we must state that most of them are of very low quality. We refer to video slideshows with an audio track. They could even be considered audio lessons, and this would just be an attempt on their part to start venturing into video.
However, they have a series in their video collection, in the Beginner and Intermediate categories only, by the Italian host Ilaria that are great quality. In these videos, she’s in front of the camera and you can see how she pronounces each Italian word. She has a pleasant personality and a decent amount of video lessons. There are about 50 audio lessons hosted by her.
This is a very nice feature that is added to you once you have a premium membership. And we would like to briefly state some of the reasons that make this flashcard tool interesting.
First of all, it continues on where your lessons left you. In other words, the flashcards show you the same vocabulary you’ve been hearing in the main lessons. This is helpful because the words are fresh in your brain and before you forget them, you get exposed to them again.
Besides the actual flashcards, you get to hear the words pronounced again as well. And examples are given, showing you how each word fits into different contexts in addition to the one you heard in your lesson.
The flashcard tool is based on space repetition theory. This means it organizes words you will review taking into consideration our tendency to forget things we’ve just learnt. We have a forgetting curve and revisits to the words are programmed to take place before we forget them. This is an exciting topic. If you want to read a whole article on this, click here.
The Flashcard’s interface is OK. Not the coolest thing out there, but it’s free of glitches and it does its work.
When using these Flashcards, you’ll have a main word bank with 2,000 words with pronunciation and example sentences for all entries. When you’re proficient using 2,000 words you’re quite fluent in a language (well, at least in most cases). Once you hit that milestone you can “graduate” to getting your vocabulary from native material such as books, newspapers or from all around the Internet.
Do you remembered we asked you when we opened this post: “Do you want to learn Italian but you’re always on the go?” Well, the answer to that is ItalianPod101’s mobile application.
You can benefit of all that we have shared with you about this platform while you commute, while doing chores or basically anytime you’re not in front of your computer.
ItalianPod101’s biggest benefit is that they focus on portability. They’ve done a great job with their mobile app when it comes to delivering truly mobile experience. It’s not only well-designed, it just makes using it so easy and seemly.
We explained you could download the lessons and transcripts on your PC or laptop. Well, you can also download files via the app.
You can download this app for free. It’s available for Android, iPhone, iPad and Kindle Fire.
We must also mention that ItalianPod101 comes with an additional free flashcard app called “Word Power”. This app is only devoted to giving you flashcards. But it honestly is a bit clunky and we wouldn’t recommend it.
PDF lesson notes:
These notes are very thorough. It’s easy to see they’ve had a lot of work put into them. Please take advantage of these notes. A good thing to do would be to print them and keep them for reference even after your subscription is ended.
Some courses completely pass by this important point. This happens with platforms that cover a whole array of languages.
Innovative Languages, the company behind ItalianPod101, also has produced and up until the present sustains courses in 33 other languages. But they don’t follow what other similar companies do. They lay special attention on cultural insights and you’ll have them in every lesson of ItalianPod101! That definitely is a huge help because language and culture go hand in hand.
Although this platform ticks several boxes, it’s far from perfect. There are areas that need a lot of improvement and others that need to be approached in a different manner. Here is our list of things we dislike about ItalianPod101.
1. Even though they have attempted to organize all their lessons through what they call “pathways” there is still a lot of improvement needed here. Lessons are grouped by topics but not necessarily by level of difficulty.
2. They include quizzes along the course but we feel the number is insufficient. There could be more quizzes available for those that like to test their learning.
3. This is mainly a podcast style course so additional content may be considered bonuses. But some of these bonuses need a lot of improvement. For example: most of their video lessons should be redone, their Word Power app should be upgraded, etc.
4. Lots of explanations are made in English (even at the higher levels). We believe that up to a certain beginner level, it could help but intermediates and advance students may benefit from a model that favors immersion.
5. Even when you’re already a member, get prepared for aggressive email marketing.
Without doubt, this is an outstanding platform and here are some of the features that make it worth considering giving it a try.
1. It’s very easy to get started. In the registration process you don’t have a lot of fields to fill in so it’s very fast.
2. The platform is intuitive for brand new users. You’ll find your way around the lessons effortlessly.
3. The site is well designed. No glitches nor bugs.
4. After you test drive it and decide you would like to purchase one of their memberships, even for the basic, it provides 850+ lessons (between audio and video lessons). This is great value for your money.
5. It’s structured to encourage you, automatically displaying your progress when you complete each module.
6. It can be used across all your devices: it works on the web, tablets, and mobile phones. You can even use it on your Kindle Fire.
7. Audio lessons are top-notch.
8. Flashcards are sync with your progress on your lessons making them very helpful to solidify vocabulary you’ve just learnt.
9.It dives into cultural insights in each lesson.
10. PDF lesson notes have a lot of work put into them and they can be used as reference even years after you cancel your membership.
11. You can download all the lessons, the transcript of the lessons, PDF lesson notes, etc. You truly own what you pay for.
12. ItalianPod101 is continually updated. It’s common to see new audio and video lessons being added. They come with a tag that says “New” so you won’t miss them.
How much does ItalianPod101 cost?
First of all, you can sign up for a 7-day free trial. After you’ve had this test drive and have decided it’s a good fit, then you may consider the different packages they offer.
There are three plans: Basic, Premium, and Premium Plus. Each of these plans differs in price. We’ll check what each plan includes and how much they cost. If you clicking a link on this post and make a purchase, then we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Features included in the Basic package ($8 per month or $4 per month with a 2-year subscription):
Access to all their lessons.
In-Depth Lesson Notes.
100 core words and phrases
Access to the Basic package through all your devices using the app: iPhones, iPads and Android phones and tablets.
Features of the Premium package ($25 per month or $10 per month with a 2-year subscription):
The Premium package includes all the features mentioned for the Basic package plus the ones mentioned here.
Line-by-Line Audio Dialogue.
Access to the Premium package through all your devices using the app.
Flashcards sync with your lessons and based on a space repetition system.
You have the option of recording yourself to compare it with the native speaker.
Custom words lists
2000 core words and phrases
Features of the Premium Plus package ($47 per month or $22.88 per month with a 2-year plan):
The Premium Plus package includes all the features mentioned for the Premium package plus the ones mentioned here.
The main benefit of this package is it gives you access to a teacher who personalizes your learning curriculum according to your goals, level and study needs.
Access to the Premium Plus package through all your devices using the app.
It’s very important to mention that there is a 60-day 100% money back guarantee policy in case you are not satisfied with the package you purchase.
I hope this post has helped you to get a clear and balanced outlook of what you’ll find inside the platform.
We consider ItalianPod101 outstanding. It surely needs to improve in several areas. But in the condition it’s now, and based on how much their subscriptions cost, we believe it’s great value for your money.
We strongly recommend to not purchase any plan until you first try the 7-day free trial. With this trial, you’ll access all the content for free without giving payment information.
Wow, you have made it to the end of this review. After having read all this post, taking action and opening a free account will be just one simple step compared to this long walk. Click here to check ItalianPod101 for yourself.