Do you want to learn Italian but are always on the go? If this is your case, you should check out this platform. In this ItalianPod101 review, we get into details about this podcast-style course. We like it because it allows you to fit lessons into your busy day using your mobile phone, tablet, iPad, laptop, or desktop PC.
Innovative Languages is the company behind ItalianPod101. They also have 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 judge they are a good match for beginners.
We recommend this platform to anybody at a beginner or intermediate level. However, for advanced users, we would not be advocating it.
Have you already made up your mind to join ItalianPod101? Click here.
Would you like to learn more before joining? Please continue reading. We try to be as thorough and honest as possible.
Italianpod101 offers you to test their course for free for a period of 7-days. So, you could take advantage of this and see if you like their format.
The process of signing up is very straightforward. There are not many input fields to fill in. And registration would typically take less than one minute.
Signing up is mandatory. When you sign up, you indicate your Italian language level. You also have to add an email address. Afterward, an email will arrive in your inbox. You need to confirm it, and that is it! You are good to go.
An alternative for signing up is doing it through your Facebook account.
How does ItalianPod101 approach the language?
They believe in exposure to the language in its natural contexts. In the contexts in which natives speak the language. Therefore, along the course, you will listen to everyday life expressions. The type of phrases you would hear in Italy.
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) agrees with this method.
Most lessons start with a simple dialogue. In it, natives speak. This conversation introduces a language skill. The next step is a walk-through of the cultural background in the dialog. After that, you will go over the vocabulary. And finally, you will also have phrases, morphology, and syntax explained.
The ItalianPod101 course has a minimal focus on grammar instruction.
A quick walk through the header menu in ItalianPod101
Once you sign in, you will find this header menu. Let us walk you through it to get you started as soon as possible.
The Dashboard tab:
On this tab, the platform suggests the lessons you should take. Recommendations take into account your current level.
The platform puts these lessons together in what they call “pathways.” Accordingly, it adds more pathways to your dashboard as you progress through the lessons.
These learning pathways are a recent implementation. Before, ItalianPod101 had a problem with messy, unstructured lessons.
They now have grouped lessons by levels, topics, or areas of interest. Thus, this has improved their presentation by providing an organized and linear learning route.
So let us give you a couple of examples 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.” It contains 60 lessons equating to 6 hours and 48 minutes.
And so on. You now have an idea of what these pathways are. And by doing so, you will navigate the platform with ease.
The Lessons tab:
Here you will find the lesson library, newest lessons, and favorites.
This tab allows you to choose your pathways. You can check and highlight the route you want to follow. There are lots of options when it comes to paths.
So, this tab does the opposite of the previous one. Here you get to choose the route you want.
You may be one of those that don’t feel comfortable with self-directed learning. If this is the case, you should follow the pathways on your dashboard (the previous tab we checked).
But on the other hand, you may feel limited with imposed structure. In that case, finding the lessons you like on the lessons tab (this tab we’re reviewing now) is definitely for you.
The Vocabulary tab:
Here you can find many free resources applicable to your study plan. Here we will only mention a few. There is an Italian Dictionary and a section on Italian keyphrases. You will also see the word of the day and a list of the 100 most commonly used words, among others. Additionally, there is a flashcard tool.
In the Main Features segment that you find further on, they are detailed.
My teacher tab:
Here they will assign you a private teacher. The teacher sits down with you and personalizes your learning curriculum. Your goals for learning the language, current level, and study needs are part of the personalization.
This feature pertains exclusively to the Premium Plus plan. We recognize not all students want or need it. Further on in this article, the three membership types ItalianPod101 offers are described.
Main features available in ItalianPod101
As we have mentioned above, lessons are arranged together and form pathways. Since ItalianPod101 follows a podcast-style delivery, these lessons are usually in audio format. Because of their importance in the course, the spotlight is on them.
These audio lessons usually feature a native speaker and a non-native speaker. With a few exceptions, these audio lessons are concise. Most of them last 10 to 12 minutes.
Structure of the audio lessons
Diving into the structure of the audio lessons, we find out that most follow this pattern:
Italian dialogue at ordinary speed
The same conversation in Italian but slowed down
Dialogue with English translations
Vocabulary breakdown of the words used in the previous dialogue
These audio lessons are 100% downloadable. In theory, this means that you have the option of downloading all the course content. That is, even without having to renew your subscription. With ItalianPod101, you own what you buy.
Other online courses are limited to only online use. But here, you can download all the files and go through lessons without the Internet.
We must mention an important point to keep in mind when learning Italian. You should make a distinction between formal and informal speech. Italian people, in given contexts, tend to be more formal than people in English. These audio lessons will aid you with this. They offer dialogues for both formal and informal speech.
The last section of the lesson is the transcript which details everything you heard in the audio. The parts in English and Italian are in the transcript. You even have the option to download the transcript as a PDF document.
So, you can download the audio files. And you can download the transcript too.
You can add words you would like to review further to the Flashcard Deck or Word Bank. You can also choose Slideshow (where you can hear the words again) or Take Quiz to test your knowledge.
A tactic we found commendable was anchoring the lessons in various situational topics. They selected authentic situations that you would encounter in Italy. Old textbooks used to just present grammar points. So, this move makes learning more intuitive. For example, the lessons would take place: at a restaurant, on the bus, asking for medical help, and so on. Immersing yourself in the scene they paint is part of learning.
This section is far from perfect. So we will also share the things we do not like.
Throughout the audio lessons, conversational banter in English takes place.
Another criticism is that the lessons sound very scripted.
We all have different things that make us click or turn us off. You have the last word on these!
Additional words concerning the audio lessons
Some of you may not like to listen to the English-speaking parts. There is good news. There is an option to go straight into the meat of the Italian vocabulary and dialogues.
A section of comments is available at the end of the lesson. Here you can share your opinions and discuss any aspect of your learning process.
We advise you to 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 complete track, just the Italian audio, or even go over the lesson again. This review track is helpful when you want to practice. You can exercise your pronunciation or your listening skills.
Summarized opinion about the audio lessons
Imagine they gave us the task of summarizing our opinion about the audio lessons in three words. Logical, clear, and extensive are the words we would choose.
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.
However, most video lessons are low quality. We refer to video slideshows with an audio track. Some would even consider these audio lessons. It seems to be an initial attempt to start venturing into video.
But, there is a series in their video collection by the Italian host Ilaria. Check them out! They are good. These are available in the Beginner and Intermediate categories only. In these videos, Ilaria is in front of the camera. And you can see how she pronounces each Italian word. She has a pleasant personality and about 50 video lessons.
Once you have a premium membership, flashcards appear on your toolbox.
First of all, it continues where your lessons left you. In other words, the flashcards show you the same vocabulary you have been hearing in the main course. When words are fresh in your brain, and before you forget them, you get exposed to them again through flashcards.
Besides the actual flashcards, you also get to hear the words pronounced again. They also give you examples. They show you how each word fits into different contexts besides the one heard in your lesson.
The flashcard tool uses spaced repetition theory. In other words, it considers our tendency to forget recently learned words. It then organizes reviews taking this tendency into account. Since we have a forgetting curve, they schedule revisits just before we forget them. Do you find this topic exciting? If you want to read a whole article on this, click here.
The Flashcard interface is dull. It is free of glitches, and it does its work. But it could be a bit more aesthetically pleasing.
You have the primary word bank when using Flashcards. It has 2,000 words with pronunciation and example sentences for all entries. Reaching proficiency in 2,000 words means being fluent in a language (well, at least in most cases). Once you reach that milestone, you “graduate.” It means you can get your vocabulary from native material. Imagine reading books, newspapers, or anything on the Internet!
Do you remember we asked you when we opened this post, “Do you want to learn Italian but are always on the go?” Well, the answer to that is its mobile application.
You can take advantage of all we have shared with you about this platform anytime you want. You can use it while you commute, do chores, or do any activity away from your computer.
The principal benefit ItalianPod101 has is that they focus on portability. The platform has done a great job with the mobile app. It delivers a genuine mobile experience. The app is well designed and easy to use.
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. Available for Android, iPhone, iPad, and Kindle Fire.
We must also mention that ItalianPod101 comes with a supplemental free flashcard app. Its name is “Word Power.” This app is only devoted to giving you flashcards. But it is clunky. So, avoid it.
PDF lesson notes:
These notes are thorough. You can see the platform put a lot of work 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 ends.
Some courses pass by this crucial point. Platforms with a whole array of languages tend to neglect the cultural aspects of each language.
Innovative Languages is the company behind ItalianPod101. It also produces and maintains courses in 33 other languages. But they do not follow what other similar companies do. Hence, Innovative Languages pay special attention to cultural insights. And they even include them in every lesson of ItalianPod101. That is helpful because language and culture go hand in hand.
Although this platform ticks several boxes, it’s far from perfect. Some areas need a lot of improvement, and others need to have a different approach. Thus, here is our list of things we dislike about ItalianPod101.
1. They have attempted to organize all their lessons through what they call “pathways.” But they still need a lot of refinement in this area. Classes deal with the same topic but do not necessarily have uniformity concerning difficulty level.
2. They include quizzes along the course, but not enough. There could still be more quizzes available for those that like to test their learning.
3. Since the main focus of this course is podcasts, any extra content would be a bonus. But some of these bonuses need a lot of development. For example, they should redo most of their video lessons. And also upgrade their Word Power app.
4. They give a lot of explanations in English (even at the higher levels). We understand it could help up to a certain beginner level. However, intermediate and advanced students would gain from a model that favors immersion.
5. Even when you’re already a member, get prepared for aggressive email marketing.
Without a doubt, this platform is outstanding. Here are some of the features that make it worth giving it a try.
1. Easy to get started. In the registration process, not many fields to fill in.
2. The platform is intuitive for brand new users. You’ll find your way around the lessons without effort.
3. The site is well designed. There are not any glitches or bugs.
4. After you test drive it and decide to buy one of their memberships, they have good deals. Even for the basic, it provides 850+ lessons (between audio and video). Thus, it is serious value for your money.
5. The structure encourages you. It automatically displays your progress when you complete each module.
6. You can use it 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 in sync with your progress on your lessons. Consequently, this helps solidify vocabulary recently learned.
9. It dives into cultural insights in each lesson.
10. PDF lesson notes have a lot of work put into them. You can use them for reference even years after you cancel your membership.
11. You can download all the lessons, their transcript, PDF lesson notes, etc. You own what you pay.
12. ItalianPod101 is continually updated. You’ll frequently see new audio and video lessons. They come with a tag that says “New,” so you don’t miss them.
How much does ItalianPod101 cost?
First of all, you can sign up for a 7-day free trial. This test drive is an opportunity for you to decide. Then you can consider the different packages they offer.
There are three plans: Basic, Premium, and Premium Plus. Each of these plans differs in price. Check what each membership includes and how much they cost. If you click a link on this post and subscribe to a membership, we receive a small commission at no added cost on your part.
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.
One hundred Core Words and Phrases.
Access 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. It also adds the ones indicated here.
Line-by-Line Audio Dialogue.
Access the Premium package through all your devices using the app.
Flashcards sync with your lessons, and a spaced repetition system is in place.
You have the option of recording yourself to compare it with the native speaker.
Custom word lists.
Two thousand 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, it adds the ones stated here.
The main benefit of this package is it gives you access to a teacher. Personalizing your learning curriculum according to your goals, level, and study needs can be helpful for some.
Access to the Premium Plus package through all your devices using the app.
It’s important to mention their 60-day 100% money-back guarantee policy. If you are unsatisfied with the package you buy, you can claim your guarantee.
I hope this post has helped you get a clear and balanced overview of what is inside Italianpod101.
We conclude that ItalianPod101 is outstanding. It needs improvement in several areas. But based on how much their subscriptions cost, it delivers well.
We strongly recommend not to buy any plan until you first try the 7-day free trial. It enables you to access all the content without giving payment information.
Wow, you have made it to the end of this review. After reading this post, taking action by opening a free account would be the next step. Click here to check ItalianPod101 for yourself.