Do you want to learn Italian but you’re always on the go? If this is your case, you should check out this platform. In this ItalianPod101 review we get into a lot of details about this podcast-style course. We like it because it allows you to fit lessons into your busy agenda using your mobile phone, tablet, iPad, laptop, or desktop PC.
ItalianPod101 is a production of Innovative Languages. 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’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. However, for those at an advanced level, we would not be advocating it.
Have you already made up your mind to join ItalianPod101? Click here.
For those of you that came for a thorough and honest review of this course, please continue reading.
Italianpod101 offers the possibility 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 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. When you sign up you need to enter your Italian language level as well as add an email address. Afterward, an email will arrive in your inbox. You need to confirm it and that’s it! You’re good to go.
Another useful alternative is that you can also sign-up through your Facebook account.
How does ItalianPod101 approach the language?
They believe that you should start contact with the language in natural contexts. This means the contexts in which natives speak the language. Therefore, 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 method.
To achieve this goal, most lessons start with a simple dialogue. This dialogue introduces a language skill in context. The next step is a walk-through of the cultural background in which the dialogue takes place. After that, you’ll go over the key vocabulary found in the dialog. Finally, you will also see explanations of phrases, morphology, and syntax.
ItalianPod101’s focus on grammar instruction is minimal.
A quick walk through the header menu in ItalianPod101
Once you sign in, you’ll find this header menu. Let’s walk you through it to get you started as soon as possible.
The Dashboard tab:
This is where the platform suggests the lessons you should take. The lessons here are ones that they think you should study according to your 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 together by levels, topics, or areas of interest. Thus, this has improved their presentation by providing an organized and linear learning route.
So let’s 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”. This contains 60 lessons equating to 6 hours and 48 minutes.
And so on. You now have an idea of what these pathways are and how they’ve organized their content.
The Lessons tab:
Here you’ll find the lesson library, newest lessons, and favorites.
The basic function of this tab is that it allows you to choose your own pathways. You can check and highlight the pathways that you want to follow as you judge convenient. There are lots of options when it comes to paths.
You may be one of those that don’t feel comfortable with self-directed learning. If this is the case, then you should follow the pathways given to you on your dashboard (the previous tab we checked).
But on the other hand, you may feel limited with imposed structure. If this is so, 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. To mention a few, in this section you will see an Italian dictionary and Italian key phrases. You will also see the word of the day, and a list of the 100 most commonly used words, among others.
Additionally, you’ll be able to find a very useful flashcard tool. We’ll give you more details about this in the next segment of our post. In that further section, we will highlight the main features available in ItalianPod101.
My teacher tab:
Here they will assign you a private teacher. The teacher sits down with you and personalizes your learning curriculum. To do this, the teacher takes into consideration several things. These are your goals for learning the language, your current level, and your study needs.
This feature is optional and we recognize that not all students want or need it. This feature is exclusive to the Premium Plus plan. Further on in this article, we’ll describe the different plans ItalianPod101 offers.
Main features available in ItalianPod101
As we have discussed above, each pathway consists of a set of lessons. Since ItalianPod101 follows a podcast-style delivery, these lessons are usually audio lessons. Because of their importance in the course, we’ll start addressing them.
These audio lessons usually feature a native speaker and a non-native speaker. With a few exceptions, they’re usually short and concise, lasting 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 normal speed
Dialogue in Italian 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 the whole course content. That is, even without having to renew your subscription. You aren’t limited to only online use as you are with other online courses. With ItalianPod101, you own what you pay for.
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 do in English. These audio lessons will aid you with this. They 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. This includes both the parts in English and the parts in Italian. You even have the option to download the transcript as a PDF document. We’ve just mentioned that you can download the audios. Now we’re telling you that you can download the transcript too.
If there are words you would like to review further on, you have at the end of the module some more options. You can add these words to the Flashcard Deck or to Word Bank. You can also choose Slideshow (where you can hear the words again) or Take Quiz to test your knowledge.
A commendable tactic used in the lessons to capture your attention is their setting. They structured the lessons based on various situational topics. They selected authentic situations that you would encounter in Italy. This is instead of only presenting grammar points as old textbooks used to do. For example, the lessons would take place: at a restaurant, on the bus, asking for medical help, and so on. This helps you immerse yourself into the scene they paint.
We should also mention a couple of things some users don’t 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!
Aditional words concerning the audio lessons
For those that don’t like to listen to the English-speaking parts, there is another option. This is the 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 the lessons.
We advice 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 full track, just the Italian audio, or even go over the lesson again. This review track is especially helpful when you want to practice. You can practice your own 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. In that case 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.
In relation to video lessons, we must state that most of them are of very low quality. We refer to video slideshows with an audio track. Some would even consider them audio lessons. It seems to be an initial attempt on their part to start venturing into video lessons.
But, there is a series in their video collection, by the Italian host Ilaria, that are of great quality. These are available in the Beginner and Intermediate categories only. 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 they add once you have a premium membership. And we would like to mention 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. They also give you examples. They show you how each word fits into different contexts as well as the one you heard in your lesson.
The flashcard tool uses spaced repetition theory. This means that it considers our tendency to forget recently learned items. It then organizes the words you will review taking this tendency into account. Since we have a forgetting curve, they schedule revisits to the words 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 the main word bank. It has 2,000 words with pronunciation and example sentences for all entries. When you’re proficient in using 2,000 words you’re quite fluent in a language (well, at least in most cases). Once you reach that milestone you can “graduate.” It means you can get your vocabulary from native material. This includes books, newspapers, or anywhere on the Internet.
Do you remember 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 take advantage of all that we have shared with you about this platform any time you want. You can use it while you commute, while you’re doing chores, or anytime that 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 in the aspect of delivering a genuine mobile experience. It’s not only well-designed, but it’s also very easy to use and suitable.
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 a supplemental free flashcard app. Its name is “Word Power”. This app is only devoted to giving you flashcards. But it 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 ends.
Some courses completely pass by this important point. This happens with platforms that cover a whole array of languages.
Innovative Languages is the company behind ItalianPod101. It has also produced and up till now sustains courses in 33 other languages. But they don’t follow what other similar companies do. Hence, Innovative Languages pays special attention to cultural insights. This is why they include 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 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 improvement in this area. They have grouped the lessons by topics but not necessarily by their level of difficulty.
2. They include quizzes along the course but we say the number is insufficient. 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 bonuses. But some of these bonuses need a lot of improvement. For example, they should redo most of their video lessons as well as upgrade their Word Power app.
4. They give a lot of the explanations in English (even at the higher levels). We understand that up to a certain beginner level, it could help. 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 is an outstanding platform. 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 without a lot of effort.
3. The site is well designed. No glitches nor bugs.
4. After you test drive it and decide you would like to buy one of their memberships, they have good deals. 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. 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 makes them very helpful to solidify the vocabulary you’ve 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, the transcript of the lessons, PDF lesson notes, etc. You own what you pay for.
12. ItalianPod101 is continually updated. It’s common to see them add new audio and video lessons. 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. This test drive is a good opportunity for you to decide if it’s a good fit. 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. We’ll check what each plan includes and how much they cost. If you click a link on this post and buy access to a plan, then we will receive a small commission at no added 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 the Basic package through all your devices using the app. This includes 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 mentioned here.
Line-by-Line Audio Dialogue.
Access the Premium package through all your devices using the app.
Flashcards sync with your lessons and based on a spaced 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. It also includes the ones mentioned here.
The main benefit of this package is it gives you access to a teacher. This 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. This is in case you are not satisfied with the package you buy.
I hope this post has helped you to get a clear and balanced outlook of what you’ll find inside the platform.
Our appraisal is that ItalianPod101 is outstanding. It needs to improve in several areas. But in the condition it is in now, and based on how much their subscriptions cost, we say it’s great value for your money.
We strongly recommend not to buy any plan until you first try the 7-day free trial. With the 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 reading this post, taking action by opening a free account would be a simple step. Click here to check ItalianPod101 for yourself.