Ever wonder why spoken Italian sounds so romantic?
In Italy, the concept of beauty is paramount in all parts of life. You see it in art, food, architecture, fashion, and the spoken language is no different.
When Italians discuss something good, the word “bello” is often used, meaning “beautiful”. I love it!
On a recent trip to Italy, I was determined to pick up a few more Italian words, but teaching this old dog new tricks wasn’t quite as easy as I had hoped.
So, when I came across a new online course on how to learn Italian with a cunningly simple method, named Think In Italian, it piqued my curiosity.
I tried it out for a few weeks and was pleasantly surprised. It didn’t just teach me to speak in Italian, but also to think in Italian!
Is Italian an Easy Language to Learn?
Well, what do you compare it to? If you are proficient in English - I assume you are since you’re reading this blog - then learning to speak Italian is a relatively easy transition. Many grammar rules are similar, and written characters are the same, which makes reading much easier (even if you can’t understand it yet).
I was surprised to discover that you only need to learn about 300 words and phrases to understand 65% of a typical Italian conversation. Now this goal is starting to look achievable.
I know what you’re thinking… your schedule is already really packed. How are you going to find the time to learn Italian?
The good news is that it only takes 90-100 hours of total study time to reach basic proficiency in a new language like Italian. Can you fit in 4 hours per week? Easy! Even a commitment-phobe can see how realistic that is.
Fun fact: learning a second language enhances your brain's natural ability to focus, think creatively, and process complex information.
How can I Learn Italian at Home?
Immersion is usually considered the best way to learn Italian – even better if you can do it in an Italian language school. But not everyone can afford to fly to Italy and live there for several months – let alone take that amount of time off work.
A personal Italian tutor would be the next best option, but the cost can add up quickly, putting it out of reach for many students.
I’ve found the best option to be a self-paced online course that just requires a laptop or a smartphone and an internet connection. These can take the form of a video or audio-only course. It works around your schedule, and there’s zero pressure.
All you need is to set aside a little time – about 20-30 minutes per day – and stick at it for a few weeks until it starts to feel more natural. At that pace, you’ll be proficient in less than 6 months. Small chunks of regular time each day work better than a single 4-hour class once per week. That way, the material is fresh, and your brain will better retain what you've learned. You can even safely do the audio course in your car while driving to work or taking a daily stroll.
Tip: It's a bonus if you have Italian friends willing to let you practice on them, but certainly not essential.
Professional Italian language tutor, Stefano Lodola, has created a series of comprehensive resources called Think In Italian, including an audio course that will help you learn to speak Italian called “Ripeti con me!” (meaning “Repeat after me”).
It’s a bit different from what you might have used before.
I’ll explain a bit more.
Ripeti con me!: The Best Way to Learn Italian
Growing up in Italy, Stefano only learned Italian. But now he’s can speak 12 languages using the same methods he teaches in his course.
The easiest way to describe this method is by thinking back to when you were a baby. How did you learn your native tongue?
By repeatedly listening and mimicking others around you.
It might seem too simple to be true, but I can tell you it works.
Ripeti con me! doesn’t distract you with a points system, rankings, or games. Its singular focus is on learning to speak Italian in a natural, conversational way. Stefano recommends sticking to the spoken language for a while before learning to read Italian. It’s best to avoid getting side-tracked early in your language journey.
By listening to Stefano speak Italian phrases and then repeating them, you’ll start to think in Italian rather than mentally translating word by word from English. This is the secret to making the memorisation process effortless and natural.
Most typical Italian courses focus on clunky formal words and phrases that aren’t used in everyday conversational Italian. Ripeti con me! focuses on the vocabulary spoken on the street in Italy, making it far more practical.
The course structure for Ripeti con me! is specifically designed for the Italian language, unlike other courses with generic structures that are intended to suit all languages. This will ensure you only learn what you need to speak Italian without unnecessary fluff. The course covers a wide range of essential grammar topics, including giving orders, making comparisons, and past/future tense.
How Does This Italian Audio Course Work?
Stefano’s course structure follows 6 levels divided into 250 lessons. Lessons 1-80 progress you from total beginner (A0) to elementary level (A2). Lessons 81-160 take you from intermediate (B1) to upper-intermediate (B2). And lessons 161-250 elevate you to advanced (C1).
If you’re starting from scratch, like me, then the process is linear – just commence with lesson 1 and keep going along. If you already have some Italian language experience, take a free online quiz to determine your level, and you can start wherever you feel is best.
Each lesson is focused on 1 grammatical theme, and involves listening to and speaking 30 sentences repeated in 3 sequences.
- Listen in English (don’t say anything)
- Listen in Italian
- Repeat what you heard in Italian while the speaker says it again (called “shadowing”)
- Listen in English (again)
- Repeat in Italian as best as you can (it’s normal to make mistakes or mumble)
- Shadow again (this helps you know if what you said was accurate and reinforces the phrase)
- Shadow for the last time (say it as soon as the speaker does – don’t wait until the end)
This repetition allows you to practice the phrase enough to get the hang of it, but not too often that it becomes monotonous. The spoken dialog is also slow enough to follow along but fast enough to sound natural. Stefano has nailed the perfect balance.
There’s no need to memorise grammar rules, as they stick with you intuitively after a while.
It’s best to do the entire lesson without pausing. Don’t worry, it’s normal to miss words, especially early on. As long as you can keep up with at least 70% of the program, you’re ready to move to the next lesson. If not, just repeat the lesson the next day.
My Experience With Think In Italian and Ripeti con me!
Setting up a student account on the Think In Italian website was straightforward and took less than 30 seconds. Once you’re in the dashboard, it’s cleanly presented like this:
1) List of lessons (click on each one to play audio)
2) Switch to the reading course
3) Easy access to lessons via keyword search, recent view, bookmarks, or completed status
4) Previous and upcoming live streams
5) Extra resources beyond the audio course
6) Account management – view profile, change password, modify the subscription
7) Live chat support
Once the audio lesson is opened, it starts playing immediately, but you can pause it anytime. For full control, you can skip to sequence B or C with just a click, or for more granular control, skip forward or backward by 5 seconds. If you find the audio speed too slow or fast, there’s a convenient control to adjust that too.
The first Ripeti con me! lesson throws you into the deep end – just like a baby is immersed in language – so I did that lesson twice. It helped me get into the rhythm of the course.
When there was a word that I had a hard time understanding, I referred to the list of phrases at the bottom of the audio lesson. Stefano doesn’t recommend looking at those until the end of the lesson to stay focused. The English and Italian phrases can be toggled so that you can view both, only Italian or only English.
I found it best to get a good night’s sleep between lessons as it gives the brain time to absorb and digest what was learned. Don’t rush it.
While some people prefer quiet time to learn a new language like Italian, it can also be done with a friend or partner. I found that practicing with someone else at the same skill level helped me to learn to speak Italian faster.
What I Like About This Italian Audio Course
There’s a lot to like about Ripeti con me!:
- Try it for free – and pay nothing if you don’t continue.
- The online audio course is instantly available 24 hours a day, anywhere in the world. You can learn to speak Italian from the couch in your living room or in your backyard. No need to work around a tutor’s schedule.
- Clear written, audio and video instructions are provided to get you started, reducing the learning curve.
- No need to read thick textbooks.
- There are no tests or scoring.
- The course is suitable for all skill levels from beginner to intermediate.
- You can re-do any lessons in any order you wish. There are no limits.
- Easily keep track of lessons – just mark each as “complete” when you’re done. Alternatively, bookmark specific lessons for easy access, or just see the most recently viewed lessons.
- Even though there’s no reading required, if you really want a written explanation of the grammar covered, detailed notes are available for each lesson (here’s an example).
- Interactive community – read comments and questions from other students in the comment thread at the bottom of each lesson. And in the unlikely event you get stuck, there’s live support chat integrated within the dashboard.
- To complement the audio course, Stefano has created “Leggi con me!” (Read with me) as part of Think In Italian, so you can learn to read Italian too (at no extra charge).
- As part of Leggi con me! get further immersed with slow readings (short stories, news, conversations, jokes, and songs). Listen to natural-sounding audio with transcripts in Italian and English. Over 600 are available, so it’s always fresh.
- Stefano has helped thousands of students worldwide - see a sample of their reviews.
- You can take your Italian language journey further with other resources provided by Stefano, such as a free 133-page ebook, study plan template, Italian word of the day, 100-day pen pal challenge, and even supplement recommendations.
- If you still want a 1-on-1 Italian language coach to take your fluency up a notch, then Stefano offers that service too or can connect you with a recommended expert.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve tried to learn Italian with free apps like Duolingo and feel frustrated, I know what you’re experiencing. Think In Italian is a breakthrough system for learning Italian, packaged in a deceptively simple box. But that is the greatest appeal to me. I love how it gets to the point in an intuitive, no-nonsense way.
This is the best way to learn Italian, hand down, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Sign up for the 7-day free trial, which you can cancel anytime. After the trial, the course only costs $39.80 per month, and it also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee for peace of mind.
The monthly plan lets you dip your toe in the water without a large upfront investment. Or if you’re serious about delving into Italian, the annual plan offers 3 months free (saving $120 per year). A lifetime one-off payment option is also available.
Just imagine how much more magical your next trip to Italy will be when you can confidently understand and speak fluent Italian – ordering food in a restaurant in Rome, chatting with a taxi driver in Florence, or bargaining in a market in Milan. Or perhaps chatting up a cute Italian guy or gal at the Trevi Fountain.
You might be surprised how far learning Italian might take you.
Price: Free trial, US$38.90/month
Where to buy: thinkinitalian.com