Posts Tagged With: #TinaLearnsItalian

My Favorite Italian Resources

I was asked what my favorite Italian resources were, so I thought I’d make a blog post to consolidate them all. After more than a year of studying, I’ve compiled quite a list. If I discover more, I’ll update the list. I’m leaving out apps, because there are so many. SO. MANY.


  • ItalianPod101
    • One of the most extensive learning podcasts I’ve seen. Perfect for pure beginners, on up through most levels. I like to listen to these when I’m walking my dog or driving to work.
  • News in Slow Italian
    • Once you have a little bit of vocabulary and listening practice under your belt, the News in Slow Italian is perfect. It comes with transcripts! I need to listen to these when I can read the transcripts at the same time.
  • America 24
    • This is a free native Italian podcast about American politics. If you have a podcast player that allows you to slow it down, you might need to use it. On the other hand, it’s great for training your ear to listen to native speech speeds.
  • PodClub – Al Dente
    • I think this is actually one of my favorite podcasts. It is an A2/B1 level podcast, completely free, and comes with transcripts. It covers many different topics. I can usually (mostly) keep up with the audio alone, but I like to listen to the audio one time through and then listen again with the transcript.
  • Spotify
    • Listening to Italian music is great. Singing along can help pronunciation. Here’s my Italian Spotify playlist.


  • Peppa Pig on Youtube
    • A simple search can find Peppa Pig dubbed in Italian, with or without transcripts. I like it because the language and storylines are both simple.
  • Italiano in Famiglia
    • This is a TV series developed specifically for foreign language learners! The website is completely in Italian, and there are transcripts. You learn Italian while learning about an Italian family.
  • WeilĂ  Tom
    • Tom teaches English to Italians, and Italian to English speakers on his youtube channel. The explanations are simple, and he even has a playlist of his lessons in order!
  • Learn Italian with Lucrezia
    • Lucrezia is wonderful – she is an Italian teaching her native language via videos… I also enjoy following her on Instagram. That way I get little doses of Italian throughout the day. 🙂



  • Add1Challenge
    • The Add1Challenge is hands-down the best community for getting you from 0 to conversational in a short period of time. I’ve done 2 Italian challenges. I’m planning on doing a challenge or two for German, too.
  • italki
    • italki is what the Add1Challenge community mostly uses. I found this before the A1C, but it is what I depend on. I wouldn’t be conversational without my tutors. If you only pick one paid resource out of this list, italki should be it.
  • Language Learning Library
    • My friend and Italian study buddy Gary started this website! It’s free and has almost any resource you could ever want listed there. That’s where I found a few of the resources in this list… and there are more that I definitely don’t have time to use but I’m sure are great. (But if you use something that isn’t on the website, be sure to add it!)
  • The Iceberg Project Blog
    • Cher Hale is a fellow language learner, even if she is much farther along in her Italian journey than I am! She has amazing blogs, a helpful newsletter I’m subscribed to, and some paid challenges. (Hello, Italian prepositions bootcamp.)
  • Online Italian Club
    • Online Italian Club basically has all the free things. All of them. Listening exercises, dialogues, grammar explanations, informal level tests… All of the free things!


  • Short Stories in Italian by Olly Richards
    • I love to read. I became an English grammar nerd because I went through 100’s of books in English… per year! My bookshelves are overflowing. So naturally, I want to read in Italian too. And that will help me absorb more vocab and grammar… Olly Richards’ books are the PERFECT start for that. I’m sure Harry Potter e la pietra filosofale will be easier to read after I’ve gone through all 3 of Olly’s Italian books.
  • Italian – A Self-Teaching Guide
    • One of my italki tutors recommended me this textbook, if you like the textbook approach. It isn’t overly expensive, and it is fairly thorough… But not too dense. I like this textbook as much as one could ever like a textbook.
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7 Steps for Your Language Learning Foundation

As I mentioned in my #Add1Challenge Recap, I had quite a few resources I used to learn. I also had a schedule that I (mostly) stuck to. I’m now halfway through 2016 and I’m ignoring my self-imposed deadline of being conversationally fluent in a year with determination, just attempting to keep up my study schedule and methods without overwhelming myself.

Not overwhelming yourself is key. 

So, in an attempt to keep everything for myself organized, and to help others who may be learning a language, I’m laying out the steps to start – and continue – learning.

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Tina Learns Italian: #Add1Challenge Recap

The day I sat down to record my Day 0 video, I could fit everything I knew in Italian into less than 30 seconds of video. And I managed to make it to Day 90!


Grazie, Blessy!

I am now at the end of a 2 week Italian study break, after completing the challenge! My brain needed a break. But with my trip to Italy getting closer I’m jumping back into studying now. ( I know I have some homework from Blessy I need to revisit. 🙂 )

I wanted to give a quick rundown of my thoughts about the whole challenge, now that it’s done.

The #Add1Challenge goal: To set a non-negotiable study goal, follow it, track your progress (recording a YAY, NAY, or break day), and speak with a native speaker entirely in your target language for 15 minutes at the end of 90 days.

We received emails every day for the first 15 days, divided into (optional) mastermind and study groups, and were equipped with some learning resources. The rest was up to us. In order to be eligible to complete the Add1Challenge, we also had to complete 3 mini-challenges, and upload videos for Day 0, Day 30, Day 60, and Day 90. 

  • The Add1Challenge community is the single best source of motivation for studying outside of school I’ve ever experienced. The A1C Italian community was meraviglioso! I highly recommend joining study groups for A1C. Everyone gave me a general sense of accountability, especially with the study group.
  • I set my study goal to be 4 days a week, for 45 minutes per day. A bit on the light side, but I was able to surpass it on a regular basis, which was motivating. I only took all of my allowed break days while I was sick with a cough and couldn’t speak.
  • Sometimes you progress in leaps and bounds, and sometimes you can’t see that you’re actually progressing at all. That’s what the monthly update videos are for. I’m glad I had them to re-watch.
  • I went from “Ciao” and “Mi chiamo Tina” to having a (still very basic) linear conversation! That daily routine, even if I did the bare minimum amount of studying, really had an impact. Without the A1C, I probably would have gone to bed without studying at all for half of those three months.
  • Posting videos of your face on Youtube will always feel weird. You just have to ignore that.
  • Listening to your own voice feels the same in a second language as it does in your first language. Another thing to ignore.
  • I mentioned the Italian learners, but all the challengers were highly motivating, no matter the language. Watching their videos as they progressed was inspiring! (Because if they can do it, so can I.)
  • italki is the single best learning resource I have ever found, and is almost tied with the A1C for motivation. I clicked with 90% of the tutors I booked lessons with. And I would get corrections on journal entries from native speakers.
  • Committing to a finite amount of learning resources is important. There are too many out there to keep up with them all. Figure out which ones work best and leave the rest.
  • I had a cough for almost 6 full weeks right in the middle of the challenge. I did get a little panicked about my progress then. At Day 60 I felt like I had regressed, but I doubled up on my italki lessons during the last 3 weeks of the challenge and made it! If it weren’t for the A1C community I probably wouldn’t have bounced back as fast.
  • The most successful way I found to not get overwhelmed about my 90 day goal…. Was to ignore it. Haha! But it worked, right? And the advice of the other A1Cers who had done the video before helped as well.
  • I met some of the best tutors on italki thanks to recommendations from other A1C participants!
  • Another grazie mille to Blessy! 

The Add1Challenge is something I would definitely recommend to anyone who wants to make a lot of progress in a short amount of time! I’m going to join another challenge in the fall in my push for conversational fluency. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to complete a 30 minute conversation at the end of 90 days without tracking my study time, participating in mini-challenges, and my study group!

List of Favorite Resources


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Tina Learns Italian: #Add1Challenge Completed!

The #Add1Challenge Goal: Have a 15 minute conversation entirely in your target language after 90 days of study.

I did it! Actually, I had a roughly 30 minute conversation completely in Italian – though by minute 20 my brain was pretty fried. Of course, I had gone 10-20 minutes completely in Italian during previous lessons and study sessions, but those usually ended up sounding more like stream-of-consciousness sessions than linear conversations.

Grazie Blessy, my fantastic teacher, for helping me so much!

I had a super short lesson with another tutor first to get my brain “warmed up.” My call with Blessy felt great! There were lots of pauses for thinking about grammar and vocab, but it was an actual linear conversation. I also noticed I make weird faces when I’m thinking.

Now, I just feel… relieved. And accomplished! I went from knowing “Mi chiamo Tina” to this conversation in 90 days! Of course, I will keep studying before my trip to Italy in June. My end goal is to be conversationally fluent, where it isn’t a struggle to communicate in most everyday situations, by the end of 2016. But for now, I’m enjoying how far I have come since late January.

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Tina Learns Italian: To Boldly Go to Day 60

Space, l’ultima frontiera!

When Assignment #3 (make a short, fun video in your target language) of the #Add1Challenge was given, I wanted to do something different from my other videos. One challenger made a video of her dog obeying commands in German, one discussed a children’s book about animals in Chinese, and a few others featured their cats in various languages.

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Tina Learns Italian: Mini-Challenge #2

Mini-Challenge #2 of the #Add1Challenge has officially ended!

The goal was to write a minimum of 3 sentences every day for 15 days. I missed one day out of the 15, and that was because I had taken a nap for pretty much an entire Saturday, even after sleeping in. Thanks, stubborn cough that won’t go away! La tosse che non si chiuderĂ .

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Tina Learns Italian: Listening

I’m learning that it is one thing to drill vocabulary and memorize monologues (both of which are necessary for me, if I want to say anything without reading a script), but it is definitely another thing to understand what natives are saying, even when I know the vocab they are using.

During one of my recent Skype lessons, I could not respond to ANYTHING my teacher said or asked me… unless she wrote it down. Once I read it, I either understood what everything meant, or understood enough to infer what she was saying through context clues… Then I could respond.

Well, if you can’t see the problem there, it’s a big one. How am I supposed to actually speak Italian if I need everything written down to understand it? I can’t. So… here comes my big push for training my ear to hear things correctly (instead of hearing just a bunch of jumbled sounds)… and training my brain to understand what I hear.

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Tina Learns Italian: Mini-Challenge #1

Part of the #Add1Challenge is completing mini-challenges on top of your main minimum time commitment goals. I completed Mini-Challenge #1 awhile back, but here is a recap:

Mini-Challenge #1: Speak with 3 different & new language tutors or exchange partners, for at least 30 minutes each, within the span of a few weeks. 

I used italki back in early 2015 for a few lessons thanks to Benny’s Fluent in 3 Months blog, so I wasn’t new to the idea. But when my computer died a slow, painful death, and my life got busy, I hadn’t picked it back up… Even after the Add1Challenge started. So, I was excited to get back to it.

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Tina Learns Italian: Day 30 of My Challenge!

I made it 30 days already in my challenge! I edited out about 3 full minutes of dead air during one subject switch, because I had talked myself into a bit of a dead end with my vocabulary. But I did it without looking at notes! Yay! I don’t see much progress with my day to day studying, but looking at this video, versus the day 0 video, I’m happy with my improvement. So parlare un po di Italiano… Sono molto felice, è meraviglioso. 🙂

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Tina Learns Italian: “Islands”

So I read this really interesting ebook about “organizing” your language knowledge to actually be able to speak at the proficiency level you’re at… Instead of staring off into the distance and attempting to remember sentence structure for the verb you want to use. One of the author’s tips was about forming language “islands,” or pre-prepared monologues on a lot of different topics. So, if someone asks you where you’re from, instead of me just saying, “I live in Oklahoma,” I could say “I live in Oklahoma. I like it. I like it because…” And then the conversation wouldn’t devolve into yes/no questions.
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