Home Language ResourcesApps & Resources What’s the Best Way to Learn Italian? (How I did it and you can too!)

What’s the Best Way to Learn Italian? (How I did it and you can too!)

It's never too late to learn Italian. Here's how to find the best way to learn Italian based on your needs to FINALLY speak Italian

by Michele
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What is the best way to learn Italian? Tips for learning Italian in 2024
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The best way to learn Italian is by following a structured learning program that is complementary to your learner type so you get real results. If you’re wondering, ‘How can I teach myself Italian?’ then this guide is for you! We’ll take a look at the best language learning resources for beginners of Italian that focus on the 4 key areas of learning Italian. These include speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension.

If you’re short on time and want to skip straight to the punchline, then the best way to learn Italian is with Intrepid Italian. Available in 3 levels including beginner (A1), advanced beginner (A2) and intermediate (B1), Intrepid Italian is a self-paced online course that uses the 80/20 method – a truly unique approach to language learning that focuses on teaching the top 20% of the language that you will use 80% of the time. I highly recommend this program as it’s a great all-around solution, especially if you’re a complete beginner and need a helping hand getting started. Not sure what level you are? Take the Italian level test here.

But language learning isn’t just about enrolling in an online course alone, you need to have these four things: the right program, a positive mindset, adopt memory hacks, and follow a routine. If you want to reach your language goals, this combination really is the best way to learn Italian.

Cominciamo! (Let’s get started!)

Learning Italian: What to look for in an online course

While there are free Italian courses online the best ones are paid. To learn Italian and reach high proficiency is an investment, both in terms of time and money. It pays to know what to look out for when choosing to start a new program. Let’s take at the 4 things to look for and why they are important.

1. Will it offer a fun and engaging learning experience?

Ask yourself, does the instructor inspire you? Do you like their teaching style? If the answer is ‘yes’, then you’re on off to a great start! This is important because if your instructor doesn’t motivate you to learn then you won’t complete the course and ultimately won’t learn Italian.

2. Does it offer an efficient way to learn Italian so you only learn what you need to know for your current level?

There’s no use learning the names of body parts or colours if you can’t even introduce yourself or order your next meal. It shocks me how often basic vocabulary is overlooked or left to last when following traditional methods. The most important vocabulary and grammar rules should be prioritised and learned first. After all, the reason why you want to speak Italian is so you can communicate with others and have a real conversation.

Maybe you have Italian friends, relatives, an Italian partner or maybe you just want to enjoy more authentic travel experiences in Italy by chatting with the locals. Whatever your goal is, it’s important that what you learn helps you to achieve this. There’s no point in learning all the words in the Italian language if they aren’t relevant to your needs.

3. Is the course effective?

There should be a clear step-by-step process that creates a solid foundation for you to start and build upon. You should be able to see results even after a few short lessons. If taught correctly, you should be able to start implementing what you learn straight away, even if you’re an absolute beginner. Continually revising previously learned material, as well as new, is key to learning Italian effectively and repetition also improves your memory and recall. Look out for testimonials and reviews. What do other students say? What do they enjoy most about the course? This will give you a good indication of what to expect.

4. Does the course empower you and boost your confidence?

Last, but perhaps the most important of all, is something that doesn’t get nearly enough attention: does it boost your confidence? It can be scary to open your mouth and speak Italian. You worry about all sorts of things like your accent, pronunciation, and grammar. Not to mention how insecure you feel when you can’t understand the other person or can’t keep up in conversation. The right program and instructor will empower you to take those first steps and support you.

Some of the best support and encouragement you will ever receive is from a non-native learner who’s gone through all the ups and downs that come with learning Italian. Not only do they know what you’re going through they also know how to break down the language into manageable bite-sized lessons and teach Italian in a way that you can understand. They act as a bridge between your native English tongue and the Italian language, aka la bella lingua (the beautiful language).

Learning Italian as an adult – How I did it

Best way to learn Italian - Join Intrepid Italian online video courseCiao! I’m Michele! I was born and grew up in Melbourne, Australia. My dad is Italian, from Puglia in southern Italy. After the end of World War II, my dad and his family immigrated to Australia. Growing up, dad never taught us (my sisters and me) Italian. Mainly because he only knew his Pugliese dialect and he would fight with my nonni (grandparents) about what was ‘proper’ Italian and dialect. In the end, didn’t teach us either.

I had always been curious about the Italian language and since I was named after my ‘nonno’ (grandfather)  I felt a special bond with him. Side note: Michele means Michael in Italian. My nonno couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak Italian. This was all kinds of frustrating, but somehow he was still able to able to make me feel loved –  mainly through playing games with me and showering me with cuddles and pinching me on the cheek.

It wasn’t until my nonno Michele passed away when I was 17 years old that something changed inside me. It was then that I decided to seek out ways to start learning Italian. 

Michele and Nonno

Me and my nonno

I started with an Italian travel phrasebook and learned basic Italian phrases. Then I joined two different group classes in my early 20s and had private with a native speaker from Bergamo. At 24 years old, I moved to Rome and two years later I completed my C1 exam at Università per Stranieri di Siena (University for Foreigners of Siena).

It took me a while to learn Italian and grasp the more advanced parts of Italian grammar, but that’s because I had a slow start. A few years after I started learning Italian, I looked at strategies for HOW to learn a language more effectively. This made me better at learning Italian. I knew that I should only focus on the grammar and vocabulary that I would need to use on a daily basis.

In addition to my attending my formal classes, I was able to improve my Italian by supplementing my learning by doing other things. I watched Italian TV, listened to Italian music, took notes while I watched Italian movies, and listened to an audio course whenever I could.

This whole time I was still living in Australia. In order to get as much practice speaking as possible, when eating out, I only went to Italian restaurants so I could chat with native speakers and practise my speaking skills with the staff.

I also began adopting memory techniques to improve my memory and recall.

The combination of all these things helped me to understand what I needed to focus on to push past each plateau. When I started to see results, this made me excited which led to feeling more confident about my language skills. This meant I was less shy to speak and so I got better at it! 

My top memory hack for learning Italian

Learn Italian and have better travel experiencesIf you can remember new vocabulary fast, you can learn Italian fast too!  There are many tips I can share with you, but in the interest of keeping things simple, here is my personal favourite memory hack you should use!

Our memory is a muscle. To build a good memory we need to use simple techniques and methods for it to reach its full potential. You can think of it like following a curated fitness programme with daily workout videos that help you build a strong and healthy body. 

Your memory is the same. It works best when it has been “trained”.

Memory can be trained just like any muscle, and you know what else? Learning a foreign language is actually an excellent way to improve your memory and your overall cognitive abilities. The more you learn, the easier it becomes to memorize new information. 

Now let’s take a look at my 3-step approach to remembering new information.

Step 1: Revise

Take a moment to revise a short list of new vocabulary or a grammar rule you want to focus on learning. Look at each item, and repeat them out loud. This might sound silly, but when you do this, the brain loves repetition, especially when you can hear your own voice say it out loud. 

Don’t be afraid to repeat after the native speakers and practice out loud or in your head as you go about your day. Repeating things out loud also helps with muscle memory and improving your pronunciation so it’s definitely worth keeping this handy tip in mind.

Step 2: Remember

Now that you’re familiar with the words, now it’s time to focus on remembering them. You’re about to learn how to commit these wonderfully useful Italian words or grammar rules into your memory bank, so you can easily recall them.

How do you do this?


You create a memory hook!

A memory hook is when you find a link between the word or phrase with something you already know. This helps you recall the new word or phrase because you simply think of what you already know well. Creating memory hooks is a very personal process. I can’t tell you what yours will be as you need to choose what will work best for you.

The goal is to look for patterns or similarities and create a memory hook that resonates with you to help you recall it. Let’s create a working example.

Take the Italian greeting ‘Salve’ (formal, Hello). When I first learned this word, I created a memory hook to help me distinguish it from the informal ‘Ciao’. To do this, I looked at the word ‘Salve’ and tried to link it with something I already knew. ‘Salve’ reminded me of the word ‘Salutations‘, which reminded me of the popular expression ‘Greetings and Salutations’, which is its own formal greeting. There was my memory hook! Now, whenever I want to remember how to say a hello in formal Italian, I think of ‘Greetings and Salutations’ then let my brain work backwards to reach ‘Salve’.

Creating memory hooks isn’t always an easy process. The goal is to create some sort of link that will help you connect the dots.

Here is another example: The subject pronoun he in Italian is lui (pronounced loo-ee), and she is lei (pronounced lay), so your memory hook could be King Louis and Princess Leia. 

Take your time with this. This is perhaps the most important step in the learning process.

Step 3

Depending on what kind of language learner you are (find out here), you may also want to physically write down these phrases and memory hooks. Studies show that handwritten notes do wonders for creating a better long-term memory. So, go and grab a pen and notebook!

If you’ve ever asked yourself, Is Italian easy or hard to learn? This guide answers this as well as exposes the most common mistakes Italian learners make and how to avoid them.

How to create a learning routine (even if you’re busy)

Life gets busy, things come up and sometimes studying Italian every day isn’t possible. It would be lovely to dedicate an hour or more to Italian each day but for most of us, that’s not realistic. And that’s ok! Everyone’s routine is different.

Your goal should be to identify pockets of opportunity in your day where you can inject some Italian practice. For example, if you make it a habit to listen to Italian music while you cook, listen to a podcast as you commute to work, or spend 10 minutes on your lunch break watching a video lesson, these habits compound and ultimately move you closer to your goals.

Avoid “all or nothing” thinking. Studying Italian for 10 minutes a day is better than 60 minutes one day a week. Why? Because you have 6 days to forget everything! If you spend just a few minutes a day learning, this keeps everything front of mind and you’ll be better able to remember in the long term.

Mindset is key to language learning

In recent years, the term ‘mindset’ has become a bit of a buzzword – with good reason! Your mindset is a set of beliefs that shape how you interact with others and yourself. These beliefs play a huge role in how you think, feel, and behave in any given situation.

When it comes to language learning, quite often we let past negative learning experiences at school affect how we feel about it. Not to mention damaging beliefs such as “I’m too old to learn” or “children learn faster” which are only partially true and based on old, misinterpreted science.

A lot of people think they are too old. However, there is no credible evidence to show that the older one becomes, the more difficult it is to learn a foreign language.

This belief stemmed from the theory on “brain development” in the 1960s that taught that there was a “crucial period” (ie. before puberty) an individual had before the brain lost its “plasticity,” making learning a second language too difficult. (Lenneberg, 1967).

In fact, modern studies have shown that even though there are some differences between how a child and an adult learn a second language, the older learner has many distinct advantages.

Let me repeat that. You have the advantage!

First, an adult’s maturely developed brain has the superior ability to understand the relationship between semantics and grammar.

Second, the adult brain is more mature in its ability to absorb vocabulary, complex grammatical structures (such as gender in Italian), and make more generalisations and associations.

Third, an adult learner’s better-developed brain is better at putting together all the pieces with a more developed long-term memory.

Your mindset will ultimately determine how successful you’ll be in learning Italian, so make sure you word to identify any limiting or negative beliefs you may have.

How to find the best way to learn Italian in 2024 that’s right for you

Now that you know what to look for in a program, what is the best way for YOU to learn Italian?

Not all language apps, group classes, textbooks or online courses are created equal.  The most effective way to learn Italian is by choosing what works for you and ticks all the 4 boxes outlined above. Much of this will depend a lot on your personality, goals, and learner type. 

Knowing what your learner type is will help you understand what does and doesn’t resonate with you. This way you only seek out tools and resources that give you results and that you also enjoy using.

Italian learners often make the mistake of thinking they need to be completely fluent before they start speaking or that it’s the only goal to have Not true. I can honestly say that anyone can feel pure euphoria and a wonderful sense of achievement in being able to speak Italian, at any level. It all depends on your goals.

Over the past 7+ years, I’ve used my personal experience learning several foreign languages to help others reach their own language goals. Using my unique 80/20 method, I currently have over 400+ students from around the world who are following my self-paced online video courses.

I’ve received some phenomenal feedback and heartwarming thank you messages from my students. I’m so proud of how each and every one of them has progressed. Here’s are some messages from my students who keep me updated on their progress on my Instagram account @intrepiditalian.

Lisa from New Jersey, says:


Intrepid Italian Student Testimonial - I love it

Angela from Australia, says:

Intrepid Italian Student Testimonial - I'm always learning something new Veronika from Canada, says:

Intrepid Italian Student Testimonial - It gives me structure, enjoyment and confidence What is the best online course to learn Italian?

Best way to learn Italian - Use Intrepid Italian on your phoneKnowing what to learn and having the right method to learn Italian makes such a big difference. 

That’s why I created Intrepid Italian that uses my 80/20 method so you’ll be able to speak Italian even after the first lesson. You’ll be able to form your own sentences, not just memorize them.

To help you learn Italian fast, I use the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. This rule states that 80% of your success and results comes from just 20% of your effort.

The 80/20 principle was coined by Management consultant, Joseph M. Juran and named after the Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto who in 1896 showed that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. 

This idea can be seen in all areas of our lives. A simple example is, 80% of the public uses 20% of their phone’s features.

The percentages are sometimes approximate, but what matters is not the exact numbers. The key thing here is that most results come from just a fraction of the effort you put in.

The 80/20 rule is observed in language learning too and can be used for higher efficiency.

This means that most of your success in learning Italian is the result of only about 20% of the effort you make. It also means that about 20% of the things you learn contributes to most (around 80%) of your development and improvement and that the most useful 20% of vocabulary will be used 80% of the time.

My approach is different from traditional language learning methods because I teach you the most important 20% of the Italian language right from the beginning so you can start to speak straight away. 

I don’t waste your time teaching you colours, names of body parts, or even memorising phrases without a solid foundation first. Sadly, this is the typical experience you get in traditional language classes. But, not with Intrepid Italian – which makes it the best way to learn Italian.

Learning a new language is no easy feat, which is why I give you building blocks. Each lesson builds upon and revises what you’ve previously learned, so you constantly learn, revise, and progress. This is a powerful combination that means that even after the first lesson, you can start to speak and create your own sentences.

Unlike attending a traditional language school, I teach you everyday conversational Italian so you can start speaking Italian from day one, even as a complete beginner. You only learn practical words that native Italian speakers use so you sound natural when speaking Italian.

Italian is my heritage language, so I know what it’s like to desperately want to learn Italian in order to connect with family and relatives, near and far. And in doing so, I know you will learn more about yourself along the way. I know it did!

As your guide and teacher, my goal is to make the learning process fun, enjoyable and rewarding so that you always feel at ease and know exactly what to do next so there’s no guesswork. 

I’ve created a clear path for you to learn Italian that gradually builds upon previously learned material, so you’re constantly learning new material whilst revising previous material – the key to language learning success!

Intrepid Italian focuses on learning everyday spoken Italian. When you learn new words, you learn practical vocabulary that you need to know when travelling around Italy and when socialising with friends, relatives, and partners.

By focusing on learning the most useful 20% of vocabulary FIRST, you’ll be able to use it in 80% of the situations you’ll find yourself in.

Here’s what Sheila from Canada, says:

Intrepid Italian Student Testimonial - It just flowed from me naturally

What is Intrepid Italian and how does it work?

Intrepid Italian - Learn with my 80/20 methodIntrepid Italian is made up of 3 in-depth online courses: Beginner (A1), Advanced Beginner (A2) and Intermediate (B1). Each course features a 17-module training program that walks you through exactly how to learn and speak Italian using my 80/20 method. 

Each module includes course material from video lessons, downloadable worksheets, and bonus guides that are designed to help you learn and speak Italian with confidence.

You have lifetime access to all of the training material, so you can either go through the content all at once or you can slow things down and go at your own pace. It’s totally up to you. You can learn anywhere, anytime and on any device.

The best part is that you are not alone either because you also get access to a private support group of like-minded students who want to learn Italian just as much as you do. I’ll be there too to answer all your questions.

If you purchase the Intrepid Italian 3-for-2 Bundle which contains all 3 courses, you also get Intrepid Italian for Confident Conversations absolutely FREE. This audio course focuses on improving your Italian comprehension and trains your ear to understand fast everyday colloquial Italian. It includes transcripts in both Italian and English, Italian culture notes, and Italian grammar and vocabulary lists.

It even comes with my famous Celebrate with a Spritz Guarantee. After 30 days of using Intrepid Italian, if you don’t want to celebrate your newfound Italian skills with an Aperol Spritz, you don’t have to pay a penny! Salute (Cheers!)

If you think Intrepid Italian might be the right investment for you, don’t be afraid to enrol today. Even if you can’t start straight away, you have a full 30 days to go through everything, test out the strategies, and make sure this is really working for you. 

Join Intrepid Italian here and start learning today!

Ci vediamo lì! (See you there!)

Learning Italian? Check out these Italian language guides

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What is the best way to learn Italian? Tips for learning Italian in 2024

Over to you!

Did you find this guide helpful? Got a question? Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media @intrepidguide or @intrepiditalian to start a conversation.

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