Think of Italy and you’re bound to picture the spectacle of the Colosseum, quaint Venetian canals, sky-blue lakes set against mountainous backdrops, and the winding streets of Florence. Famous for its food, landscapes, and architecture, it’s a country that deserves a place on everyone's bucket list.
And there’s no better way to truly immerse yourself in the country’s rich bounty of culture and cuisine than by getting to grips with its language.
That’s where ItalianPod101 comes in, an online language learning platform brimming with resources to have you conversing in Italian in no time.
But is it going to be right for you? Well fear not, because I’ve spent the time dissecting its strengths and weaknesses so you don’t have to. Read on to discover all that ItalianPod101 has to offer, and whether it’s worthy of both your time and money.
- Free to join
- 1000+ lessons and quizzes
- HD video lessons
- Tons of resources including: flash cards, vocabulary lists, cultural courses, word banks, and pronunciation activities
- Lesson notes, key vocabulary, and transcripts for each lesson
- Voice-recorder function to perfect pronunciation
- A mobile app that allows you to download audio lessons for offline use
- An online community with whom you can share your language-learning journey
- Fantastic array of resources means your learning journey will remain fun and engaging
- Emphasis on listening classes will have you understanding native Italian conversations before you know it
- A platform interface that is simple and easy to navigate
- Flexibility: tailor your lessons to fit your timetable and learn on-the-go with bite sized classes
- Voice recorder tool that allows you to perfect your pronunciation by comparing it with that of a native speaker
- Active community of Italian learners to interact with and get help on difficult aspects of the language
- Lack of structure to guide you through the wide range of pathways and resources
- Limited use of active teaching methods, with most lessons using passive techniques
Best for: Learners of every level will have something to gain from ItalianPod101. For beginners there’s plenty of material to build a strong foundation of language ability, and for more advanced learners the platform is perfect for developing listening skills and increasing your vocabulary base. For those with a busy schedule ItalianPod101 is designed specifically so you can fit your studies around your life, without affecting your other commitments.
Cost: You can use ItalianPod101 for free by signing up for a free account. For access to further resources, there are a range of subscription options available from $3.50 to $47.00 per month. Check latest prices here.
Overall: ItalianPod101 has a breath-taking range of resources for learners of every level, and at a very affordable price. The platform is easy-to-use, and the fun and engaging lessons will serve to make your Italian learning journey as effortless and enjoyable as possible. Plus, the option to download lessons to the mobile app grants you the flexibility to continue learning wherever you are regardless of internet connection. The free trial and generous refund policy also mean ItalianPod101 is a totally risk-free investment.
What is ItalianPod101?
ItalianPod101 is an online language course created by Innovative Language Learning that has been helping would-be Italian speakers achieve their language goals for years.
The course boasts an incredible wealth of resources, including 1000’s of hours of video and audio lessons, word banks, cultural classes, and a monthly gift bundle packed full of extra material. Such a variety of resources allows students to learn in the most effective and enjoyable way possible, and tailor their learning to their personal needs.
Available as both a webpage and as a mobile app with downloadable lessons for offline use, you can access ItalianPod101 from anywhere, and the platform is great for both independent learners and as a study aid for those undertaking a classroom course.
How does ItalianPod101 work?
The comprehensive curriculum provided by ItalianPod101 consists largely of audio and video lessons and covers a wide variety of topics and subject material. The lessons are structured in a way that makes it easy for learners to follow along and track their progress.
The core lessons are categorized by the following 5 proficiency levels:
|Level||CEFR Level*||Lessons & Assessments||Length of Content|
|Absolute Beginner||A1 – A2||78 Lessons & 61 Assessments||14hrs 52min|
|Beginner||A2||70 Lessons & 49 Assessments||11hrs 41min|
|Intermediate||B1||75 Lessons & 54 Assessments||17hrs 15min|
|Upper Intermediate||B2||102 Lessons & 72 Assessments||23hrs 20min|
|Advanced||C1||95 Lessons & 81 Assessments||10hrs 06min|
ItalianPod101 also provides a number of bonus pathways, including extra video lessons (great if you’re a visual learner), study skills lessons, and vocab building lessons. Plus there’s a host of additional features also available on the platform, such as flashcards, cultural classes, and access to a community forum; which will help you to practice and reinforce everything that you learn.
You can access ItalianPod101 either through the website, or on the Innovative Language Learning app, which allows you to download lessons so you can continue studying even when offline.
What is a lesson like on ItalianPod101?
The platform’s lesson structure has been designed to be flexible and adaptable, allowing you to learn at your own pace and your own schedule.
The majority of lessons are audio-based and last between 2 and 10 minutes for the Absolute Beginner classes, and 8 and 15 minutes on the more advanced pathways. The hosts and teachers introduce a native conversation and then break it up into the individual words and phrases. When introducing the vocabulary of the lesson, the hosts include pauses and encourage the listener to repeat the keywords.
Screen grab of a lesson from ItalianPod101
Outside of the core pathways there are hundreds of other potential learning pathways available to you, each exploring a different topic. You can choose the type of learning pathway you want to focus on based on your own personal needs and goals.
After every few lessons you take a multiple-choice progress test, which is usually quite easy if you are consistent with your practice, but can be difficult if not!
What is the method behind ItalianPod101?
The method behind ItalianPod101 is based on the concept of ‘spaced repetition’, which is a learning technique that involves reviewing material at increasingly longer intervals to maximize retention. The platform uses this method to help reinforce learning and build fluency for the Italian student.
ItalianPod101 exposes its students to native speakers with a variety of speaking styles and pronunciation, accustoming you to the level of conversation you want to engage in from the beginning of the course.
ItalianPod101 also incorporates a range of other learning techniques, including audio and visual aids, interactive exercises, and cultural insights. These help students learn the language in a way that is engaging and enjoyable, and provide them with a range of tools to help them succeed in their language-learning journey.
How I reviewed ItalianPod101
As a complete, zero-experience newcomer to the Italian language, I was excited to take advantage of ItalianPod101’s free trial and see how much Italian I could learn in the space of one week.
Being an absolute beginner, I started on the Absolute Beginner Level 1 Italian Pathway, which begins with a short diagnostic test to double-check you are on the right pathway and see if you have any underlying knowledge. After this I started going through the lessons, a great feature of ItalianPod101 is the option to break away from the core pathway for a period if you wish and explore a different topic. I was able to jump into culture classes, the social expression pathway, and Immersive Practice video pathway whenever I wanted which kept learning fresh and exciting.
Of course, this wouldn’t be the best ItalianPod101 review out there if I didn’t veer away from the Absolute Beginner Pathways and see what the advanced levels had to offer. So I ensured I spent time trawling other advanced pathways and viewing what sort of content they had to offer higher-level learners.
I also downloaded the app to my phone which allowed me to download lessons and take them with me no matter where I was going. Because of this I was able to continue learning on my commute, whilst shopping, or when waiting for a haircut. There was no excuse not to log in during any spare moment and keep my practice going.
Pros of ItalianPod101
ItalianPod101 has a bunch of great features, but here are some of my favorites:
A generous supply of learning resources
When I first logged in to ItalianPod101 I was absolutely blown away by the sheer wealth of resources that are available on the platform. If I were to learn Italian as a full time job it would still take me months to make my way through all the material available.
Some of the extra pathways available from the Absolute Beginner Lesson Library
There are tools available to help improve your:
- Vocabulary (words banks, survival phrases, common word lists, word of the day)
- Pronunciation (voice-recording function and specialized ‘How to sound like a native’ pronunciation pathways)
- Reading and writing skills, with stories available for every ability level, that are also available as audio books.
Fit your lessons around your life
ItalianPod101 is fantastic in how it allows you to tailor your studying to your own routine and schedule. Only have 5 minutes while you wait for the bus? No problem, why not practice with some flashcards, or listen to a bite-sized audio lesson?
ItalianPod101’s versatility means you can’t use the old excuse of ‘I don’t have time’ when it comes to learning a language, you can fit the lessons into your day whenever you get a break or find yourself doing a mundane activity.
Take your lessons with you on the app
I love learning on the go, and it’s really important to me that I don’t waste time during my day when I could be doing something constructive. ItalianPod101’s app allows me to do just that: I can download the lessons to my phone and then listen to them at leisure throughout my day, without requiring an internet connection.
The Level 1 Italian Learning Pathway (left) and a Level 1 lesson (right) on the Innovative Language Learning mobile app
Although on the app you don’t have access to all the resources that are available on the website, this is not an issue as it aids the app's simple navigability, making it easier to identify and select the lessons you want to learn.
Online community of learners
Every lesson on ItalianPod101 has a comments section where learners can interact with each other, ask questions, and offer advice. ItalianPod101 teachers also log in to assist students when required and help answer any questions. This interaction made me feel like I was part of a supportive and encouraging community, which is essential for anyone to be successful in learning a language.
Great combination of fun and relevance
The lessons on ItalianPod101 are genuinely enjoyable and brought a smile to my face on more than one occasion whilst listening to them. That said, the lessons remain both pertinent and culturally relevant, and I gained heaps of Italian cultural knowledge whilst simultaneously developing my language skills.
Cons of ItalianPod101
Of course no online language course is going to be perfect, so here are the areas where I believe ItalianPod101 is lacking:
Over-reliance on audio materials
This point is particularly pertinent to beginners, who require exposure to a wider range of resources than more practiced learners. The core pathways consist almost entirely of audio lessons, with very few visual resources. A holistic course needs to use all forms of media to engage as broad a base of students as possible.
Whilst there are a healthy number of video lessons present in the course materials, such as the Immersive Practice pathway and Prototype Video pathway, these are additional learning resources, and are used as extras to the core lessons, rather than in conjunction with them.
Although every lesson is supported by written materials, for example audio transcripts and lesson vocabulary, the focus towards audios may be a hindrance to visual learners, who would benefit from more video classes and reading practice.
Unstructured learning environment
Yes, ItalianPod101 provides recommended learning pathways and ordered lessons. However, the lessons don’t appear to follow a particular structure and, because the platform’s focus is flexibility, this may be a problem for students who prefer a classroom-style approach to learning.
I was also never quite sure whether I was getting the most that I could out of ItalianPod101. There's just so much you can do that it was frankly a little overwhelming. I explored quite a bit with different learning pathways, but always felt tempted to steer off-course and try something new. However I didn’t know how beneficial or not this would be.
I believe this is where the Premium Plus account likely earns its money: having a tutor assess my ability and guide me to complete the pathways they believe to be most relevant to me would undoubtedly be the most effective way of using the platform.
Lack of active teaching methods
The emphasis in ItalianPod101 is on audio lessons, 5 to 15-minute audio clips where the aim of the game is to listen and repeat. Whilst this is a highly important skill to develop, a more comprehensive course should be looking to equally develop listening skills alongside speaking, reading, and writing.
That’s not to take away from the quality and importance of these lessons, but to truly master a language you need to engage with it in an active way, producing said language as well as passively absorbing it.
Who is ItalianPod101 for?
ItalianPod101 is a language course with something for everyone, but is especially suited to:
- Complete beginners looking to learn the basics
- Novice speakers looking to develop their listening and speaking skills
- Advanced and intermediate learners wanting to maintain proficiency and expand their vocabulary base
- Students of any ability looking for study aids to develop their listening ability
Allow me to explain a bit more:
Because the lessons are predominantly audio-based, ItalianPod101 is a fantastic platform for developing your listening skills and practicing pronunciation. The course also boasts further resources such as flashcards and audio books that can expand your vocabulary.
However the lack of visual content definitely decreases its usefulness for beginners, who may require more assistance and a broader choice of learning material. I think ItalianPod101 is still a worthwhile investment for beginners, but it would be more effective when used in conjunction with other learning methods.
That said, the importance of listening to native conversations should not be underestimated, and ItalianPod101 is a brilliant tool for improving your listening skills. The more you listen to a foreign language, the better your ability to distinguish individual words becomes. This is one of the most important skills to develop when learning a foreign language.
So, if you just want to use it on your commute to work on your listening skills, I think this is a great tool. Just be sure to continue working on the other skills (reading, writing, and speaking) with other Italian learning resources.
How much does ItalianPod101 cost?
ItalianPod101 offers a range of price plans to suit different budgets and learning needs, from a free plan to PremiumPlus. The options can be a bit complicated, so I put together this table to give you a better idea of the price for different subscription offers:
|24-month subscription*||12-month subscription||6-month subscription||3-month subscription||1-month subscription|
|Basic||$3.50 / month||$5 / month||$6 / month||$7 / month||$8 / month|
|Premium||$8.71 / month||$15 / month||$20 / month||$22 / month||$25 / month|
|PremiumPlus||$16.63 / month||$26.33 / month||$36.67 / month||$41.67 / month||$47 / month|
Prices accurate at the time of publishing. See section below for information on the free plan.
Here’s a breakdown of what you get with each plan:
- Basic: Access to all lessons and in-depth lesson notes (over 1000 audio and video lessons and assessments)
- Premium: Tons of vocabulary resources and study tools, including a grammar bank, flash cards, assessments, and much more
- Premium Plus: Everything in Premium, plus 1-to-1 access to a teacher, hand graded assessments, and guidance and personalized assessments.
*The prices for the 24-month subscription are based on a “Today only” deal offered by ItalianPod101. I checked every day I was using the platform and the deal was always offered to me (even though it says it’s expiring in 20 hours every time it’s offered).
Is ItalianPod101 free?
It is completely free to join ItalianPod101. Subscribing with a free membership can be a great way to sample the platform before paying any money for extra content.
Here's everything you get with a free account on ItalianPod101:
- 3-5 new lessons every week
- The first 3 lessons of every learning pathway
- Italian word of the day
- Vocabulary and phrase lists
- Throwback Thursday lessons – a free random lesson every Thursday
Heads up! When you register for a free membership with ItalianPod101, they'll give you a 7-day free trial for Premium. You don't have to provide any payment details, so this is a great risk-free way to try all the features of ItalianPod101.
On top of the 7-day Premium trial, when you sign up for the free membership they'll offer you 30 days of Premium for just $1. You have to provide payment details for this, but you can simply go to your account and click “cancel auto-renewal” in the payment section to avoid renewing for $25/month (the month-to-month fee for Premium). Just be aware that this really is a one-time only offer, you won’t have the chance to claim it again.
ItalianPod101 also regularly rewards its members with extra resources. When I first signed into the website, there was October’s Gift of the month available to download. The gift included a PDF conversation cheat sheet, vocabulary cards, and audiobooks.
Finally, ItalianPod101 regularly offers hefty discounts for all packages. At the time of writing there is a 20% discount for Basic, Premium, and Premium Plus packages. The coupon to redeem this can be found in the vocabulary section of the free course material.
If you don't like your paid version of ItalianPod101, you are guaranteed a refund within 60
days of purchase.
Just email contactus@ItalianPod101.com that you want a refund, and they will get back to you within one working day.
Features of ItalianPod101
ItalianPod101 has a range of features that make it an ideal choice to help you learn Italian, including:
- Fun and engaging lessons: ItalianPod101’s curriculum is packed with enjoyable audio and video lessons, quizzes, audio books, worksheets and more
- Flexible learning: ItalianPod101 is available anyplace anytime, and allows you to learn at your own pace and schedule
- Mobile app: You can access ItalianPod101 on the move through the platform’s app, which also allows you to download lessons for offline use
- Cultural insights: These are drip-fed into nearly every lesson on the platform, and there are also specific cultural pathways available. These serve to provide a context for you on your language journey
- Personalized learning: The premium plus plan provides access to one-on-one tutoring and personalized learning plans
- Online community: Every lesson includes a comments section allowing you to engage with both ItalianPod101 tutors and other learners about the lesson content
- Lesson material: Each audio lesson comes with a transcript, notes, key vocab, and a dialogue recap
- Wealth of resources: including core vocabulary lists, spaced-repetition flashcards, personal word bank, grammar worksheets, and drills for improving writing skills
What languages can you learn with ItalianPod101?
Surprise surprise, Italian is the only language you can learn on ItalianPod101. But if you’re a fan of the platform and want to learn another language, the creator (Innovative Language Learning) offers 33 other languages on similar platforms, each with their own app and website.
All you have to do is search “[insert language]Pod101” and chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to create a separate account on each new -Pod101 website.
Alternatives to ItalianPod101
Type ‘online Italian language course’ into any search engine and it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed at the sheer number of options available. So, to make it a little easier for you to decide, here’s a comparison of ItalianPod101 with other popular online Italian language courses.
ItalianPod101 vs Rosetta Stone
Both platforms provide effective online language courses, but using very different methods. Rosetta Stone takes a more structured and interactive approach whilst ItalianPod101 offers more creative lesson topics and a more flexible learning environment.
Rosetta Stone also possesses the Dynamic Immersion feature that has made it so successful.
With ItalianPod101 it can be too easy to rely on a more passive learning experience by just listening to audio lessons.
ItalianPod101’s biggest advantage is that it is cheaper than Rosetta Stone. Beyond offering a free account (which Rosetta Stone does not), its Basic and Premium accounts are
cheaper than Rosetta Stone as long as purchased with a 24-month subscription.
ItalianPod101 vs Duolingo
The incredibly popular app Duolingo focuses mostly on reading and writing skills, encouraging learning through translation. It also gamifies your learning journey in an attempt to ‘hook you’ on foreign language learning.
In contrast, ItalianPod101 teaches Italian primarily through listening and repeating. It doesn’t gamify learning, instead focusing on making its lessons fun and interesting. ItalianPod101 also offers lessons at a more advanced level than Duolingo.
Using Duolingo is a great way to improve your reading and writing skills, while ItalianPod101 is excellent for training your ear to understand conversations.
If you’re trying to decide between the two, you should determine which skills you want to focus on and decide based on that. However my suggestion would be to use them side-by-side as the two platforms compliment each other perfectly.
ItalianPod101 vs Babbel
Like Rosetta Stone, Babbel's Italian course is more structured and interactive than ItalianPod101. Babbel's courses also offer more active learning opportunities such as grammar exercises and writing activities, while ItalianPod101 mainly uses passive listening activities. Babbel's lessons are also longer, which may be preferable to some learners.
However, ItalianPod101 offers more creative lesson topics and a more flexible learning environment.
ItalianPod101 is normally cheaper than Babbel, with a free account option and a more affordable Premium account. However at the time of writing Babbel is offering a 50% discount for a 12-month plan, and has a heavily discounted lifetime access offer for all languages, which for now puts it ahead of ItalianPod101 in terms of price.
What others have said
To make sure no stone was left unturned during this review, I wanted to know what the experiences of former ItalianPod101 learners were like, so I headed over to Reddit to assess their opinions.
“The overall structure of what they provide feels quite random. Lessons are suggested on your dashboard, but I couldn’t figure out what these suggestions were based on, to be honest.” – Reddit user
As previously discussed in this review, the lack of structure on ItalianPod101 is definitely one of its downsides. Whilst the amount of resources available to learn from is fantastic, without a set structure to guide you through them, it’s possible to feel a little lost at times when wondering what pathway to explore next. Whilst this may not be too much of a problem for higher-level Italian learners or those who have already learnt a second language, it will definitely hinder novices, who require a bit more of a guiding hand when starting on their language journeys.
“I was disappointed that there was no opportunity to practice spontaneous writing and speaking in Italian. Sure, I could write a comment in the ItalianPod101 forum, but that’s not the same as writing to an actual Italian speaker.” – Comment from independent review
Producing language through writing and speaking activities is an important skill that should not be neglected. The majority of lessons on ItalianPod101 do tend to rely on the student learning by passively listening to audio tracks, which are great, but should be used in conjunction with other activities.
ItalianPod101 is geared towards having you understand native-level conversations in Italian, and with its audio lessons it achieves this to great effect. The dialogues allow you to listen to native Italians engaging in pertinent everyday conversations, unfortunately this reliance on practicing listening skills does come at some expense to those of speaking, reading, and writing.
Conclusion: Is ItalianPod10 worth it?
Alright, you’ve made it this far. So to conclude, is ItalianPod101 worth the investment of your precious time and money?
You bet your life it is.
Very few online learning platforms offer such a diverse range of resources to help you on your way to fluency. ItalianPod101 guides you through its core pathways, but there are so many others you can choose from should you wish to deviate from the main path for a while. This breadth of choice gives you a large amount of scope for you to curate your own curriculum by choosing the lessons that you most want to learn.
Of course this wealth of resources does come at a price: sometimes it can be a little confusing to decide what lesson to take next or how to ensure you are making the most out of your subscription. Whilst this might not be the case with veteran language learners, it’s something to consider for beginners, who require a firmer guiding hand to help show them the ropes.
In spite of this, ItalianPod101 is still a quality online learning platform that I believe can really help every learner on their way to mastering the language. The lessons are thoroughly enjoyable and, crucially, will have you understanding native conversations rapidly so you can communicate with other Italian speakers.
Finally, by offering a free membership, free trial, and a 60-day guaranteed refund, there’s really no risk to yourself whatsoever if you decide ItalianPod101 is not the course for you.
With ItalianPod101, you have access to one of the world’s most popular romance languages at your fingertips, so why not give it a try?
You have a range of options when it comes to price, including: free membership, a Basic subscription of $3.50 a month, Premium for $8.71 a month and Premium Plus for $16.63 a month (if you opt for the 24-month subscription). ItalianPod101 regularly offers generous discounts for their 24-month subscriptions, so I advise you to choose this option if you can.
ItalianPod101 works mostly by listening and repeating, with the desktop version offering a larger array of resources to test your grammatical knowledge and reading and writing skills.
Italian – obviously! But the creator (Innovative Language Learning) offers similar courses for 33 other languages.
Yes, within 60 days of purchase.