Want to learn one of the most beautiful languages in the world? Italian is a hugely popular language to learn, despite it only being spoken in Italy and some parts of Switzerland. One of the most popular apps for learning languages has to be Duolingo.
Used by millions of people all over the world, Duolingo uses gamification and bite-sized lessons to help you learn languages over a long period of time.
You end up building habits around learning languages, so you keep on coming back for more. When you enjoy your learning style, you end up acquiring language quicker and more effectively!
That being said, Duolingo isn’t without its issues. So, with that in mind, is Duolingo good for Italian?
I’ve been using Duolingo for a while and I love the Italian language, so I’ve created this in-depth review to help you all out!
Let’s dive in and find out more about Duolingo’s Italian course.
What is Duolingo and How Does it Work?
So, at its core, Duolingo is a language-learning app that uses quizzes and games to help you learn Italian and other languages. It’s pretty straightforward to use, and you can access it anywhere on either the app or the desktop version of the site.
In addition to the games and fun, engaging content, Duolingo also sends you persuasive and motivational notifications and reminder emails to keep you coming back for more. To be honest, sometimes they lean towards being a bit of a guilt trip, but they are effective.
Each lesson is only around 15 minutes long, so you can always factor it into your day. These lessons are organized in units that are themed around relevant content like colors, animals, travel, verb endings, and more. This means you can settle into a section and slowly build up your knowledge.
You can always practice your Italian skills for longer, as long as you still have lives left. Duolingo gives your five lives, which disappear each time you make a mistake. Once you run out, you have to wait a few hours for them to regenerate and go again.
As you go through your language-learning journey, you gain XP and Lingots (Duolingo’s form of currency), which you can use to climb up the various leaderboards and pay for extra lives. This means the more you practice, the more rewards you receive. It’s as simple as that.
So, if you want to learn in a gamified way and don’t have a ton of time on your hands, Duolingo is a great option. With that in mind, let’s dive in and get into all the features that make this app so popular all across the world.
Is Duolingo Good for Learning Italian?
This is a pretty big question and honestly, it depends on your learning style and your learning level. In my experience, Duolingo is best for beginners looking to either learn Italian or improve their language skills.
As Duolingo doesn’t really go into detail with grammar or has a super high focus on speaking skills, it doesn’t really help you if you’re at an intermediate or expert level. That being said, if you’re just starting out, it’s a really great app to help you learn the fundamentals.
You can get a good base level of knowledge when it comes to learning Italian with Duolingo. If you’re looking to improve your skills before a big trip or what to learn some basic words and phrases, this is a super affordable and engaging way to start your Italian language journey.
How Much Does Duolingo Cost?
So, there are a few different answers to this question. As Duolingo operates on a freemium basis, you can access the majority of Duolingo features for free.
That’s pretty amazing given how many amazing games, features, and resources that you can get without paying a cent.
If you don’t want to be bombarded with ads and have unlimited lives, you’ll need to pay for a premium subscription. The individual plan is pretty affordable and only costs around $7 a month. Compared to a lot of other language-learning apps, this is fairly affordable.
That being said, if you have a few friends or family members who also want to learn a language, you can club together for a Duolingo Family plan. On this plan, you and up to five other people can get access to Super Duolingo for a lot less.
If there are six of you, that works out to just $2 a month. You can’t even get a cup of coffee for that! It’s such a bargain and well worth the cost to not have to deal with waiting hours for new lives.
What are the Duolingo Italian Lessons Structures?
So, within these short, bite-sized lessons, there are a couple of different structures and styles. These are aimed to hit all four of the language-learning skills: speaking, listening, writing, and reading.
They also help to keep learning fun and engaging, and break up the monotony that sometimes comes with language learning app!
With this in mind, let’s dive into the different kinds of lessons and question styles that you might come across during your Italian Duolingo journey.
This is a common question style where you’ll be playing a clip in Italian and you have to translate it into English. You’ll normally have a bank of words to select the answers from, and at more intermediate levels, you’ll have to type the answer out yourself.
A classic of the language-learning scene, you’ll be given a phrase, sentence, or conversation with a couple of missing gaps. You’ll need to pick the correct term from the word bank on the screen to complete the sentence.
Who doesn’t love a matching-up exercise? Pretty much every language learning course includes these kinds of exercises for a reason. You’ll have a selection of Italian words on one side and the English translations mixed up on the other.
All you have to do is match the correct terms. These are normally terms that you’ve already been revising, so you should be able to recognize them all.
Speaking is one of the four key skills of learning any language and Italian is no different. One of the cool things about Duolingo versus some of the other language-learning apps is that it has an in-built microphone where they can match your recording against their native language clip and analyze it in an instant.
This helps to improve your pronunciation skills and build your confidence in actually speaking Italian.
Writing Full Sentences
Honestly, this question style is pretty straightforward. You’ll be given a sentence in Italian and you’ll have to type it out in English or vice versa. It helps you to put together full sentences and get those pesky verb endings and conjunctions on lock!
It’s one of the more intermediate question styles, so not everyone is going to access this from the get-go, but it’s great reading and writing practice and has a touch of grammar in there too for good measure.
Finally, we have one of the most difficult question styles in the Duolingo Italian course, but also one of the most practical ones. You’ll definitely need to work your way up to mock conversations.
You’ll be given some basic context clues and have to reply in Italian to the questions given to you by the app. It’s essentially a fake conversation that you’re having with the computer, to help you get in the flow of a full question-and-answer setup.
Pros and Cons of Using Duolingo for Italian
Okay, now that you know some of the features of the Duolingo Italian course and how the app works on a practical level, it’s time to dive into the pros and cons of using Duolingo for learning Italian.
Pros of Using Duolingo for Italian
Right, let’s start things off with the positives – and there are plenty of them to go around! Besides, you can’t be one of the top language-learning apps in the world without having a ton of plus points, can you?
First up, one of the best things about Duolingo is the price point. The fact that you can get all this amazing content for free is pretty incredible. There are not a lot of free things in this world, so you might as well take advantage of them when it does come along.
Yes, you do have to pay for the premium package, but with monthly costs ranging from between $2-7 depending on your chosen plan, it’s a super affordable way to learn Italian wherever you are in the world.
When you consider that group language lessons can cost around $20 a week, and you have to fit it into your schedule and share your time with other students, the pricing of Duolingo is super attractive!
A big issue with learning a new language is finding a tutor or language course in the first place. A lot of the time, if you’re not in a big city, in-person classes are few and far between.
Even if you can find one, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be at a convenient time or place to fit with your schedule. The fact that you can learn in just 15 minutes per day, and you can learn from anywhere in the world with an internet connection is pretty awesome.
Having gone through a whole host of rebrands and redesigns over the year, Duolingo is now a really easy-to-use app that is appealing to the eye. You can easily see your progress, how many lives you have left, and which leaderboard you’re on at a glance.
This goes for both the app and the desktop version of Duolingo, so wherever you learn Italian you can benefit from this aesthetically-pleasing design. Simply put, this highly user-friendly experience makes it easy to focus on what matters – learning a ton of new Italian language skills.
Who doesn’t have a spare 15 minutes a day to gain a new skill? Whether you’re on the bus on the way to work, standing around waiting for the kettle to boil, or want to do something more productive than just scrolling through Instagram, Duolingo is easy to fit into your busy schedule.
We’re all busy and we all have lives, so by studying a little and often, learning Italian becomes a whole lot more manageable.
Variety of Questions
A lot of the time, language-learning apps will only offer a couple of question styles which can make the process pretty monotonous and boring, but the wide range of options in Duolingo keeps you engaged.
This is super important in creating a habit out of learning Italian and sticking with the process on a long-term basis.
In actuality, the English translations on Duolingo are actually pretty accurate. This might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s not a given in the world of language-learning apps. Think about how long it took for Google Translate to become accurate!
When you’re learning a new language, you need to know that you’re learning the correct thing and aren’t being mistranslated. As Duolingo employs native speakers to help test and create the courses, nothing is left to chance.
It’s a Fun Way to Learn
Honestly, using Duolingo is actually pretty fun to use. The games and graphics are cute, there’s a good amount of positive reinforcement, and the competitiveness of the leaderboards keeps you coming back for more.
It’s a lot more fun than staring at an Italian grammar book for hours and hours on end, that’s for sure!
If you’re completely new to your Italian learning journey, Duolingo is a great place to start. It’s encouraging and gives you all the basics, slowly building up your skills over time.
Sometimes learning a new language can be overwhelming, but Duolingo drip feeds you content so you can manage it in a stress-free way.
Cons of Using Duolingo for Italian
Okay, now that we’ve gone through all the positive points about using Duolingo to learn Italian, let’s dive into the downsides of using this super popular language-learning app.
The Lack of Focus on Grammar
So, this isn’t unusual for language-learning apps on the whole, but Duolingo definitely lacks a focus when it comes to teaching you grammar skills. It’s probably because it’s difficult to teach complex grammar rules and structures in 15-minute, bite-sized lessons.
With this in mind, I’d recommend getting a grammar book alongside using Duolingo, so that you can get a well-rounded grasp of Italian. Knowing a ton of words and phrases is great, but if you can’t string them together in a sentence, it’s kind of pointless, right?
Limited Speaking Practices
Although Duolingo does have a couple of speaking-style questions in their Italian course, it’s not a lot at all. A lot of the time, we’re learning Italian for practical speaking purposes, rather than writing or reading, so you need your Duolingo questions to reflect that.
It’s tricky to have speaking questions in an app because you’re relying on the app to match your voice to native speakers.
Instead, try and join a conversational practice group. You can either do these in person, or online using video calls with native speakers or with other Italian learners.
Okay, I understand that Duolingo needs to use ads to keep the platform free, but do they need to put like three ads between every lesson? It seems like overkill to me.
I also know that you can get around this by paying for the premium subscription, but if you’re just starting out and don’t know if Duolingo is for you, you’ll probably not want to pay straight away, and the ads can be really off-putting.
You Need to Use Other Resources Too
Like with a long of language-learning resources, you’re going to have to use other techniques alongside your Duolingo journey.
Whether that’s going to a conversational group, buying a grammar book, or listening to Italian language podcasts, you’ll need to bulk up your learning resources to ensure you have a well-rounded Italian learning experience!
Limited by the Five Lives System
Much like being annoyed by the ads on the free version, getting around the five-lives system can easily be overcome by paying for the premium.
That being said, if you’re starting out, you’re going to be making mistakes. That’s an unavoidable part of learning a new language.
So, having only five lives before having to wait a few hours to try again can be a bit off-putting, especially if you’re a beginner. If you’re trying to keep your streak alive, having to wait a few hours for your lives to regenerate can ruin all that XP-related progress!
Sometimes You Learn Some Weird Phrases
There’s a running joke around some of the downright bizarre phrases that you’re told to learn during your Duolingo Italian course. Things like elephants eating bees, or workers eating the sandwiches. It’s not always super useful.
If you’re wanting to learn practical language, you might have to swim through a lot of annoying words and phrases, as you can’t skip through units without paying for a premium subscription.
It’s Not Great for Advanced Learners
As I’ve already outlined above, why Duolingo is great for beginner learners, but it’s not amazing for advanced or intermediate learners.
That’s mostly down to the lack of grammar skills in the app, and fundamentally, that tends to be how you level up your language skills in the long term.
So, is Duolingo Worth Using for Learning Italian?
This is the big question. Overall, if you’re a beginner, I’d say that Duolingo is worth it if you’re wanting to learn Italian, especially the free version.
In my opinion, I don’t think the premium version is actually worth it unless you need to learn Italian in a short time frame and can’t be spending time watching ads or waiting for lives to regenerate.
If you’re an advanced or intermediate learner, I wouldn’t recommend Duolingo, or I’d say use it alongside a resource that is really strong when it comes to grammar. I’d also recommend that you go to a conversational class or sign up for online language practice to get that practical Italian knowledge flowing!
What Alternative Apps Can You Use for Learning Italian?
As I’ve said, you’re probably going to want to use some other language learning resources alongside Duolingo to improve your Italian skills.
First up, I’d recommend signing up for iTalki to improve your speaking and conversational skills. iTalki is a platform that connects native-level tutors and students online so that you can have lessons via video chat, no matter where you are in the world.
You can scroll through lists of tutors, filtering based on price per hour and the time zone in which they’re located. You can also read reviews from previous students to see if the specific tutor is going to be a good fit for you and your learning style.
On the flip side, if you’re looking for a science-backed app that focuses on getting you to speak some genuinely useful pieces of language from the first session, I’d recommend signing up for Pimsleur.
It uses a patented framework to promote conversational language and is a lot more practical than a lot of other Italian language-learning apps and resources.
Okay, let’s round off this comprehensive review with some quick and easy frequently asked questions.
What is the Best Way to Learn Italian?
As with pretty much any language in the world, the best way to learn Italian is through immersion. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you fly out to Italy this minute – as amazing as that sounds.
You can always listen to Italian music and podcasts, or watch Italian language movies and TV shows at home so that you’re surrounded by the language.
Over time, your brain starts to recognize patterns and flow within the Italian language, making it easier to pick up and improve. So, whether you’re in Italy or wandering around your town listening to Maneskin – it’s all going to help!
How Many People Learn Italian with Duolingo?
At the moment, there are roughly 8.17 million people using Duolingo to learn Italian. That’s a huge amount of people and puts it in the top ten most popular languages on Duolingo.
Whatever we think about Duolingo, there are plenty of users that love Duolingo and continue to use it month after month. After all, over eight million people can’t be wrong, can they?
How Many People Speak Italian Worldwide?
It’s been estimated that 63 million people speak Italian as a first language, and an extra 3 million speak it as a second language. There’s no getting around the fact that it’s a massive number of people.
Predominantly, Italian speakers are located in Italy and Switzerland, but you can find Italian speakers and expats all around the world.
Why Should You Learn Italian?
In addition to being a beautiful language, there are a ton of reasons why you should learn Italian. With over 60 million speakers worldwide, there are a whole host of people who speak Italian, including expats from all across the globe.
Italians also have a history of moving overseas, as demonstrated by the Little Italy areas in most large cities across the US and Canada. This means that you’re likely to run into an Italian speaker if you live near these areas.
Italy is also one of the most popular travel and vacation spots on the planet. From the ancient landmarks of Rome to the stunning Amalfi Coast to the food hub of Bologna, there’s so much to love. It’s estimated that over 65 million tourists visit Italy each and every year.
Whenever you visit a new place, it’s always good to at least learn the basics of the language in order to get by and be respectful of the culture that surrounds you. All of these are awesome reasons to learn Italian.
Is Italian Similar to Spanish?
As both Italian and Spanish are Latinate languages, you can find plenty of similarities between them. You can also find similarities to French which is also a part of this family of languages. It means that if you know one of these languages, it might be pretty easy to pick up one of the others.
While they’re not entirely transferable, there is enough of a crossover that if you know Spanish or French, you might be able to recognize some words and phrases in Italian.
Is Italian Similar to Latin?
Latin is the root language of Italian and many other languages across Europe so there are some definite similarities.
Considering that Latin is only really used by the Catholic Church and academics at this point, not that many people actually speak Latin, but if you learned it in school, you might be able to pick up Italian a bit easier than starting from nothing.