Want to learn Italian with software? That’s a great idea! Today’s Italian learning programs are better than ever, and they cost just a fraction of what in-class courses cost. As with all purchases, though, you have to be careful–not all Italian language software programs are great. Don’t worry! We’re here to help. We have tested every major Italian language software program on the market, and, sure, we’ll make a few recommendations for you, but we’ll do much more! We are going to tell you exactly what to look for, so you can decide which program is best for you.
1. Student Interaction
The most important feature to look for in Italian language software is interaction. You cannot learn Italian, or any other language, passively. You cannot listen to a lecture. You cannot just memorize words and phrases. You have to be actively participating in Italian conversations; otherwise, you are not learning to speak the language. Where should you look for this interaction? It’s in the dialogues. Do not buy a program that does not offer interactive dialogues. What are “interactive dialogues?”
Interactive dialogues are the core part of many Italian language software programs. They do 2 main things. First, they offer pronunciation practice. They do this by offering Italian native speaker recordings. Typically, you listen to the recordings and then repeat after them. The best programs offer voice recording features that let you record your own pronunciation and then compare it to the Italian native-speaker’s. Second, they offer interactive conversation practice. For example, the software recording will say, “How can I help you?” You then answer, “”I’d like one ticket to Rome, please.” Of course, these conversations are in Italian, not English! If you find an Italian language software program that does not offer interactive dialogues, as described above, skip it. There are better programs out there. The program with the best interactive dialogues is Rocket Italian. You can read my Rocket Italian Review here. Or, you can grab a free 6-day course and see for yourself (click on “free Italian course” at the top of the page).
2. An Online Component
The Internet is the fastest, most convenient way to share information. Your Italian language software program should take advantage of this. How? First of all, they should host an active forum where students using their product can get together, share information, form study groups, and find language exchange partners. Second, They should offer online language learning support, preferably from a native Italian speaker. Finally, there should be a place online where you can give feedback about the program and get updates and improvements. If you find an Italian language software program that doesn’t have an online component, skip it! There are better products to choose from.
3. Learning Games and Activities
Let’s face it, nobody really enjoys memorizing vocabulary words—it’s just not a fun thing to do. This is where learning games and activities come into play. If your Italian language software has fun and interesting learning games, what was a chore can become fun and interesting. The importance of this cannot be overstated, as the biggest hurdle to learning any language is staying motivated enough to keep studying.
You want to look for several things here. First, are the games geared towards learning—busy work that doesn’t teach anything isn’t very useful? Second, can you add to the games? For example, the best vocabulary games allow you to add your own word and picture lists. Finally, are the games varied? If you find Italian language software that just has a bunch of crossword puzzles, skip it—you’ll get bored with it quickly!
4. Verb Practice
Mastering verbs is very important when learning the Italian language. Because of this, you’ll want to find an Italian language software program that offers a separate verb learning component. Or, if it does not have a separate component, if should at least offer a lot of verb practice in the learn games and vocabulary sections of the software. If a program doesn’t offer much verb practice, find one that does.
5. Pricing That Fits Your Needs
If you’ve looked around, you know that Italian language software programs have all sorts of pricing schemes. When looking at pricing, make sure you understand your goals. Why? Because more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better, but it usually does mean more. Do you really need two years of learning material, though? Do you need hours and hours of instruction about language structure and grammar? If so, it’s worth paying for more extensive programs, like TELL ME MORE. If not, which costs 500 bones. If not, then a more consumer friendly Rocket Italian is probably best for you. It really just depends on your Italian learning goals. Finally, you can decide for yourself, of course, but, in my opinion, online language learning programs that charge monthly fees are no good. I mean, why would pay a monthly fee to access a program when you could just buy the whole thing for one price?