Italian is often called the language of love. It is also the language of delicious food, Fellini, and opera. All good reasons for wanting to learn Italian. When looking for a course to learn Italian I noticed that Living Language had excellent feedback from its students. I wanted to see for myself whether it lived up to its reputation. Below I share my experience testing out the online self-study program. You can see what I believe are the major pros and cons of this course. You can find out how it compares with other Italian language courses. Finally, I share my recommendation as to whether I think Living Language is the best way to learn Italian.
Access to the online course costs $150.
The whole course is web-based which means that it can be accessed using any computer connected to the Internet. The main component of the Living Language Italian course is 46 lessons that cover the essentials of Italian. In these courses you learn conversational skills, grammar, vocabulary, and Italian culture. These lessons are supported with tutoring sessions. You are given access to a personal tutor who is a native Italian speaker. The tutor can help you with any questions and review the material that you have been studying. Living Language students also have access to the Italian online community of other students and Italian language experts. Finally the software comes with a progress tracker which shows you how far you have made it through the course.
As mentioned above, Living Language takes a very academic approach to teaching Italian. In contrast, Pimsleur is a slightly more accessible way to learn Italian (my review). With the Pimsleur approach you are provided with the space needed to speak your answers. It is an entirely audio-based method and doesn't have the exercises that Living Language does. Some people will prefer the Living Language approach, others will like Pimsleur. The price is significantly lower than Pimsleur. Pimsleur phases 1 to 4 costs $450, $300 more than Living Languages. Despite the higher price tag Pimsleur is less comprehensive in terms of topics and multimedia.
Another popular Italian course is Rosetta Stone (my review). Rosetta Stone and Living Language have a lot in common. Both courses teach reading, writing and conversational skills, and provide online tutoring. In addition, Rosetta Stone has speech recognition technology so that you can ensure pronouncing Italian words correctly. Rosetta Stone is priced at $279 for levels 1 to 5, which makes Living Language Italian better value for money.
Another alternative to Living Language Italian is Rocket Italian (my review). Rocket Italian is currently priced at $69.95. Of the major language Italian language forces Rocket Italian is the cheapest. Like Living Language, Rocket Italian is a complete course that covers reading, writing, grammar, and conversational Italian. Rocket Italian also uses flash cards, quizzes, and games to help reinforce the course materials. If you are looking for an inexpensive but still comprehensive Italian course, then you may want to opt for Rocket Italian. The other benefit of choosing Rocket Italian is that you can take out the free six-day trial to see whether it is right for you before you buy.
Italian is a great language to learn, and provided that you have the discipline to complete the exercises, Living Language Italian will get you to an intermediate ability. Living Language Italian has a nice range of activities, excellent online support and is a well structured course. Overall it is a solid choice in learning Italian, but offers slightly less value for money than Rocket Italian.