Language Challenge 180: Italian

by Corey · 25 comments

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This is the Language Challenge 180 page for Italian. If you are working on this language, please leave a comment below letting other speakers know a little about you and your language skills. Also tell us who will be working on this language (you, your child, etc.) and what you hope to achieve.

Please leave comments with resources that you recommend in this language (online language learning, fun websites, good books in the language, online TV programming, audio programs, online stores where products in the language can be purchased, etc.).

We’ll be updating this page based on the suggestions you make in the comments section below – so add a comment today!


  • Coming soon! Tell us what resources you recommend for learning this language (in the comment section below) and we will add them here!

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tye March 2, 2012 at 6:20 am

My name is Tye. I would like to learn Italian as a 3rd language.

The resource that I am using at this time is at BBC Languages. I will be using the Italian Steps program:


2 Alison DS March 2, 2012 at 6:48 am


I’m Alison. I’m British, married to an American and living on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, WA with our twin daughters who just turned two years old last week. We are raising them as Italian-English bilinguals using the OPOL method. Actually the girls are trilingual as our afternoon nanny speaks to them in her native Spanish, but that’s another story…

I am not a native Italian speaker, but I lived in Italy for 8 years back in the nineties. I read, write and speak the language at an advanced level. My writing skills are a bit weaker.

We decided that I would speak Italian to the girls before they were born so for almost three years I’ve been doing something to practice my Italian every day, sometimes reading Italian sites on the internet but mostly watching Italian tv shows as it’s much more fun. What I really need to do is sit down with an Italian grammar book for five minutes a day. I know this but I don’t do it!

For the past six months we’ve had a wonderful Italian au pair living with us and we’re delighted that she’s planning on staying for another 18 months. It’s been fantastic for the girls to have a native speaker at home and for me to have an Italian to speak with who can also clear up any doubts. I think it’s also important for the girls to hear us speaking as it enriches their grammar and vocabulary. We hope to have an Italian au pair throughout their childhood (although we’re already wondering if we’ll manage to find another au pair as great as P).

Once a week we also visit an Italian friend who has a two year old boy so our girls get to spend a little time with another Italian speaking child which I think is very important. I only wish they lived closer so we could go there more often. I also wish I knew other native Italian speakers, both adults and children.

Right now the girls’ strongest language is Italian (their second is Spanish and then English as we have intentionally been exposing them more to the minority languages while we still have some control over the situation). They started to speak quite early and are speaking sentences of 6 or 7 words in Italian which is their language of choice when they are alone (we hear them chatting in the mornings via the baby monitor). Of course I know that this may change but right now I’m delighted! It’s especially fun to hear them making adjectives agree with verbs, to try out plurals before they get them right and to start to get the hang of verb endings. So interesting to observe how children acquire a language which is not your own mother tongue!

I want to keep improving my Italian so that I can keep up with the girls and hopefully stay a step ahead of them for at least a couple more years. I would also love to connect with other Italian speaking families especially if in the Seattle area.

Sorry this is so long. I got a bit carried away!



3 Dominick March 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Hello Alison, I have a ton of questions relating to your experiences with an au pair. We are thinking of taking this route with our son, but I am finding the process rather confusing. Could you send me an email at so I can reply to you with some questions? Thank you so much!



4 Alison DS March 7, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Hi Dominick

No problem. I’ll send you an email.



5 Alison DS March 2, 2012 at 6:55 am

Here are some resources I use for exposing my just-turned-two year old daughters to Italian native speakers:

youtube (cartoons of Pimpa, Pocoyo, Milo, Musti, zecchino d’oro

DVDs – Professor Toto, Hocus & Lotus. Both of these are intended to teach a foreign language rather than a native language but with little ones they are perfect as the words are new to them anyway. My girls love both of these and ask to watch them.

Resources for me:

I love to watch Italian tv shows in my spare time. Fun and I’m learning at the same time. I like the rai fiction channel. Favorite shows so far: Un medico in famiglia (of which there are 7 seasons so it’ll keep you busy for a while), Tutti pazzi per amore


6 Sandra McGuinness March 2, 2012 at 7:16 am

Hi I am Sandra from Ireland and would like to learn Italian. i have been to Italy a few times and love it and will return in September so would like to have some conversational skills by then.

I am also using BBC Italian steps at the moment as mentioned above.


7 Dominick March 2, 2012 at 8:52 am

Hello, My name is Dominick and I speak Italian fluently as a second language. I am raising my 5 month old son to be bilingual in Italian / English, primarily through OPOL. He will still not even be one year old yet after this 180 day challenge however, so its going to be a while before I see the results of my efforts, but at least I am enjoying the journey. I have amassed quite a collection of Italian children’s books and dvds from my trips to Italy as well as from the website I know as he gets older I will have to find more native Italian speakers for him to spend time with. We tried initially to find an Italian speaking nanny for him, but the negotiations unfortunately didn’t work out and we wound up in standard daycare. Hopefully we will still be able to use her as the occasional babysitter. Luckily, there is an Italian Immersion elementary school in our city, and I plan on enrolling him there, and hopefully finding out if they have Italian playgroups for children not yet school age.

For resources, the website is basically the Italian version of this site complete with a bunch of resources for Italians raising their kids in English and other languages.

There is also the, in which there are plenty of cartoon and children’s series which you can watch streaming.

We also watch videos of Zecchino d’oro on youtube, and I have memorized a bunch of the songs to sing to my son.

Of course there is your main sponsor, LingQ, which helped my Italian grow from rudimentary fluency to advanced fluency in a very short time, and with which I am rapidly gaining competence in Spanish.


8 Dominick March 5, 2012 at 9:11 am

I have to add another resource that I can’t believe I left out of my first comment:
I listen to a lot of Italian talk radio in the car, mainly from the Italian radio Station Radio24 I use the iPhone / Android App TuneInRadio to listen to to them live wherever I am, and I also download podcasts of my favorite programs to my mp3 player so I can listen to them when I don’t have internet for streaming radio. My favorite programs are , Essere e Benessere (Health and Fitness), Moebius (Science and Technology), and America24 (news in Italian about the United States) There used to be a wonderful program called Questa Casa Non È un Albergo (about raising children) but unfortunately it seems they stopped producing it.


9 Dominick March 2, 2012 at 9:32 am

A proposito, Alison DS, è davvero impressionante quello che sei riuscita a conseguire con le tue figlie e devo confessare che mi sento un po’ geloso! Vorrei scambiare qualche email con te, magari mi potresti dare qualche consiglio. Grazie mille


10 Alison DS March 2, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Ciao Dominick

Molto volentieri! A proposito, sono io la ‘Alison’ che ha tradotto le ultime scene in inglese sul sito di!



11 Dominick March 5, 2012 at 8:19 am

Davvero? Il mondo e davvero piccolo 🙂 Studio proprio queste scene per far sì che parlo in modo giusto al mio Tonino. Provo a preparare una lista di domande su come crescere un bambino in italiano in un ambiente inondato dal inglese.

Grazie di nuovo,



12 Alison DS March 20, 2012 at 9:35 am

Hi Dominick

Did you get the email I sent you with replies to your questions?



13 Dominick March 20, 2012 at 9:40 am

Yes, thank you very much for your detailed responses. Admittedly we haven’t gotten too far in the process, which is why I hadn’t responded to you yet, but we are still very excited about the possibility, even if it may take us a while to find a match.

Thanks again,



14 Anna March 4, 2012 at 1:54 am

I am a near native speaker and my husband speak Italian as well. We have two young children that we speak to in Italian for part of the day. We have a decent collection of Italian children’s books so we often to read out loud to them. Currently, our most used resource is youtube to watch kid’s programs.


15 Dominick March 5, 2012 at 8:59 am

Hello Anna, which kid’s programs do you watch on youtube?


16 katie mildenhall March 5, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Sono una madre americana di 3 bambini, e io parlo esclusivamente in italiano a loro. Viviamo negli stati uniti, e il mio marito non parla italiano, ma capisce molto. Fin’ora e andato molto bene; le due sorelle piu grandi parlano molto bene. Anche se adesso che la piu grande ha iniziato Kindergarten, vedo una diminuzione nel suo uso della lingua italiana. Faccio parte di questa sfida 180 perché voglio non solo mantenere il nostro livello in italiano, ma anche migliorare. Vedo che sarà più difficile una volta che i figli sono nelle scuole pubbliche (non a casa, parlando in italiano!). Prima di quest’anno, le piu grandi (5 e 3 anni, adesso) parlavano e giocavano spesso in italiano. Adesso che la piu grande va a scuola, e comincia a fare piu cose in inglese, le sorelle giocano in inglese. Mi spezza il cuore un po’, ma e una cosa che aspettavo anche.

risorse che ho trovato utile –

Libri: Il sito migliore per comprare libri di autori madrelingue italiane perche il prezzo di spedizione e il piu basso, e il catalogo e vasto.

Prima dell’apertura di amazon Italia, ho usato, ma per spedire libri all’USA ti costa un occhio

Purtroppo, non ho trovato programmi educativi buoni quanti quelli in inglese (Sesame Street, ecc). Albero Azzurro prova di assomigliarsi a Sesame Street, ma e tristemente mancante. Ai miei piace Pimpa, e anche le canzoncine di Zecchino d’oro.

Compriamo tante canzoncine su Itunes anche.

Mi piace il sito per trovare filastrocche, canzoni, barzellette su un argomento specifico


17 Elena March 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Buongiorno a tutti! Io sono un’insegnante di italiano, madrelingua italiana ma ho vissuto negli ultimi 6 anni in Paesi di lingua inglese.
Vorrei suggerire
*una risorsa per ragazzi che già parlano italiano ma vivono in giro per il mondo e vorrebbero approfondire la conoscenza della cultura italiana . È un corso online (io sono la maestra ;o) che potete trovare nel mio sito (
*qualche risorsa per adulti: io trovo molto divertente ascoltare “tre minuti una parola”, un video in cui il giornalista Beppe Severgnini spiega l’uso di un vocabolo italiano in modo divertente (per chi è già a un buon livello). Trovate i video nella pagina di Italians del Corriere (sulla destra, non riesco a trovare un link migliore).
Also this is a great website they choose a news from Italian newspapers and explain it in Italian with a focus on vocabulary.
*resources for young children: We love pimpa and zecchino d’oro too!!! You can find many videos on youtube. If you are looking for songs, recipes, rhymes and activities for children (and you are able to read Italian) also is a good resources.
To learn numbers, I’ve found a very easy-to-use app for iPad called Numbers.

That’s all for today but I will keep you posted on other resources and…please let me know if you are looking for something more specific and I will be happy to help you to find it!


18 Paola March 9, 2012 at 1:16 am

Ciao a tutti!
sono Paola, una italiana che vive in Spagna da quasi 11 anni. Ho un bimbo di 4 anni e da poco prima che nascesse io e mio marito (spagnolo) abbiamo cominciato a parlare fra di noi italiano per poter offrire al bambino piú possibilitá di ascoltare e parlare italiano. Io parlo con lui sempre in italiano anche se le “interferenze” spagnole sono difficili “da tenere a bada”.
Grazie per tutte le risorse che avete commentato; noi usiamo libri in italiano, cartoni animati che giá voi avete nominato (pimpa ad esempio), CD con canzoni infantili, qualche pagina web come la rai sezione junior.




19 Anna March 12, 2012 at 7:12 am


I am just re-starting Italian. I spoke it at school and haven’t used it since – some 35 years ago – eek! I have looked at the BBC and LingQ which both seem helpful and Lingq I particularly like.

Hopefully my progress will be rapid and fun!



20 Maria Rita Castaldi March 19, 2012 at 7:50 am

Hello everybody! I’m Maria Rita from Italy. I’m working on Turkish, but if you need help in Italian you can write to me:


21 Dominick March 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Hey all,
I created an open spreadsheet on Google Docs, editable by anybody even if they don’t have a Google account, where people can add their sentences and translate sentences that others have added into their native language, I have included about 60 English sentences with Italian translations already, I think it could be a good collaborative effort among everyone…

Original url:

I was inspired by this open document of “conversation connectors” translated into many languages:



22 Dominick March 19, 2012 at 10:21 pm

E se sei madrelingua d’italiano, per favore, correggimi se sbaglio qualche frase,



23 Dominick March 20, 2012 at 8:52 am

I just wanted to add, because I forgot to mention before, that the majority of the Italian translations for these sentences I found at Inglese per i bambini, and I have to thank Allison for the translating those stories to English for us!


24 Alison DS March 20, 2012 at 9:34 am

I can only claim the credit for most of the more recent ones.


25 Siobhan May 31, 2012 at 4:18 am

Hi there,
I’m Irish and married to an Italian. We both speak Italian at home and are raising our 3 children with English and Italian – actually they go to an Irish-speaking school also, where they are educated completely through Irish (which is not widely spoken in Ireland) – so they have 3 languages. It’s great, they don’t get confused between the languages because they know with whom and where to speak each language.
This inspired me to start teaching Italian over the past year using the same system that is used in my kids’ school.
I have created a website: where I’ve put a list of links for anyone learning Italian. I’ve included the links that I think might be most useful. Let me know if you think I should add any more to it!


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