Italian language learning. Conversational fluency

My level of spoken Italian was (rather grudgingly it must be said) recently judged roughly to be at B2 on the CEFR scale according to an Italian teacher. The CEFR scale is an indication of language competence. I don't know what it means in linguistic terms, but it means for me that I can have a reasonable conversation about most things. Obviously I make mistakes, fumble for words and that sort of thing but can normally make myself understood.

In many ways, B2 is just the start, and I'm now beginning the next longer phrase to eventually reach my goal of C1. The time taken to reach C1 from B2 apparently increases dramatically.

I only mention the CEFR scale because the resources that I recommend are some of those that I have found useful to reach this point.

If you don't want to buy anything, try the Italian Sentences on Surface languages. These are free, and they are the absolute best free resource for learning Italian on the internet! There are five hundred of them, and they are (to coin an over-used) word - awesome.

But, if you are looking for a more structured approach in your language learning, or have learnt the sentences, or just want to dump some cash, then read on.

I think I should mention that I'm not particularly gifted at learning languages, but am quite happy to progress slowly. You know like the tortoise and the hare. I've not found any shortcuts or hacks that have worked to speed up my learning in the long term, but there are resources that have helped me remain on the correct path.

Learning is a journey not a destination.


These are all worth looking at, and deciding whether or not they suit your individual learning style. They might work for you. They might not. There is no silver bullet, but for me, they have all been very, very, helpful.

One of the best audio courses is Italianpod101. There is a free trial. I used it for six months to increase my comprehension.

A great site for finding your language exchange partner or partners is My Language Exchange. I've used it on several occasions, and have found my Italian and Spanish exchange partners through this site. I will use it to find French language exchange partners.

News in slow Italian has weekly podcasts with transcripts of the news (in slow Italian)! I've not used the Italian version other than to look at the demo, but am using News In Slow French, and that is superb.


I'm a big advocate of reading in general, but specifically as a cheap and effective method to improve your ability in the language you are learning.

Italian Short Stories For Beginners: (Unconventional Short Stories to Grow Your Vocabulary) was written for beginners by Olly Richards. I've read them as a way to revise and consolidate basic vocabulary. The stories are, as described, unconventional.

At the other end of the spectrum, I am enjoying reading novels by the Italian author 'Folco Quilici'. I tend to read on a kindle, with an Italian dictionary installed, which makes these books accessible for me.

Essential reference materials

However you choose to go about learning Italian, a dictionary and grammar book is a must.

I know grammar isn't popular, but quit your whinging, man-up, get over it and realise that it's there and in some way, and in some manner, you have to learn or absorb it.

I use the BBC Italian Grammar.

It is small, not overly complicated and covers the majority of Italian grammar needed. The area of weakness is that the subjunctive is not particularly thoroughly covered.

As to dictionaries, I use WordReference and the Oxford-Paravia Italian Dictionary which I have on my iPhone.

Wordreference is generally good, but for some words (of course now I can't think of any) which have multiple meanings it can leave something to be desired. I think that the Oxford-Paravia Italian Dictionary is excellent, but I see from the reviews that there are some dissenters. One mans meat and all that ...