Three Ways To Learn Italian (and two FREE offers!)

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as Italians don’t say*.

I assume that’s true, though I’ve never tried it.

My kids wouldn’t let me.

But it’s certainly true that there are multiple ways to learn Italian.

Here are three:

1.) Take an Italian course

I was sitting on the couch in the reception of our school yesterday, chatting to a client, a retired American.

He was telling me how pleased he was with the teachers, who ‘always knew exactly what stage he was at’ with his Italian.

I told him that it wasn’t surprising. They have permanent contracts, so do exactly the same things, again and again, week after week, month after month.

It’s not that surprising, then, that they get pretty practiced at it.

And so tend to be able to spot problems before a student is even aware of them, and hopefully take appropriate steps.

But of course, that’s the point of taking a structured course, with a set syllabus and duration.

YOU don’t have to think about it too much.

The school, and by extension the teacher, takes the strain.

That doesn’t mean that there’s no work involved, of course.

But the responsibility is shared with professionals.

And they’ll likely know from experience what will work, and what won’t!

2.) Self-study

Personally, I don’t have the patience for an Italian course.

Time is the enemy, right?

When I have to learn something, I prefer to figure it out for myself.

In particular, I find reading and listening to the language that I want to learn very helpful indeed.

If I get enough ‘input’ in the language, my brain starts ticking and before long I begin to understand how things fit together.

Simplified stories with audio work well for me.

I also read online newspapers, and occasionally (rarely) do online exercises.

Currently I’m working on my French and Spanish, and sporadically on my Turkish, which I knew well several decades ago but now seem to have lost.

3.) Online lessons

Taking online lessons from an expert Italian teacher would be a good way to prepare for a course in Italy.

Or an excellent way to follow up such an intensive learning experience!

So making sure the benefits are consolidated, rather than being lost as time goes on.

Spend a fortnight in Italy studying at a decent language school.

Then, when you get home, maintain your fluency with regular online lessons.

Once a week would be perfect!

But online lessons would also work as a supplement to a self-study approach, such as mine.

I’m happy learning on my own and don’t have time for a full-time course.

But that said, a little conversation would be very nice!

It would make a change to my routine, and could boost my confidence at speaking and listening.

So in the end, it’s up to you how to go about learning Italian.

Though if you’re unsure, trying out different approaches would a good starting point.

I’d therefore mention two free offers which might interest you:

Free Online Lesson Offer! is running a free trial online lesson offer.

Book a 30-minute Skype lesson with an online teacher – normal price €20, this week absolutely free!

N.B. These are NOT Madrelingua teachers, though it should be a good experience anyway.

And, as it’s free, what’s to lose?

Also, the offer is only open to new students – if you’re already taking online lessons with them, this offer doesn’t apply to you.


Book by Sunday, when the offer is ending.

(You don’t have to take your lesson before Sunday, just book it.)

For details:

Offer details | Book now

Free Italian ‘Easy Reader’ (.pdf ebook + audio download)

And over at EasyReaders.Org there’s another free ebook + audio download available.

Around 600 people downloaded the last one, apparently.

You listen to the original story, while following the text.

Check any unknown words in the glossary.

Then test your understanding with the comprehension exercises that follow each chapter.

(I usually skip that part…)

The normal price is £7.99, but there’s currently one FREE download for each of Italian, Spanish, French and German.

No credit card or payment details are required!

Find out more


For more information about Italian courses in Bologna, follow these links:

Italian courses | PricesBologna | FAQHow to book

*The nearest translation we could find for ‘many ways to skin a cat’ is ‘tutte le strade portano a Roma’, which to me doesn’t seem like the same thing at all! However, ‘una gatta da pelare’ (a cat to skin) = something difficult to do, perhaps similar to ‘a hot potato’ in English.

Don’t miss the free e-book offer!

This is a quick ‘heads up’ to Madrelingua students. Free ebook offer!

(Apologies to those of you that also frequent as you will have already heard this!)

This week there’s a free e-book parallel text offer in the Learn Italian section over at

The free title (usual price £7.99) is called Colpo di forbici.

The level is ‘A1- Elementary’ but this material would make useful practice wherever you’ve reached with your Italian.

The e-book is structured as a parallel text, which means Italian chapters alternating with English translations, so that you can compare the two versions.

To get it, go here, click ‘Add to cart’ and complete the order form – shortly after, you’ll get an email containing the download link.

Just to be clear – no payment is required.

Nor do you need to enter your credit card details, or anything like that.

The free ebook offer ends on Sunday, so here’s that link again.

Or, for more information, see the articles from Monday and Wednesday this week:

Buono studio!


Not into self-study?

Come to Bologna instead, and let our expert teachers take the strain!

Madrelingua Italian Language School | Italian Courses in Bologna | Prices

1776 and all that!

Madrelingua Italian language school opened its doors ten years ago, in 2006.

Learn Italian in Bologna

Learn Italian in Bologna

So I was curious to find out just how many people have joined us for Italian courses since then.

Our stats show the number of online enrollments each month (and so exclude people who actually visit the school to sign up for their course.)

A quick copy and paste from the spreadsheet and I had the answer – 1776, coincidentally the year that American states declared their independence…

Think around 170-180 people a year, from all around the world, who are sitting at home in the USA, Australia or wherever and decide to come to Bologna to learn Italian with us!

We’re a small, family school and so will typically have four or five classes running throughout the year. We close only for a fortnight at Christmas/New Year.

Class sizes are a maximum of ten, often smaller, plus we also offer Italian evening classes for anyone already here, and online Italian lessons for those who can’t get away from commitments at home.

Courses can be as brief as a week, or as long as a year, but are always enjoyable and effective due to our staff of permanent teachers (some of whom have been here since the beginning!)

For more information about learning Italian in Bologna, check out these links:

Italian courses | Prices | About Bologna | How to book | FAQ


You may have heard about yesterday’s earthquake in central Italy. But don’t let that put you off!

Our city is famous for its brick towers, constructed hundreds of years ago by medieval workman (with wooden scaffolding…)

The most famous example, the Asinelli Tower, is 97 metres tall and was completed in 1119!

And it’s still standing, nearly 900 years later…

So during your visit, be sure to climb to the top, enjoy the amazing view, and take photos for envious friends and family back home!

Evening Classes Start Next Week + Italian Club Autumn Sale!

I’ve two things to tell you today.

Firstly, we have Italian evening classes starting next week at our school in Bologna.

Mondays & Wednesdays from 10th October will see levels A1 (elementary) and B2 (upper-intermediate).

And on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11th October we’ll welcome students at A2/B1 (intermediate) level.

All three classes are from 18.00 to 21.00. The minimum period is one three-week module.

Find out more about Italian evening classes or view all Italian course options.

Secondly, and specifically for those of you who aren’t in Bologna and don’t plan to be, don’t miss out on the Autumn Sale over at

It’s worth taking a look, as you can save 20% on ebooks for learning Italian as well as on online Italian lessons with one of the club’s teachers.

Find more details in these three articles:

Italian Evening Class Dates / E-Books To Learn Italian -33%

Just two quick pieces of news this week.

1. Our Italian evening classes are due to start on the 3rd of October, so if you’re in or near Bologna, check out this link for dates and prices:

2. If you’re NOT in Bologna and don’t plan to be, you might still be interested in e-books for learning Italian.

Our new site,, specializes in just that and so is well worth a look for anyone studying Italian, French, Spanish and various other languages.Logo of

All the e-books have free sample chapters for you to download (with free audio!)

And for a limited period it’s possibile to save 33% on the shop prices by signing up to the mailing list.


Contact us | Italian courses

How much is the Italian course? (And how to save 15%)

“How much is the course?”

A natural question, though like most Italian schools, we publish our prices on the website for everyone to see.

The answer?

It depends on the type and length of the course you choose.

First of all, group classes are much better value than individual courses, as you’ll be sharing the cost of the teacher with others.

A one-hour individual lesson costs €37. A one-week group course costs €238. The group course is 20 hours, so that’s €11.19 an hour instead of more than three times that. There are discounts too, but more on them later..

That said, individual lessons are ideal if you need to control when and what you study, or if your company is paying!

However, if you don’t have specific needs, choose the group course. It’s more fun, too, as you’ll make new friends.

Group course / individual course decision resolved, next you need to consider the effect of signing up for more hours or weeks and so reducing the price you’ll pay.

Twenty hours of individual lessons, for example, can be had for €660.

That’s €33 an hour, rather than the €37 you’d pay if you bought just the one.

The discounts are limited with individual lessons, as the teacher cost per hour is fixed for the school.

With group courses, though, the school’s interest is to maintain viable classes for as much of the year as possible. Hence, the longer you study, the cheaper it gets!

For example, the one-week standard group course costs €238, whereas the four-week price is just €798. That’s €199.50 a week – a 16% discount!

Opt for an even longer stay and the price really falls…

Twenty-four weeks (approximately six months) would set you back €3773, which seems a lot but is just €157 a week.

That’s a 34% saving each week, compared to the standard one week course! And in those 24 weeks you could go from zero to an advanced level in Italian.

But I mentioned discounts…

Sign up for our mailing list (there’s a form on the prices page) and we’ll send you a 15% discount voucher, which is good for any GROUP course, of any length.

With -15% coupon code, you’d pay just €202.30 for a week, instead of €238.

And the four-week option would be a modest €678.30, instead of the €798 quoted on our prices page.

And so on. Go here to do your own calculations.

(Don’t forget to save 15% by signing up for the mailing list!)

See also: How long will it take me to learn Italian?

Italian In A Day?

outsideportrait1Could you learn Italian in just one day?

Of course not!

But you could learn a few basic phrases and some vocabulary that might come in handy during your visit to historic Bologna.

Which is the point of our new ‘In A Day‘ courses.

They’re ideal for visitors to Bologna as they last just one day and include both Italian lessons and your choice from a list of activities.

What activities??

Check out the possibilities on our ‘In A Day‘ page.

Or, for a more in-depth experience, view all Italian course options.

Got a question? Read our FAQ or contact us.

In Bologna? Take Italian Evening Classes!

If you’re working or studying in Bologna, check out the dates for our up-coming Italian evening classes.

They’re a great way to improve your Italian, and also a chance to make new friends to practice with!

But what about if you’re not in Bologna?

Never say never!

Take a look at our Italian courses page to find out more about standard or intensive Italian courses, individual lessons, and our new ‘In A Day‘ courses.

And if you really, really can’t get away?

Well, there’s always the option of online Italian lessons!

These are one-to-one personalized classes via Skype from the comfort of your home or office!

For more information about learning Italian at or with Madrelingua Italian Language School:

Bologna | Italian Courses | PricesFAQ | How To BookContact Us

Madrelingua Now On Tripadvisor – So Tell Us What You Think!!

Have you studied Italian at Madrelingua at any point since 2006??

Well now, we’re finally on Tripadvisor, the famous travel and hotel reviews site!

And we need your help…

As you’ll probably be aware, the Tripadvisor site helps people plan their journeys and vacations by collecting reviews from travelers who have used the featured hotel, restaurant (or language school in this case) before.

Potential future clients can read the reviews and make their plans based on the comments and ratings left by others.

It takes just a minute or two to leave a review, and of course you can be completely honest.

Read what people have written about Madrelingua in the week or so we’ve been featured on the site here.

And if the answer to my first question (Have you studied Italian at Madrelingua at any point since 2006??) was ‘yes’, we’d really appreciate it if you would add your comments.

To do that, click the green ‘Write a review’ button on the Tripadvisor ‘Madrelingua’ page.

Or fill in this form.

For more information about learning Italian in Bologna, visit our website or simply reply to this e-mail with your question!

Why you should learn to read Italian (and how to start)

Summertime, and the living is easy.

No fish are jumping in Bologna right now, but after a busy year of teaching, I’m finally getting a break.

And one of the things that I’m determined to do during my vacation is to learn to use my smartphone!

To which end, I’ve been installing apps, then mostly getting disappointed and deleting them again!

In particular, I like to read so I’ve been looking for good newspaper apps.

In English, I read The Guardian, a British newspaper which is free to read online, and The New York Times, which you need to pay for (but there are some good deals!)

And in Italian?

Niente! There’s nothing decent that’s free, and the paid for stuff is horribly over-priced.

I’m happy to pay for a decent online reading experience if I can’t get it for free, but no way am I going to cough up the same price as the paper version!

To put it charitably, Italian news sites lack marketing nous.

Which brings me to the point. O.K., I thought to myself, if I can’t find anything decent to read in Italian, what about French? What about Spanish?

As you know French and Spanish are related languages which share the same Latin root. All should therefore be intelligible to someone with a reasonable working knowledge of at least one of them.

And lo! The Le Monde app (French) is both intelligible and good value. There’s a cost but they have an offer – €1 for the first three months, then €10 a month thereafter.

Better, the El Pais app (Spanish) is both free and updated through the day! I’m regularly getting these groovy notifications on my phone and can’t resist clicking on them to try to work out the Spanish text.

Why learn to read in Italian?

Because, as well as opening the door to life in Italy (shame about the crappy Italian newspaper apps, though) it’s also the key to other major world languages, that’s why!

And that IS a good return on investment. Study one, get three.

But how to start, assuming that the very idea of READING in a foreign language puts you off?

What worked for me, we’re talking years back when I first came to Italy, were Italian easy readers – simplified stories designed for a particular level, usually with audio.

The secret is to start at the easiest level, only moving up to the next level when you’ve built your confidence and feel you can read without undue effort or constant recourse to the dictionary.

I used actual little books, made of paper (remember those?) Which I bought from a bookshop in the center of Bologna that doesn’t exist any more.

But these days you can buy .pdf files (e-books, in all but name) online. They’re printable, or can be read on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

And not conincidentally, we have over forty of them available on our other site, here, each with a free sample chapter to download.

Take a look:

I’ve made two great investments (time, not money) over the years: the first was learning to touch type (look mum, all ten fingers!)

And the second? Learning to read in Italian.

It took a little patience, perseverance, and the availability of graded material to support me while I built up my skills gradually.

But it was worth it. have a 15% discount offer this week. The details are here.

Or learn Italian the traditional way, at our language school, in Italy!

Learn Italian Articles | Italian Courses | Prices