Which Italian language software should I buy?
December 2, 2007 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations for Italian language learning software? This would be for someone who's not a rank beginner, but probably not quite up to intermediate level either.

Madame Naberius has expressed an interest in polishing up her Italian since various family members have gone over to visit the fabled cousins in Bari lately and why should she feel left out? She's got kind of a rusty tourist Italian - ordering pasta and asking directions to the train station kind of stuff - but that's about it.

The big contenders in the market seem to be Rosetta Stone (all the levels and versions confuse me) and Tell Me More, and I found this page which really likes Tell Me More. But I don't know how much credibility to give that site, so I'd like a second opinion. Anyone with experiences to relate, warnings, or suggestions for a different choice entirely?
posted by Naberius to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Check out Pimsleur.
posted by mand0 at 1:14 PM on December 2, 2007

I had Rosetta Stone to learn Portuguese (I am an intermediate Spanish-speaker and an advanced Spanish reader). I was not as impressed with it as I'd hoped because it was quite tedious.
Perhaps I was spoiled by the interaction that came when I learned Spanish in a classroom setting over years of time, but sitting there choosing one out of four crappy stock photos and clip art from a verbal prompt got really boring really fast.
posted by fructose at 1:34 PM on December 2, 2007

Seconding Pimsleur, even though it is all audio and not computer based.
posted by aetg at 2:49 PM on December 2, 2007

Rosetta Stone. I was born in Italy ( I'm not telling how long ago) and I never spoke italian at home here in the States because my husband is american. My children decided to learn italian on their own with Rosetta Stone. Accent is excellent, grammar is perfect, colloquialisms are up to date. You have progressive levels. I made my children stop looking at the written part because they would try to pronounce words according to their spelling, instead than really listening and imitating the sounds. It is one of the options.
posted by francesca too at 3:29 PM on December 2, 2007

I got a lot out of the Michel Thomas tapes (even though he's French). It just builds up a basic conversational vocabulary, sort of in the order that you would learn it as a baby.
posted by mike_bling at 6:03 PM on December 2, 2007

Pim, sleur. This site (which is a good site in general for language learners) recommends it for Italian.
posted by hAndrew at 6:16 PM on December 2, 2007

If your local library has an agreement with netlibrary, then you can usually "check out" the pimsleur titles as digital files (they're DRM'ed Windows Media files). You can frequently check out the CDs from your library as well.

Seems like an easy way to test it out, and see if their method of teaching is in line with your methods of learning.
posted by toxic at 7:18 PM on December 2, 2007

The BBC could help, although I'm not sure if you'll get the full course on the website.
posted by idiomatika at 5:47 AM on December 3, 2007

Thanks everyone. Not that anybody's still reading this far down, but for the benefit of future thread archeologists.

I hadn't come across Pimsleur because I was searching for software and it didn't come up, but they are indeed highly recommended. I think what I'm going to end up doing is getting her some software and either buying these or checking them out from our local library, which does indeed have a few copies, as an adjunct.

As for Rosetta Stone vs. Tell Me More, I managed to find the online demos for both of them and Rosetta Stone looked like the clear winner to me. I found Tell Me More awkward (icky flash application) and far, far less intuitive to use. But this is all based just on a few minutes with the demos by someone who got all his Italian from gangster films.

Rosetta appears to have its strengths and weaknesses. It looks really good at building up basic vocabulary and "survival usage" in a really intuitive way that seems like it should just wire the new language right into your head. On the down side, I can see how it's going to have real trouble dealing with more complicated abstract concepts. (Tell Me More actually would do a better job of that.) You learn the way young children learn their first languages. You see something and learn what it's called, then gradually learn to swap new nouns and verbs into your sentences, etc. But of course young children aren't especially sophisticated conversationalists.

Maybe my discovery is that Rosetta is a good way to start out and lay down a really solid foundation with the language - simple declarative sentences dealing mainly with the surrounding physical environment. But then you're going to want something else to take you beyond that. For that Pimsleur, the variety of Italian podcasts available free on iTunes, and that BBC site.

All in all, I think I've got a strategy going forward, and thanks to everyone!
posted by Naberius at 11:54 AM on December 4, 2007

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