Think Italian Online Audio Magazine Review

An independent language advantage course review by Andrea Lainé – Berkshire, UK

think italian online audio language magazineThe recently launched Think Italian audio magazine by Think Language, follows the success of both the Think French and Think Spanish audio magazines. Think Italian is more than a simple Italian audio language course – as with the Think Spanish and Think French audio magazines, it is designed to help you to learn Italian while teaching you about the life and culture in Italy. It is a current and engaging approach to learning Italian online for intermediate and advanced learners.

Many years ago, I studied Italian at GCSE level. Although I haven’t studied it since then, I enjoyed the language so much that almost 8 years later, my husband and I went to Italy on our honeymoon for a 17-day round trip through Veneto, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and the Amalfi coast. Che bello!

So, it has been several years since I first studied Italian and many years of not speaking or studying it since then. I would say that I am at an elementary Italian level. It was going to be interesting to see how much Italian I would remember using the Think Italian audio magazine. Would it be too challenging for someone at my learning level?

I viewed the April 2011 issue of the Think Italian magazine online. As with the other online audio language magazines in the Think Language range, the content changes every month and each magazine has between eight and ten articles which you can read, whilst listening along to the narrator. Each article has between one and two pages of text including images and photos. A lot of the vocabulary is highlighted in bold, which means it is listed in the bilingual glossary and runs along the left-hand or right-hand side of the page. The selected vocab also corresponds with each paragraph in the text making it easier to find the words as you listen and read. You can check the meaning or get a translation of any of these words – the glossary includes nouns, adjectives, tenses, idioms and phrases – all relating to the context of the article. Some cultural references to particular brands are incorporated as part of the content of some of the articles such as naming a brand of ice cream popular in Italy (April issue). I think that this attention to detail enhances your cultural awareness of all things Italian.

Article topics range from recipes to focus on people, festivals, places, history, travel, culture as well as news stories from around the world. The topics are enjoyable to read and hear. The Think Italian April 2011 issue had many seasonal articles including one about Easter festivities (La Pasqua) across Italy and two of my favourite subjects, the story behind ice cream (ll gelato italiano) and pizza (la storia della pizza)!

The articles are not too long and I would say that they are challenging enough on many different levels for Italian learners of all ages and aptitudes although the magazines may be better suited for intermediate and advanced learners. Having said that, as an elementary learner, I gained a lot of new vocabulary and cultural knowledge without feeling overwhelmed. It was wonderful to hear the Italian language whist reading the text. I tried to get the general gist of the articles first by reading them and then listening to the audio clips. This way you start recognizing words and pronunciations and connecting them to the audio. I looked up any words I didn’t know (which weren’t in the glossary) in my own dictionary. The magazine is an excellent way to improve your Italian reading and listening skills no matter what level you are at.

Think Italian is slightly different to conventional Italian audio language courses and this is how it works. Once you pay your membership fee, you will be able to login online and get access to your new Italian audio magazine every month online – or (and, as an added bonus) – you can download the magazine as a PDF and print it out as well as download the accompanying audio clips to your ipod, itunes, mp3 or transfer them to a CD or your PC. You can choose to download the entire magazine by clicking on the cover image or to download one article at a time by opening each article PDF. They recommend that you make a folder on your desktop and save the entire magazine in one go. That way you will still have access to the whole magazine even when you don’t have access to the internet. This is a good time-saving tip.

the attention to detail enhances your cultural awareness of all things Italian

Each article has an option to download an audio clip in Italian. The audio clip has a clear and understandable narrator who reads the article out aloud in Italian. The narrators are both male and female and vary in speed and pronunciation. I found that they read slow enough for me to hear each word pretty clearly.

At the end of each issue you can practice what you have read and heard by having a go at the ‘Grammar Lesson’ and ‘Repeat After Me’ tasks. A PDF of the grammar lesson is available so that you can print off the sheet and write in the answers to the quiz or keep the sheet for future reference. The Repeat After Me task corresponds with the Grammar Lesson and gives you the chance to practice your listening skills. You download the audio clip of each phrase (there are about 9-10 phrases in all), listen to the short phrase and then repeat it during the pause. A PDF of the list of phrases is also available. The April 2011 Italian issue for example, covers the topic of time across 3 pages. Telling and reading the time in Italian comes in a few forms and so needs 3 pages of explanation! The grammar topic in the March 2011 issue  is about colours. These grammar lessons are great for beginners to learn something new and for learners of higher levels to revise what they may already know.

Think Italian membership also includes access to the Think Italian online community. You receive extra learning tools such as additional audio files and vocab flashcards, access to the Italian writers if you have any language learning questions as well as exclusive members-only offers. The Think Italian team also encourage you to write to them with any suggestions for future articles and topics.

Find out more and to buy the Think Italian audio magazine subscription now>>

The Think Language range of audio magazines is also available as a Think French audio magazine subscription and a Think Spanish audio magazine subscription>>

Get the Italian language advantage with Think Italian. Claim your competitive advantage!

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