Alongside your own dedication and study time, the best thing you can do to conquer a language is to get the right learning materials. However, whether you want to learn basic Italian by yourself for an upcoming trip, you're aiming to go from beginner to speaking fluently, or you just want to hone your grammar, every student has unique requirements.
We'll help you decipher which content styles and study aids align with your reasons for learning and your end goals, plus, we'll spare you the scrolling by listing the best-rated books to learn Italian you can buy in the UK. From audiobooks to eBooks and good old textbooks, you're sure to find a guide to get you communicating the language of love, presto!
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Table of Contents
Aside from a lucky few, learning a language doesn't come easily for most of us, which is why the right book can make or break your studying experience. Here, we'll pick out the points we feel are most important when choosing your new Italian guide, such as the layout, content and difficulty.
If you already have a textbook, or there's a certain aspect you'd like to improve on, look for books that enable you to practice, say, conversation or verb endings.
Italian short story books, too, can be a fantastic accompaniment to other learning resources, as they're not only a bit more fun, but you'll polish up on your reading skills, vocab, and sentence structure all at once.
However, if the book is not challenging enough for you, you won't learn anything new and your rate of progression will drastically slow.
That being said, if you do have a little experience learning Italian, such as a few classes from your schooldays, then we'd recommend erring on the side of caution and grabbing a book which does include the basics. This way, you can refer back to or refresh them if you need to.
Everyone learns in a different way, and hopefully, you already have an idea of what appeals to you and keeps you engaged. Take a look at the content features below to see which you'd like to include in your Italian language book, or maybe it's all four!
You can't deny it – rewriting certain words, phrases, or verb endings helps them stick, not to mention that some people really thrive on written or question-and-answer learning styles.
On top of this, longer written exercises will help you learn how to create full sentences, putting together all the adjectives, nouns, and conjunctions that you've been memorising. This is often one of the trickiest progressions in the early stages of language study, so if you tackle it head on, it'll pay off later!
A top tip to keep things a little lighter and generally more fun is to look for books with quiz or game-style writing exercises.
Blocks of monochrome text in the same font doing nothing for you? Always found yourself drawn to imagery? Look for books with a variety of visual aides.
This also applies to anyone who finds it hard to keep their mind from wandering or struggles with memorisation, hence the popularity of flash cards. You'll be surprised at how easily biglietto pops into your head if you first saw it beside a drawing of a train ticket!
Illustrations and comics are very common in language learning titles, but there are a number of other useful aides to check for as you prefer, such as photographs or even just colour-printed pages.
Audio learners will benefit greatly from books with included CDs, or for the more up-to-date titles, digital downloadable files or linked website content.
That's not to say that anyone with a different learning style will not benefit from these, in fact, it's a worthy inclusion for everyone to look out for. Audio content will usually include excerpts for you to listen to and consequently answer questions from, as well as teaching you crucial pronunciation and speaking skills.
For the younger generations who've never even owned a CD player, make sure you check exactly which type of audio is included to avoid confusion!
Though it's always recommended to have a separate Italian dictionary to refer to – whether a good-quality online one or a physical copy – having a dictionary section is a great idea if you're visiting the country itself or taking your learning away from home, as it'll allow for speedy referencing without the weight of multiple books.
Similarly, a selection of common phrases will be invaluable to holidaymakers or even those who have just moved to Italy. We've also included a stand-alone phrasebook in our recommendations that's perfectly-pocket-sized and made for more casual learners who require just the basics.
Finally, think about the format you'd benefit most from. Physical paperback books, whether travel-sized or A4, are appealing to many people, especially those who aren't so keen on adding another few hours of screentime to their weekly tally.
Alternatively, Kindle or eReader owners who'd like a more portable Italian book to tuck into their bags for the library (or a trip to Lake Como) might like to check whether their chosen title is available as an eBook.
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BBC Talk Italian, Book 1
A Colourful CD and Book Combo With a Conversational Focus
Antonietta Di Pietro
Italian for Dummies
An Infamous Learning Guide You Can Trust
Italian in 10 Minutes a Day
Visually-Appealing Workbook-Style Learning
Complete Italian: Grammar, Verbs and Vocabulary
The Best Way to Hone Individual Language Skills
Mariolina Freeth & Giuliana Checketts
Contatti 1: Italian Beginner's Course
Straightforward and Motivating for Every Learner
Practice Makes Perfect
Complete Italian All-in-One｜Marcel Danesi
Six Titles Condensed Into One Self-Teaching Guide
501 Italian Verbs｜Marcel Danesi
Learn to Conjugate Verbs Like a Pro
Italian Made Simple
A Well-Structured Path to Building a Solid Italian Foundation
Italian Vocabulary Builder
Get Chatting Like a Native
Italian Short Stories for Beginners
Supplementary Stories Based on Day-to-Day Dialogue
Whatever your motivation for learning the beautiful Italian language, let this book be the companion that gets you there! Especially designed for adult learners, even those who struggle with languages or study in general, it's highly praised for its straightforward approach with 'jargon-free' grammar explanations and interactive activities.
A grown-up yet visually-appealing and easy-to-navigate layout scores a few extra points too, as well as the included audio (two 60-minute CDs) and free online video resources. Without spending hundreds on a class, it's the most up-to-date and all-encompassing guide to language learning out there!
Now, when this book says it contains six titles in one, this time it really does! Self-described as 'an all-encompassing guide to mastering the Italian language', you're treated to the entire 'Italian For Dummies' catalogue, including verbs, phrases, grammar, and downloadable content to practice online.
One particular stand-out feature is the fact that 'Intermediate Italian for Dummies' is also included in the package, so you won't even have to buy a separate title once you've mastered the basics and you're ready to move up. An eye-catching layout with illustrations tops it off.
Updated for the present age with digital downloadable content, this is another book and software combo for complete beginners. As you can guess, it favours a 'little and often' approach, aiming not to overwhelm with short, ten minute lessons each day.
It's quite unique in its style too – it's printed in full colour, and has been modelled on a 'child's workbook' (though it's not too easy, don't worry!), and includes fun and visually-appealing resources such as flashcards, interactive 'sticky labels' and even a cut-out menu guide to take to an Italian restaurant!
Not keen on carrying around (or flicking between) three, four, or more separate books? This 3-in-1 from trusted name Collins proves that you don't need to. It's a concise add-on study guide to anyone learning Italian from beginner level, and features 120 verb conjugations, an extensive vocab section, and more.
There's also a full glossary of grammar, and the entire book is laid out in a very clear manner. Grab this alongside one of the all-inclusive guides on our list and you'll be not only speaking the lingo like a local but writing and reading it, too.
Though it's often used by language schools as a course supplement, there's no reason why you can't work your own way through this comprehensive guide! It teaches the equivalent of GSCE-level Italian from scratch, with the usual all-in-one focus on practical grammar, vocabulary, reading and writing.
One of the many bonuses of this school-like focus is its layout, which is bold, colourful, and full of fun exercises to keep you motivated on your journey. You will, however, have to ensure you are buying the right pack with audio CD and app content, otherwise you will have to purchase them separately.
A combination of condensed content from several books in their extensive Italian learning library, this all-in-one includes grammar, conversation, verb tenses, an Italian sentence builder, pronouns and prepositions, and vocabulary. So pretty much everything a self-learner with zero experience needs to get started!
There's also a dictionary and plenty of illustrations, plus audio support via the linked app and the ability to stream audio recordings which make up several of the exercises. It also includes flashcards for vocab and audio for conversation practise.
Struggling with conjugating verb endings, or remembering however many hundred verbs there are in a new language? Barron's guide can help. The text is arranged in chart form with two colours, so it's slightly less dense than your average title, and there are drills and quizzes to help you along, too.
In addition, online practise quizes and audio to aid in pronunciation, as well as plenty of common phrases to help you actually put the verbs you've been memorising into practice. Overall, it's a great add-on which will appeal to those who like to approach learning methodically.
Praised for its well-structured layout and plentiful drills and puzzles, this is an all-in-one book suitable for holidaymakers and serious learners alike. There is a repetition in both vocab and format that may seem tiresome to some, but it's certainly a way to make things stick.
A slight downside is that younger learners may be put off by the fact it is an older title, and, though it has been revised, there is more mention of video cassettes and letters than current or useful terminology. There is also no audio content, as a written pronunciation guide is favoured instead.
Here's another great supplementary title, only this time, it's jam-packed with common phrases to level up your vocabulary – 2222, in fact! Grouped into sections covering everything from fruit and vegetables to phobias and expressions, this is ideal for those moving to the country who'd like some cultural insight, too.
Though the phrases include translations and are spaced out well for ease of reading, we think this book would have benefitted from a splash of colour or some illustrations, just to keep things interesting amongst the repetitive format.
This popular book features 20 short stories, all of which are based on regular, day-to-day life, which means you'll be learning useful vocabulary to try out yourself one day. And unlike some short story books, there's a summary at the end of each and some quiz questions to test what you've learnt.
Plus, you can listen to the same stories on their YouTube channel if you prefer. Although the summaries and notes are in English, we would recommend this title for those with some Italian experience, or as a supplementary book to a complete guide.
Feeling a spark of inspiration to fill your brain with more useful knowledge from around the world? Check out some of our related book articles and either learn a new language or dip your toes into a new culture and history.
Whether you want to expertly order an Italian banquet on holiday in true Eat Pray Love style, or you're job hunting in the Bel Paese itself, remember to consider the content, the layout, and the level in order to pick the learning companion to get you there.
Author: Natasha Dziubajlo
No. 1: Alwena Lamping｜BBC Talk Italian, Book 1
No. 2: Antonietta Di Pietro｜Italian for Dummies
No. 3: Kristine Kershul｜Italian in 10 Minutes a Day
No. 4: Collins｜Complete Italian: Grammar, Verbs and Vocabulary
No. 5: Mariolina Freeth & Giuliana Checketts｜Contatti 1: Italian Beginner's Course
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