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Review of Living Language Italian

Review of Living Language Italian

Product: Living Language Italian*

Price: $150/year for Italian Online Course; $49.99 for Italian Complete; $179 for Italian Platinum Package

My Rating: 7.5 out of 10

After completing the Fluenz program, I decided to work through the Living Language Italian program I received many years ago as a gift. I’m currently on Lezione 4 and am 80 pages into the coursebook. In this post, I’ll give you an overview of what Living Language has to offer, and I’ll tell you what I like and dislike about their products.

Living Language’s Four Step Method. Living Language’s teaching method contains four steps:

  1. Build a Foundation: use your native language as a bridge for Italian and start speaking immediately using essential words and phrases.
  2. Progress with Confidence: use a building block approach with each new lesson building on the prior lesson.
  3. Retain What You’ve Learned: combine audio and visual input and written exercises to help you retain the material.
  4. Achieve Your Goals: clear and simple explanations of Italian grammar help you develop practical language skills and build confidence in your speaking and comprehension abilities

Course Content

I am using the coursebook and audio CDs from Ultimate Italian Advanced. In full disclosure, the version I’m using was published in 2003, so there have been many improvements. The version I am using is most equivalent to the Italian Complete product that is currently offered.    

This is the 2003 version I am currently using.

The lesson starts with a dialogue in Italian, followed by the English translation. After the dialogue there is a discussion of the vocabulary used in the dialogue. The bulk of the lesson comes next in “Grammatica E Suoi Usi,” which contains about four short grammar lessons. The “lezione” I am currently on currently working through contains discussions about direct and indirect object pronouns, the conjunctive pronoun “ne” and plural nouns and adjectives. After working through “Grammatica E Suoi Usi,” you will likely need a break, because the material can be challenging, but the process is rewarding.

Idiomatic expressions follow the grammar portion, and there is a short article about business in Italy before the exercises. There are five different kinds of exercises ranging from conjugation to translation, and the answer key is in the back of the book. Don’t cheat!

Pros and Cons

Pros

    • Course Book. I really enjoy being able to use a book for the lessons. I can read, highlight passages and make notes. I can also take it anywhere with me and do not need access to the internet or an electronic device to use it.
    • Content Amount. A lot of content is packed into every lesson.
    • Idiomatic Expressions. To really sound like a local, you need to be able to say more than just “Mi chiamo Will.” You need to learn some idiomatic expressions that may not translate precisely into English like “Ragazzi, avete un bell’aspettare,” which means, “Guys, it’s no use waiting.” Each Living Language lesson provides many idiomatic expressions which you will find useful when traveling to Italy.
    • Price: For just $49.99, the Italian Complete package is one of the best values on the market.

Cons

  • Lack of Repetition. The courses could use more exercises and repetition of the content you learn. Fluenz does a great job with this. To compensate, I write down new phrases and challenging vocabulary in a spiral-bound notebook which I review after every one or two lessons. To be fair, though, I am using a version from 2003. Even with this version, I still have access to 100 additional exercises with answers online. The new products Living Language offers offer even more exercises.  

    The notes I take as I work through the course.
    The notes I take as I work through the course.
  • Lack of Different Levels. Unlike Rosetta Stone and Fluenz, Living Language does not offer products for different levels of comprehension. There is a course for the beginner, but there is not an intermediate course or an advanced course offered anymore. If you already have some background in or comprehension of Italian, you can still purchase one of the older products like I’ve been using by clicking here: Living Language Ultimate Italian Advanced, although the cultural and business references may be a little outdated.

Conclusion

The ability to use a book and have access to online materials is really appealing and a nice change from digital only products. If you prefer having something in your hands to mark in and read like you did in school, Living Language is the way to go. If you are content with just a book, some audio CDs, and access to online exercises, the Italian Complete product is a great deal. If you want the option to do the lessons online and have access to a personal e-tutor and the online community, you can get the Italian Platinum Package.  Living Language could its product line by offering different levels of Italian like it used to.

If you have used or are currently using Living Language, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it below.

Affiliate Disclaimer: Like most of my other reviews, I use affiliate links in this post. This means I receive a commission if you click on the link and end up purchasing the product. This process saves you time and helps fund this site so I can continue to provide you quality content. Whether you are starting or continuing your journey in learning Italian, I hope this post is helpful to you.

Italian Travel Dictionary

Italian Travel Dictionary

If you are planning to travel in Italy, I recommend taking a minidictionary with you. Sure, you can probably Google the translation of a word if you need to, but this assumes you have access to wifi when you need it or you are okay with incurring roaming data charges while you look up the meaning of “gamberetti” on your cell phone before ordering at a restaurant in Siracusa. 

I took the Oxford Italian Minidictionary with me during my three visits to Italy. It was a handy tool that fit in my pocket and provided quick access to the meanings of the many strange words I encountered during my travels. Even if you are relatively competent in Italian, you are likely to encounter words that you have never heard before. A pocket-sized dictionary can help bridge the gap between what you have learned and what you will actually encounter in Italy.

Many of the business owners in the popular tourist places speak some English. However, if you are learning Italian, why not try to speak their language, instead of insisting they speak yours? After all, you are the visitor to their homeland.

I like the Oxford Italian Minidictionary because of its size (about an inch thick and 3 inches tall) and its content. Along with thousands of words and definitions, it has a list of helpful phrases in the middle of the book separating the the Italian to English section from the English to Italian section. This small investment will reap big rewards in your Italian adventure.