Winter is a great time for learning, and another activity I've been indulging in is improving my Italian. As time goes on, there are more and more fun ways to learn Italian, regardless of the learning level you desire. And there's no need to be in Italy to learn it!
There are so many advantages to having a language exchange, not the least of which is learning the language. My friends teach me about their language, but also share information and news about their culture, politics, food, traditions, history: so much more than I could every learn from a class or a book. And since my Italian friends live in different regions, I get the benefit of hearing different accents and idioms. I've heard of other language exchange websites, but I recommend this one: http://mylanguageexchange.com/
Lately, I've come across several new FREE language learning websites that I've been enjoying, and each has something fun and interesting to offer.
Two that I've become addicted to, with their quizzes and challenges are Memrise and Duolingo:
Memrise - Learning, powered by imagination (also has an app)
Memrise is an online learning tool with courses for many languages. Memrise uses flashcards augmented with mnemonics and the spacing effect to boost the speed and ease of learning. Memrise was founded by Ed Cooke, a Grand Master of Memory, and Greg Detre, a Princeton neuroscientist specializing in the science of memory and forgetting. (from Wikipedia)
Duolingo (also has an app that can check your pronunciation)
Duolingo is a free language-learning and crowdsourced text translation
platform. The service is designed so that, as users progress through
the lessons, they simultaneously help to translate websites and other
documents. (from Wikipedia)
Another GREAT site is LearnItalianPod, which has hundreds of free podcasts by native Italians. (The podcasts are great, but you have to subscribe to use their scripts and other tools.) http://www.learnitalianpod.com/
LingQ, which has conversations and scripts so you can read as well as listen
(Lots of free stuff, but they want you to subscribe to use some of their tools.)
LingQ is a Vancouver-based language learning website that focuses on language learning through structured reading, rather than grammar instruction. (from Wikipedia)
Some other resources
Italy Magazine, which has a section of dual language articles, in both English and Italian
La Bella Lingua - a website that explains Italian words and phrases in English
And just for fun, my friend Massimo told me about:
YouTube videos of the David Letterman show, with Italian subtitles:
So, settle in and check some of these sites out. You'll have fun while you're learning!