While international radio stations have been streaming on the Internet for many years, finding them has always been a major issue. But recently, new apps and services have greatly simplified the whole process of radio streaming, opening up whole new worlds of opportunity to discover new music and culture. This is also great news for travelers, as it allows us to immerse ourselves in the language of our destination before we leave home. Which, as we've said before, is a great idea. As Italy is one of our favorite destinations out there, lately I've been practicing some "virtual immersion" in the language, listening to Italian radio at home and on my smartphone when I'm out. I've been surprised at how quickly I've soaked up new words, phrases, and how easily I can understand the DJs and commercials. Keep reading and I'll point you to some of my favorite Italian radio stations and give you some listening tips so that you can improve your Italian skills, not to mention find some new music, before your next trip.
There are a lot of Italian radio stations out there to listen to, but finding the ones you like can be a time consuming process. So, in the interest of saving you time and effort, I'm sharing some of our favorites for you to enjoy. The first two we've been listening to for quite some time and both only play Italian music. I've also included some other top-40 type stations from different regions, since they all have distinct accents and dialects. Finally, I've included some more talkative stations for when you're feeling particularly hardcore.
Listen Frequently, Listen Everywhere
Listen every chance you get: in the car, on the bus, at work and at home. Download an app for your smartphone, like TuneIn, or to a lesser extent apps like Live365 or even RAI (Italy's official tv/radio network.) Like I said before, listening to Italian music all the time is an effortless way to get virtual immersion in the language. The songs are catchy, you'll be singing along before you know it. (If you ever caught me in the act, you might see some impassioned Tiziano Ferro sing-along...) Plus, some stations have great, talkative DJs, which gives you with frequent chances to listen to them take calls and chat with listeners, providing you with real-world conversations to learn from. Forget just learning words, you can hear the natural flow from start to end, people telling jokes, finding out where people live; all learning language gold.
Pay Attention To Commercials
When I listen to American radio, I tend to ignore commercials on the radio because they're played repetitively, campy, or just plain irrelevant to my life. But, as someone who is trying to learn a language, those same annoyances turn into valuable assets for learning. I've found that I start to recognize the commercials pretty quickly, and before I know it I'm singing along to them. Well you know what? If you can sing it, you can recognize words, write them down, and figure out what they mean. So don't tune out the commercials when you're listening, listen closely and open up your mind.
Combine With Formal Learning
Of course, just listening to the radio by itself won't magically make you fluent in Italian. But, when combined with some formal learning, a college course, a tutor, online courses like Mango or Babbel, or a program like Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone, the radio can be part of the practice and immersion that you need to cement the real use of Italian in your mind. (Pimsleur has been kind enough to share a coupon for Travellious readers. Get $5 off $25+ * Use code SAVE5 *.)