If you've studied Italian at a basic level and are looking to improve your written and spoken Italian to a standard equal to A-level, then this is definitely the course for you! Personally, I have tried all types of languages courses including home study, evening classes and even a residential course at a language school in Rome. I found that this course includes the right mix of grammar, real-life recordings (on the 2 audio tapes included) and useful expressions as well as interesting and informative information about the country and it's people. One of the features that I like best is the practice section on the audio tape which allows you to take part in a dialogue. At the end of a brief pause you are then given the correct words or phrases. It's a great way to check understanding, comprehension and pronounciation. The book is well structured with individual sections covering listening excercises using real life situations, grammar, oral practice, expressions and idioms etc. Each unit covers different areas including health, holidays, eating out, making complaints amongst others. It also contains invaluable tips on how to make the most out of the course and out of language study in general. For this reason I would highly recommend it for independent home study.
Italian is not my first foreign language I have ever learnt. And I don't really understand why people would turn this course down. I have seen quite a few language materials available here on Amazon. There are two types of them: 1) "super-modern" solutions (Michel Thomas, Learn Italian in your car) or "modest-size" materials (phrase books, short self study courses -e.g. "Teach yourself Italian") - these are, probably, make good choice for beginners or one-time travellers to Italy; 2) "traditional" courses - some of them are obsolete and boring but not all of them. Whilst mentioned materials from the first type can make you progress in relatively little time, give self-confidence or only satisfy your needs occasionally, only "traditional" courses can really teach you the language. Only they involve you into all language activities: reading, writing, listening, speaking. Only they can teach you in a consistent way. Italianissimo is, in my view, an example of the best language course of the second type. Nearly all the drawbacks of traditional approach seem to be considered. To name a few: lack of listening material or non-real sound - gone (4 cassettes of CDs for each level), need for external help (like in a classroom) - gone, small vocabularly - gone, boring studying - wouldn't even mention it. Local information, jokes, tongue twisters, common confusions explained - to name just a few advantages. One thing I find disappointing is the absence of exercise book similar to the beginners level one. I am only sorry about the time I have waisted on other courses.