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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 13 January 2012
I was extremely surprised with this purchase. I bought it on a whim, expecting to listen to the first C.D then forever banish it to the dark recesses of my wardrobe. However it wasn't long before I found myself actually remembering the vocab, and have now ended up with all the c.ds on my iPod for my morning commutes. With this method you don't bother straining to remember every last word - because you find that you will remember them anyway! Fantastic for travellers that will be visiting Italy as it gives you all the basics you need to survive. Very, very pleased.
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on 27 December 2011
I really like Paul Noble's approach to the construction of this course. His emphasis is on teaching confidence in the grammatical rules of Italian, but through practical application of the language in day-to-day situations. Many other courses' teaching of rote phrases can make the language seem very abstract, as there is no regard for the rules that lie behind these phrases. Learning a phrase doesn't encourage a creative approach to solving a novice language user's problems when encountering an unexpected situation.

I feel that the key to gaining confidence in any language is to have a grasp of grammatical rules, as a knowledge of grammar gives even a novice speaker a surprising amount of room for improvisation. Although it must be stressed that this course is only really a beginner's guide to Italian, it gives a firm grounding in both the grammatical rules of Itaian and teaches some extremely handy phrases to illustrate these rules. Highly recommended.
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on 8 June 2015
I have just finished the Paul Noble Italian course, but have previously done a Michel Tomas Spanish one and thought it might be useful to review the Noble course by comparison.
Paul Noble Strengths:
- Native Italian speakers help one learn pronunciation better than Tomas' unauthentic accent.
- Noble does not use students answering questions and leaves it to a native speaker. Much better.
- Very similar style to Tomas and good way of learning.
Paul Nobel Weakness:
- Very repetitive and slow progress.
- Far less vocabulary than Tomas. Not much better than beginners guidebook.
- Lengthy section on how to describe illness to a doctor seemed a waste of time. This is not useful for conversation and if I was ill I'd find an English speaker.
- He asks questions then immediately gives too many hints which does not allow you to try and recall for yourself.
On balance, I found that after Tomas I had far more practical knowledge of the language and was amazed at the scope of what I had learnt, especially the vocabulary and tenses of most useful verbs. In contrast, Noble was much less demanding and taught much less, which did not give the confidence or ability to converse except basic phrasebook stuff. After Tomas, I was able to converse much more freely.
It's a shame, because Noble's use of native speakers is much better, but the limited content and slight boredom from so much repetition lets it down.
Incidentally, I also did the BBC Talk Italian course, which is great for practical vocabulary, but it has to be memorised and is far less easy going than the Tomas/Noble method. Nevertheless a good course that I think is oriented toward class learning, rather than solo.
Tomas or Noble? For sheer content I'd go for Tomas, but would really like to see Noble's course reworked to include Tomas's content. As things stand I'd have to recommend Tomas.
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on 4 May 2012
I ordered this audio Italian course after reading the reviews. I had used part of the Introduction to Italian by Michel Thomas and thought this sounded similar in style but was considerably cheaper.

It is close to the Michel Thomas style and is utterly brilliant. I have been trying to learn Italian for years but the confidence this course has given me has provided the impetus to really give it my best shot this time.

The course focuses on teaching you to speak Italian and uses situations you would need on a visit to the country - the hotel, directions, feeling unwell etc. It doesn't insist on trying to get you to conjugate verbs (which is how I was dragged through French at school) but focuses on using the language naturally and this makes things much easier.

The use of repetition of phrases and words really helps you to remember and gives you confidence when you're remembering the phrases without too much effort. I really love the fact that you are asked to form phrases and sentences yourself and then are given the correct phrase by a native speaker. I also like the associations Paul makes with English words or phrases, which really does help to make things easier to remember. For example some verbs are very similar to English and he explains how switching the ending to the word turns it into Italian.

I've been listening to the course on my iPod on my bus journey to and from work and it's been remarkably easy to switch on and follow the course - I actually look forward to reviewing some of the course during my lunch break! I do use the pause button for phrases I need more time to form, and for that reason would not recommend using this in the car - you really need to concentrate on what's being said. Whenever my mind drifts I have to rewind.

I'm up to CD 9 but have repeated one or two that I've found more tricky. However, this is the beauty of the course, it's possible to revisit parts of the course to refresh your memory whenever you like.

I sincerely hope that Paul Noble and Collins bring out another Italian course building on this one so that I can take my language learning further. This is a great start to the language and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to speak Italian.
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on 18 September 2012
At school I did French or tried to do it and never managed to grasp it. I have listened to one disc so far of this Italian course and already know many words, and best of all remember them. This is so far a brilliant box set and I cant wait to get home to learn more.
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on 21 March 2011
These CDs by Paul Nobel are an essential acquisition for anyone who wants to begin learning Italian and who wants to learn to speak it a little right from the start. Although a booklet is provided with the CDs Paul Noble emphasises that in order to really understand, learn pronunciation and progress with this programme it is vital that you start off by listening to the lessons and speaking aloud during the spaces provided within the course.

The method used of explaining something, getting you to use the phrase/word/grammar and then coming back to it again later really helps you to remember and understand fully the language that you are being taught and ensures that you retain the information.

I would highly recommend this programme for anyone who is travelling to Italy and would like to know a little Italian in order to be able to do the usual things; book a room, book a table, order a drink and food, buy a train ticket, enquire where things are etc. However, for me, the real value of this language programme is that it enabled me to have the confidence to progress with my study in Italian.
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on 24 February 2016
Following on from a couple of recent trips to Italy where I was just about able to get by by putting an "o" onto most of the French words I know, I thought I'd better try and learn a bit of the language properly for the next time I find myself over there.

I read all the reviews, and it was a toss-up between this and Michel Thomas. What swung it for me was comments about Michel Thomas' accent, whereas Paul Noble uses a native speaker. I did spot a lot of comments about people wanting to then move onto a more advanced Paul Noble course, which doesn't yet exist - and I've now worked out why they were saying that.

So - good bits first: pleasantly narrated, the pauses are all just around the right length to work with and (this is the key bit) you aren't just repeating stuff back at the CD parrot-fashion, what he does is he feeds you elements of the jigsaw and you've then got to think about how to piece it all together and say it back at him. That's the main difference in this method as far as I can see, and it is a big difference from other parrot-style language courses I've done in the past - I was surprised by the length of the sentences I was confidently creating for myself by the end of the first CD.

Here come the downsides. There is a heck of a lot of repetition of content across all the CDs. I think that this would have been OK if I had been doing this by listening to one CD a week over 12 weeks - but I was listening to a lot of it in the car on a long drive to the Alps and it ended up with me shouting out "give me more bloody words to work with" because I ended up so frustrated with being asked to conjugate the verb "can" or to ask for a bottle of white wine for what felt like the 100th time that hour. So, at the end of the course, most of this stuff has been seared into my mind in a way that I'm sure will leave it there till my dying day. But I think that the trick which has been missed is that it didn't need to be seared that deeply into my mind, I can go back at any stage to the earlier CDs to revise that vocab, by CD 11 I should be conjugating all sorts of different verbs and be able to ask for pretty much anything I wanted at the bar. So I finished the course I reckon 250-500 words short of what I'll need to effectively get by in Italian on a day-to-day basis, I'm not sure where I can actually go to get those extra words in this same sort of learning style, and my frustration is that I reckon there was scope within these same 12 CDs to feed me a heck of a lot of that extra vocab (asking for a beer, asking for an extra chair, or fork, or knife at the table he'd taught me on 5 different occasions how to at the restaurant) etc etc. Also, a lot of the vocab being fed has got the feel of the types of language course on vinyl my dad used to do back in the 70s before we travelled abroad. In this day and age I'd have thought it was more useful to be asking for things like directions to the nearest wifi hotspot or internet cafe than the nearest hotel or campsite, as you'd have no doubt booked your hotel or campsite online before you left home...

So, in summary, I didn't think it deserved 3 stars or lower because the method I thought worked really well but I couldn't give it 5 stars because of the missed opportunities to provide me with the extra vocab which I'll have to find another way of getting. I've actually since gone and bought the exact same course in French for my wife and kids before we head out that way this summer, because even if similar vocab limitations crop up on that course as I speak fluent French I can use that course as a way of giving them the fundamentals onto which I can then build the extra vocab they'll end up needing. So I guess I'd be able to highly recommend this course to those who then have an actual Italian they can work with to expand their vocab once this course has got the basics in place for them.
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on 29 June 2014
This has been a wonderful tool for me to learn Italian. I listened to discs 1-5 in the correct order, but since then, have kept all (12) discs on my shuffle playlist so listening and practising comes unexpectedly, regularly, without too much concentration and easily.

The method is simple, at a good pace, is explained clearly at the start and remains consistent throughout the discs. Paul constantly jumps back to reminding things we learnt earlier, too reinforce them and support the learner to remember not only the word and its meaning, but why and how the sentence is structured this way, how the verb is structured and the grammatical rules. This in turn enables me to go away and create my own sentences as i learn more verbs.

I'm sure there are cases where the reality of how something is said on the Italian streets is different to what is being taught here, but expecting dialect and slang from a language course is ridiculous. We should learn the correct way to speak, and then, once you have gained the skills to understand the grammar and sentence structure and are using the language, you will naturally learn where corners are cut and words dropped/modified etc.

I would say that in 6 months, my Italian is now conversational, and I have learned more verbs that aren't in the course, to broaden my ability. It would be good to have something to follow on from this level, perhaps taking learners to intermediate level.

I 100% recommend this, it is effective, clear and an absolute bargain. I wish I had found it a long time ago! I liked it enough that i have now bought the Spanish course too. Olé!
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on 16 August 2014
This is a great introduction to Italian. The technique is fantastic and he has you speaking the language after the first section of the first disc. As someone who has struggled with other languages I was really surprised how easily I picked it up and was ably equipped to deal with a couple of situations on holiday and be understood. First class, just wish there was a follow up.
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on 4 March 2011
This course does as it says, and makes language learning easier. The language learned is more retentive than other methods. I have been attending Evening Classes to learn Italian, and found this course heavily augments my classes. It was worthwhile purchasing this and I would recommend it to others.
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