Score: 8/10

Pros:
plentiful advanced readings in Italian; Italian language used for all instructions & examples; themed by region of Italy for a fuller picture of the country and the Italian language; plenty of exercises & activities related to the texts; can listen to “ascoltiamo!” sections online; grammar appendix does a great job of relating to readings & offering further exercises; uniquely, suggests further Italian internet resources in each chapter; glossary

Cons:
for later intermediate & advanced learners; primarily helps with reading & writing without making this focus clear; intended for classroom use (still mostly useful to individual learners); no index; price


Parola a te! presents itself as a journey through Italy’s multifarious regions in textbook form. At its heart, though, it’s an intermediate/advanced language reader, with reading comprehension selections along with questions and exercises that complement those readings.

In each chapter, you will learn about a different region of Italy. Readings – all in Italian – range from overviews of the society and culture of a region to perspectives on specific cities, people or aspects of Italian life (like cars). The depth of regional Italian culture gives the course a lot to draw from, but expect the readings to sound a bit “standard” (stale?) and newspaper/textbookish.

The interspersed exercises support students well as you read through the book. Some test your reading skills, others listening comprehension, some build vocabulary, and still others give you a sense of Italy’s immense diversity. From instructions to answers, these are all in Italian. Consistent prompts to work “in gruppi” suggest a classroom situation, whereas many of us are learning da solo.

An exceptional grammar appendix, the “appunti grammaticali”, links Italian grammar topics to each chapter, includes verb & pronoun tables, and offers additional exercises to test your understanding of each grammar point.

Unfortunately, you’ll find no index, but the table of contents is detailed enough to help you find specific readings. A short Italian-English vocabulary glossary will help with the readings, but you’re probably working with a good Italian dictionary at this point, right?

To be frank, the best way to learn (and conquer!) advanced Italian is to get out there, read and listen to things on your own. Still, for a structured, themed reading experience with activities and well-organized support, Parola a te! provides a good way to continue your Italian studies.