This is the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. Everything you wanted to know about OnlineItalianClub.com but were too polite to ask. If you don’t find what you want to know here, e-mail me your query and I’ll get the answer to you ASAP. You’ll find the address at the bottom of the page.
Who’s the shadowy figure behind this site?
OnlineItalianClub.com is operated by Imparareonline Ltd., registered in England at… (check the bottom of the page for all that boring stuff.) The director/owner is me, Daniel Stephens. View my rather neglected LinkedIn profile for more info.
How do I ‘join’ OnlineItalianClub.com?
We tried a ‘free membership site’ but the passwords and log-ins drove you crazy. And we had masses of spam registrations, like literally thousands. Who wants to bother with all that stuff? So OnlineItalianClub.com is now organised around a mailing list. You’re a ‘member’ when you sign up to hear our news. Every time we add new free stuff, or run a promotion, you’ll get an e-mail. We add new free Italian study materials three times a week. And run a promotion (e-books, online lessons and so on) whenever we feel like it. That’s it. ‘Join’ here.
How do I contact you?
There are e-mail addresses at the bottom of the page. If you’re planning to sue, you’ll need to write to the company’s address, also at the bottom of the page.
Questions about the e-mails we send
How do I stop getting all these e-mails?
Every mail we send has an unsubscribe link. Click it, choose ‘unsubscribe’, and you’re gone. You’ll never be troubled by us again.
Why don’t I get your emails anymore?
There are a few reasons why this can happen, and it can be tricky to work out which. First check your spam folder, and if you use Gmail, also the promotions folder – our e-mails can easily end up in either of these places. Still nothing? Visit our site and ‘join’ again, which will solve the problem if you were accidentally removed from the list. In the event the system tells you that you are ‘already subscribed’, which means that emails are being sent but for some reason not arriving, the only solution here is to sign up with a different address. If you don’t have a second email address, open a new free email account and join again with that.
Questions about our free materials
Are your Italian materials really free? Or is this some sort of trick?
Think of a public park, or a beach. You’re free to enjoy either one, right? While you’re there, maybe you’ll buy an ice-cream. You like ice-cream, and it’s a hot day. The ice-cream vendor makes a living, and the rent from his concession contributes to the maintenance costs of the park or beach, so keeping your taxes down. That’s how we work too. You’re under no obligation to buy anything from our site, but if you find something that you can use, go right ahead. Revenues, such as they are, pay the hosting costs and anything over is usually reinvested in new materials. So you can’t really lose. But no guilt trips: if you just want to enjoy the free stuff, that’s absolutely fine. And don’t forget, we’re adding to it all the time! ‘Join’ here and never miss anything.
Help! I can’t figure out how to play your audio recordings multiple times.
Our free Italian listening materials are hosted on Soundcloud.com so as not to overload our server. When you load any of the pages from our ‘Listenings Index‘, you’ll see a typical page for our site, part of which is a ‘plug-in’ which downloads the audio from Soundcloud.com and includes the ‘Play’ and ‘Pause’ buttons. So far, so good, right? The problem comes when your track finishes. The plug-in screen goes grey and you see a message ‘Explore more tracks like this on Soundcloud.com…’, when what you really want to see is the ‘Play’ command, so you can hear the track again. Look for the little X in the right-hand corner of the plug-in. Click on that, and the grey Soundcloud.com ad will disappear. You’ll then be back where you were before and will see the ‘Play’ command you need to hear the track again as many times as you wish.
Can I download the listenings as .mp3 files?
We get asked this a lot. The official answer is ‘no’. It’s an intellectual property issue, see? You can listen to our recordings free online at Soundcloud.com, but there’s no ‘download’ button, so you can’t, in theory, save them to your computer or pass them off as your own work. The real answer, however, is ‘yes’. All the bad guys know how to get around this sort of security anyway, so why shouldn’t you? As with many things in life these days, you can usually find a solution to your problem if you Google it. Try searching for something like ‘how to download .mp3 from Soundcloud.com’. Google will then show you the sites that naughty people use to make .mp3 files from our online listenings. Problem solved.
I’m an Italian teacher. Can I use your materials in my lessons?
We love to hear from Italian teachers who appreciate our materials and want to use them with their classes. Our answer is always, “Yes, please feel free to use any of our FREE material you like in your lessons.” At OnlineItalianClub.com free MEANS free. We have no objection if you copy and paste texts or exercises to share with others. You may adapt them, photocopy them, and so on, as long as you acknowledge the source, like this: Source: http://onlineitalianclub.com (You can even download .mp3 files and make your own CDs if you know how. There’s a note about this elsewhere in this FAQ.) There’s an exception, though, which is our paid products (ebooks and the like), which finance the site and the production of new, free materials. E-books and similar purchased from us may NOT be copied, modified, distributed in the ways described above without our permission.
Questions about our e-books
Do you sell ‘real’ books, the sort they make from dead trees?
‘Real’ books are not a very practical option for us at the moment, in part because we’re just starting out as publishers, which means volumes are very, very small, and in part because our customers are spread out all over the world, in the US, Europe, Australia, South Africa and so on. However, if you find e-books wearisome, there are some simple solutions. One is to print the file yourself at home. Another idea is to take the .pdf file we send when you purchase an e-book and get it printed at a professional copy shop. Every town is likely to have one. These are places that make a living reproducing / copying things for students and the like, so the cost will probably be modest.
How long does it take to send out ebooks?
Usually minutes or a few hours. If it’s day where you are but night in Italy it might have to wait until morning. Definitely within 24 hours, or your money back!
Where’s my ebook, dude??
We sent it to you within 24 hours of purchase using the address you gave to PAYPAL. We appreciate that you may have specified a different email address in your order form, but unfortunately it’s quite common for people to mistype their email (especially when they’re in a hurry). For this reason, we always send to the (verified) address you gave Paypal when paying, that is to say the address that they send your receipt to. Please check that address for an e-mail with the subject line ‘Your e-book from OnlineItalianClub.com’. Note that, if someone else paid for you, THEY will have received your ebook. It’s not a problem to resend it, though. Just write and ask me.
How should I use my easy Italian reader?
Here’s how to use our Italian easy readers:
- First read/listen at the same time. Don’t worry about stuff you don’t understand, don’t stop to look up things. Try to finish the book, or at least the chapter at the speed of the audio. You should get a sense of achievement just by ‘finishing’ the audio + text, even if your understanding is very limited…
- Now (maybe another day) read again at your own pace. Best to guess the difficult words from context if you can. Use a dictionary only if you really must, as it will make the whole thing more arduous and reduce the benefit you’ll get from actual reading…
- [optionally, repeat stage 1 at this point]
- The next stage is to listen again but this time without the text. This phase is to work on listening comprehension. You should by now have a reasonable idea of what goes on, so the challenge is to see how much you can pick out when just hearing it.You can repeat this as often as you want. It’ll be hard at first, but will get easier with practice. And come back to it again in the future! As with a song, the more times you hear it, the more you might get out of it, until it becomes boring of course.
- Now get another book and repeat the process. Stay at approximately the same level of difficulty until you can do the steps above with confidence. Then move up to something harder, knowing though that you’ll feel less confident at first. Gradually push up through the levels until you feel confident moving on to authentic materials like novels, films, etc.
Online Italian Lessons
I live in the USA/Australia. What days/times can I take lessons?
We know there may be a big time difference between Italy and where you live. For this reason we look for teachers who are willing to teach early in the morning or late at night (Italian time). With a little flexibility on both sides, it’s normally possible to accommodate even large time differences.
Are my credit card details safe in your database?
We use Paypal to process payments. So your card (or Paypal account) details are stored in their servers. We never see them. Rest assured, your payment data is completely safe. No payment can be taken unless you specifically authorize it, and should you have any issue at all with OnlineItalianClub.com, Paypal will back you up.
Who will my online Italian teacher be?
All our online Italian lesson teachers are professionals who are known to me personally. They have significant teaching experience and usually speak reasonable English. Either they work (or have worked) at my Italian school in Bologna, or they write (or have written) materials for us. We interview new teachers online before accepting them, and brief them thoroughly regarding what our clients need and expect. In the unlikely event there is anything (at all) that you’re not happy with, our teaching manager Lucia is your first point of call. Whatever the problem is, she’ll sort it out for you.
What software/hardware do I need?
Obviously, a good broadband connection is a pre-requisite, and then you’ll need Skype, which is a free download. Most computers and tablets already have it installed. If you already use it to make video calls, the online lessons should work just fine for you. If you’re unsure about whether your computer/tablet is up for learning Italian online, let me know and I can organize a test call with you to check.
Why take lessons with OnlineItalianClub.com, rather than a cheaper alternative?
Our mission is to provide good quality online materials and online teaching, while at the same time providing work for Italian teachers. We’re about building a trusted team of professionals to provide the best possible learning and teaching. Read the reviews on our online Italian lessons page (click the ’10 lessons’ product and scroll down to the reviews tab to see genuine, un-edited customer reviews.)
Why are lessons just 30 minutes long?
As a teacher I think that, while a one-hour individual lesson is ideal when face-to-face in a classroom, an hour online can be heavy, especially when you’re just starting out. So we offer a default of 30 minutes instead. If you’d rather have a longer session, just book two lessons to run one after another. The price of two half-hour lessons is comparable with one full-hour session offered by other quality schools, but offers you more flexibility.
Who decides the lesson content?
Normally, you do. Your lessons can include conversation, grammar, a mix, whatever you prefer. If you aren’t sure, ask your teacher for suggestions. She/he will be happy to advise you, or simply decide for you what you need.
Do I have to study at a regular day/time?
Nope, it’s flexible. But people do tend to end up having a regular day/time because it just works out like that once lessons become a routine for you. Not to say you can’t cancel a lesson you’ve booked. Just write to your teacher in advance to let him/her know.
Does the online teacher speak English?
It’s one of our requirements. But we’d strongly advise you not to use English as the ‘lingua franca’ for your lessons, as that rather defeats the point…
How do I buy more than 10 lessons?
If you select the ’10 lesson’ option in our shop and add it to your cart, you can then change the quantity of the ‘product’ you’re purchasing, so instead of ‘1 x 10 lessons’ you modify that to ‘3 x 10 lessons’, or whatever. Regular clients wait for the offers (now, then again in January) to stock up on twenty or thirty lessons.
Payments, taxes & refunds
Is it safe to input my credit card details in your shop?
We use Paypal, so if you buy anything from us you’ll actually be inputting your details on THEIR site, not ours. We never get to see your card details, and we’re assured that their security is the best. Besides, they offer a great deal to the customer. If you weren’t happy with your purchase, there’s a good chance of getting a refund directly from them. Peace of mind.
I don’t want to pay with Paypal. Can I pay by credit card?
OnlineItalianClub.com uses Paypal to offer secure online payments. If you have a Paypal account, you can pay with your Paypal balance or with the card or bank account associated with your Paypal account. You’ll need your Paypal account password. If you don’t have a Paypal account, or if you prefer the payment not to be associated with your Paypal account, payment by credit card IS an option. PLEASE NOTE: if Paypal detects from cookies saved on your browser that you have a Paypal account it tends NOT to give you the choice to pay by credit card. You simply won’t be shown the link. They want you either to log in to Paypal, or nothing! There is, however, a simple solution. The cookies that tell Paypal to show or not show the ‘Pay by credit card?’ link are stored in the browser you normally use (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.) So try making your purchase through a browser you don’t usually use (which won’t therefore have the cookies.) If you normally use Internet Explorer, try Google Chrome, and vice versa. That way, once you get to the payment stage, you should hopefully see something like: ‘Don’t have a Paypal account? Pay by credit card.’ Another option is to clear your browser caches (you’ll find instructions online as to how to do this), and/or to browse ‘incognito’. Summary: when Paypal detects that you (or someone using the same browser) have an account with them, the screen does not show the ‘pay with a credit card’ link. Get around this by trying again with a different browser.
Do you charge VAT/sales tax?
No. The company that runs this site is not registered for VAT in the United Kingdom because it doesn’t reach the threshold and can therefore choose not to bother. New (2015) European Union regulations regarding sales tax/VAT only apply to digital services which are automatically delivered (i.e. downloading tracks from the Apple store). As we manually send out ebook purchases, and as our online lessons are completely personalised and taught by real people, we are not required to add sales tax or issue tax invoices.
How does the money-back guarantee on e-books work?
Buy an e-book, if you don’t like it, ask for a refund. Simple, right? But we sleep better that way.
What’s your refund policy on online lessons?
I’ve never yet been asked to refund a client for an online lesson, and I’d be surprised if that happened. But should, for whatever reason, you not be entirely happy, please write to our teaching manager, Lucia, to let her know. If she’s not able to sort it out for you, write to me and I’ll refund your payment.
Do you offer a discount for teachers and schools?
Sure, we have a special ‘Teacher Discount’ of 30% on ebooks. Write and introduce yourself and we’ll send you a special code to use in our shop. We can also arrange a multiple-licence price should, for example, you want to use an ebook with a class of students. That way you’d be able to give each participant a .pdf and/or photocopies, up to the agreed limit, at a very modest cost.
Questions about Italian schools
What Italian language schools do you recommend?
There are lots. You’ll probably see ads for Madrelingua Italian Language School in Bologna somewhere on our site. That would be an excellent choice! (Full disclosure -I’m the director/owner there, too.) But any school in Italy which is a member of ASILS is likely to be a safe bet, too, so if you’d rather study in Florence, Rome, Venice or wherever, you’ll find a list of members on their site.
Will you list my Italian school in your School Finder section?
Sure, we’d be happy to. Send us the details and we’ll take a look. There’s no charge.