Learning Italian with a home study course, listening to audio lessons in the car, or reading 'how to' books are all different ways of learning the language without taking formal lessons from a teacher or language professor.
If you're a motivated learner, regardless of your age or social status, you can learn any subject out of interest and curiosity, and learning Italian is no different. If you approach it in a methodical way, you will eventually reap the rewards. It doesn't matter whether you have the most expensive language learning software, or you just take advantage of online resources or books from the library – the important thing is that you follow through, no matter what it takes.
Learning Italian is easier than learning English, because each word is basically pronounced the way it's spelled. You just need to learn a few simple rules and you'll be able to pronounce almost any Italian word correctly.
Don't expect to speak perfect grammar in the beginning. Concentrate instead on learning the words. You will definitely make mistakes, and no one's going to take you for a native speaker, but that's not a problem. You're a student, and mistakes are part of learning. The goal is to make yourself understood in Italian. Your grammar will improve once you actually start to converse on a regular basis.
Exposing yourself to Italian movies, television programs and music is a great way to familiarize yourself with the spoken language. You'll tune in to the Italian accent and you'll acquire some basic conversation. You can start by watching television programs that have English subtitles, but, like riding a bicycle with training wheels, there'll come a time when you'll feel confident enough to turn them off and simply listen. And you'll be surprised at how much you actually understand.
Some programs that can assist you in learning Italian are listed on our Italian TV Shows page.