Have you ever wanted to read the same thing over and over?
Your first answer is probably “um… no.”
But hear me out.
Reading is one of the most important keys to picking up a new language, Italian included. Practicing reading in Italian helps you understand vital concepts like spelling, sentence structure and grammar, while giving you tons of new vocabulary to pick up. There’s a lot to gain from regularly polishing your bookworm skills.
The only problem with the importance of reading is that it can be a little hard to get into. When you’re just beginning to study a new language, reading can feel impossible. It can be really daunting to stare at a page full of words you don’t recognize.
There is, however, a solution to this predicament: bilingual books. These books provide the text in both Italian and English, usually side-by-side or line-over-line.
So while you’ll technically be reading the same thing twice in a row, you’ll be getting a double-whammy for your language skills.
Not convinced? Here’s why bilingual books are so useful for a range of Italian learners.
The Bountiful Benefits of Bilingual Books
As we’ve established, reading in a new language can be super daunting, especially if you’re only just starting out. Bilingual books, however, are nifty tools that any language learner can use to their advantage. These books are specifically crafted to contain both English and Italian text, providing the reader with easy, in-context translations that can be consulted without interrupting the story.
It’s almost like having a language guide with you throughout your reading process.
These seem really useful, right? Most people agree, so there are plenty of books to choose from. Bilingual books can benefit students at any skill level, but are likely to best help beginners or those who aren’t as confident in their reading abilities.
This doesn’t mean, however, that more experienced students can’t use them to brush up on their Italian reading. It never hurts to practice!
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Twice as Nice: 5 Bilingual Books in Italian and English
Without further ado, we’ll go through some bilingual Italian-English books that can provide both reading assistance and cultural immersion.
“100 Bolognesi in Cucina” (“100 Cooks from Bologna in the Kitchen”)
It’s no secret that Italian culture and food are tied up pretty tight. Your journey into learning about Italy and its language may very well involve tackling the enormous food culture of the country. This book is a great place to begin.
Bologna, one of Italy’s many regions, is renowned for its cuisine. You may recognize its name from the well-known bolognese sauce that covers so many pasta dishes (though the Italians usually call it ragù). Bologna’s rich food history spans savory and sweet, and this book is a bilingual jump into that particular cultural landscape.
“100 Bolognesi in Cucina” takes a look at Bologna not only from the standpoint of its recipes, but also from its people and culture as a whole. This book will help with your reading abilities while transporting you to a unique, beloved part of Italy’s diverse culture.
The book itself is also filled with a number of recipes that’ll satisfy any interested foodie.
Just make sure you don’t read on an empty stomach.
“Ti voglio bene, mamma” (“I Love My Mom”)
Unsurprisingly, many bilingual books are actually made for children. These types of books can be highly beneficial to a child’s learning process and can help them get a jump start on reading in another language while they’re still young, but they’re also useful for Italian learners at any age.
“Ti voglio bene, mamma” (literally “I love you, mom”) is one of the many options available. These books are useful for children and families who may want to study together, but they can do just as well for older readers who want to start somewhere simple.
The illustrations provide a helpful guide to the text, and the child-friendly structure makes it easy to pick up valuable new vocabulary and grammar.
This is, of course, one of many options in the way of children’s bilingual books. There are plenty more to look for, so don’t be afraid to go exploring for others if this one isn’t quite your type. “Ti voglio bene, mamma” comes in in a physical print edition, but can also be purchased digitally.
“Bella! Italia. Le grandi meraviglie” (“Beautiful! Italy. The Great Wonders”)
With an ancient culture that spans thousands of years, Italy has plenty of unique architecture to spare. The various buildings that cover the country come from a huge range of time periods and cultural contexts, and there’s much to learn from taking a peek at them. “Bella! Italia. Le grandi meraviglie!” is a bilingual book that takes a look at the beauty of Italy’s buildings.
Stefano Zuffi’s book takes readers through some of the most famous of Italy’s architectural and artistic offerings, and can be just as visually interesting as it is helpful to Italian learners. The pictures are particularly beneficial to the newest of newbies, because they provide extra context and help you build visual associations for the Italian words along with the translations.
Plus, even without the words, readers can admire some of the beauty of Italy’s culture, which is always a help in any language learning adventure.
Sports are another big part of Italian culture, soccer being the biggest of all.
Soccer (or “football,” or calcio in Italian) is far and away the most popular sport in the country, with the national team having its fair share of awards to go by. The nation’s soccer league is known as Serie A, which currently contains 20 different competing teams. Juventus, a football club from the Turin region, is one of the strongest.
This book details the team’s history and past glory with their official museum, containing plenty of other material to keep any sports fan interested. A copy of “Juventus” might best benefit someone who’s already invested in soccer or Serie A, as the rules and details might get a bit confusing for people who are out of the loop.
That being said, anyone looking to learn more about Italy’s sports culture could benefit from this text. Even those who are new to the language should find themselves managing just fine with the bilingual edition.
“Abruzzo: Una terra da scoprire” (“Abruzzo: A Land to Discover”)
Abruzzo is another one of Italy’s many regions. Located on the coast, just south of Central Italy, the region is worth knowing for everything from its resort towns to its dialects to even its unique olive oils. The land itself, however, is just as unique and breathtaking as the culture that lives within it.
“Abruzzo: Una terra da scoprire” is a bilingual book that takes the reader through the beauty and wonder of the eastern region. There are a number of photographs within the book that could capture the attention of any Italian student, providing a unique visual journey into a very specific corner of the country’s culture.
The text gives insight into the culture and history of the area, while photos make it easy for readers at any language level to enjoy. The book is a great exercise in cultural immersion, visual learning and reading comprehension. Students of any level from any background can come away from this book having learned something completely new about Italy and its many regional cultures.
There’s much to learn from the wide world of bilingual books at any reading level and subject matter. A good read can make all the difference!
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