Do you remember learning to read as a child?
Your handle on the English language wasn’t very strong, so the material needed to be simple.
You weren’t busting out the Dickens novels just yet!
If you’re looking to learn a new language, like Italian, you should take the same approach. You need to build a firm, basic foundation in all your skills before you can strive for new heights.
That’s why short stories are a perfect practice tool.
In this post, we’ll be looking at some great online resources you can use to further your Italian reading education through short stories.
But first, why read to get comfortable with the language?
The Input Method: Why Reading Is an Effective Way to Improve Your Italian
Do you ever feel like the progress you’re making in your Italian practice doesn’t seem to match the effort you’re putting in? You repeat after your apps, you hammer through the grammar. Next thing you know, you’re linguistically exhausted. But you’re still not as fluent as it feels like you should be.
Enter the input method: You can read or listen with little effort, and still gain a lot.
There are so many reasons why reading and listening are a great way to learn a new language. Learning through input methods makes studying easier and more relaxed. It’s a lot more simple to sit down with something to read, to turn on an Italian song or to watch a dubbed movie than to dive nose-deep into grammar exercises. You can make just about any mundane task pass more quickly while working on your skills! Doing laundry? Making the bed? Cooking up a fancy feast? You can easily throw on some Italian music or even an audiobook!
Not only is it easier to squeeze input learning into a busy day, but it’s much more relaxed than its rigorous counterpart. Since you’re not outputting information, there’s basically no room for error in reading or listening, but you’re still building your vocab and comprehension. If you come across a word you don’t understand, it’s simple to look up the translation and keep going. Next thing you know, you’ve practiced Italian for a whole hour with no mistakes. What a great feeling!
Best of all, learning through the input method is easy to do for free or relatively cheap. You can find all kinds of reading resources online. Even if you’re not in a position to spend money on Italian books and audio, there are still lots of ways to learn, thanks to the internet:
- YouTube is an ever-generous source of free learning!
- Netflix lets you search all the shows and movies with Italian audio and subtitles.
- FluentU is like the ultimate input buffet. It takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
What Makes Short Stories So Special?
So now that we know what makes the input method so helpful, why should we focus on short stories? There are so many things that make short stories an effective tool for language practice. One of their most helpful features, though, is that they’re meant for reading through quickly. So they offer good practice without dishing out more than you can handle.
Since short stories are so compact, it means that the story will get to the point fairly fast. There won’t be any unnecessary characters, plot or description because the author has a limited amount of space to convey the story.
When a story is simple and grabs your attention, reading or listening to it is so much easier. That’s why you, as a child, most likely read stories like “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “The Frog Prince” and “Hansel and Gretel.” They’re both straightforward and entertaining in a way that makes learning easier.
So if you used fun short stories to further your English language skills, why not use them again for Italian?
6 Effective Resources for Finding Easy Italian Short Stories
This fantastic website has a little bit of everything for practicing your Italian. Channel your inner child, and enjoy revisiting stories that you loved! The Italian Experiment features “Three Little Pigs,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
The best thing about The Italian Experiment is that you have the option to read the stories in Italian, listen to a native Italian speaker recite the story or listen as you follow along with the text. Since the stories are spoken at a slow pace, it’s easy to follow and understand the vocabulary.
This site full of Grimm fairy tales offers a large selection of childhood favorites to read. Each story is initially presented in Italian. At the bottom of each story, there’s an option to pick another translation. Most helpful of all is the option to have a side-by-side comparison of English and Italian.
Starting with the Italian translation only is great practice for reading comprehension. Then you can compare it against the English text, and find vocabulary that you didn’t understand the first time around!
Ercole Guidi’s Bilingual Texts
If you’re looking for something more challenging than children’s stories, this is the website for you. This page of literary translations features side-by-side Italian and English versions of popular short stories and limited excerpts of longer works by famous authors.
However, with this website you don’t have the option of hiding the English translation to practice reading Italian in large sections. Having both translations in your line of sight may pose a bigger challenge since your eye will naturally be drawn to the English translation, so if you find yourself easily distracted, you may want to cover the English version to reduce interruption.
This website offers a wide variety of genres to choose from. You can practice your spooky vocabulary by reading some Edgar Allan Poe. Or brush up on your wit by reading some Mark Twain. You can even read excerpts from popular novels! Choose from Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Grey,” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises,” just to name a few.
If you’re feeling super brave, you can try your vocabu-luck with a Shakespeare play, or reading some Italian to English translations. And if you want to get back to some fairy tales, there’s a well-translated version of the Italian story “The Adventures of Pinocchio.”
This collection has a whopping 16 stories for you to read and study. There are even five “warm-up” stories to ease you into reading! Each story is presented in both English and Italian, adapted from well-known authors. “Italian Reader – Short Stories” is very well-rated on Amazon, and is a super helpful way to practice your Italian.
“Italian Short Stories for Beginners: 8 Unconventional Short Stories to Grow Your Vocabulary and Learn Italian the Fun Way!”
This book by Olly Richards is an excellent resource for practicing Italian. Written for students from beginner level to intermediate, the eight short stories in this book have been developed to make learning as enjoyable as possible. They use simple grammar and vocabulary, and the topics are ones that will keep you constantly entertained. This book is a great read!
“Italian: Short Stories for Beginners – 9 Captivating Short Stories to Learn Italian and Expand Your Vocabulary While Having Fun”
This book of Italian short stories was written by The Language Academy. The book contains several different genres of short stories, so there’s something to entertain everyone. The stories are fun and interesting enough to keep you motivated and intrigued, making the book hard to put down.
There are several bonus features in this book, including vocabulary, story summaries and even testing exercises. All these aspects combined make it easy to grow your understanding of vocabulary, grammar and context. “Italian: Short Stories For Beginners” is a top choice for practicing your Italian!
If your days are busy, or you’re tired of grammar drills, you’ll find that using short stories is an indispensable aid for learning Italian.
Whether you’re listening to one, reading one or doing both at the same time, they offer a stress-free way to take in vocabulary and experience grammar in action.
Stories make learning more relaxing, especially for those self-conscious learners out there, since there are no mistakes to make.
Reading is a wherever, whenever method of learning, and it will leave you feeling confident and successful.
Oh, and One More Thing…
So. About that ultimate input buffet.
FluentU takes real-world videos and turns them into personalized language learning lessons, as you can see here:
FluentU helps you get comfortable with everyday Italian by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with interactive subtitles. Tap on any word to instantly see an image, in-context definition, example sentences and other videos in which the word is used.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and review words and phrases with convenient audio clips under Vocab.
Once you’ve watched a video, you can use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in that video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
FluentU will even keep track of all the Italian words you’ve learned to recommend videos and ask you questions based on what you already know. Plus, it’ll tell you exactly when it’s time for review. Now that’s a 100% personalized experience!
The best part? You can try FluentU for free with a 15-day trial.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.