The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #21 May / June 2016
Book Look
Italian Short Stories for Beginners
by Erik Zidowecki
May / June 2016 | 

Italian Short Stories for Beginners
by Olly Richards
Language: Italian
Item Rating:

This month I look at the book Italian Short Stories for Beginners, by polyglot Olly Richards, who runs the very successful blog I Want to Teach You a Language.

The subtitle is "8 Unconventional Short Stories to Grow Your Vocabulary and Learn Italian the Fun Way!", so it sounds like Olly is indeed working to live up to this blogs name.

Italian Short Stories is available through Amazon as both a Kindle and printed book. The printed book is 6 x 9 inches (15.24 x 22.86 centimetres) and 286 pages.

I am a firm believer in process of learning a language through reading, so this book was instantly appealing. It is a natural process we use throughout our entire lives, increasing our vocabulary even in our own language through our intake of literature. Combining that with vocabulary lists specifically designed to focus on what we need to learn, and you've got a great learning resource.

The primary problem with developing stories for learning is keeping them interesting while also keeping them simple. The grammar structures need to be repeated for the best retention, verb tenses need to at least start out easy, and there should be a general avoidance of cramming too many new hard words together at once.

I am pointing this out because too many people seem to want fine literature coming out of a beginner's story. That's like expecting Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham to be comparable to Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Olly manages to keep the stories interesting and useful, and the format for the book is constant and done in the style of many learning books, with first a reading (each story is broken into smaller "chapters"), a summary of the contents, a list of vocabulary list from the story you should focus on, and a selection of questions to test your comprehension.

The one thing I would warn against is that, despite the title, I don't think these books are quite for "beginners". After the first several pages of advice on learning and how to use the book, the rest is, with the exception of the translations of the vocabulary words, all in Italian.

If you are a complete beginner, then you will likely need a dictionary to look up the words that are not explained. Also, the book is a collection of stories and vocabulary, like it says. This means that it doesn't contain explanations of grammar rules. This is a supplemental book for studying and a way to better apply your learning, not a complete course.

I enjoyed the book, and while I reviewed the Kindle version, I am thinking about getting a printed copy.

If you like the idea but are not interested in learning Italian, Olly offers similar books for Spanish, German, and Russian.


 
1
Book Look
Writer: Erik Zidowecki

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.

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