Top Italian short stories to unlock your vocabulary and listening
How to use Italian short stories as a learning tool
I will never stop singing the praises of reading in a foreign language. If you are a beginner or intermediate student of Italian, using Italian short stories as a learning tool is one of the most effective ways of learning.
The sentences of the stories are short and use simple vocabulary. Learning vocabulary in context or chucks will help you to build Italian sentences flawlessly.
The short stories tend to implement the spaced repetition system. If you don’t know what it is about, I will tell you. It’s a popular system used by apps like Anki or Duuolingo: they present the same words or sentences at regular, graduated scheduled intervals. This system helps your memory to retain the new vocabulary long term.
They are easy Italian readings that you can integrate in small doses into your lifestyle and they are combined with vocabulary drills or grammar exercises at the end of each book.
It is a fantastic tool to transform passive vocabulary into an active one. Frequently, we can’t recall the inputs we receive, but they are not entirely forgotten. All you need is a little help through active reading (or listening) to recall those words that you have learned previously. I guarantee: reading (which is often underrated) does wonders when it comes to learning a foreign language.
How to make the most out of your Italian short stories and learn efficiently
Choose a book that is suitable to your actual level, before you buy it, you may read a sample chapter of the book. Your ideal level should be something that is neither too easy nor too difficult, ideally, slightly above your level.
Please read the book at least twice and rehearse it regularly.
Make a short written summary by using the new relevant words, reread your summaries.
Discuss the Italian short stories with your tutor or coach
Readout aloud the stories.
💡 Make sure you spend time reviewing your stories in Italian. Our memory has a downward curve. Our brain won’t o retain much of the input we receive. To overcome the forgetting curve and cement the information we want to remember, we need to review.
💡Plan once or twice a month a day where you review your notes or go over your Italian short stories again.
Where can you read good short stories in Italian?
The good news is that there are plenty of them. I personally like to use and recommend the Italian short stories published by Alma Edizioni. They are fresh, use the spaced repetition system and include drills at the end of each section. Alma’s books also have a digital version.
Alma’s short stories in Italian for beginners (including audio and vocabulary drills)
The fable cottage project
This is a brilliant project, especially for the little ones. The Fable Cottage is a collection of the most popular stories of all time. The short stories are presented both in Italian and English and also include a voice recording.
Pensierini Blog and book
Pensieri is a beautiful project launched by a fellow Italian teacher and writer – Ugo Copparo. Through the pensierini blog, you can read inspiring short stories in Italian and short essays written by students of Italian as a foreign language, just like you. If you want to support the project, you can also buy the printed collection of pensierini. Ugo edited all the texts without altering the authentic voice of the writers. This collection is great because the essays are bite-sized ones and not too complicated. Ideal for beginners and intermediate students of Italian.
The Penguin Italian short stories book
Another excellent book is the Penguin book of Italian short stories edited by Jhumpa Lahiri, especially if you are a fan of the Italian literature and culture.
This book is a collection of 40 powerful Italian voices (poetss, musicians,writers, journalists, politicians) that have represented the Italian society. This book is suitable to intermediate and advanced students of Italian.
Olly Richards’s Italian short stories
Another learning tool is also the Italian short stories by Olly Richards (they are not the same quality as the Alma’s ones, but they serve the job especially if your Italian is lower intermediate or intermediate).