If you need a break from flashcards or grammar drills, try reading a short story in a dual-language book. Dual-language books are a fun way to improve your Italian that give you a glimpse into Italian culture and history.
Dual-language books provide the Italian text on one page with the English translation on the opposite page. With dual-language short stories, you see the vocabulary you have been studying in context, and you can better understand the nuances of the Italian language. The sentences in the short stories are richer and more complex than what you would find in grammar exercises. Take for example this line from “La Madre” by Natalia Ginzburg. “I ragazzi trovavano strano d’esser nati da lei.” (Translation: “The boys thought it strange to have been born of her”).
The dual-language book I Grandi Racconti Italiani del Novecento (Great Italian Short Stories of the Twentieth Century), provides a brief biography of the author in English before each story and gives you a sample of some of the most famous Italian authors like Giovanni Boccacio and Leonardo Sciascia. If you enjoy the story, you can explore more works by the author. Racconti Italiani 1 is also great, but is a little harder to find in stores and online.
Pick up a dual-language book and add it to your Italian language tool kit. You’ll be glad you did. If you have any favorite stories or dual-language books, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.