Did you ever wonder how important “reading” is when learning a foreign language? Linguists are divided on this matter. Some experts believe that it’s more natural to learn a language by listening and speaking. While others underline the fact that reading fluency will result in speaking fluency. Whatever the truth may be, reading is an important part of the language learning process. It can boost our vocabulary and help us to remember information.
However, novels, newspapers, and academic theses might give us examples of expressions that are highly unusual in ordinary conversations. For this reason, I would like to suggest a different kind of material to practice foreign language with more effectiveness: comics.
Three Benefits of Using Comics to Learn a Foreign Language
First of all, the most obvious advantage of reading comics in another language is that they offer a fun way to learn. They are an outstanding tool to engage the senses and give you the chance to read less complex texts and find something interesting at your reading level.
Secondly, it is widely known that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. The combination of text and images allows you to figure out the meaning of unknown words without having to use a dictionary.
Comics also are a great source of informal common expressions. They are full of colloquial sentences, idioms and sayings, and their language is generally closer to that ofnative speakers. You could easily hear what you read in comics during a real Italian conversation. In addition, they provide great exposure to the culture of the language as they are filled with cultural and historical references.
A Rich Tradition of Comics
Comics have contributed many things to the cultural landscape of Italy. When thinking about Italian comics, don’t assume them to be only stories of superheros and heroines. Italian Comics have developed over time into tales of romance, crime, and works of satire. There’s plenty to choose from and it’s easy enough to find them. Where? If you live in Italy, they are available at all “edicole”, Italian news stand. Otherwise there are a lot of comic strips in the Itunes store or on Google Play. In addition, you can buy some of them on Amazon where both E-book or hardcopy versions are available. Now that you know why it’s a good idea read comics and where you can find them, you are probably wondering what are the best Italian comics?
List of Italian Comics
Here you can find some of the most important Italian “fumetti”. I’ve listed them in order of difficulty.
When you’re really a beginner, it’s good to start with comics for children.
Topolino, Paperino and Paperinik
Topolino and Paperino are the Italian versions of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Even if they are inspired by American cartoons, they use the characters but write Italian stories, so they are original. In Italy, there is also a superhero version of Donald Duck, Paperinik, created in 1969 by Guido Martina who wove together Paperino and the popular character of another Italian comic series: Diabolik.
Topolino made its first appearance in 1932 and its long history interwines with the history of Italy. Nowadays it is enjoyed weekly by readers of all ages. It contains dialogues easy to understand with very simple grammar constructions and accessible vocabulary.
If you want to start with short comic strips of Topolino or Paperino, you can find them for free on the official website. At the following address http://www.topolino.it/archivio-storie/, there is an open database of approachable short stories. I’ve created for you a mini lesson inspired by one of these stories. Download it here.