Italian Comics

How to Learn Italian with Comics - Part 3

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Finding effective language learning materials is mandatory for any successful language learner. In the third and final part of this series I'm going to suggest Italian comics for advanced learners and specific comics for Italian language learners.


Advanced

Corto Maltese

Corto Maltese is a sea captain adventuring during the early 20th century. The comic is widely renowned as the most literary graphic novel ever written. The main character is “a ruffian with a heart of gold” and plots are intriguing because they are woven together with real historical facts and imagination.

The language is well refined but what increases the difficulty of the literacy level is the context. The reader needs to know some history and literature to capture the deep sense of the story. As in the case of Dylan Dog, Corto Maltese is included with two episodes (“Dii altri Romei e di altre Giuliette” and “La laguna dei bei sogni”) in the Edilingua series “Imparare l’Italiano con i fumetti”. You can buy a book with the original text and a lot of explanations and activities on Amazon or on the website of Edilingua. You can also download for free audio track and glossary on this website (Materiali per studenti – Imparare L’italiano con i fumetti – audio or glossari and then you can choose what comics book).

 

Zero Calcare

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It’s impossible not to mention Zero Calcare, as this is the most important Italian comic phenomenon of the last few years: from his successful blog to over 100.000 copies sold. These comics strips are a kind of biographical pieces where an angry young man analyses the contradictions of modern life.

To read Zero Calcare you need to be at a very advanced level both for grammatical structures (the dialogues are full of wordplay and cultural references) and ofthe knowledge of modern Italian society.


Specific for Italian Learning

This list isn’t exhaustive, but I’ve just tried to offer you a range of publications that can help you in learning Italian. For this reason, I would suggest to read a series of books published by Almaedizioni:

L’Italiano con i fumetti

Here, you can find 5 comics stories (Roma 2050, Una storia Italiana, Il Mistero di Casanova, Rigoletto, Habemus Papam) with practice activities for different levels of linguistic competence. Each volume presents strips, exercises and solutions. In addition, on the website there is also an animated version with different episodes so that you can  practice your listening comprehension.

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These comics are not authentic stuff, but stories written for Italian language learners. So, in some respects they might lack authenticity, in others they represent a great opportunity  for guided reading.

In conclusion, I can only wish you a good reading! Enjoy the Italian comics you prefer.

How to Learn Italian with Comics - Part 2

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In the previous article (Part 1), I suggested that we can use Comics as a different kind of material to practice foreign language with more effectiveness. I also indicated what are the main benefits of using them in our language learning process and started a list of the most important Italian "fumetti".

In this part, I'm going to continue that list with comics we can use at an upper Italian reading level.

 

From Beginner to Intermediate

Lupo Alberto

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Lupo Alberto is a blue wolf madly in love with a hen named Martha. She lives in the Mckenzie farm and Lupo Alberto constantly tries to steal her, but his attempts are never successful. The comics  are always laughable and the main characters are very popular, especially among teenagers.

Lupo Alberto was started in 1974 but it has stood the test of time (more poetic)  thanks to its brilliant dialogues and funny plots. Its reading level (readability is technically a word, but it’s very awkward and rarely used) is a little more complicated than that of Topolino. Grammar structures are simple but it contains a lot of slang terms and phrases.

You can have an idea of what the comics  are like on Amazon, where you can find a complete digital edition of all the strips of Lupo Alberto since its first appearance. If you want, you can read for free an extract of all the comic books. Each digital volume costs just 1,49 euro. 

 

Simple e Madama

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This comic has gained a recent popularity. Born as posts on Facebook, Simple e Madama is the story of a couple of cartoonists and their everyday experiences. It would be a great choice if you want to have a view of Italian culture in a simple and straightforward language.

Actually, Simple and Madama are the typical example of an Italian modern couple. Lorenza Di Sepio tells us, with humour, about the nights off with friends, shopping, dieting and their love life. You can find her comics on Amazon or you can simply follow her on Facebook where she shares strips almost every day.


From Intermediate to Advanced

If you already have a good grasp of grammar and vocabulary, you can choose one of these comics that are suited for upper levels.

Diabolik

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Diabolik is a very successful series that has inspired a film, video game adaptions, and animated tv series. The main character is an expert and an unscrupulous thief, an anti-hero that steals from criminals. He is also a master of disguise and is aided by his partner Eva Kant.

This acclaimed comic series was created by sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani in 1962. It’s marked by suspense and action. Its dialogues are strong and articulated and there are a lot of captions explaining the scenes.

The cheap way to read Diabolik is on Google Play or ITunes where you can find comic books at 0.99 euro.

 

Dylan Dog, Martyn Mystère and Julia

One is the nightmare investigator, the other the detective of impossible and the last a young criminologist looking like Audrey Hepburn. If you like detective stories, you will get addicted to Dylan Dog, Martyn Mystère or Julia. The first investigates paranormal events in the suburbs of London, the second is an archaeologist and studies the most enigmatic events of human history, and the third is the story of a brilliant female professor at University, who helps local police to solve crimes.

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According to the genre, the language of these comics is rich in hypothesis, conditional structures and complicated sentences. You need a solid knowledge of advanced grammar structures to fully appreciate these stories. The publishing house Edilingua has created a series named “Imparare l’Italiano con i fumetti” that include a short version of the original text of the first two episodes of Dylan Dog (“L’alba dei morti viventi” and “Jack lo squartatore”) and of Julia (“Ucciderò” and “Una cara, carissima amica”) accompanied by explanations and activities. You can buy it here or on Amazon. In addition, you can download the audio track and a glossary that will help you with reading for free, after registration on this website (click on Materiali per studentiImparare l’Italiano con i fumettiaudio or glossari and then you can choose what comics book).


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How to learn Italian with Comics - Part 1

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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.

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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.

Beginner

When you’re really a beginner, it’s good to start with comics for children.

Topolino, Paperino and Paperinik

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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.


Want to know more? Go to Part 2!

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