Summertime, and the living is easy.
No fish are jumping in Bologna right now, but after a busy year of teaching, I’m finally getting a break.
And one of the things that I’m determined to do during my vacation is to learn to use my smartphone!
To which end, I’ve been installing apps, then mostly getting disappointed and deleting them again!
In particular, I like to read so I’ve been looking for good newspaper apps.
In English, I read The Guardian, a British newspaper which is free to read online, and The New York Times, which you need to pay for (but there are some good deals!)
And in Italian?
Niente! There’s nothing decent that’s free, and the paid for stuff is horribly over-priced.
I’m happy to pay for a decent online reading experience if I can’t get it for free, but no way am I going to cough up the same price as the paper version!
To put it charitably, Italian news sites lack marketing nous.
Which brings me to the point. O.K., I thought to myself, if I can’t find anything decent to read in Italian, what about French? What about Spanish?
As you know French and Spanish are related languages which share the same Latin root. All should therefore be intelligible to someone with a reasonable working knowledge of at least one of them.
And lo! The Le Monde app (French) is both intelligible and good value. There’s a cost but they have an offer – €1 for the first three months, then €10 a month thereafter.
Better, the El Pais app (Spanish) is both free and updated through the day! I’m regularly getting these groovy notifications on my phone and can’t resist clicking on them to try to work out the Spanish text.
Why learn to read in Italian?
Because, as well as opening the door to life in Italy (shame about the crappy Italian newspaper apps, though) it’s also the key to other major world languages, that’s why!
And that IS a good return on investment. Study one, get three.
But how to start, assuming that the very idea of READING in a foreign language puts you off?
What worked for me, we’re talking years back when I first came to Italy, were Italian easy readers – simplified stories designed for a particular level, usually with audio.
The secret is to start at the easiest level, only moving up to the next level when you’ve built your confidence and feel you can read without undue effort or constant recourse to the dictionary.
I used actual little books, made of paper (remember those?) Which I bought from a bookshop in the center of Bologna that doesn’t exist any more.
But these days you can buy .pdf files (e-books, in all but name) online. They’re printable, or can be read on a computer, tablet or smartphone.
And not conincidentally, we have over forty of them available on our other site, here, each with a free sample chapter to download.
I’ve made two great investments (time, not money) over the years: the first was learning to touch type (look mum, all ten fingers!)
And the second? Learning to read in Italian.
It took a little patience, perseverance, and the availability of graded material to support me while I built up my skills gradually.
But it was worth it.
OnlineItalianClub.com have a 15% discount offer this week. The details are here.
Or learn Italian the traditional way, at our language school, in Italy!