Article Written By Laura Scaramella

“Boost Italian Language Skills: Join an Italian Book Club!”

Are you struggling to learn Italian as an expat in Italy? Have you hit a plateau and can’t seem to make progress? If you’ve tried everything and are losing motivation, reading may be the key to getting unstuck and accelerating your learning. Joining an online book club specifically tailored for English speakers like yourself could be just what you need.

In this blog post, we will explore

  • how reading can recharge your motivation
  • why reading is crucial for language learning
  • techniques for reading in a foreign language
  • the benefits of joining a book club
  • along with tips for choosing the right one.

But first, allow me to introduce myself:

Ciao! I’m Laura Scaramella, a teacher and teacher trainer of Italian as a second language with over fifteen years of experience teaching the beautiful language. Throughout my career, I have primarily taught adults in group settings and trained other teachers. I am also the founder of Parla Italiano, an online Italian school ( Language acquisition and reading have always been areas of great interest to me.

At my school, we offer a book club on Zoom that aims to help learners appreciate the language and culture through reading native Italian authors. As someone who learned English as an adult, I have personally experienced the power of reading in deepening my understanding and appreciation of a language’s intricacies and beauty. Now, let’s delve into how reading can benefit you on your Italian learning journey.

Why reading in a book club can reignite your motivation

If you’ve lost your motivation, it could be because you no longer see noticeable improvements in your language skills. Maybe you feel like you’re forgetting words instead of learning new ones. In such cases, a motivation boost is essential, and reading within the supportive environment of a book club can provide just that.

First and foremost, reading something you enjoy brings pleasure. The satisfaction of reading texts meant for native speakers can be particularly fulfilling. For example, if you love thrillers, you might persevere even when the content becomes challenging because you’re eager to unravel the story. Being part of a book club further enhances motivation, as all members strive to contribute meaningfully and will work harder to do so. However, the benefits of reading extend beyond motivation.

The power of reading in context and storytelling

If you’ve been trying to learn Italian by memorizing word lists, you may have realized that this approach is ineffective. Our brains and memories work through connections and pathways. To retain a new word in your memory, it’s more beneficial to “anchor” it to something already there. A list of unrelated words will soon be forgotten because our brains naturally retain meaningful information.

The power of context and storytelling not only makes vocabulary more memorable but also contributes meaning to words, even unfamiliar ones. Storytelling is humanity’s natural way of sharing information and experiences, making it an incredibly powerful tool for language learning.

See also  Thinking of Renovating.

Why is reading in Italian challenging?

If reading in a foreign language is a natural way to learn, why does it feel so difficult? Perhaps you’ve chosen books that are still too advanced for your current level of Italian, or maybe you haven’t yet developed the right reading techniques.

Authentic material vs. graded texts

You can read in a foreign language at any level, but if you’re a beginner or lower-intermediate student, it’s recommended to start with graded texts. These texts are not intended for native Italian speakers but are prepared for language learners and simplified according to their proficiency level. They are usually categorized based on word count, such as 500 words for beginners and up to 1,500 words for intermediate learners.

Authentic materials, such as novels and short stories written for native speakers, are more suitable for upper-intermediate and advanced students.

5 techniques for reading any text:

After using graded texts for a while, you may want to graduate to authentic materials intended for native speakers. Here are five techniques that can help you build confidence:

1. Use context to get a general idea of what you’re reading:

Before diving into the text, try to glean information from the title, images, and genre of the book. These elements provide valuable clues about what to expect and can enhance your understanding as you read.

2. Read the entire text once for the general meaning:

A common mistake many students make when reading a book is wanting to understand every single word on the first read. However, this approach is exhausting and often leads to frustration, eventually causing some to abandon the task altogether. Instead, choose a manageable portion of the text to read—for example, one chapter of a novel or half of the first chapter if it’s lengthy—and read it from beginning to end without worrying about grasping every detail. Read as if you’re immersing yourself in the words, aiming to absorb the overall feeling rather than comprehending everything.

3. Reflect on the text and assess your understanding:

Don’t worry if your comprehension feels incomplete at this stage. Your mind is already at work, even if you don’t consciously realize it. Try to piece together the meaning by connecting key words you’ve encountered. Additionally, think logically about cause-and-effect relationships in the text. For instance, if something happens, what typically follows that action?

4. Read the text again and underline unfamiliar words:

During your second read, underline words that you don’t understand. However, be selective and underline only the words you deem truly important. Not all words carry equal weight. For instance, in a chapter, you may only need to underline 5-8 words and still grasp a significant portion of the text. Underline these words but refrain from looking them up immediately. Continue reading until the end.

5. Use a dictionary:

Now it’s time to consult a dictionary. Look up the words you underlined earlier. Afterward, you may choose to read the entire passage again. By only focusing on a few key and memorable words, they will become an integral part of your expanding vocabulary.

The benefits of joining an online book club

Joining an online book club in Italian can be immensely beneficial to your motivation. Sharing the reading experience with others increases your enthusiasm and provides additional learning opportunities. You can learn from your fellow club members, as well as from a teacher if one is facilitating the club. Being accountable to the club reduces the likelihood of abandoning the task. Furthermore, a book club introduces you to new authors you may not have discovered otherwise.

A book club that focuses on Italian literature will expose you to works by Italian authors, enhancing your language learning experience. Language and culture are deeply intertwined, and gaining insights into Italian culture will deepen your understanding of the language itself.

What to expect from a book club and questions to ask

A good book club should be welcoming and create a comfortable environment for all participants. Look for a club moderated by a native Italian teacher who can provide cultural context and help unravel the deeper meanings within the texts. During club sessions, members typically discuss the story as a whole, the characters, and specific language elements they’ve encountered. These discussions may include new words, phrases, or particularly evocative and well-written passages.

If you’ve never joined a book club before, it can be daunting to do so in a foreign language. To ensure the best experience, ask these questions before joining:

1. What language proficiency level is expected from participants?

Do you know you level? Take test to find out HERE.

2. How much time will you have to read the assigned text?
3. Will the text be divided into chapters, or do you need to read the entire book?
4. Will you be guided in your reading?
5. Will the discussions be carry out in Italian or in English?

How to find a book club

There are several ways to find a book club in Italy as an expat. Here are a few examples:

1. Visit and inquire at bookshops specializing in Italian language books.

2. Use online platforms like Meetup. Register on the platform and search for Italian book clubs. Keep in mind that while Meetup is a large platform with numerous groups, finding a suitable one may require some trial and error.


3. Utilize social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Search for pages and accounts focused on Italian as a foreign language or language learning in general. Ask for recommendations or inquire about book clubs.

4. Of course, you can also consider joining Parla Italiano’s book club ( The club offers a variety of well-known Italian authors like Ferrante and Calvino, as well as lesser-known but equally interesting authors such as Andrea de Carlo and Lorenzo Marone.

How does Parla Italiano’s  book club work?

Each chosen book is explored gradually, we read one chapter at a time.

To enhance the reading experience, a helpful worksheet is provided, which serves as a valuable companion. This worksheet not only assists in comprehending the content of each chapter but also aids in preparing for the discussions during the meetings. Its guidance ensures that readers delve deeper into the material and extract maximum value from their reading journey.

The worksheet, however, serves as a helpful guide, allowing ample room for readers to freely express their personal views.

At the book club meetings, all discussions are conducted exclusively in Italian, with the aim of fostering fluency and proficiency in the language.

Our next book club starts soon, get in touch to find out what we are reading HERE.

How to prepare for the book club sessions

Before diving into the assigned reading, take some time to research the author and the book. Gather clues from the book itself, including its genre and any accompanying illustrations or images.

As you start reading, apply the techniques mentioned earlier. Use the dictionary sparingly, only for words you feel are truly important.

If you own the book, underline passages that aid in character understanding, explain key events, or resonate with you on a poetic level. Take notes on specific points you’d like to discuss during the book club sessions and jot down any questions you have for better comprehension.


In summary, reading is a natural and effective way to learn Italian. By employing the right techniques and joining a supportive book club, you can enhance your language learning experience. Remember:

– Reading doesn’t require understanding every word immediately.

– Use the dictionary sparingly, focusing on the most meaningful words.

– Each time you read the text again, you’ll deepen your understanding. Summarize what you’ve understood after each read.

– Join a welcoming book club that aligns with your goals.

– Read works by Italian authors in Italian to gain a richer cultural understanding, which in turn deepens your language comprehension.

Please get in touch if you wish to have more information HERE.

About the Author(Laura Scaramella)

Parla Italiano is a boutique school of Italian that caters to English speakers aiming to live in Italy, travel with confidence, rediscover their heritage, and partake in the Italian culture and language. The small school offers high-quality teaching for small groups on Zoom, led by professional and qualified teachers. The classes are carefully designed to create a relaxed environment, and the syllabus includes original, interactive, and fun lessons. Parla Italiano focuses on achieving students' objectives and guiding them with passion to reach their language learning goals. All classes are delivered online using Zoom, ensuring a teacher-led, interactive approach with a strong emphasis on speaking.

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