My sophomores are having a very difficult time "getting into" the novel given the language that Dickens uses. I was wondering if there might not be a couple of short stories that would help them gain a toehold with the language and we could move on from there.
It’s not a short story, but you can use chapters from A Christmas Carol. Most students will know the story, and the language and plot are somewhat simpler. Since the text is available online, you can print out one of the staves and read it aloud, stopping along the way to allow students to take notes. I recommend stave 1, because it introduces the story and contains language in similar style. Dickens is Dickens, and while there are emulators there is no equal. If you want them to get exposure, you can begin there. The story also contains many of the same themes, making it an ideal introduction.