Category Archives: Spanish texts

‘Cuentos de Edgar Allan Poe para estudiantes de espanol. Nivel A1’

poe

There’s a little test you can do of your language skill against the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL). “I’ll try that with my Spanish!” I thought, only to end up thoroughly deflated at the realization that I came out at level A1 – absolute, absolute beginner. Or as Wikipedia helpfully puts it:

He is able to understand and use daily expressions of very frequent use as well as simple phrases intended to satisfy needs of immediate type. You can introduce yourself and others, ask for and give basic personal information about your home, your belongings and the people you know. You can relate in an elementary way whenever your interlocutor speaks slowly and clearly and is willing to cooperate.

Well, on second thoughts, that’s about it.  Apparently this level takes approximately 100 hours of study and that would be just about right too.  (Actually, I’ve probably spent more time than that, so I must confess to being a laggard. I’ll blame my advanced age.)

So I downloaded Cuentos de Edgar Allan Poe for the princely sum of $2.04 AUD and found that, yes, it’s exactly the right level.  I had to look up about five words in each page, which was enough to keep me on my toes, but not so much that I felt overwhelmed.  I don’t know if the stories became simpler, or whether I improved as I went along, but it seemed that the later stories were easier to read than those at the start of the book.

It helped that I can’t remember reading any Edgar Allan Poe beyond, perhaps, in short story collections at school.  There were seven stories here: The Black Cat, Berenice, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Mask of the Red Death, The Facts in the Case of Mister Valdemar and Ligeia.  The whole book was only 68 pages in length, so each of the stories was relatively short. There were lots of deserted houses, ghostly women and glittering eyes and my favourite was probably The Pit and the Pendulum.  I did double check some of the stories in Wikipedia to make sure that I had actually understood them, and yes- they were abridged, but they captured the essence of the story with enough tension and mystery to make it worthwhile.

So, if you’re an absolute beginner too- this is $2.00 very well spent.

‘Alicia en el Pais de las Maravillas y El Mago de Oz’

aliciaenelpais

155 p.

I feel a bit as if I’m cheating counting Spanish books as ‘books read’ but – dang it- they take me as long to read as any 400 page novel, so count it I will! This book is not overtly aimed at the Spanish learner, in that it does not have vocabulary or questions at the back although its author information at the start seems to be aimed at an adult audience. The font is large, with a large illustration on the facing page, and the chapters are relatively short (i.e. a couple of pages). Of course, being Alice in Wonderland, strange vocabulary pops up and you think ‘Surely that can’t be right!’ but then you remember that yes, croquet is played with flamingos etc.  The Wizard of Oz story was easier to read because there was more repetition and the story followed a more conventional arc.

Does it work for me, reading a children’s book in Spanish? Yes, on one level, given that both are familiar stories which makes guesswork easier. But it certainly was a very abridged version, tracing plot alone, and in Alice in Wonderland particularly, it depended a lot on prior knowledge of the story with one event piled on another with little connection between them.  Come to think of it, though, that’s very much how Alice in Wonderland is, I suppose.

Source: Borrowed from my Spanish teacher Renato

‘Spanish Mystery Stories for Beginners: El Detective Pepe Sevilla’ by Alex Diez

pepesevilla

2016, 108 p.

Well, it may only be 108 very widely spaced pages, but it took me weeks to read! There were 60 chapters, each no more than two pages in length. And believe me, my Spanish is so rudimentary that one chapter a night was about all that I could manage.  Each chapter has vocabulary at the end of each chapter, with a special focus on colloquial expressions, of which there were many.

And the story? Well, surprisingly enough, there was one. Pepe Sevilla is a detective with his dog Kiko who is called to a luxurious mansion to investigate the death of a woman found at the bottom of a swimming pool. Her husband insists that it is suicide, but Pepe has his suspicions and gets to the bottom of the mystery.

It’s a pretty sparse text and I found that, in many ways despite (and because of) its brevity, it was more difficult to read than a newspaper article on BBCMundo because there’s no redundant text to help you guess the meaning of words.

I have the utmost admiration for anyone who ever becomes fluent in another language. Millions and millions and millions of people manage it so it must be possible, but it all seems a long way off yet.