Some Notes On Spanish For Reading

Unlike the other languages for reading in this series, the Spanish edition is relatively recent and quite affordable.  It is a delightful and effective way for learning to read Spanish and is highly recommended.

The book’s introduction treats Spanish vowels and consonants with descriptions on how to pronounce them.  The first chapter is critical, for it deals with cognates of which there are an abundance.  These should be studied assiduously, since they are indispensable for expanding vocabulary.  I must say that, although I had three years of high school Spanish, and took a summer course in Mexican civilization and culture, the first reading about the Spanish language seemed completely foreign.  The next three chapters place a strong emphasis on the geography and history of Spain and Latin America.  After these chapters, the authors concentrate on legends, festivals and other aspects of Hispanic culture.  The readings are quite interesting and build up the reader’s knowledge of Spanish grammar, which is much easier to grasp than French or German.  It is not until Chapter 10 that the reader gets his/her first taste of Spanish literature.  The excerpts provided come from Juan Ramon Jimenez’s highly poetic and personal masterpiece, Platero and I.  In this intriguing work, the author shares his thoughts and reflections with his beloved donkey, Platero as they travel together.  An excellent translation of the complete work is available through the University of Texas.  The idea of traveling through towns and surrounding country is a major theme in Spanish literature.  Beginning with the picaresque(which features a rogue as hero, and was a reaction to courtly romances), it finds its culmination in Miguel de Cervantes’s work, Don Quixote, in which Sancho Panza(picaresque tradition) and Don Quixote(courtly tradition) travel the countryside together, viewing events from the point of view of their respective traditions.  The 12th chapter has a long reading:  Women and the Labor Force in Latin America and the Caribbean”.  This is the type of writing you might find in a newspaper or scholarly article.  At first it’s a bit intimidating, but repeated readings will flush out the meaning and boost your confidence.  Chapter 14 has two scholarly articles:  “Latin America in Transition”, and “Drug Traffic:  Two Sides of the Coin”.  The latter is particularly difficult, because some of the grammatical constructions are quite complex.  I would study these two articles until you are comfortable with all the syntactical windings.  Some brief poems by Pablo Neruda complete this instructional volume.

The major shortcomings of this book are two:  there is no comprehensive grammar test at the end as is the case with German for Reading, and there is no vocabulary list, so you will need to purchase a Spanish dictionary.  But the shortcomings are minimal compared to the excellent preparation for reading Spanish that it provides.  After completion, I found I could read a number of literary texts without much difficulty.  I recommend the book to you without hesitation as a wonderful way of experiencing the many facets and colors of the Spanish cultural heritage.

About Robert M. Weiss
From an early age, I've taken great pleasure in reading. Also, I learned to play my 78 player when I was quite young, and enjoyed listening to musicals and classical music. I remember sitting on the floor, and following the text and pictures of record readers, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s. My favorites were the Bozo and Disney albums. I also enjoyed watching the slow spinning of 16s as they spun out tales of adventure. I have always been attracted by rivers, and I love to sit on a boulder with my feet in the water, gazing into the mysteries of swirling currents. I especially like inner tubing on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Since my early youth, I've been interested in collecting minerals, which have taught me about the wonderful possibilities in colors and forms. Sometimes I try to imagine what the ancient Greeks must have felt when they began to discover physical laws in nature. I also remember that I had a special passion for numbers, and used to construct them out of stones. After teaching Russian for several years, I became a writer, interviewer, editor, and translator. I continue to delight in form, and am a problem solver at heart.

3 Responses to Some Notes On Spanish For Reading

  1. berlioz1935 says:

    Is there a link or a book to “Spanish for Reading”? You seem to refer to a course but I can’t see the link.

    Is there something similar for the Russian reader? That would interest me. I have no problem with the Cyrillic alphabet but more so with remembering the words.

  2. Spanish for Reading is available through amazon.com. There is no entry for Russian for Reading in the series. The Russian readers that I know of, all presume an advanced knowledge of Russian grammar. Russian introductory textbooks are prohibitively expensive, but I’ll keep looking. There are sample reading lessons in Russian Life magazine. You might speak to Paul Richardson(chief editor), and see if he has any ideas. He can be reached at:1-(802)234-1956.

  3. This sounds like quite the find, Robert! I am interested. Thank you!

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