How to seriously boost your Spanish using short stories – Part 1

A lot has been said about how Spanish short stories are helpful to improve your fluency.

I have even published some reasons about why stories will bring benefitsto your new language.

Among other things, Spanish short stories:

  • Make your learning much more enjoyable
  • And if you find interesting and fun stories, you will automatically become hooked to the story, which will be perfect for you to improve your Spanish.

During this blog post, I want to do an exercise and walk you through the process of acquiring new vocabulary using Spanish short stories.

You will also learn how stories may improve the way you use grammar rules in Spanish.

Finally, I will suggest different sources to find these powerful tools for strengthening your Spanish skills.

This is going to be a 3 part blog post, so keep tuned to keep going deeply through this article.

Note: This is a long, 3-part series. If your time for reading is limited, why not sign up for my checklist + Email course: Spanish Mastery For Intermediate Students In 10 Simple Steps?

Increase your vocabulary using Spanish short stories

The following is a small part of one of the stories that I use to teach Spanish in my private lessons. You may find more Spanish short stories during my course: Intensive Spanish Listening:

En el avión:

Sandra duerme tranquilamente mientras vuela a España, pero de repente, el avión se sacude bruscamente*y empieza a caer* precipitadamente*.*

Todo el mundo empieza a gritar muy asustado y Sandra finalmente le dice a su esposo:

─Amor, antes de morir quiero confesarte que lavé el sanitario con tu cepillo de dientes la última vez que peleamos─

El avión se estrella y Sandra despierta ─Solo fue una pesadilla ─susurra─Creo que debo confesarle a Ernesto lo del cepillo de dientes─

Make the short stories comprehensible for you

Now, if you are a beginner, the story above might seem very advanced.

However, if you are at the intermediate level though, you have no excuse.

The first thing you have to do is to make the story comprehensible. This step is very important because you won’t acquire the language unless you understand what you hear or read.

For example, if you listen to the story and the word “pesadilla”is only noise to you, you won’t learn anything.

However, if someone explains to you in Spanish that a pesadillais a bad dream, or if you just look the word up in a dictionary and find that “pesadilla” means “nightmare”, you will definitely learn a new word.

*Hack:Learning the story by chunks will make it easier to understand and remember. Just focus oncomplete phrases instead of individual words.*

Understand the story

Let’s go phrase by phrase understanding exactly what the story tells us.

Ideally, I rather a native speakerexplaining what the story means using synonyms or even gestures and body language.

However, If you are on your own, don’t hesitate to use a dictionary or even google translator.

  • Sandra duerme tranquilamente mientras vuela a España ⇒ Sandra sleeps quietly as she flies to Spain.
  • Pero de repente ⇒ But, suddenly.
  • El avión se sacude bruscamente ⇒ The airplane shakes violently.
  • Y empieza a caer precipitadamente ⇒And begins to fall precipitously.
  • Todo el mundo empieza a gritar muy asustado⇒ Everybody starts screaming very scary.
  • Y Sandra finalmente le dice a su esposo ⇒And Sandra finally tells her husband.
  • Amor, antes de morir quiero confesarte que lavé el sanitario con tu cepillo de dientes la última vez que peleamos ⇒ Honey, before we die I want to confess that last time we fought, I washed the toilet with your toothbrush.
  • El avión se estrella y sandra despierta⇒ The airplane crashes and Sandra wakes up.
  • Solo fue una pesadilla ─susurra─⇒ It was just a nightmare─she whispers─.
  • Creo que debo confesarle a Ernesto lo del cepillo de dientes ⇒I think I must confess Ernesto the toothbrush thing.

Ok, so you know what the story says… Now what?

It is time to digest that new vocabulary. In order to do this, all you need is time.

Just imagine that you are about to eat a healthy and delicious meal.

Experts always highlight the benefits of taking the time to bite, enjoy and slow down every meal.

Your new vocabulary is something that you will “consume”, and taking time to “enjoy it”,“taste it”and “digest it”is very important for you to remember it for the long run.

How will you do this?by repeating the story many times.

However, I’m not telling you to repeat the story with your words. Instead of that, I want you to listen to the same story many times.

Do it for a week, and if the words are still difficult to identify, repeat the story for another week.

Repeat the story until you understand it automatically.

Do it until you fully understand 100% of the words and expressions that are being said.

“So much repetition would bore me to death”

Yeah, maybe you could start feeling that listening to the same thing over and over again could become boring.

That’s why I don’t want you to listen to the story excessively, like 8 hours a day or something crazy like that.

Just make it a habit, listen to it during 1 hour a day, or maybe 30 minutes. If you are too busy, you could even just do it for 15 minutes a day, but most importantly, do it daily.

Now, after you understand everything… it is time to speak!

After you feel that you understand the story, say it in your own words.

Try to say the story using the new vocabulary that you learn.

If you found new idioms in the story, say the story using those idioms. If you found phrasal verbs, say the story using the phrasal verbs, but use the new things you learn.

As I said before, using Spanish short stories may bring tons of benefits for your fluency.

You could evenimprove your grammarby using stories!…”How in the world could I do that?”, you might be wondering.

Stay tuned to the next part of this series and find out.

If you don’t want to wait, sign up for my checklist + Email course: Spanish Mastery For Intermediate Students In 10 Simple Steps in the form below.

Also, I want to hear from you, which stories are you planning to use to increase your vocabulary in Spanish? Don’t forget to tell me in the comments below.

Diego Cuadros is a blogger and a Spanish online teacher. He uses stories to help Spanish lovers understand fast-speaking native speakers, so they don't freeze and panic in conversations.

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