In Utah there is a store called the Deseret Industries, or D.I. for short. It’s a thrift store just like many of the goodwill thrift stores found in the world. These are treasure troves of old, and sometimes not so old, books that someone didn’t want anymore. A few weeks ago I found these two books: Nuestro mundO and Español tercer grado LECTURAS. They are two elementary level readers. These are fantastic, because they are right at my level of understanding of Spanish and, despite the fact that they are written for a younger audience, the Spanish I have learned and will continue to learn is fantastic.
An Example of how elementary readers can help
In the very first story of Nuestro Mundo, I came across this phrase: Ya estarán por llegar y podremos comer. By context I figured out that this meant that they are about to arrive and then we will eat, but the wording of Ya estarán por llegar confused me. So I looked it up.
First of all I found that estar por…, means about to. In the present, such as estoy por comer, shows you are currently about to do something, in this case I am about to eat. In the past it would mean was about to such as, estuvo por saltar or he was about to jump.
The fun one is the future tense, which this phrase is in. It seems like over kill to put a future tense on something in the future, “They will be about to arrive,” just doesn’t sound right in this sentence. Based on everything I have read, the future tense gives a feeling that the speaker knows it will happen, but is less sure of exactly when it will happen. Almost like putting a future tense and the estar por just to cover both grounds that it might not in the near future after all.
But then there is the ‘Ya’ at the beginning, what is that about? YA is such a confusing word. First I learned it meant already and then I learned it can mean now. How can something already have happened in the future? I soon found out that ‘ya,’ when partnered with the future tense, is used to show that when the future action takes place, then the second one will. So the sentence means that they are about to arrive(not sure when) and THEN we can eat. Not too bad for an elementary reader.
What about Thai?
I found a great elementary reader. It’s the Manee series of books. You can download them from my download page. In fact there are two books per grade level and there are 6 grade levels. That’s 12 books in all. The Manee readers are also great because they show you what Thai life outside of the large city centers are like. Manee lives in a province not just out side of the Bangkok, but out side of the town center of their province. Life changes in Bangkok, but out in the rice patties of Thailand, it seems life evolves at a slower pace.
Do you have any experience with learning from elementary readers? Please share as well as share any links to websites as well.