Spanish story

This short Spanish story is available as a free download from El biblio de los chicos. It is a 24-line dialog by Melina Pogorelsky and has an illustration by Analía Godoy. This is a excellent example of authentic language that can be used successfully with Spanish language learners.

The story is a dialog, but the two characters are not identified at the beginning. One is bragging about how strong, fast and organized she is. The other simply says Cállate (Be quiet). (Depending on how it is said, cállate can be strong. You may want to use another word here, such as silencio.) The reading uses first-person present tense verbs, common adjectives, and simple sentence structures. It has a unexpected ending, when you realize that one of the speakers in an ant and that everything she says is true, relatively.

There are many ways that you can use this dialog with Spanish language learners. I have listed a few ideas below. It is also a fun read-aloud with children who do not read independently.  Cállate is not something that most of us use with children or want to model, so you may want to change it to Silencio, por favor. It has the same meaning, and the por favor allows for even more expression as you say the line.

Pequeñas vanidades uses the vos form, but it is only seen in an accent mark and one other word. If you want use the verb callarse, rather than changing it to silencio as mentioned above, you can change it to the tú form by simply adding an accent mark to change callate to cállate.  Also, in the next to the last line, change sos to eres. I have left the verb form in the original vos. A translation follows.

Use this link to reach the page with the Spanish story, Pequeñas vanidades, and the pdf download with the story and illustration.

Pequeñas vanidades por Melina Pogorelsky

— Callate.
— Pero en serio te digo. No es que me agrande.
— Callate.
— Pero de verdad, no lo puedo evitar, soy muy fuerte.
— Callate.
— Y veloz.
— Callate.
— Y ni te digo qué buena compañera soy.
— Callate.
— En serio, trabajando en equipo soy lo más.
— Callate.
— ¡Ah! ¡Y soy tan pero tan organizada!
— Callate.
— ¡Y responsable! Tan responsable…
— Callate.
— Y no me canso nunca. Voy, vengo. Vengo, voy.
— Callate.
— ¿Ya te dije que soy muy fuerte?
— Callate.
— Puedo levantar y cargar como diez veces mi peso.
— Callate.
— Pero en serio te digo. No es que me agrande.
— Callate. ¡Sos una hormiga!
— Sí, pero la más grande que hay.

Translation:
Little Vanities by Melina Pogorelsky
— Be quiet.
— But seriously, I’m telling you. It’s not that I’m exaggerating.
— Be quiet.
— But really, I can’t help it, I’m very strong.
— Be quiet.
— And fast.
— And I can’t even tell you what a good classmate I am. (compañera can be translated in many ways, including group member, teammate, co-worker and even friend.)
— Be quiet.
— Seriously, working in a team, I’m the best.
— Be quiet.
— Ah! And I am so, so organized!
— And responsible! So responsible…
— Be quiet.
— And I never get tired. I come and go. I go and come.
— Be quiet.
— Did I mention that I’m very strong?
— Be quiet.
— I can lift and carry ten times my weight.
— Be quiet.
— But seriously, I’m telling you. It’s not that I’m exaggerating.
— Be quiet. You’re an ant!
— Yes, but the greatest one there is.

Ideas for using this Spanish story with language learners

There are lots of ways to use this short Spanish story with language learners. Here are a few ideas:

– Read the dialog for the class. You need a student or assistant to read the lines responding to the ant (Cállate or Silencio). For the ant’s lines, use lots of expression and gestures to make the meaning clear.

– Have students read the dialog aloud in pairs. Encourage the student saying only cállate/silencio to think about how his/her expression will change during the dialog to express increasing frustration. Have students switch roles and read the dialog again.

– As a group, list and discuss the ways the ant characterizes herself. Is she telling the truth?

– Have students identify how they are like the ant and how they are different.

– Discuss what other adjectives could describe the ant. Why does she not mention these adjectives?

– Teach the words vanidoso and vanidades. Discuss the title. Why are they pequeñas vanidades?

– Have students illustrate the dialog, showing the different qualities of the ant. They can label the illustrations with lines from the dialog.

– Have students act out the dialog and present it as a play.

– Have students create a dialog using the same structure with a different animal, for example, a dolphin or an elephant.

You may be interested in:
Poem by Douglas Wright for children learning Spanish
Walking and talking in Spanish – Two rhymes to combine with movement
One pretty poem and 15 activities for children learning Spanish

Printable Spanish game - Treasure hunts and scavenger hunts
Spanish ebook - Grande y pequeño