Learn English – Read this book for pleasure and to acquire more English

A Spanish teacher recommended the British book ‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl.  I was looking for a new book to read in Spanish to help my acquisition. From the first few pages I was hooked!

In this video I describe this children’s book without giving away the ending. Remember READING in the target language, the language you are learning, is a pleasant and USEFUL way to acquire more language.

I just finished reading the most delightful book in Spanish. You know, I’m working on my Spanish and I’m at the intermediate level. So I have been reading a few books in Spanish. And today I want to tell you about one book in particular. And I hope that when you finish watching this video, you will want to read the same book, but in English.

(Intro: English without Fear where you can learn to speak English naturally, through listening to stories)

Reading in the language that you want to acquire really helps. At least that is my experience. I use a Kindle. A Kindle is a…. an electronic book, so it doesn’t have paper. And what I like about the Kindle, for reading and Spanish, is that I also have a Spanish-English dictionary on the Kindle. So when I come upon an important word that I don’t know what it means, I can look it up on the Kindle. I don’t look up every word, no. But I look up the words that keep me from understanding the main story. I read to understand the action, what is happening. A lot of words I skip over, but that’s how children read in their own language. They skip over some words. They read to get the action to get the story and that’s what I’m doing in Spanish.

This book is called Matilda and it’s by an author whose name is Roald Dahl. It’s charming because it’s from the point of view of a child. Matilda is a little English girl who lives in a village in England.

She has a very strange family. They are not nice to her at all, her parents. She has an older brother who goes to school, but he is not in the book much. Her father is a used-car salesman. That means he sells cars that are pre-owned, somebody else used it first. Her father is not an honest man. He is a bad man and he also….. he’s stuck up. That means he thinks he’s really smart. He thinks he’s really handsome and he’s not at all. He is not smart. He’s stupid. And he’s not handsome. And he’s mean. He’s mean to his wife and he’s mean to Matilda.

Matilda’s mom is not mean, but she is neglectful. What do I mean by neglectful? Well, when the story opens, Matilda is only four years old. Every afternoon dad is at work and Matilda’s mom leaves her alone in the house while she, the mom, goes off to play Bingo.

What is bingo? Bingo is a game with numbers. You have a card and everybody has a different card and the numbers are in a different order. When they call your number that you have on a card, you cross it off and if you have five numbers in a row, you might win a prize. Matilda is left alone in the house. 

One day Matilda asked her father: “ Daddy, can I have some money to go buy a book?”  Her father said to her:  “What do you want with a book? That’s a stupid idea. We have television.”

Well, that was true. There were no books in the house. The parents watched television all the time, even during dinner.

Well, one afternoon when Matilda was alone in the house, she walked out of the house and walked all the way to the library in the town. When she walked in, she found the children’s books and she started to read them. Remember, she’s four years old. Matilda is a very smart little girl. In fact, she’s a genius. The librarian, the lady who worked there, watched her carefully because she never saw Matilda’s mom. When Matilda had finished reading all the books, all the children’s books, she asked the librarian to help her find adult books, books for grownups. And she started reading British literature like Charles Dickens –  lots and lots of difficult books, and she understood them.

What does Matilda do with all this knowledge, all this learning she gets from books? She plays tricks on her father. I told you her father is, he’s mean to her. So she thinks up tricks that will……. they don’t hurt him physically, but they crush his spirit. They sober him. They, they clobber his ego.

And I laughed a lot reading these tricks, reading how clever Matilda was. How long did her dad stay sobered? How long did he stay not being mean to her? Only about a week. And then he would get stuck up again and think he was so smart and handsome.

The rest of the book, which is really the best part, takes place when Matilda turns five and goes to school. She goes to a little school in the village, the town. The headmistress, the principal of the school, is this horrible lady named Miss Trunchbull. Miss Trunchbull is super mean and she should not be around kids. In fact, she does not like children. And the children she likes the least, the children she hates, are little kids like Matilda.

So, Miss Trunchbull is very mean to all these little kids, these five-year-olds. Miss Trunchbull  is also very mean to Matilda’s teacher, Miss Honey. The rest of the book is about how Matilda uses her intelligence to get even with Miss Trunchbull and to help her teacher Miss Honey.

It’s delightful. You will enjoy the story. I had never read it in English. I had never read it when my boys were little, but I so enjoyed reading in Spanish. So, I recommend Matilda by Roald Dahl.

Have you read any books in English? If you are at the intermediate level, I think you could do this and it would help your English. Leave me a comment below this video and tell me if you’ve read any books in English.

Remember, if you would like the transcript to this episode and others, go to my website, www.englishwithoutfear.com  By providing an email, you can get tips for acquiring English as well as sign up for my newsletter and access to all the episodes with transcripts. Well, that’s it for this episode. I’m Maria from English without Fear. Talk to you next time.

(outro: Thanks for watching. For questions or comments, here’s my email.)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *