Ocho mundos: a cultural reader

Categories: Language Learning: Supplementary materials

Author: Wegmann, Brenda

Girol Number: 12938

ISBN: 0-03-059746-3

Publisher: Holt Rinehart Winston

Location: New York

Year: 1978

Edition: 2. ed.

Condition: New. Excellent.

Binding: Plastified softcover

The main purpose of OCHO MUNDOS, Second Edition, is to provide simple yet stimulating reading for the beginning and early intermediate college Spanish student. It is also intended to expand vocabulary, build reading, conversing, and writing skills, and present interesting cultural and general Information.


The general consensus of those teachers currently using OCHO MUNDOS was that students find it easier to read and speak about their own lives and problems than about materiais that are new to them. For this reason, the chapter on the Mayan lndians has been replaced by a completely new Chapter 2, El mundo de los estudiantes. This new chapter is written in only the present tense to enable students to use OCHO MUNDOS earlier in the year However, in this chapter Hispanic culture is still emphasized, as differences and similarities are pointed out between the educational systems and student lifestyles of North America and of Hispanic countries.

In all, 10 out of the 24 readings included in the second edition are new and all focus on topics of more current student interest. The chapter on Crime has been changed to a chapter on Mystery, but the most popular reading—El mistério de la duquesa asesinada—has been retained. Many of the articles which remain from the first edition have been updated and their exercises expanded or improved.

In response to users’ suggestions, the number of Notas de vocabularío has been increased and the number of Notas de gramática decreased. In addition, exercises on idiomatic expressions have been added throughout the book.


Modern research shows that two of the most effective aids in the learning of vocabulary are context and repetition. These two requisites provide a rationale for the division of this book into eight chapters, eight different “worlds,” each one providing a theme for the reinforcement and active use of many key words.

The format has been designed for flexibility. Each chapter contains three selections so that the instructor may decide to use one, two, or all three, depending on the interest of the students in the chapter topic the amount of work needed in the tense being introduced, the limitations of time, or personal preference. However, the advantage of taking more than one of the selections in each chapter is that the class will then have the opportunity to use some of the new vocabulary over a period of several days.


Because the gradual mastery of verb tenses is a necessary feature of all beginning courses in Spanish, the chapters of OCHO MUNDOS are organized around the step-by-step introduction of the Spanish verb tenses. The First two chapters use only the present tense, the third present and preterite, the fourth present, preterite, and imperfect, and so on.

A glance at the Table of Contents will show which tenses are presented in each article. The last two chapters are devoted to the subjunctive, since these tenses are a difficult but essential part of a reading mastery of Spanish, and it is often hard to find appropriate elementary readings illustrating their uses. Chapters 7 and 8 introduce the subjunctive in two different ways, so the instructor may choose either one or use both. These last two chapters also serve as a review of all tenses. The book can be easily adapted to courses which only go through the present subjunctive by using the first two readings of Chapter 7 and the first reading of Chapter 8.


Most reading selections are accompanied by a Nota de Vocabulario or a Nota de Gramática designed to serve both an immediate and a long-range function. These notes present information on difficult words or constructions occurring in the article about to be read; they then use these examples to point out a general rule of Spanish word formation or grammar as an aid to the student in future reading. The Grammar Notes are not intended to teach grammar points, but rather to serve as a brief review or preview of what is taught in the first year through other means. All grammar and vocabulary notes are optional.


The eight themes chosen for chapter headings are broad topics of human interest which do not depend greatly on current events or fads and therefore are not likely to be soon outmoded: The Family, Student Life, The Fiesta, Sports, Mystery, The Future, Travel, and Communication. Every chapter begins with an easy, illustrated introductory piece. Three selections follow, usually adaptations from Spanish or Latin American books or magazines.

In general, literature and poetry have been omitted because of the difficulties of literary style. However, a new Science fiction story about an eerie form of invasion from outer space, several of Bécquer’s short love poems, and excerpts from the lyrics of several popular songs are exceptions to this rule, since they seem more accessible. An effort was made to avoid the monotony of journalistic style which sometimes pervades a book consisting totally of essays or adapted magazine articles. For this purpose a survey questionnaire, a letter, a brief detective story, a Street interview, excerpts from a book on dance, and a travel brochure have been included along with magazine articles, jokes, and cartoons.

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