Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is Stories of Elves. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Elves. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Elves. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
Today’s story is a bit different. There are actually three stories, but they’re all quite short, so it makes sense to put them together.
All of today’s stories are about elves. Elves are magical creatures. Most people know elves from Lord of the Rings, which is a famous series of fantasy books. The Lord of the Rings is also some very famous films. In The Lord of the Rings there is an elf called Legolas and he uses a bow and arrow to fight.
Because of books like Lord of the Rings, people think elves are tall and very beautiful and have pointed ears, they have long ears. But this is a modern idea of an elf. In old stories, elves were also small creatures. They were magical creatures, still, but they were not beautiful like modern elves. That is the kind of elf in this story because this story comes from Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales, so it is a very old fairy tale from hundreds of years ago. The elves in this story are not so beautiful. They are a bit weird and strange.
So, recently I went to watch Frozen II. Frozen is a Disney film. It is a film about Elsa who has magical ice powers, and her sister Anna, and Frozen is possibly my favourite film ever. I really really loved Frozen. I actually saw Frozen four times in the cinema. Yes, I know. That is a lot. So recently I saw Frozen II and I loved it. The music is so good. It is a beautiful film. The story isn’t as good as the first film. So I don’t think I will see it four times, but I think I will definitely see it one more time, or maybe two more times, in the cinema.
Actually, I want to go and see it in Seville. So this December, from the 14th, I will be on holiday in Seville. Seville or, as it’s called in Spanish, Sevilla is a city in the south of Spain. It is very beautiful. It is very very hot in the summer. And it has very old architecture, very old, beautiful buildings. So I am really looking forward to going to Seville. I have wanted to go to Spain for a long time and I will enjoy relaxing there and of course, I will eat lots and lots of good food! I am so excited about the food.
So yeah, I want to go see Frozen II again in Spain because I want to hear the Spanish version. Most people don’t like it when films are dubbed. So a dub is when they change the audio of the film to be in a different language, and most people don’t like dubs because if you can watch it in the original language, “it’s better”, but I really find dubs interesting, especially films like Frozen, with music. I really want to see how they translated the songs and how they sound. To me, it’s very interesting, and it will be a great way to learn some new words in Spanish, maybe, as well.
Speaking of words, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
Stay up. When you stay up, it means you don’t go to bed. You stay awake during the night. When you are a child, you might want to stay up late. When I was a child, I wanted to stay up late, because the adults stay up late, and so that’s fun and interesting. But now that I am an adult, I don’t really like staying up late. I like to go to bed at a good time so I can sleep a lot and not be tired. Although recently, I’ve been going to bed early because I find it hard to stay away in the evening. I’m sitting there trying to read a book at 9pm and I keep falling asleep on the sofa! It’s so stupid. So I am very bad at staying up.
Hide, and the past tense is “hid”. When you hide, you make it so that people can’t see you. So you might hide from your parents. Maybe you did something bad and you don’t want them to see you. Children like to play a game called hide-and-seek where they go and hide in the house and another child has to go and find them. And sometimes people say that there are monsters hiding under your bed. So, be careful!
Naked is when you don’t have clothes on. Most people are naked every day in the shower, because it’s hard to clean yourself if you’re not naked. I have heard that some people hate being naked, and they even wear clothes in the shower, but maybe that is not true. I don’t know.
Dirt is basically unclean stuff. So outside, in fields, in the grass, in forests, when it rains the ground turns into mud, this brown stuff, and when mud dries, when it is warm and not wet, it becomes dirt. Uh, so you get dirt on your clothes, for example, and when your clothes are dirty, when they have dirt on them, you wash them. You also wash dirt off vegetables before eating them, or you should wash dirt off vegetables, because you shouldn’t eat dirt!
Sweep, and the past is “swept”. Sweeping is when you use a broom, a long stick, to move dirt around on the floor. So sweeping is a type of cleaning. So you sweep the dirt away to make the floor clean. When you sweep the dirt, you make a little pile, a little mountain, of all the dirt, and then you throw that dirt in the bin.
An employer is a person who gives you your job, and your employer also pays you. So basically, they’re your boss, although your boss might not always be your employer. The person who gives you the job, the employer, might not be the boss as well.
Christening is a ceremony in Christianity, in the Christian religion. When a child is born, they do this ceremony where they officially give the child a name and they put water on the child’s head. So this part is the baptism. During a Christening, two friends of the parents agree to look after the children. They say that they will not be the parents, but they will be like parents, to help look after the children, and they are the godparents. So the godmother and the godfather.
A shell is the outer part of an egg, so the hard, white outside of an egg. So shells are hard but the inside of an egg is soft. And you hit eggs to break open the shell.
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A big thank-you to our new patrons, Irene Benavente. Sorry, I don’t know if this name is Spanish, Portuguese or Italian. So it may be “Irene Benavente”, it may be “Irene Benavente” or it may be “Irene Benavente”. Thank you also to Giang Phạm Thị Vân, Pomarańczka, and Tommy Wang. There are lots of new patrons this week. Thank you all so much.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Stories of Elves
The First Story
Once there was a shoemaker. He had a hard life, because there were many shoemakers in the city. Over the years, his business went very badly. He became very poor, so poor that all he had left was some leather. It was just enough leather to make one pair of shoes. So in the evening, he cut out the shoes from the leather, ready to make the shoes the next morning. Then he went to bed.
In the morning, the shoemaker went to make the shoes, but he did not find the leather on the table. Instead, there were two clean, bright shoes. He was surprised, and didn’t know what to think. He looked at them closely, and they were very well made indeed.
A few hours later, when the shop opened, a customer came in. He saw the shoes, and liked them very much, so he paid extra for them. With the money, the shoemaker could buy leather for two more pairs of shoes.
So once more, he cut the leather out in the evening, and the next morning, when he went to work, he found both pairs of shoes already made. Once more, customers came and paid extra for them, and this time he had enough money to buy leather for four pairs of shoes. He cut them out, and the next morning, he found four pairs made, and so on and so on. Every night, he cut out the shoes, and every morning, the shoes were there to be sold. The business grew, and the man became quite rich.
One evening, when the man was cutting out the shoes, he said to his wife, ‘I have an idea. We should stay up tonight and see what happens. Someone is helping us, and I want to know who.’
His wife liked the idea, so they hid in the corner and watched. When it turned midnight, two little naked men came out. They sat down at the table and started working on the shoes. They worked so quickly and skillfully that the shoemaker could not believe it. They did not stop until they were finished, and then they quickly ran away.
The next morning, the shoemaker’s wife said, ‘The elves have made us rich. We should thank them for it. They run around without any clothes on. They must be cold. I think I’ll make them little shirts, and coats, and trousers and socks. And of course, you should make them two little pairs of shoes.’
‘What a brilliant idea!’
So one night, when everything was ready, they put their presents on the table and hid in the corner. At midnight, the elves came in, and they were surprised to see the clothes instead of their work. They laughed and jumped up and down. They dressed themselves quickly and sang,
‘Now we boys are so fine to see,
Why should we still shoemakers be?’
Then they danced around the room and, finally, they danced out of the door. After that, they never came back again, but the shoemaker and his wife lived comfortably and happily.
The Second Story
Once there was a poor girl. She worked in a house, and she spent all day cleaning. Every day she swept the floor and put the pile of dirt in front of the door. One morning, when she was going to work, she found a letter on the pile of dirt. She could not read, so she took the letter to her employer.
‘It is an invitation from the elves!’ he said. ‘They want you to be a godmother and go to a christening.’
The girl did not know what to do. She was just a poor cleaner. Why should the elves choose her as godmother? But her employer said that she must go. It was the polite thing to do. So finally, the girl agreed.
On the day of the christening, three elves came and took her to a mountain. A door opened up, and the mountain was empty inside. There, the elves lived. Everything was small, but very beautiful. There were bright rocks everywhere, and all their houses were pretty and colourful. At the christening, the baby sat in a bed of gold.
The christening took place, and then the girl wanted to go home again. She did not feel comfortable there, because she was so much bigger than all the elves. But the little elves said, ‘Don’t go! Don’t go! Stay with us for three days.’
So she stayed, and they looked after her very well. They gave her lovely food, and they played wonderful games together.
At the end of the three days, she got ready to go back home. The elves first gave her lots of gold, and then took her out of the mountain. When she got home, she wanted to begin working. But her employer was not in the house, and instead there was a man who she didn’t know.
‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’ said the man.
‘I don’t understand. I work here!’
‘No you don’t. We already have a cleaner.’
‘But I was gone for just three days!’
But as she spoke, it became clear that she had not been gone just for three days. She had, in fact, been gone for seven years, and her old employer had died. In the elves’ mountain, time passed more slowly than here. Three days there was seven days here.
So the girl turned around and went back to the mountain, and lived with the elves for the rest of her life.
The Third Story
Once there was a mother. One night, the elves came into her house and took away her child, and put an elf in its place. The elf had a big head, and it did nothing but eat and drink. The mother went to her neighbour and asked her what to do.
‘You must take the elf into the kitchen and put it by the fire. Then, take two egg shells, and boil water in them.’
‘Boil water? Why?’
‘Just do as I say.’
So the woman took the elf into the kitchen and put it by the fire. She took two egg shells, filled them with water, and boiled them.
The elf started laughing. It laughed and laughed and laughed, and said, ‘How funny! I have never seen someone boil water in an egg shell!’
He laughed for several minutes, and then suddenly several elves jumped in through the window. They took the elf away and put the human child in its place.
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