La ciudad de las bestias


Copyright 2013 Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell, licensed CC-BY 2018
Purchase includes the rights to reproduce or digitally distribute the document for the students of the purchasing teacher. Not transferable after use. Respect copyright law.
The novel La ciudad de las bestias is copyright 2002 by Isabel Allende. All rights reserved.


You can receive this document with a license to reproduce or distribute it as much as you like, for all of your students, for as long as you’re teaching, now for free.

Click here  for more information and the free download link.


  • Illustrated
  • Professionally formatted
  • 79 pages
  • Introduction
  • Spanish/English dictionary of all vocabulary words and phrases


When I first set out to teach the novel La ciudad de las bestias by Isabel Allende five years ago, I wrote chapter guides for each chapter as I taught it through a year.   I never dreamed that teachers far and wide would use the document I made publicly available a few years ago (which you are always free to use).  Still, it continues to be my most-requested resource.  But you see, I wrote it for my students.  When I wrote the review vocabulary, I included words I knew my students had seen in previous years or in our regular vocabulary.  Word auto-corrected my lists in weird ways I didn’t catch.  I forgot what words were included in previous chapters and included them again (and again, and AGAIN).  My non-native Spanish made a few constructions awkward or I simply made mistakes.  And I didn’t even know how the plot ended, so I missed details that were important to the plot, and I included random questions that were little details that didn’t end up having anything to do with anything.  I knew how I wanted to incorporate culture and technology, so I didn’t bother writing those down.  And I included bonus questions that may or may not have been worth asking as a bonus question.

snip2All of that and more has been fixed and vastly improved in the very first Musicuentos ebook, La Ciudad de las Bestias: a Chapter-by-Chapter Guide to the Novel by Isabel Allende.  All review vocabulary includes only words mentioned in previous chapters.  No vocabulary is repeated in a new list.  Irrelevant questions have been removed and more critical-thinking questions have been added.  A native speaker has edited the document to minimize awkward or incorrect constructions.  There are no bonus questions – you choose how many points each question merits.  There are no English translations of anything until the dictionary.  And most importantly, the ebook edition includes profiency- and vocabulary-boosting activities with every chapter:


Each chapter’s section begins with a vocabulary list.  I chose the words based on their frequency of use, application to advanced themes, or importance in the chapter.  Words and phrases that are especially important to the plot or that help students improve their proficiency are emphasized.  Within the Vocabulary section, several activities get students using the words and phrases in memory-boosting ways.  Translations of the words are not included so that you can determine how students interact with the meanings of the words. All words and phrases and their English translations are listed alphabetically in a dictionary at the end.

A repasar

After the first several chapters, each chapter includes a list of vocabulary words previously mentioned in a Vocabulario section. Sometimes these words are variations of previously used words.


These questions enhance memory by causing students to relate vocabulary meaningfully to the world around them.


This section lists pairs or groups of words that are related somehow.  Boost memory by asking students to make connections among vocabulary words.  Are they all parts of the body?  Things that you wear?  Words related to injuries?

Diccionario Visual

Students remember more when a picture is attached to a word.  Students are encouraged to look up several vocabulary words using Google Images.  (Note: I have
looked up every word I recommend students to view, but still remind students to use discretion and turn on Safe Search.)


Students perform a task specifically related to improving their proficiency, such as describing a scene, making a comparison, or narrating a story.


Students have the opportunity to practice interpersonal conversation by talking with a classmate or friend about something related to the chapter and its vocabulary.

Imaginación con una frase idiomática

Students practice idiomatic expressions, a key to developing advanced proficiency, in a way that uses their imagination, which increases memory.

Aún más

This section is included from time to time to ask students to make a cultural connection using vocabulary words and concepts.


This section is included from time to time to give tips on how particular words are formed or function in sentences.

A leer

The second part of each “chapter” is a set of questions about the plot of the story, accompanied by proficiency-boosting activities.

Reading questions

These questions usually relate to major plot developments and often ask students to think critically about what they’re reading.

Para ti

This activity asks students to relate something in Alex’s story to their own world. Making cultural comparisons is an important skill for advanced students.

Para comprender más

offers comprehension-boosting activities such as making diagrams
or character sketches or looking up pictures or videos of things or actions mentioned in the chapter.

Aún más

This activity is included from time to time to suggest ideas for how to find out more about the world of Las bestias.


This activity is included from time to time to point out a grammatical function in a chapter and ask students to interact with it in some way.


The book ends with an 11-page glossary of every word or phrase included in the vocabulary lists.


This is my first time teaching a novel and quite honestly, I wasn’t sure how to do it but because you provided these materials, I gave it a try, and I’m so glad I did. I appreciate all your hard work because it made it so easy for me to take the risk and try something new.

Totally excited about this ebook! Now I think I can teach this novel!

My class finished the book and found the study guide VERY helpful! Thank you!

The kids are enjoying the book so much. This has been a lifesaver!

Your guide has enriched all of my students. It is so wonderful to see these students get excited about reading in another language. IT HAS BEEN AWESOME!