|Posted on April 19, 2009 at 11:25 AM|
If you are trying to learn Spanish on your own, you will need studying aids. Learning a foreign language requires lots hard work. I found that I need to approach the topic from many different angles. Sometimes the new angle just clicks and suddenly something makes sense. I have included some of the study aids that I have used.
Langenscheidt Compact Dictionary Spanish Every student will need a good dictionary. I like this one for many reasons. It gives definitions in different contexts. It includes the bad words which as a student it helpful when speaking with a native speaker. It also talks about some of the regional differences. Finally it is small enough that it is easy to carry with you.
Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Verbs Tenses by Dorthy Deveney Richmond. This is good primer to learn verb tenses. It includes lots of exercises. This book is not for absolute beginners. All the answers are in the back of the book.
Practice Makes Perfect: Complete Spanish Grammar by Gilda Nissenberg and Gilda Nissenberg. This book is from the same series as the above book. It covers the entire range of grammar. Again there are lots of exercises with all the answers are in the back. I particularly liked the translation exercises.
The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice by Ronni L. Gordon and David Stillman. This book covers everything. It goes into great detail. This book is for the more advanced student. Try it after you use Practice Makes Perfect series. Most of the book consists of exercises. The exercises are a little repetitious. All the answers are in the back. It comes with a CD that includes an overall skill test as well as test for each chapter. This is a great book for learning grammar.
Sopa de Pollo para la Alma series. The Chicken Soup for the Soul books are great Spanish tools. The stories are all in Spanish. The stories are all short which is good for the beginner. There are no cultural challenges since the stories are written by Americans about normal American life. While it is good to learn other cultures, the cultural gap can make it more difficult to understand. Most of the stories are in the past tense. The student should know preterit tense and imperfect tense.
Memory Lifter is flashcard program. The program is free. The company then sells sets of cards. They also have a few free sets of cards. The program allows you to be tested by multiple choice, fill-in the blank, or sentence. The user can do all one or let the computer mix the types. Users can create their own flashcard sets. I often use this program when I have a spare 10-15 minutes. To get the program go to: www.memorylifter.com
Rosetta Stone Spanish. This very well known program is great for absolute beginner. The program works but it requires dedication. It will not make you fluent but it will give the user a good foundation. While I have not personally used it, I have known a number of happy customers.
Instant Immersion Spanish This program is much cheaper than the Rosetta Stone product. It has a number learning approaches. I personally like the pronunciation lessons. It rates your pronunciation compared to the DVD. For the money, this is a great buy.
FlashCardCo For absolute beginners, flashcards are critical. It is hard to do anything in a language with a vocabulary. You can't even learn grammar with knowing some words. You need this for your foundation. I like the product from this company because the cards are a good size and the words are useful. If you buy levels I-IV, you will know 2,000 words. This is good start. They also have a set of verbs that are conjugated in every tense. They can be found at www.flashcardco.com
Think Spanish As your language skills improve, you will need to read more. All the articles are in Spanish. The key words are provided in the margins. The articles are about the Spanish speaking world, culture, cuisine, history and geography. I like the scope of the articles. For an extra fee you can get a CD which includes a spoken copy of all the articles. To subscribe go to www.thinkspanish.com .
Telemundo There are several Spanish language television channels. They are great resource. For beginners, turn on the closed captions. You will be surprised how much you learn and understand. I started with cartoons for little kids. These cover the basics-- the same topics the beginning student needs. Next I found soap operas were a great learning tool. The soaps repeat everything many times. They speak slower than most shows. Soaps spend most of the time in the presence tense. Movies are next. I found American movies the easiest. I already know most of the plot lines and I understand the culture. Reality shows, game shows, sports, and news are hardest. Music lovers might like the Spanish music channels. Some find it is easier to learn a language by song.
Bottom line is a students needs to approach a language by using many different tools. No one way will teach the language. The one thing missing from the learning aids is instructor. Language skills must be spoken to be learned. Immersion schools will be the best learning aid for any student.