Thursday, January 03, 2008

Language Instruction: Part 1 Spanish Books

I like to spur my nieces' and nephew's interests in language. Their grades have gone up overall since they have more confidence and they are doing something they find enjoyable. The only problem is that my nieces are into Spanish and my nephew is interested in Japanese. I try to help them with the languages and am also tying to improve the Russian I learned in college.

In the spirit of Larry Ferlazzo and his list of tools I'll make lists of some of the books, websites, podcasts, etc. that are indispensable to me. Here are the Spanish books that I've bought for myself, the kids, or borrowed from the library.

I know plenty of people don't have the funds to buy all the books and some people just hate books versus on-line materials. I've always liked books as a primary or secondary source of instruction since they are portable, easily browsed, and can be a nice change of pace.

I think a comprehensive textbook is always a good place to start. The Ultimate Spanish Beginner-Intermediate gives a decent coverage of Spanish. It does cover vosotros and the intricacies of the Spanish of Spain, as the reviewer on Amazon points out the Spanish of Latin America is the most common. It's very comprehensive and worth the expense.

Spanish Now! is a flawed but serviceable textbook series. There are some typos and inconsistencies which can get in the way of a true understanding but it's good for the price. If you are really tight on funds you might be able to find Ultimate Spanish or another text in the library or use the Internet sites I'll list as primary references.

Once you have a decent textbook books on verbs and grammar are a good way to refine you understanding. The Big Red Book of Spanish Verbs is a great way to familiarize yourself with common verbs and their conjugations. The included CD is good for getting some practice with the verbs.

501 Spanish Verbs is an old standby, it is widely available in most bookstores. There isn't a CD just common verbs conjugated for study.

Only a brave few actually enjoy grammar but it is a necessary evil. Spanish Grammar for Independent Learners is a good reference in an easy to follow format. If you can deal with a more regimented format Spanish Grammar is an inexpensive option.

Once one has a decent foundation and has refined their understanding of verb conjugation and grammar the last part needed for the basics is a good dictionary. The cock of the walk would be the Oxford Spanish Dictionary which has CDs, Latin American and European Spanish words and phrases, etc. The only problem is unless you have a lot of money lying around you'd do better with a cheap dictionary and some web pages.

Short stories, poems, novels are all great ways to see the language in use. Spanish Short Stories is a good parallel text suitable for a intermediate learner. For the more advanced learner there is Short Stories in Spanish. Poetry is a great way to see the possibilities in meter and turn of phrase of a language.

Of course who someone would prefer to read is very subjective, personally I love reading Frederico Garcia Lorca. There are quite a lot of manuals, novels et al. that have been translated into Spanish so one isn't limited to works created in Spanish but can also pick up works that you've already read in English. Whether one is looking for Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, or Stephen King.

I'll write up the Japanese and Russian books as well as the podcasts, web sites, computer programs etc. If you have any suggestions leave a comment.

1 comment:

Larry Ferlazzo said...

Nice list. I'll pass it on to the Spanish teachers at our school.