Spanish Language Books

Spanish Language Books

My students naturally ask me for my advice on Spanish Language Books.

In this post I am going to try to help by sharing my knowledge but even more important my students experience of working with Spanish text books.

I honestly doubt that there is such a thing as good and bad Spanish text books.

The books tend to be written with certain students in mind.

What we like is rather personal.

We tend to feel that we get along well with one book but another book just does not suit us.

In my experience this is true both for teachers and students.

Indeed, whenever I get together with Spanish teachers, we find that we have our own particular preferences.

With all this in mind, here are my observations on some Spanish language text books.

Pasos Spanish Course

Authors: Rosa María Martín and Martyn Ellis

Publisher: Hodder Education

The full pack includes:

  1. Text book
  2. Activity book
  3. Audio C.D.’s
  4. Video DVD (in fourth edition)

Some people like Pasos very much while others do not get on well with it.

Let us talk about the negative first.

There have been typographical errors but to the best of my knowledge these are all cleared up in the most recent 4th edition.

At first, it is not so easy to understand which C.D. recording goes with exactly which dialogue in the book.

I understand this perfectly. The key is to understand the reference numbers.

Now let us talk about the many positive elements in Pasos.

Pasos is designed for beginners and is presented as two levels: Pasos 1 and Pasos 2.

The fourth edition is especially complete. The complete course includes a text book, an activity book, C.D.’s and most importantly video in DVD format.

I would say that the book is fun to work with.

There are plenty of photographs and illustrations. Language points are explained rather fully.

The reason that I like the video activities is because it tries to get us very close to speaking Spanish in a non classroom environment.

What I mean by this is that if you go to Spain, you will be talking with Spanish people in a natural way.

This might be in the street or in a restaurant etc.

I find that my students very much like seeing this played out in the video.

15 Minute Spanish

Authors: Not given

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley

This Spanish language method is described as: 15 Minute Spanish: Learn in Just 12 weeks

I purchased the complete language pack.

At first, I was a little disappointed. The outside packaging is about A4 size if not a little bigger.

When I opened the box, I found:

  1. The main course book which is about half that size.
  2. A Spanish visual phrase book which is about the size of a pocket diary.
  3. A Spanish easy grammar book. Again, pocket diary size.

At first, I was not sure if liked it and this perhaps because I am accustomed to using full size text books.

However, I can indeed see how being so compact can be very useful.
You can carry it in your pocket and dip into it when you have a free moment.

The main text book provides 12 chapters that focus on key topics such as:

  • Introductions
  • Eating and drinking
  • Making arrangements
  • Travel
  • Accommodation
  • Shopping
  • Health, doctors and hospitals

The book is well illustrated and each chapter displays the relevant key language very clearly.

At the end of the book there is a very good menu guide and two very useful dictionaries: English to Spanish and Spanish to English.

The book does come with a free audio app, but I have not been able to access it.

The phrase book is a handy pocket book and useful when in a Spanish speaking country.

The easy grammar book does not go into a great deal of depth. The idea being to provide simple grammar examples.

All together, this 12 week, 15 minutes a day Spanish language course is very useful.


Sueños World Spanish

Authors: Mike González, Luz Kettle, María Elena Placencia.

Publisher: BBC Active

There are two courses:

  • Sueños World Spanish 1 for starting learning Spanish
  • Sueños World Spanish 2 an intermediate course for those who already have a basic knowledge of Spanish.

The first course includes:

  1. A main textbook
  2. An activity book
  3. 4 Audio CD’s

NOTE: The second course is the same except that there does not appear to be an activity book.

The following comments are true for both courses.

Sueños is very much about Spanish in the entire Spanish speaking world.

The courses are perfect for Castilian Spanish yet at the same time there are lots of South American Spanish elements.

This inclusive approach is also evident in the audio CD’s which I must say are crystal clear.

My students tell me that the audio CD’s provide good clarity in sound and that this is helpful when working with listening exercises.

Each chapter has interesting and useful texts.

These cover a wide range of topics that are important in the Spanish speaking world.

Because of this I would say that Sueños works very well as a Spanish language course.

However, it is furthermore a superb introduction to the cultures of all Spanish speaking countries.