Teaching Spanish can be an exciting yet overwhelming time in one’s life. Many teachers are assigned a textbook to use in class and then realize that it isn’t the best book for teaching Spanish.
The following books are some of the best on the market for Spanish learners and offer several approaches that can complement your Spanish textbook.
1. Best Workbook: Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Verb Tenses, Second Edition, by Dorothy Richmond
Conjugating verbs is one of the most difficult parts of learning a new language; however, proper verb conjugation separates beginner Spanish students from those who become fluent in the language. This is a great book for teaching Spanish that covers both beginner and intermediate level Spanish. The reason the book stands above the crowd is because it not only asks you to practice conjugation by memorization, but it explains why verbs should be conjugated in certain ways.
The book also gives many examples of the correct ways to conjugate verbs and the incorrect ways to conjugate them. It uses everyday examples, so you can begin using your new found skills right away. There are over 250 exercises in this tome, plenty of tables and a large range of topics to choose from.
The book covers present tense, conjugation of regular verbs, personal A, irregular verbs, stem-changing infinitives, the present progressive tense, conditional tenses, imperfect tense, future tense, past perfect tense, imperative subjunctive, compound tenses, passive voice, future perfect, conditional perfect, present perfect subjunctive and pluperfect subjunctive.
If you order the ebook version, you also get access to an audio answer key that helps with proper pronunciation.
2. Best Textbook: 52 Weeks of Family Spanish: Bite Sized Weekly Lessons to Get You and Children Speaking Spanish Together!, by Eileen Mc Aree
This textbook is very popular with families who not only understand the value of learning a second language—they want to instill those values on their children while they are still young.
52 Weeks provides small chunks of information over almost three months, so you can follow along at your own pace. The family Spanish lessons help you learn Spanish while teaching your children some basic grammar and vocabulary. The book uses real life examples and focuses on vocabulary and situations around the home so kids can get an understanding of how a new language fits into their lives.
This textbook also employs the use of fun games and activities to help keep learning fun. It shuns flashcards and heavy grammar practice in lieu of more hands-on methods to help keep the entire family engaged and craving more.
The book also includes an ideas section that helps your family to learn the language even when you don’t have time for an entire lesson. The pronunciation guide keeps everyone sounding as fluent as possible. The cultural notes explain different Spanish speaking countries so your family can learn about the regions and the cultures associated with the language they are learning. Finally, the resources section gives your family access to free or inexpensive resources so you can keep learning Spanish even after you’ve completed the 52-week program. The resources also help to integrate the lessons into your life and the culture into your understanding.
3. Best Fiction Novel: La Casa de los Espíritus (Spanish Edition), by Isabel Allende
One of the most famous contemporary best-selling novels by a Spanish author, La Casa de Los Espíritus (or House of the Spirits), by Isabel Allende, tells the story of the trials and triumphs of a family in Chile. The novel incorporates mystical realism and fantasy into its pages and also includes historical fiction.
The novel is considered one of moderate difficulty for students of Spanish.
The mystical realism can be a little confusing for new learners; however, the historical fiction educates those who are new to Latino culture and who want to learn more about the history of South America. The constant drama of the story keeps pushing the plot forward so Spanish students will feverishly keep reading on and learning new vocabulary in order to get to the next page.
The novel was also adapted into a 1993 movie starring Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, Winona Rider, Antonio Banderas and Vanessa Redgrave, so readers can follow along with the movie version (in English) and compare and contrast how close the movie follows the book’s plot. Check out the DVDs in SPANISH and ENGLISH.
4. Best Vocabulary Book: The Big Red Book of Spanish Vocabulary: 30,000 Words Including Cognates, Roots, and Suffixes, by Scott Thomas
Offering a three-pronged approach to the language, The Big Red Book of Spanish Vocabulary offers a comprehensive look at the language. The book is sorted into three categories: cognates, root families and suffixes. It focuses on creating a familiarity with certain words so memorization becomes a snap.
Instead of memorizing simple words like dog, car or kitchen, students can look at words by grouping and by alphabetical order. The book also has the 130 most common suffixes, so students need not feel overwhelmed by the sheer size of this book; they can simply look at the words that are most used. The book offers over 4,000 examples so understanding the reasoning behind word choice is much easier.
This book for teaching Spanish vocabulary also indexes the 5,000 most used words in Spanish, so students can simply look at this list of words instead of flipping through an entire book to find the exact word they want. The book also makes use of a cross-reference index that notes the root and suffix of every word.
Don’t miss my previous article 4 Tips to Choose a Book for Teaching Spanish here:
4 Tips to Choose a Book for Teaching Spanish
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