The Ultimate Resource Guide for Learning

The Ultimate Resource Guide for Learning

Image


Share this Post

KLearning Spanish opens up an exciting, diverse world, stretching from the Spanish Peninsula to the jungles of Peru, from the Argentine pampas to Mexico’s northern deserts. As well as providing the traveller with the lingua franca of over 20 countries, Spanish is connected with a rich culture of world-class literature, art, music, cinema, and architecture. Spanish is an excellent choice for a new language to learn, and here we outline exactly how you should go about achieving this goal.



Share this Post

Knowledge of the Russian language opens up a vast, diverse world, stretching from the Carpathian Mountains to the expanses of Siberia.  As well as providing the traveller with the lingua franca of over 15 countries and unrecognised territories, the Russian language is intrinsically connected with a rich culture of world-class literature, art, music, cinema, and architecture.  Russian is an excellent choice for a new language to learn, and here we outline exactly how you should go about achieving this goal.

How to Use This Guide

For anyone learning a foreign language, nothing is more important than choosing the right learning resources.  However, as with most languages, the amount of available material for learning Spanish is overwhelming, and the quality varies enormously.

So what should you buy?

Most resource guides on the internet simply throw together a vast list of virtually everything related to the language in question, leaving you just as bewildered as you were before.

But you don't need a list - you need a guide!
But you don't need a list - you need a guide!

We know from years of experience that the Pareto principle strongly applies to language learning: you really do get 80% of the results from 20% of the materials you buy.  If we had only known at the time how to separate the textbook-wheat from the chaff, we would have saved a considerable amount of money!

And so we have come up with the solution: an all encompassing, fully-updated handbook, advising you on the best books, videos, websites, podcasts and courses to help you on your path to native-level fluency.

Concept Online Learning

We appreciate that you may not have time to read through the whole of the guide, or may just be looking to improve a particular skills.  So, in order to help you find exactly what you need with ease, we’ve grouped our recommended material into the following colour-coordinated categories:

Grammar & Vocabulary

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Listening

Bonus

Grammar & Vocabulary

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Listening

Bonus

Of course, the material that you use will vastly depend on your current Spanish level.  (After all, there's nothing more dispiriting than working through a course that's too easy or too difficult for you!)  That’s why we have divided the guide into three sections: beginners, intermediate, and advanced – showing you exactly what you need for the stage you’re currently at.


Beginners - Grammar & Vocabulary

Grammar and vocabulary are the skeleton around which your language skills develop - you can't do anything until you've got to grips with the basics.  Obviously it's vital to choose the right material for the job.  So let's dive straight in and look at the best textbook on the market for beginners

Getting Started with Spanish

The easiest way for complete beginners to get going with Spanish. The book is divided into short lessons that clearly and gradually explain all of the necessary grammar. Even comes with online audio accompaniment of the authors providing extra clarifications. Lots of end-of-chapter exercises. Should be all you need for grammar to take you up to an upper-beginner level.

See Details

Getting Started with Spanish

The easiest way for complete beginners to get going with Spanish. The book is divided into short lessons that clearly and gradually explain all of the necessary grammar. Even comes with online audio accompaniment of the authors providing extra clarifications. Lots of end-of-chapter exercises. Should be all you need for grammar to take you up to an upper-beginner level.

See Details

As you can imagine, there were literally hundreds of Spanish textbooks for beginners to choose from.  We believe that Getting Started with Spanish is the best because it makes absolutely no assumptions about your prior level of Spanish and is specifically designed for self-learning beginners.

You could also try:
 If you are a false beginner or you have experience of learning foreign languages, then you may prefer to try Basic Spanish, another brilliant introdcutory textbook.

What we particularly like about this textbook is the way that each chapter builds on the last, constantly reinforcing topics that you have already covered to refresh your memory.

By the end of the book you will have a solid footing in –ar and –er verbs, adjectives, pronouns, question words, and other basic language skills.  Combined with the vocabulary that is gradually introduced to you, the grammar here should give you the confidence to conduct a basic conversation with a Spanish speaker.

At this point you will be at an A1 level and ready to move on to the next item in our list.

Getting Started with Spanish - Our Rating
93%

Of course, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t supplement Getting Started with Spanish with other grammar guides. There are plenty of excellent free websites on the internet that go over all the grammar that a beginner needs to learn.

  • Our favourite is Spanish Grammar in Context. This professionally produced website is organised in a neat and user-friendly way.  Quizzes and video explanations make this a great way to consolidate things you learn from your textbook.
  • Another option is Spanish Learning Exercises.  Although there aren’t a huge number of exercises here, the ones that do exist will be useful if you finish the end-of-chapter tasks in your textbook and want a bit more practice.

Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish

Entertaining beginner’s coursebook that will take you up to a solid intermediate level. Absolutely packed full of information, whilst still being highly readable and funny. Particularly useful for pointing out common mistakes that you are probably making to help you sound more authentically Spanish.

See Details

Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish

Entertaining beginner’s coursebook that will take you up to a solid intermediate level. Absolutely packed full of information, whilst still being highly readable and funny. Particularly useful for pointing out common mistakes that you are probably making to help you sound more authentically Spanish.

See Details

Once you have worked your way through Getting Started with Spanish you will feel confident with the rudiments of the language, but you won’t quite have reached intermediate level.  This is an excellent choice for those looking to fill in the gaps.

Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish does just what it says on the tins: it provides a path out of that awkward stage where you can say a little (clumsily) but probably don’t understand much.

Written by a native English speaker, this book retains a light touch whilst covering important topics like common idiomatic phrases, pronunciation, verb usage, false friends, and set phrases.

Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish - Our Rating
89%

501 Spanish Verbs

Solid reference book, detailing the full conjugations of 501 common Spanish verbs. Numerous example sentences demonstrate how each verb is used in various contexts (including idoms). There is also a sizeable dictionary of 2,200 additional verbs, showing which conjugation pattern each one follows so you know how to form them correctly. A worthwhile purchase for beginners.

See Details

501 Spanish Verbs

Solid reference book, detailing the full conjugations of 501 common Spanish verbs. Numerous example sentences demonstrate how each verb is used in various contexts (including idoms). There is also a sizeable dictionary of 2,200 additional verbs, showing which conjugation pattern each one follows so you know how to form them correctly. A worthwhile purchase for beginners.

See Details

With 15 tenses and moods, the Spanish verb is undoubtedly one of the most challenging aspects of the language – crack it and everything else will soon fall into place.

This is easier said than done.  With a confusing array of irregular, two verbs for ‘to be’ and a difficult subjunctive, Spanish verbs present a serious challenge to new learners.

Thankfully, you have at your disposal 501 Spanish Verbs. It explains how each verb’s conjugation follows one of three paradigms, and shows that once you have memorised these patterns, the process of learning how to use individual verbs becomes infinitely easier.

It then delivers on its promise and sets out the full conjugations of 501 common verbs, as well as listing the infinitives to 2,200 other ones in the back of the back.

501 Spanish Verbs - Our Rating
88%

There is a very useful online alternative to 501 Spanish Verbs: Cooljugator allows you to simply type an English verb into its search bar, and you get the Spanish translation in all of its conjugated forms.

It’s not as comprehensive as a dictionary or 501 Spanish Verbs, so you shouldn’t completely rely on it. But it does have some nice features that make up for this downside: stress indicators, pronunciation hints, related verb lists, etc.

The site’s owner claims that he frequently adds new words to the database so this should become an even more powerful tool in time.

Spanish Grammar Chart

Compact Spanish grammar chart (six pages) covering everything from rules of stress to the various verb categories and conjugations. An essential for beginners that struggle to remember grammatical rules and want an accessible reference guide. Very reasonably priced.

.

See Details

Spanish Grammar Chart

Compact Spanish grammar chart (six pages) covering everything from rules of stress to the various verb categories and conjugations. An essential for beginners that struggle to remember grammatical rules and want an accessible reference guide. Very reasonably priced.

See Details

Is it possible to fit the entirety of Spanish grammar on one wall chart?

Of course not..

But BarChart have managed to cram virtually everything a beginner Spanish learner would need to know onto just six sheets, and for that they deserve kudos!

We are huge fans of visual learning at Language Sherpa (because it works), so we are always looking out for products that maximise on this learning technique, like the Spanish Grammar Chart.

Simply put this colourful chart in a location that you’re likely to glance at from time to time and you will soon start to reap the benefits of having this useful reference guide at hand.

Spanish Grammar Chart - Our Rating
81%

The Oxford Spanish Dictionary

The undisputed king of dictionary series, the Oxford Spanish Dictionary contains over 300,000 words, phrases, and translations. Recent stylistic and layout improvements have made it much easier to find the word you need in its correct context. Fully updated to include contemporary business, technical and computing terminology. The best Spanish dictionary out there.

See Details

The Oxford Spanish Dictionary

The undisputed king of dictionary series, the Oxford Spanish Dictionary contains over 300,000 words, phrases, and translations. Recent stylistic and layout improvements have made it much easier to find the word you need in its correct context. Fully updated to include contemporary business, technical and computing terminology. The best Spanish dictionary out there.

See Details

Dictionaries are expensive, so you don’t want to keep buying new ones on a regular basis. For this reason, it makes sense to get the best one available straight away.

With over 300,000 words and phrases, you’ll almost certainly find a translation for whatever it is you need.  One of the best features of the Oxford series (that is often lacking in rival dictionaries) is the care they take to provide translations for words in all of their contexts, including idioms, sayings, and figurative usage. Look up a simple word, like ‘hand’, for instance, and you’ll see what we mean: it can be used in dozens of different ways, and doesn’t just refer to the human appendage.

Warning
Don't be tempted to scrimp and buy the 'Compact' version - it's surprisingly patchy. 

Dictionaries are often criticised for not keeping up to date with modern technology and innovation. The Oxford series, however, are frequently updated, meaning that if you get the most recent edition you can be sure that it will stay relevant for a good few years.

The Oxford Spanish Dictionary - Our Rating
91%

A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish

Lists the 5,000 most frequently used Spanish words (with English translations), starting from most commonly used downwards. All of the words also come with example sentences. Excellent resource for filling in any important gaps in your vocabulary. Can also be used to provide a rough estimate of your vocabulary size.


See Details

A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish

Lists the 5,000 most frequently used Spanish words (with English translations), starting from most commonly used downwards. All of the words also come with example sentences. Excellent resource for filling in any important gaps in your vocabulary. Can also be used to provide a rough estimate of your vocabulary size.

See Details

When you consider that the average native speaker knows about 20-35,000 words, it’s clear that this book will do wonders for your Spanish if you have the stamina to get to the end.

The dictionary allows you to follow a systematic programme of vocabulary learning – master the most common words and then move on to the rarer ones.

Minimum Vocabulary Required for Each CEFR Level

A1 Level:
0
Words
A2 Level:
0
Words
B1 Level:
0
Words
B2 Level:
0
Words
C1 Level:
0
Words
C2 Level:
0
Words

Fire_Irbis/shutterstock.com

One negative, however, is that it only gives limited definitions. You will probably want to cross-check with another dictionary to make sure you know what each word means across different contexts.

A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish - Our Rating
82%

Anki

Anki is a spaced repetition flashcard programme. It uses an algorithm that learns which words you find easy to remember and which ones don’t, and adjusts how frequently it tests you on these particular words accordingly. It is completely free and easy to install.

See Details

Anki

Anki is a spaced repetition flashcard programme. It uses an algorithm that learns which words you find easy to remember and which ones don’t, and adjusts how frequently it tests you on these particular words accordingly. It is completely free and easy to install.

See Details

Everyone learns vocabulary in their own way – some people simply suck words in like a sponge and don’t need to make any active effort; for others, nothing seems to stick unless they learn it off by heart.

If you’re the former – great! If not, Anki will prove invaluable.

Essentially, Anki is a flashcard app. But what differentiates it from the hundreds of competitors is the spaced repetition algorithm that it uses. This means that it is able to remember which words you find more difficult to recall than others and to test you on them more frequently.   

While some of the settings can be a little fiddly, and synchronisation between phones and computers can play up, it is generally an extremely reliable app and one that we wished we had used from day one of our language learning.

Even if you only use Anki for half an hour each day, you’ll see marked improvements in your vocabulary. 

Anki - Our Rating
92%

The good thing about Anki is that sometimes you don’t even have to compile vocabulary decks yourself. If you search around on the internet, you can sometimes find pre-made decks that you can import into your folders.

One such deck, created by Neri, displays 5,000 Spanish sentences sorted from easiest to hardest. It’s a great way to gradually build up set-phrases and connecting words. You can download the deck from here.


Beginners - Reading

Choosing reading material is not easy when you’ve just started learning a foreign language. The vast majority of books and newspapers available to you will be too challenging at this point, and yet, equally, you can’t stay tethered to the artificially simplistic exercises in your textbooks for too long.

So where is the best place to start once you’re ready to venture out into the world of literature?

Many language guides come out with the same suggestion: start with children’s books. This is TERRIBLE advice. There is nothing easy about children’s literature – especially for learners of Spanish! Although the concepts and storylines are simplistic enough to be enjoyed by toddlers, you face a number of surprisingly tricky linguistic challenges, such as a confusing array of diminutives, strange vocabulary, and irregular sentence structure.

A far better option would be to start off with something aimed at older children/teenagers. The vocabulary in these books is still pretty simple, but the grammar is often more regular than those aimed at younger readers.

The Adventures of Tintin

Classic comic book series by Belgian artist, Hergé. Fun and interesting stories with non-complex language and sentence structure. Excellent for beginner readers to build their colloquial comprehension. Entire series can be found here.

..


See Details

The Adventures of Tintin

Classic comic book series by Belgian artist, Hergé. Fun and interesting stories with non-complex language and sentence structure. Excellent for beginner readers to build their colloquial comprehension. Entire series can be found here.

See Details

If you’ve worked through about half of the Penguin Course, you should find it relatively easy to read one of the Tintin books.

As well as being great stories in themselves, the comic book format means that you’re reading succinct speech bubbles, rather than long sentences. This makes for good, easy practice texts while you’re still mastering trickier grammatical elements, like participles and relative clauses.

Mafalda

Quino’s world-famous Argentine comic series. A great way to build up your reading skills with easy, short dialogues. The simple grammar and vocabulary used means that you should be able to read through these without too much reliance on dictionaries.



See Details

Mafalda

Quino’s world-famous Argentine comic series. A great way to build up your reading skills with easy, short dialogues. The simple grammar and vocabulary used means that you should be able to read through these without too much reliance on dictionaries.

See Details

Mafalda is the creation of Argentine comic artist Joaquín Salvador Lavado, better known as Quino.  This feisty young girl is one of the most beloved literary creations of all of Latin America and an excellent way for Spanish learners to get started with their reading.

As with Tintin, the texts are never overwhelming – the bite-sized, entertaining dialogues are excellent practice for beginners.  Unlike tedious textbook conversations, Mafalda’s interesting, thought-provoking plots will keep you engaged.

It’s also a good way to start learning about the various Spanish dialects.  For example, Argentine speakers often use vos instead of .

New Penguin Parallel Text: Short Stories in Spanish

Classic short stories with the Spanish original on the left hand page and the English translation on the opposite page. All stories are from the twentieth century and feature writers that readers may not be familiar with, giving a fresh perspective on Spanish literature.


See Details

New Penguin Parallel Text: Short Stories in Spanish

Classic short stories with the Spanish original on the left hand page and the English translation on the opposite page. All stories are from the twentieth century and feature writers that readers may not be familiar with, giving a fresh perspective on Spanish literature.

See Details

When you’ve finished the textbook the best thing to do is to read some Spanish texts with parallel translations. Having to go back and forth between the book you’re reading and a dictionary can be incredibly frustrating, and often saps a lot of the fun out of reading.

This is the solution: collections of classic short stories from the twentieth century with English translations on the opposite page.

Surprisingly, that’s pretty much the only volume of Spanish parallel texts out there.  If you want some more reading practice, we highly recommend Olly Richard’s Short Stories for Beginners.  It’s an excellent collection of unusual stories that would be perfect for any upper-beginner learner.


Beginners - Writing

It’s vital that you practise your writing as much as possible when you’ve just started learning a language.  Reading and learning vocabulary is important but you won’t be able to cement all of this new information in your brain without putting pen to paper.  Fortunately, there are many excellent Spanish course books on the market.  Here are the best ones:

The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice

Very detailed and rigorous grammar review book. Features over 400 writing exercises designed specifically to strengthen grammar skills. Categorised as an intermediate-level book, but should be a good choice for ambitious beginners that have worked through the textbooks we recommend above.

<

See Details

The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice

A decent workbook with over 200 written exercises to supplement a beginner’s Russian course. The content is colourful and attractive, and features some interesting cultural insights. It is designed to be used alongside the Ruslan communicative course, but can also be used as a standalone product.

See Details

All of the textbooks that we have selected for our grammar and vocabulary section have lots of written practice exercises.  However, if you have exhausted these tasks and want some more drills to work through then you should have a look at the Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice.

Its enormous stock of written exercises perfectly supplements the grammar topics that you will have learned from your beginner’s textbooks.  As if that wasn’t enough, you can find an additional 250 exercises (including some audio ones) as part of the digital content that can accessed with the publisher’s app.

The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice - Our Rating
85%

Spanish Verb Tenses

One of our favourite language learning series. This is a no-nonsense course book that is dedicated solely to testing your knowledge of Spanish verbs. Plenty of practice with over 200 exercises. Extremely reasonably priced.

.

<

See Details

Spanish Verb Tenses

One of our favourite language learning series. This is a no-nonsense course book that is dedicated solely to testing your knowledge of Spanish verbs. Plenty of practice with over 200 exercises. Extremely reasonably priced.

See Details

As we mentioned earlier in this guide, the Spanish verb is something that will appear time and time again to give you grief – you would do well to deal with it earlier rather than later.

This book is a great choice for any beginner that wants to perfect their use of the Spanish verb.  This is not just a case of getting the conjugation right – it’s just as important that you choose the correct tense if you want to avoid sounding gratingly foreign.  After you have worked through the 200+ exercises in this book you will have a lot more confidence in making this choice.

What we particularly like about  Spanish Verb Tenses is the accompanying app, which allows you to go over the exercises on the go.  The explanations are top notch as well.

Spanish verb Tenses - Our Rating
79%

Beginners - Speaking

Get speaking as soon as you can! It’s the hardest (and most important) language skill, but the one that we most often neglect.

Although you could get a private tutor straight off the bat, it may be cheaper and more constructive to enrol on an evening course in your city.

You may also like:

The hourly prices of these courses are often twice as cheap as those that a native speaker will charge for one-to-one tuition in your city. On the other hand, a large class will limit the amount of time you get to speak, and sitting patiently while the inevitable class laggard struggles through material that you mastered weeks ago can be incredibly irritating.

But if you can find a course with a small-number of other highly motivated participants, your speaking will make incredible progress.

Well-reviewed Russian courses in selected cities include:


Beginners - Listening

Girl Laptop IllustrationGood news! The rise of computer technology and the internet means that there is now an enormous amount of listening opportunities out there for you to take advantage of.

Here we narrow down the best courses, channels, and podcasts for beginners to take their listening skills to the next level

Rocket Spanish

The best online Spanish course for beginners looking to kickstart their listening skills. Packed full of targeted audio and writing exercises, all organised thematically. Seamless transition from desktop to mobile app, and vice versa. No subscription – a reasonable one-off fee unlocks the entire platform for life.

See Details

Rocket Spanish

Incredible online language learning system. Huge number of audio and video podcast lessons, extensive vocabulary lists, personalised learning programmes, PDF worksheets, review quizzes, and many more tools. Dedicated friendly staff and frequently updated content make this an excellent resource to get your listening off the ground.

See Details

In compiling this guide we trialled over a dozen of the top online Spanish courses.  Rocket Spanish stood out as easily the best of the bunch – here’s why:

  • The content is thematic

    We are huge fans of thematic vocabulary learning (Using Spanish Vocabulary, for instance, is an essential resource to get) as we have found that structured learning is the best way to keep words in your long-term memory. We were really pleased to see that the team at Rocket Spanish share this viewpoint and organise their lessons along thematic lines.

  • The mobile app is brilliant

    Most language apps come across as little more than half-hearted afterthoughts. Some platforms even have the audacity to charge you extra for it. Rocket Spanish’s mobile app (free for both iOS and Android) has been designed excellently and was far more intuitive than all of its rivals.

  • It doesn't smother you with unnecessary features

    Rocket Spanish only provides you with the tools you need to make real progress with your Spanish – interactive audio lessons, detailed writing exercises, and an excellent narrative story which solidifies your situational vocabulary.

  • Everything is 100% downloadable

    This means that you can sit down and get all of the material in one place – no need to keep going in and out of the site itself to use its contents.

  • Real-life audio from the start

    The sooner a student weans themselves off what we call ‘teacher-speak’, the sooner they will understand real conversations. This is what Rocket Spanish does from the very beginning, using authentic dialogues to build your listening skills up.

  • No subscription

    Almost all online language courses nowadays charge for monthly/yearly subscriptions, meaning that over time they turn out to be very expensive. With Rocket Spanish, however, once you’ve paid the one-off fee you get access to the full platform for life. Although the price may seem a bit steep, you then fully own all of the lessons and downloadable material inside – you’re not ‘renting it’. This means that in the long run Rocket Spanish is probably the cheapest course on the market.

Give it a go!

Sign up for Rocket Spanish's free trial here:

Click Me!

Learn Spanish with Free Podcasts!

SpanishPod101

Incredible online language learning system. Huge number of audio and video podcast lessons, extensive vocabulary lists, personalised learning programmes, PDF worksheets, review quizzes, and many more tools. Dedicated friendly staff and frequently updated content make this an excellent resource to get your listening off the ground.

See Details

Learn Spanish with Free Podcasts!

SpanishPod101

Incredible online language learning system. Huge number of audio and video podcast lessons, extensive vocabulary lists, personalised learning programmes, PDF worksheets, review quizzes, and many more tools. Dedicated friendly staff and frequently updated content make this an excellent resource to get your listening off the ground.

See Details

We are naturally suspicious of online language courses, as the vast majority do not deliver on their promises – RussianPod101 is one of the few exceptions.

For a very reasonable price you gain access to a veritable treasure trove of Russian learning tools and resources, including:

High quality audio and video podcast lessons

Printable PDF Lesson Notes

2000 Most Common Words List

Entertaining Review Quizzes

Database of Spanish grammar constructions

1-to-1 Direct Instruction From Native Spanish Speakers

Interactive Pronunciation Comparison Tool

Portable Survival Phrases Centre

A personalised learning programme

Although the lessons are probably a bit on the easy side for advanced learners, for beginners this is an absolute must-have resource.  The sheer quantity of audio and video lessons alone makes it far and away the most efficient way to improve your Spanish listening skills.

SpanishPod101 has been expanding steadily for the last few years thanks to its dedicated team.  As it is continuously adding new content to the site you can be sure that you will always have fresh material to practice with.

SpanishPod101 - Our Rating
93%

Interested?

Create a free account at SpanishPod101 now!

Click Me!

While the online courses that we’ve reviewed above are excellent, make sure you don’t neglect the thousands of free YouTube channels dedicated to teaching Russian:

Amazing Russian

Amazing Russian is hands down the best YouTube channel out there for beginners looking to improve their listening skills.

The reason why we are so enthusiastic is because it is rare to come across such a practical and educational channel on YouTube.  Most ‘learn Russian’ channels rely heavily on gimmicks and flashy appearances without delivering much substance.  But if you want to make real headway with your listening then this is the channel for you.

The videos, mostly dealing with everyday situations, effectively ease students into the listening comprehension with a steady speaking pace, core vocabulary, and optional subtitles.

Beginners - Bonus

Spanish Keyboard Stickers

High-quality transparent stickers for laptop keyboards. Versions for both black and white keyboards available.

See Details

Spanish Keyboard Stickers

High-quality transparent stickers for laptop keyboards. Versions for both black and white keyboards available.

See Details

Although Spanish only uses a few extra letters than English, it’s still a good idea to get some keyboard stickers while you get used to their placement.

You can find a range of transparent Spanish stickers that sit neatly on your keyboard without obscuring the original English symbols next to them.

The Ultimate Resource Guide for Learning

The Ultimate Resource Guide for Learning

Image

Intermediate - Grammar & Vocabulary

Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish does a really good job in laying a solid grammatical foundation.  By the end of it you will confident enough to have non-trivial conversations with Spanish speakers.  However, you will also realise that you have only scratched the surface, and that there is still a huge amount left to learn. In order to progress past this point, you need a broader resource.

A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish

The Spanish grammar bible. Period. No serious student of Spanish should be without a copy of this authoritative grammar reference book. Covers virtually every topic you can think of, using fresh, interesting vocabulary to illustrate key points. Its structure layout allows students to master Spanish grammar systematically.


See Details

A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish

The Spanish grammar bible. Period. No serious student of Spanish should be without a copy of this authoritative grammar reference book. Covers virtually every topic you can think of, using fresh, interesting vocabulary to illustrate key points. Its structure layout allows students to master Spanish grammar systematically.

See Details

If Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish was the tip of the iceberg, this is the massive bulk floating under the water.

It is difficult to convey how useful this book is for any student of Spanish that wants to make real progress beyond the beginner’s level.  This 590-page reference work, drawing on the research of the Royal Spanish Academy’s official grammar book, is encyclopaedic in its breadth and depth.

A New Reference's topics include pronunciation, punctuation, noun formation, particles, diminutives, participles, gerunds, prepositions, word order, etc. Basically, all of the rules – important and obscure – that you need to develop a robust grasp on how the language really works.

The example sentences are all taken from real literary and non-literary Spanish sources, and are a breath of fresh air from the typically boring constructions that language books normally rely on.

A highly recommend resource.

A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish - Our Rating
96%

Gramática de uso del Español

Your grammar boot camp: fleshes out all important grammatical topics with explanations and 400+ accompanying exercises. All instructions and explanations are in Spanish, so make sure you are comfortable with this before you buy.



See Details

Gramática de uso del Español

Your grammar boot camp: fleshes out all important grammatical topics with explanations and 400+ accompanying exercises. All instructions and explanations are in Spanish, so make sure you are comfortable with this before you buy.

See Details

You know that this is a grammar book aimed at serious intermediate students as soon as you open it – everything is in Spanish, including the explanations!

Don’t let yourself be intimidated though: pushing yourself a bit out of your comfort zone is the key to improving your language skills, and this book is definitely worth the effort.

Gramática de uso del Español outlines a grammatical topic on one page, and then provides a number of explanations on the next. This is the best way to learn grammar and is a good remedy if you felt slightly bewildered by the scope of A Comprehensive Spanish Grammar.

Although it isn’t its primary objective, working through Gramática will also enrich your vocabulary with an array of pragmatic, important words that you probably haven’t picked up yet.

Gramática de uso del Español
92%

Using Spanish Vocabulary

Divided into 20 thematic topics, this book provides the reader with over 5,000 Spanish words and their translations. Each topic is broken down into three levels, starting with the most basic words and building up to some quite advanced (and obscure) vocabulary. Engaging self-study tasks at the end of each section and etymological insights make this an enjoyable and productive learning resource.

See Details

Using Spanish Vocabulary

Divided into 20 thematic topics, this book provides the reader with over 5,000 Spanish words and their translations. Each topic is broken down into three levels, starting with the most basic words and building up to some quite advanced (and obscure) vocabulary. Engaging self-study tasks at the end of each section and etymological insights make this an enjoyable and productive learning resource.

See Details

For those of you who have studied other languages, you may be familiar with Cambridge University Press’s excellent ‘Using X Vocabulary’ series. If not, you will have to take our word that this is an invaluable textbook, that will raise all aspects of Spanish proficiency.

Learning vocabulary can sometimes feel like a slightly random and chaotic experience – we get to grips with some areas quickly, only to discover (at just the wrong time!) that we have embarrassingly large gaps in our knowledge.

This is the solution. The book is divided into eighteen section (the natural world, industry, leisure & tourism, the physical body, etc.), and each section is divided into three subsections.  The first subsection contains basic vocabulary, whereas the last one will prepare you to authoritatively discuss the topic in question. 

This means that you can pick or choose sections depending on your strengths and interests, or, alternatively, work your way through it systematically.

Combined with Anki, it is the single best way to accumulate a large enough word base to sit the B1-C1 exams.

Using Spanish Vocabulary
87%

Intermediate - Reading

At this point you may feel ready to take off the training wheels and start reading some Spanish literature in the original. If that is the case, skip ahead to the next item on our list where we show you the best place to start with Spanish classics.

If, however, you feel you still need some more support with your reading we strongly recommend you try the first book in this series:

Spanish Short Stories for Intermediate Level

Ten short stories for intermediate Spanish learners, each one focused on a particular theme. Comes with quizzes, glossaries, and audio material of a native speaker reading out the stories.

.

.

See Details

Spanish Short Stories for Intermediate Level

Ten short stories for intermediate Spanish learners, each one focused on a particular theme. Comes with quizzes, glossaries, and audio material of a native speaker reading out the stories. .

See Details

Spanish Short Stories for Intermediate Level contains ten stories that each revolve around an everyday theme, for example: cooking, money, travelling, etc.  This is obviously useful as the stories give you exposure to content that you will be using in real life.  This could make for rather dull reading, but the author has done a great job in making the stories fun and interesting.

If you find the process of going back and forth between a dictionary and the text, then you’re in luck: each story comes with a well-constructed glossary that gives translations for all of the vocabulary used.

 The stories get slightly harder as the book goes on, and there are a further two volumes to sink your teeth into if you’re really eager.

Spanish Short Stories for Intermediate Level - Our Rating
91%

Classic Spanish Stories and Plays

Eight classic Golden Age Spanish stories and plays. Each story has been abridged and modernised to make them suitable for intermediate learners. Extensive vocabulary support and cultural notes to gain a greater appreciation for Spanish culture. Highly recommended.

..

See Details

Classic Spanish Stories and Plays

Eight classic Golden Age Spanish stories and plays. Each story has been abridged and modernised to make them suitable for intermediate learners. Extensive vocabulary support and cultural notes to gain a greater appreciation for Spanish culture. Highly recommended.

See Details

How can Spanish learners dip their toes into the choppy waters of Golden Age literature without feeling defeated after the first few pages? The answer is this wonderful book of adapted classic Spanish stories and plays.

Instead of struggling through the original works of writers like Cervantes and de Vega, you are instead presented with classics, such as El Cid, La Celestina, and Don Quijote, that have all been abridged, simplified and modernised.

This, combined with the useful cultural notes and translations of difficult words that appear at the bottom of each page, makes reading this book a joy.  None of the texts are too long, and the extensive vocabulary index at the back of the book keeps things moving nicely.

The editors have done an excellent job in moulding a highly satisfying book for intermediate learners that provides just the right level of exposure to Spain’s rich literary heritage without giving cause for any feelings of demoralisation.

Classic Spanish Stories and Plays - Our Rating
85%

Intermediate - Writing

The exercises found in Gramática de uso del Español will keep you busy for a while, but when you have finished with those we recommend you buy Intermediate Spanish Grammar to carry on improving your writing skills.

Intermediate Spanish Grammar

Hundreds of written exercises and dozens of example sentences on a range of topics make this a worthwhile purchase. Best writing exercise book for lower-intermediate learners.

e

w

See Details

Intermediate Spanish Grammar

Hundreds of written exercises and dozens of example sentences on a range of topics make this a worthwhile purchase. Best writing exercise book for lower-intermediate learners. w

See Details

As with the rest of the Practice Makes Perfect series, you will find hundreds of well-formulated writing exercises covering a range of tricky subjects, such as idiomatic verbal phrases, use of the preterit and the imperfective, commands, and the subjunctive.

We like that Intermediate Spanish Grammar includes plenty of example sentences: at this level it is no longer good enough to communicate in broken Spanish; you need to start taking the style of your writing into consideration as well.

Intermediate Spanish Grammar - Our Rating
94%

Practising Spanish Grammar

Excellent workbook to accompany Butt’s grammar textbook. Crammed full of exercises to drill you on virtually everything you need to get your writing and speaking up to an advanced level.

e



See Details

Practising Spanish Grammar

Excellent workbook to accompany Butt’s grammar textbook. Crammed full of exercises to drill you on virtually everything you need to get your writing and speaking up to an advanced level.

See Details

Butt’s Grammar is such an intimidating brick of a book that it can be difficult to know where to begin with it.  Because you now have so much information at your disposal you need an effective way to get it in your brain and keep it there.

Fortunately, there is also a grammar workbook that can be used independently or in conjunction with the textbook.

Both books share the same layout and subsection breakdown, so you can synchronise your grammar with written practice.  It features over one hundred sets of writing tasks that involve all sorts of exercises: translation practice, sentence formation, etc.

We should note here that Practising Spanish Grammar is not suitable for lower intermediate learners.  It is an advanced exercise book that tests you on some of the hardest aspects of Spanish grammar, and as such only fairly advanced students will find it useful.

Practising Spanish Grammar - Our Rating
87%

Intermediate - Speaking

If you’re  not in a position to spend some time in a Spanish-speaking country, the next best thing would be to find a language exchange partner in your home country.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a Spanish community in your city, then there will be plenty of opportunities to get to know people and practice your Spanish with them.  In theory at least…

Although America, Canada, and the UK are some of the most diverse countries in the world, which should make learning foreign languages a breeze, there’s a major problem for us: most foreign residents speak excellent English.  They have to!  After all, we are extremely demanding when it comes to English proficiency and it is virtually impossible to get a decent job in these countries without fluent English. 

This means that many of the Spanish speakers you will come across in your city will speak much better English than you speak Spanish.  It’s very difficult to get someone to suffer your broken Spanish when they know they could accelerate the conversation by switching to English.  Frustrating, but true!

One way you can get around this is by making a semi-formal agreement with your interlocutor that you will speak English for half of the time, and Spanish for the other half – that way you both get something out of it. 

You can find people searching for this kind of arrangement on websites like My Language Exchange.

The success of the language exchange will vastly depend on how well your personality and linguistic requirements mesh with your partner’s. It’s really a case of trial and error. But if you find the right person you can rack up hours and hours of conversation practice without having to pay anything.

If, though, you live in small town and you can’t find any suitable prospective language partners, we recommend that you skip ahead and take a look at our speaking suggestions for advanced learners.


Intermediate - Listening

Respectable online language courses like SpanishPod101, should still challenge you as you move up to intermediate level Spanish.  But now you should begin to spread your wings and start listening to real Spanish conversations (i.e. not the watered-down Spanish that teachers use).

One of the best ways to do this is to start watching Telenovelas.

Telenovelas are a sort of Spanish soap opera.  Spanning approximately 100 one-hour episodes, they tell exciting and juicy stories that tend to focus on one of a few core subjects: love, marriage, death, politics, rivalry, revenge.

They are also enormously popular all over the world, and serve as an almost endless supply of listening material for Spanish learners.

La Reina del Sur

Teresa Mendoza flees Mexico after her boyfriend is murdered and reaches southern Spain where she starts a new life. However, things take a turn for the worse there and she finds herself involved in the drug trade. But no longer a victim, Teresa rises through the ranks to establish herself as an intercontinental drug lord.

Rubí

Rubí is a beautiful, ambitious woman from a poor family whose only interest is finding a rich husband. She uses her connections and her seductive skills to entice a wealthy doctor. However, when it turns out that Alejandro is not what he seems, Rubí has to adjust her plans...


Intermediate - Bonus

Learn Spanish Curse Words and Vulgar Expressions

Teaches you the swear words that Spanish speakers really use. Takes pains to lay out the grammar and context behind each word so you can use it correctly. Lots of examples given.

.

.

See Details

Learn Spanish Curse Words and Vulgar Expressions

Teaches you the swear words that Spanish speakers really use. Takes pains to lay out the grammar and context behind each word so you can use it correctly. Lots of examples given..

See Details

Swearing Speech BubbleIf you want to learn how to swear in Spanish, then you need this book.  As the author rightly points out, the vast majority of swear words and colloquial words that you find in dictionaries are not actually used today and will sound bizarre if you – in your foreign accent, no less – go about using them.

Instead, the best thing is to learn those evergreen swear words that people actually use in real life and don’t make you sound stupid. 

The book tells you which words to use and exactly how Spanish speakers use them (with the correct grammar). 

Even if you have no interest in using the words, it’s still a useful book to read through as you can be sure that you need to understand when people are swearing and what they are saying!

Learn Spanish Curse Words and Vulgar Expressions - Our Rating
79%

The Ultimate Resource Guide for Learning

The Ultimate Resource Guide for Learning

Image

Advanced - Grammar & Vocabulary

Having studied Spanish seriously for a few years, you will have picked up a wide range of words and phrases.  Your vocabulary will probably be close to ~10,000 words.  This should allow you to say pretty much whatever you want to say without having to break rhythm and rack your brains for a translation.

However, just because you know lots of words does not mean that you know how to use them correctly and naturally.

Using Spanish Synonyms

Designed to expand and deepen the vocabulary of intermediate-advanced students. A guide to finding the right word for the context by illustrating the (often) subtle difference between synonyms. Huge number of words and lexical groups covered, arranged in an orderly fashion with an index.



See Details

Using Spanish Synonyms

Designed to expand and deepen the vocabulary of intermediate-advanced students. A guide to finding the right word for the context by illustrating the (often) subtle difference between synonyms. Huge number of words and lexical groups covered, arranged in an orderly fashion with an index.

See Details

What do we mean by this?

Well, for example, we all know that when we go to a funeral and we are giving our condolences to the bereaved, that it is polite to talk about the person ‘passing away’, rather than straight ‘dying’ or ‘being killed’.  Although the latter two translations are technically correct, given the situation it would perhaps seem slightly awkward to use them in this context.

The same principle applies to all languages, and Spanish isn’t an exception. If you want to stop being ‘that foreigner that can speak Spanish well, but awkwardly and disjointedly’, this book will be invaluable in achieving, not just fluency, but naturalness as well.

All the synonyms are collected as groups.  So ‘to die’, ‘to perish’, ‘to pass away’, etc. are all one group, with ‘to die’ – the most common and neutral synonym – being presented as the group leader. The group leaders are all arranged alphabetically, meaning that finding the group you need is exceedingly simple.

Within each group the author provides the necessary grammatical information to use the words correctly, but also explains in what context the word should be used, states the register of the word (i.e. is it slang, neutral, formal, etc.), and provides plenty of usage examples.

While this book isn’t the end of the road when it comes to vocabulary, if you can work your way through it and absorb as many of the lexical nuances that are presented to you, you will be knocking on the door to genuine native-level fluency.

An absolute essential for advanced Spanish learners.

Using Spanish Synonyms - Our Rating
92%

While the Oxford Spanish Dictionary that we recommended in the very beginning of this guide will still be your go-to reference for translations, if you want to use your Spanish for a specific industry (oil, marketing, IT, etc.), then you should know about SpanishDict.   

SpanishDict is an online dictionary that specialises in giving accurate translations for technical terminology that probably won’t be covered by normal dictionaries.

So if you need your Spanish for work and you just know in your gut that the translation your normal dictionary is giving you isn’t quite right, make sure you check out SpanishDict.


Advanced - Reading

At this level, you should be able to read virtually anything!  The entire world of Spanish literature is now open for you to explore, and no writing in the contemporary media will be prohibitively challenging.

The main thing to do is to read widely – try to absorb as much vocabulary from as many genres, topics, and registers as you you’re able to bear.

Below we have listed some online newspapers and magazines that are worth bookmarking:


Advanced - Writing

While reading proficiency will have taken off for most advanced speakers, many will find that their writing skills are seriously lagging behind.

Time to take action!

Using Spanish

Focuses on areas of written Spanish that English speakers in particular find challenging. Learn how contemporary Spanish is actually used in the real world. An excellent choice for students that would like to use Spanish for business purposes and want to improve the professionalism of their Spanish.

e

See Details

Using Spanish

Focuses on areas of written Spanish that English speakers in particular find challenging. Learn how contemporary Spanish is actually used in the real world. An excellent choice for students that would like to use Spanish for business purposes and want to improve the professionalism of their Spanish.

See Details

Using Spanish is a guide to advanced Spanish usage, focusing on areas of grammar, vocabulary, style, and register that are particularly difficult for English speakers.

It assumes that you have a solid grammatical and lexical foundation, so is able to skip past standard grammatical topics and instead focus on a huge range of miscellaneous problems: neologisms, fillers, idioms, measurement, currency, faux amis, translation issues, jokes, puns, verbal etiquette, etc.

We really can’t rate this book highly enough: even if you learnt Butt’s Grammar off by heart, you would still come across thousands of annoying difficulties in trying to write perfect Spanish.  While we obviously can’t claim that this book contains the answer to every single one of those problems, just one look at its contents pages should convince you that it’s a vital tool for advanced learners who want to take their Spanish to the next level.

Using Spanish - Our Rating
86%

As we have said previously, you need to practise your Spanish writing a lot in order to make progress.

But let’s assume for a second that your friends have lives and don’t want to spending every waking minute of the day correcting your past perfective participles – who can you go to for writing practice?

The answer is Lang-8.  The premise is simple: 1) Post in the language that you are learning.  2) Native speakers correct your writing.  3) return the favour by helping others learn your native language.

It really is that simple!

Of course, like all of these mutual-assistance websites, the more you help others, the more you’ll receive corrections for the material you input.  Even if you’re not a particularly altruistic person, the benefits of having your writing corrected by a native more than outweigh the time costs of returning the favour.

The Spanish section of the WordReference forum is a great alternative if you can’t be bothered with Lang-8’s reciprocal set-up.

You can ask virtually any question related to Spanish and expect to get a detailed, knowledgeable answer back within a few hours.  As with any forum, make sure you read up on the site’s rules and etiquette before posting.


Advanced - Speaking

If you’re not living in Spain or Latin America, keeping your speaking up as an advanced learner can be surprisingly difficult.  Language classes in institutes aren’t really worth their high costs at this point because you just need to talk, not have grammar explained to you.

If you haven’t got a burgeoning Spanish-orientated social life, then you need to create one artificially!

Italki

Online language learning website which connects language learners and teachers through video chat. Over 5,000 teachers to choose from, ranging from qualified professionals to community tutors. Prices per hour can be as low as $5 for Spanish. Best way to keep up your speaking skills from home.

See Details

Italki

Online language learning website which connects language learners and teachers through video chat. Over 5,000 teachers to choose from, ranging from qualified professionals to community tutors. Prices per hour can be as low as $5 for Spanish. Best way to keep up your speaking skills from home.

See Details

Italki is essentially an online marketplace that links up language students and tutors for affordable Skype lessons.

Teachers are divided into two categories: professional teachers and community tutors.

Professional teachers are in possession of teaching qualifications and tend to follow a structured lesson plan.  They may charge quite a bit, depending on the language being taught. Community tutors on the other hand are just enthusiastic native speakers that can provide informal conversational lessons.  Their prices vary, but for some languages (including Spanish!) you can get hour-long lessons for as low as $5!

If you are an advanced Spanish speaker, we recommend that you arrange lessons solely with community tutors – all you need at this point is conversation practice, and a lot of it!

Of course, you need to find a tutor that you like with and whose teaching style suits you well.  Luckily, there is the ‘trial lesson’ feature that allows you to try out tutors in half-hour lessons at heavily discounted rates.  So you can sample a number of tutors that you think look promising and then arrange further lessons with the ones that you get on best with.

On top of all this, Italki also features a messaging tool, language specific blogs, Q&A forums, and feedback notebooks for any writing tasks that tutors set you.

Italki really is a fantastic tool that all language learners should know about.  There is now no excuse not to take your speaking proficiency to the next level!

Italki - Our Rating
96%

Advanced - Listening

* Coming Soon! *

Kartina TV Logo

Kartina TV

Russian TV streaming service that allows you to watch popular Russian programmes in your home country. Hundreds of channels and thousands of films available mean that you will always have fresh listening material. Reasonably priced and no contracts.

See Details

Kartina TV Logo

Kartina TV

Russian TV streaming service that allows you to watch popular Russian programmes in your home country. Hundreds of channels and thousands of films available mean that you will always have fresh listening material. Reasonably priced and no contracts.

See Details

If you are no longer living in Russia, we recommend that you purchase a subscription with Kartina.

Kartina is a streaming service (you will need to buy a Dune media streamer first) that distributes Russian television channels, targeting the Russian diaspora in most Western countries.

You link it up to your television and for a small monthly fee (around $10, no contract) you get access to a 150+ channels and 2000+ on-demand films from across the former Soviet Union.  All the programming is archived for two weeks, so you have complete control over when you watch your programmes.Once you have a Kartina account, as well as watching it through Dune on your television, you can also login via a laptop or with the official app (iPhone and Android) on your phone at no extra cost.

It’s a reliable, fast service that we have had no problems with over the years, and an excellent way to get some Russian listening practice in if you have a spare 15-30 minutes.

Important Info
We have linked to the North American branch. If you live outside of the USA or Canada then simply google 'Kartina TV + your country' and it will bring up the local branch's website.

Kartina TV - Our Rating
81%

The only criticism we have of Kartina is that none of the channels come with Russian subtitles.  This would be useful for learners who are not quite good enough yet to understand everything spoken on Russian television.  But considering that Kartina is primarily aimed at Russian expatriates, and not foreign language learners, it’s not surprising that this feature has been omitted.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anything to fill this gap in the market – you will just have to struggle on with unsubtitled Russian television until you get used to the speed and complexity of the speech.

Some learners have given positive feedback about the 3ears project which adds fully subtitled videos every now and then.  The videos aren’t popular television programmes or films, though, and are usually very short.  Even so, it’s a site worth bookmarking and checking up on every couple of weeks to see if there’s anything new.

Otherwise, Youtube and Rutube are your friends.  You can actually find most of the programmes that you get through Kartina on these sites.  So if you’re on a budget, these can be a good alternative to the subscription service.


Advanced - Bonus

The Big Red Book of Spanish Idioms

Colossal collection of Spanish idioms, old and new. Over 12,000 entries with explanations and examples. The only resource that any Spanish learner would ever need to enrich their vocabulary with colourful idioms. A must-have for (in particular, literary) translators.

.

See Details

The Big Red Book of Spanish Idioms

Colossal collection of Spanish idioms, old and new. Over 12,000 entries with explanations and examples. The only resource that any Spanish learner would ever need to enrich their vocabulary with colourful idioms. A must-have for (in particular, literary) translators..

See Details

You can actually find hundreds of Spanish idioms on Wikipedia (with their literal translations and English equivalents).

But if you that’s not enough and you feel you want to delve deeper, then the Big Red Book is perfect for you.

With close to 12,000 fully-translated items, it has enough Spanish idioms to last even the most dedicated learner for a lifetime.  Like all good language books, it packed full of examples, grammatical explanations, and stylistic and usage information.

The Big Red Book of Spanish Idioms - Our Rating
92%

Introduction to Spanish Translation

Very practical, hands-on guide for Spanish-English translators. The main aim of the book is to identify problematic aspects of Spanish and English that might cause translations to sound clunky or awkward. Provides numerous examples for each point made and supplementary exercises to test your knowledge.

.

See Details

Introduction to Spanish Translation

Very practical, hands-on guide for Spanish-English translators. The main aim of the book is to identify problematic aspects of Spanish and English that might cause translations to sound clunky or awkward. Provides numerous examples for each point made and supplementary exercises to test your knowledge.

See Details

Perhaps you want to do more than speak excellent Spanish.  Perhaps you have ambitions of working as a professional Spanish translator.

If that’s the case, it’s important that you realise that being a good linguist and being a good translator are two COMPLETELY different things.  They require different skills, and different competencies.  In fact, many people claim that to succeed as a translator depends more on how well you write in your native tongue than how well you speak the foreign language you’re translating from.

That’s why books like Introduction to Spanish Translation are so important: they teach you the vital translation skills that you won’t get from general Spanish textbooks.

Introduction to Spanish Translation - Our Rating
83%

Share this Post