The Ultimate Resource Guide for Learning

The Ultimate Resource Guide for Learning

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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.



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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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..

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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.

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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.

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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%

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