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Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish

4.28  ·  Rating Details ·  386 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews

Many language books are boringthis one is not. Written by a native English speaker who learned Spanish the hard wayby trying to talk to Spanish-speaking peopleit offers English speakers with a basic knowledge of Spanish hundreds of tips for using the language more fluently and colloquially, with fewer obvious "gringo" errors.

Writing with humor, common sense, and a minim

Kindle Edition, 215 pages
Published (first published November 30th 1993)
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Jul 20, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: en-espanol
This is the Spanish book I've been looking for! The author teaches how to sound like a native speaker rather than a "schoolmarm" and helps select the words and phrases that are actually used in Latin America and Spain, rather than some of the archaic constructions taught in textbooks. He's funny and engaging, and he learned Spanish as an English speaker, so he sympathizes with some of the hurdles the rest of us must leap to become fluent.

For example, one phrase generally recommended in textbook
Kyarra Keele
Aug 28, 2015 Kyarra Keele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished. Wow! This book is perfect for anyone who truly wants to learn Spanish and have a better understanding of the language and culture. They don't teach you enough in school about how to actually have fluent every day conversations instead of stiff workbook phrases. I loved this book and the way the author combined humour with real tips and examples. Nothing like the bland textbooks!

Jenna Garrett
Oct 28, 2012 Jenna Garrett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, 2012
I can't recommend this book highly enough for native English speakers blumbering their way into the Spanish language. I've revisited this book almost annually for the last few years, and I always learn something new.

Written by another native English speaker who blumbered his way into Spanish, it is a highly readable, interesting, and even entertaining presentation of the most common gringo mistakes. He does an excellent job of describing regional differences in language use (super helpful for t
Sep 22, 2007 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Spanish
"Beginner's Spanish" is not Spanish 1 or 2, according to the author, but really any level you can reach at school. The author, who has lived in Latin America and is constantly trying to reach the level of a native speaker, is an excellent Spanish teacher because he not only knows Spanish but he also understand how English-speakers think. This book is an excellent reference guide for all the aspects of Spanish that might challenge an English-speaker.
Margaret Nahmias
I agree with most of the reviews here. However, I was ver disapponted with the coverage of the subjunctive. It is topic that stumps a lot of English speakers and it dersevred a little bit more detail. This meant to be read repeatedly as there is too much stuff to take in at once. Also it show its age as many of the anglicisms he mentions as questionable are now in full use if not approved by The Royal Spanish Academy.
Sep 17, 2008 Blythe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is best book for learning spanish and not sounding like a total gringo tool. Ever.

May 12, 2009 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lauren by: Lisa
If only I could retain it all. An entertaining, educational, and very practical book, I'm sure I'll pick it up again and again.
Jul 02, 2015 Dawna marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Not really giving up, just putting off awhile. More of an advanced beginner book.
Steve Bradshaw
May 06, 2011 Steve Bradshaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A highly enjoyable book to help you improve your Spanish and sound less like a Gringo! I plan to re-read this every six months while I'm in Mexico...
May 07, 2017 Sophie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Supremely helpful for anyone who wants to sound more natural in Spanish and avoid the trickiest English-speaker pitfalls. Clarified a ton of very subtle confusions that I could sense I was tripped up by, but couldn't understand why. I'm sure I'll return to this for refreshers from time to time. The linguistic history at the end was interesting too.
Aug 04, 2011 Bria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
It took me a little over 2 months to get through this book. The reason is two-fold: 1) it reads slightly more interestingly than a text book and 2) there's so much information on every page, that I could only digest a few pages at a time. And by digest, I mean begin to soak up any of it. In my first reading of this, I can honestly say I've probably taken very little of the instruction to heart. This book is SO full of insight it's bursting. I started off trying to take notes and make an example ...more
Jan 03, 2010 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: espanol, how-to
Simply terrific. Like the title says, this book is full of highly practical advice for moving beyond your formal Spanish education and actually talking like a real Spanish speaker. Written by an American who learned Spanish as an adult, this book is perfect for anyone who has reached an intermediate to advanced level and can basically already "say" what they want to say. The great thing is that this book will help you say it better without the awkward literalism that usually hampers intermediate ...more
Apr 30, 2011 J. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: intermediate-level Spanish learners
This is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to beef up their Spanish speaking abilities. The author picks apart the problems most Anglophones run into when they're navigating the complexities of Spanish grammar: false friends, idiomatic usages of verbs, ways of expressing emotion and describing people.

The book is super-intuitive and clearly divided into sections, perfect for referencing a particular problem spot in your Spanish knowledge. Honestly, if you're in need of an intermediate Span
Jan 03, 2008 Russell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is a non-native Spanish speaker who is also not an academic. This perspective allows the author to point out things that befuddle English speakers about the language.

He has a lot of good advice on what to ignore and what to focus on. The most valuable item in the book is his list of spanish verbs and what they really mean (Spanish is a much more specific language than english so one word for one word translations don't usually work).

The book is worth the hour or two it takes to go th
Although it was interesting, and I really enjoyed much of the linguistics information, it just wasn't what I was looking for. Most importantly I really thought it was more of breaking out of Intermediate Spanish. This was really about not sounding like Spanish was your second language. But I'm not there yet. So I found the book title to be deceiving. I'm not beginner's spanish, but not quite intermediate. I was hoping the book could help. It could not.
An excellent, must-read book for all English speakers who are learning Spanish.

The writing is concise, informative, and fun. Every chapter--from manners and greetings, to explanations of the 'power verbs', to swear words (and why you shouldn't use them), to a brief history of the Spanish language--is useful and packed with information. There's so much to absorb, it's a book I plan to continue to refer to as my Spanish progresses.

Feb 07, 2008 Cherie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A This book is fantastic for any non-native-Spanish-speaker who wants to learn what they can do to sound less foreign, to sound more like a native Spanish speaker. It gives you all sorts of tips, teaches you slang, helps clear up some common misconceptions, and even teaches you how to insult someone!
Aug 05, 2010 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is top of its class - not for the beginner, or maybe even intermediate student, but excellent for someone who has mastered, for example, the Spanish tenses. Some of the material is specific to Mexico, but the great majority of it is applicable across the Spansih speaking Americas and Spain.
Ellen Snyder
Oct 27, 2011 Ellen Snyder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I keep going back to this book, as it covers a lot of material. It is one of the best written books I have ever read, espeically about language. I would recommend it to anyone in the intermediate level of Spanish.
Jun 21, 2013 Chrisanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
For long term "beginners", this is a very good resource. The book is full of information. So much so that it is often overwhelming when reading more than one chapter at a time. I plan to refer back to this little gem of a book many times as I continue to learn. Recommended!
Aug 23, 2015 Travis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book of tips for making your Spanish more natural. About 1/4 of the book is about the history of the
Spanish language, which is not very "practical," by is interesting, light and fun.
Jan 11, 2008 Lydia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author is very straightforward and funny. He gives lots of useful advice on how to really survive in Spanish-speaking countries. There's even a chapter on curse words! (I never knew that word meant pubic hair!)
Shana Dial
Apr 11, 2016 Shana Dial rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very helpful to boost your spanish learning experience. It helped me with quite a few words that I did not know how to say. I strongly recommend it to anyone who is wanting to improve their spanish.
May 10, 2007 ColleenPA rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book for anticipating all the stupid mistakes you'll make the first time you go off the beaten path with your Spanish skills. You may not remember it all, but you'll chuckle when you get back about all the dumb things you said :-)
Cole Brown
Jan 30, 2017 Cole Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read far too many books on learning Spanish and this is the best, by far. A wonderful tool for advancing past what you learn in the classroom.
Jan 03, 2008 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Technically, I havent read this book cover to cover yet. Its more of a reference. But its a great book for people who want to learn Spanish or who already know a lot of Spanish. ...more
Mar 04, 2008 Jaime rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jaime by: Dr. Steve Bell
i've gone through at least 4 copies of this book, because i end up giving it away. es el libro perfecto for anyone who feels frustrated with where they are at in learning el español.
Tim Palmer
Aug 05, 2013 Tim Palmer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am marking this read, but it continues to be a reference book.
Dave Peticolas
May 10, 2014 Dave Peticolas rated it liked it
A very useful book. I wasn't ready for everything it presents, but it is a valuable reference I will be going back to as I progress.
Jan 18, 2010 Philuptuous rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Began studying a chapter at lunch each day, after completing Pimsleur audio lessons. This is a good book for building onto your basic foundation of Spanish knowledge.
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