Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish
Leave Us a Review
  • Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish
  • Joseph J. Keenan
  • Published by: University of Texas Press
  • Level: Beginner
  • First Published in:

This book offers beginner level Spanish students a variety of tips, shortcuts, rules and exercises to help them speak better Spanish. The aim of this book is to get the student moving on to the pre intermediate level in an easy and practical manner.

Review posted: 31/10/2013
Have you used this book?

Whenever I start learning a language, I feel like there are two basic steps to get me going: first one must have a basic comprehension of the sound of the language and second is getting the niceties and simple phrases down. Learning the sounds of a language will not only help you quickly identify that language when it’s being spoken, but it will also help you learn how to speak it correctly. Some languages roll Rs while others have letters that require a heavier air pressure for proper formation. Learning sounds is step one.

Step two is getting down basic phrases like “How are you?” “Where is the toilet?” “My name is”. These are the small talk expressions which could also be referred to as “survival language skills.” Being that I’ve lived in a handful of countries, I speak many languages at the survival level. Reaching survival level only takes a little practice and memorization; it doesn’t require dedicated study.

To go beyond beginner’s level of a language requires a little more persistence. It requires jumping over a bit of a hurdle. As mentioned, after you are a beginner, you can survive, and yet our ability to survive sometimes stands in the way of thriving. We get a little too comfortable with our broken version of the language that lets us just get by.

"To go beyond beginner’s level of a language requires a little more persistence. It requires jumping over a bit of a hurdle."

This is why a book like Breaking out of Beginner’s Spanish is so helpful. The writer, Joseph Keenan is a native English speaker who, like many others, tried to learn Spanish by simply speaking with locals in Mexico. His book offers many solutions to improving one’s overall Spanish by teaching things like connotation, polite slang and other things that help a speaker become more natural at speaking Spanish.

Each page is packed with information that is relevant and important for a person who desires to speak more than just textbook conversational Spanish. Because this book focuses more on practical, daily Spanish, the language taught is accessible and relevant to daily living. For this reason, even speakers who could be considered intermediate by other textbooks might feel challenged by the material found in this book.

It should be noted that Breaking out of Beginner’s Spanish is not a textbook. It does not provide you with any book assignments or formatted lesson plans. However, while this book is more for the self-taught student of the Spanish language, it can come in handy in the classroom as well. As a teacher, you can use this book as a secondary book, assigning the students to focus on one chapter per week. The book makes for great classroom discussion, particularly in smaller groups. It can even be fun to have your students try to explain what they’ve learned in Spanish. Since Keenan’s number one objective is to empower the reader to use what he/she has learned in the book, your students can instead practice with one another in the classroom. If you are teaching a one on one lesson, then your students can utilize Keenan’s tips with you.

You may be weary of this book, however, only if you are teaching students who are under 18. The reason being that Keenan devotes one chapter to explaining how words that are innocent words in English may be construed as sexually charged statements in Spanish. One can infer that Keenan included this chapter so as to understand the cultural implications of a language, however, the parents of your students will likely not be happy with this content taught in the classroom. Adult students, however, should be able to handle it. If they are uncomfortable, you can always skip the chapter altogether.



Leave your review for 'Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish'

Fields with * are required.