Colloquial Spanish of Latin America
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  • Colloquial Spanish of Latin America
  • Roberto Rodriguez Saona and Celia Hakesworth
  • Published by: Routledge
  • Level: Beginner
  • First Published in: 1994

Colloquial Spanish of Latin America is the ideal book for students who want to take the first step in learning Spanish. This book focuses on the different dialects spoken in Latin America and it also goes over more casual and informal forms of the language. Students who are planning a trip to central or South America will benefit greatly from working with this book.

Review posted: 14/10/2013
Have you used this book?

If you are a person who has absolutely no knowledge of Spanish, but you would like to take the first step in learning a second (or perhaps a third) language, look no further; Colloquial Spanish of Latin America offers everything you need to set up a solid foundation in learning Spanish.

The book has recently been republished (2007) and with its new release the exercises in each unit have been brought right up to date. Along with its original content there are now sections which focus on topics related to the internet, emailing, mobile phones, and general technology. The cassette tapes have been replaced by CD’s and the audio quality has also been improved.

"If you'd like to get up and running with Spanish of Latin America this rewarding course will take you from complete beginner to confidently putting your language skills to use in a wide range of everyday situations" -Roberto Rodriguez Saona (Author)

After skipping past the index you will come across the introduction which will give you a brief history of the Latin American Spanish dialect. There will be a short section at the beginning of the book that explains what role certain dialects/languages (indigenous, Spanish, and African) had on the development of what we now label as the Latin American accent. The introduction will also explain the difference between peninsular Spanish (Spanish from Spain) and the Spanish spoken in North and South America. The book even talks about the y and ll pronunciation used in Argentina and Uruguay, which is pronounced more like the English sh sound. The fact that the book took the time to explain this piece of information is really impressive because this is something that many Spanish books simply leave out.The structure and teaching method of the book is also highlighted and a brief description of proper pronunciation of vowels and consonants is then explained.After having introduced these basic ideas the book begins by giving examples of common greetings, translations of personal pronouns, verbs in the present tense and some exercises which help the student make simple inquiries.

The book gets off to a good start and continues providing practical information within the next 19 units.Most of the lessons begin with introductory audio examples and scripts for the student to follow along with as they listen. A wide range of topics are also covered in order to prepare the student for real life situations. Topics include: at the airport, shopping, making hotel reservations, casual talk, and common sayings, just to name a few. The lessons focus on all four learning skills but a major focus is put on speaking and listening.

The written examples and listening dialogues are also translated into English and both formal and informal phrases are used in each lesson.The use of tu and usted is clearly explained and some very practical examples are also given. Simple phrases like “Adios” are even presented with less formal alternatives such as “chau” “Hasta luego” or “nos vemos.”

What really impressed me about this book is the fact that the language is presented in a way that is not too academic or formal, but some extra time was dedicated to explain the more proper rules and structures.

What makes this book so unique?

The fact that this book was created by two native Spanish speakers who also have extensive experience in teaching Spanish is something which sets this book apart from many books being used in classrooms today. The book also comes with listening activities which can be downloaded or purchased in either MP3 or CD ROM format. You will also notice a variety of accents used in the listening activities, mostly Mexican, Colombian, and even Cuban American accents (most commonly heard in Florida).

Another positive feature I saw in some of the exercises was that certain phrases were translated in more than one way. If we take a look at Unit 1 for example, the Phrase “You’re welcome” is translated as both “De nada” and “No hay porque.” Personally I believe this is extremely helpful and useful since certain Latin American countries often times use one expression more than the other. There are also sections in each chapter that place emphasis on correcting pronunciation. This section however, would be more beneficial for teachers and not the independent learner.

To top it all off at the end of the book there is a short English-Spanish glossary, a self-check answer key, an index of important language points seen in all the lessons, and even translations related to the listening activities.

Colloquial Spanish of Latin America is the perfect book for anyone who is serious about learning the basics of the Spanish language. I highly recommend this book simply because this course offers a step-by-step approach which effectively helps students improve both their written and speaking skills in a quick and efficient manner. It will even come as a pleasant surprise to know that this book is quite affordable in both hardback and paperback copies. If you happen to finish this book feeling confident that you have gained the necessary skills to understand and communicate in Spanish, then I recommend the second part of this series- Colloquial Spanish of Latin America 2 The Next Step in Language Learning. The second part of this series will teach you new grammar structures and vocabulary, as well as prepare you to move on to the intermediate level with full confidence.



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