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Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish [Paperback]

Joseph J. Keenan
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
Price: £12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Jan 1994
Written by a native English speaker who learned Spanish the hard way--by trying to talk to Spanish-speaking people--this book 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.

Frequently Bought Together

Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish + Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish + Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Verb Tenses, Second Edition (Practice Makes Perfect Series)
Price For All Three: £26.90

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Product details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; 1 edition (1 Jan 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 029274322X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292743229
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 17.4 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


" ...a breakthrough ...indispensable reading for any non-native speaker of Spanish ..." William F. Harrison, co-author of Spanish Memory Book: A New Approach to Vocabulary Building

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
147 of 147 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable 19 Feb 2005
By R. Fox
I've studied German, Spanish and French to varying levels. I have a collection of 20 or so language books, and I can honestly say that this is the best.
The reason is simple - whenever you learn a language you end up speaking in an unnatural, stitled kind of way. That's certainly how I was taught at school, and that's how most language books do it too. I remember the first time I was in Germany, someone would ask me if I liked a meal, I'd say something like "I am of the opinion that meal was delicious". Who talks like that? But that was the only way I knew how to talk, because that was how I'd learned.
I returned from 6 months in South America speaking Spanish wanting to take my Spanish to the next step - to get a snappy kind of colloquial speaking that normally only comes with practice. (just to echo what's been said before, this book is for intermediates, not beginners, though they might find it fun too).
This book will teach you how to avoid common mistakes, snappy phrases, comebacks, and most importantly of all HOW WORDS ARE ACTUALLY USED. If you look up a word in a dictionary, even a very big dictionary, the context they give you seems to be guaranteed to be wrong in some way. Here, the context will be explained to you in plain English.
I found the book helped me to think in Spanish better, because you need phrases like "errrr", and a few choice insults probably when you're thinking in English. I have read this book cover to cover about ten times. I even bought another copy myself, just to give to a friend because I think everyone should have this book.
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112 of 112 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I have been learning Spanish for many years on my own and now that I have finally moved to Spain I find I'm really still a beginner with a decent grasp of grammar. When it comes to understanding Spanish as its really spoken and used you need something extra that the normal textbooks and dictionaries don't tell you. This is where Joseph Keenan's book comes in. I already have excellent books including Margarita Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish, Shaum's Outlines Spanish Grammar and Juan Kattán-Ibarra's Teach Yourself Spanish which cover standard grammar and Spanish very well.
Keenan's book clears up a lot of confusion that other books and dictionaries wont explain. He explains light-heartedly the most important areas of Spanish that cause confusion to beginners e.g. Ser and Estar, commonly confused words (tricksters), common verbs with multiple meanings, often badly defined or missing from dictionaries and he even tackles the dreaded subjunctive well. My favourite chapters include the 64 very common verbs and their most typical day-to-day usage, a chapter on crutch words, snappy answers and expressions for filling those gaps (Pues, Bueno, o sea etc) and a chapter on invective and obscenity!
There is no particular order to the chapters and it lacks an index. This would have been really useful for reference. Inevitably, it is also a bit biased towards Latin American Spanish where expressions, idioms and invective is concerned. I drop a star for this.
This aside, you will find yourself dipping into it at random and learning things that you always wanted to know. It doesn't read like a textbook but more like a collection of the tips, the most common misunderstandings and roadblocks experienced during years of learning and speaking Spanish.
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91 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 17 Oct 2003
I cannot recommend this book enough. I have just returned from doing a year's voluntary work with street children in Mexico and this book virtually became my bible.
It has so much practical information about grammar, vocabulary and nuances of using your spanish in real and practical situations.
I do agree with some of the other reviewer's that this book is not ideal for the complete beginner. If you have a good basic level - say GCSE Spanish then you can and pick and choose what you need from this book as your language skills develop.
It does focus a lot on Latin American spanish however there is substantial coverage of spanish from Spain.
It is a book that will become more useful to you as you develop your spoken or written Spanish. Even now I still consult this book to remind myself the best way of saying something in Spanish.
Highly recommended and one of the only books of its kind that I could find. A great way to buid on a basic level of spanish.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars entertaining and informative 16 Feb 2003
By simon gurney HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Breaking Out of Beginners Spanish is a well written and extremely informative guide to the spanish langauge, and straight from the off, its clear that the author has made a very special effort.
The writing is amusing and approaches each and evry concept in a highly readable way, in fact the writing quality is so high its easy to read chapter by chapter, or just dive in a pick up randomly.
The only minor criticsim might be the occasional repitition, but it really is a small complaint, and occurs to keep the chapter organisation coherent.
The book goes beyond the dictionaries and explains the real mechanisms behind spanish langauge, and addresses differences which occur throughout the spansih speaking world, its certainly not only for students of latin american spanish.
the student of spanish from beginner to adavnced cannot fail to benefit from this excellent book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin
This is a great book crammed full of practical everyday examples. It does what it says on the tin and breaks you out of beginner's Spanish
Published 1 month ago by Graeme
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable
If you plan on spending any time in the Americas, then buy this book along with Madrigal's Magic Key for the grammar. Read more
Published 6 months ago by High Seas Drifter
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Excellent book. Easy to follow and humorous. Not only is there help with the language, the author also gives loads of tips on how not to be like the average gringo. A must read.
Published 12 months ago by Joanna
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Spanish tutor
This is quite a different slant on learning Spanish. It helped enormously when I went on Holiday to Spain recently
Published 16 months ago by 573jjoseph8
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic book for intermediate Spanish learners
This is a superb book for intermediate Spanish speakers - not really so much so for beginners. I bought this too early in my learning, and was a little lost, but I have returned to... Read more
Published on 23 Sep 2012 by markr
3.0 out of 5 stars Index Please
In general I like this book, it contains some interesting information about Spanish words/phrases that can be difficult for learners to grasp, BUT why oh why is there no index. Read more
Published on 20 Aug 2012 by PalauSpain
3.0 out of 5 stars japaug12
didn't find book helped with forming sentences or speaking spanish. i found the text confusing with no thread. also there was pages of verbs with there more obscure meanings. Read more
Published on 3 Aug 2012 by john pollock
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely essential. Buy it now.
This is one of the books that every Spanish language learner should own. It's really great and truly does get you out of the beginner's plateau and puts you onto the path of the... Read more
Published on 29 Sep 2011 by crafedog
4.0 out of 5 stars A change from text books
It was not what I expected but I was not disappointed. There is a lot of english text but it is a refreshing change from the usual text books. Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2011 by spanish4life
3.0 out of 5 stars Is this book only suitable for the South American/North American...
I haven't actually read this book but from just reading the reviews it would appear that it is not suitable for those of us wishing to speak Spanish in mainland SPAIN. Read more
Published on 20 Mar 2011 by Amazon Customer
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