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148 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable
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...
Published on 19 Feb 2005 by R. Fox

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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish- Really?
I was recommended this book so thought I'd give it a whirl. The book has excellent reviews everywhere, however I feel I have to offer a different opinion. I have 4 major gripes with this book;

1). There is no way this book is targetted at beginners. This book is for intermediates and above all day long.

2). The author seems unable to use the same...
Published on 4 Feb 2010 by Jm Woods


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148 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable, 19 Feb 2005
By 
R. Fox (Ye Olde Salop, UK) - See all my reviews
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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
4.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable Reading, fills a big gap in learning Spanish, 2 Oct 2004
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 (london United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 28 May 2003
By 
H. Naieri (London UK) - See all my reviews
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I started learning Spanish language at the age of 65 and found it hard to speak it due to natural inhibitions. This book helped me enormousely. It is beautifully written and gives you a great encouragement to speak this musical language. Well done Joseph
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive, 28 July 2006
By 
David Monk (UK) - See all my reviews
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When was the last time you had a language textbook that you couldn't put down? I had to tear myself away to add to the glowing reviews above, which first inspired me to buy this book. Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish answers all the questions you never even realised needing asking. It fills in the gaps for when you look in the dictionary and none of the definitions seems right - and gives you a laugh at the same time. It's perfect for dipping into and rewards each reading with a snappy new word or phrase you're dying to use next time you're with a Spanish speaker. It's as if Bill Bryson had written a language book - and from this reader there's no greater praise.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not so much a language book as a guide into another culture, 1 April 1999
By A Customer
You may as well be trying to learn Latin with most Spanish books. Not only are they dry and boring, they are absolutely lifeless! Keenan presents Spanish as a living language, full of real life examples and situations (and I don't mean asking the maid in your hotel room for more towels!) I have read this book until the pages have fallen out. Take it from someone who followed Keenan's advice, went to Mexico, and started talking to the locals - you will never find a more helpful resource for your sojourn. The section on invectives and obcenities is worth the price of admission. You may never have an inclination to use any of these words, but I guarantee you it is very, very useful knowing when they are being used toward you. Finally, never have I encountered a Spanish language book which enlightens one as to why everything in Spanish is reversed, e.g. blanca y negra for black and white. Keenan's wonderful book helps you get inside the Spanish speaker's mind and world to the extent that you might just realize it is the English speaker that has everything backwards.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 10 Jun 2002
This book is a must, there are few books that one will read and think; "this is a real gem", this is one of the few.
I have only read it once and realise, I will be reading it over and over.

If you know beginners Spanish, this should be the next step that you take, it breaks down the language into its bare bones and gives you a great incite into the Latin mind.
Also there is a guide which explains Spanish expletives, which you hopefully will never use, but a least it gives you the opportunity to understand when you are being sworn at.
Don't expect to read this book the once and master it, there is a lot of information in this book to absorb, but the information is concise and to the point, and is certainly easier to absorb than a dictionary.
To those who have the good sense to buy it
BUENA SUERTE.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breaking Out of *Intermediate* Spanish, 25 Sep 2002
First off, as others have mentioned, the title is slightly misleading - this book is definitely for those at intermediate level (may even be of use to those at an advanced level). I'm an A2 level student who intends to study Spanish next year at uni, and this book was no walk in the park for me.
OK, now that's out of the way, now on to the book. I can genuinely say that this has been the most useful book for me in my duration as a student of the language. Keenan really explains the concepts rather than simply brush over them as many other books tend to do, and it's all done in a fun, light-hearted manner.
Once you've finished reading this book (or even just a chapter) you really feel as if you've made progress. The content leans towards Central/South American Spanish, but I didn't find this a problem. I recommend this book 100%.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treat for the potential Spanish linguist at any level, 22 Sep 2007
By 
Shane Slade (Sevenoaks, Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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My own preference in learning a new skill is invariably to attempt it without the aid of specialised tuition. I find that a less regimented and structured approach suits my style of learning. In fact I doubt whether I would have encountered this book if I had merely ploughed my way through a recommended textbook. Like the other reviewers I strongly recommend this work both to novices and also the more advanced. The author amusingly warns against some of the potential colloquial pitfalls that belie those innocent conversational exchanges. At the same time he arms you with some hilarious pithy comments which will endear you to your Spanish acquaintances. He will also provide you with enough examples of the common habits of speech so that you can effortlessly deal with the the day to day conversational demands. I strongly recommend it.
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Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish
Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish by Joseph Keenan (Hardcover - Nov 1994)
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