Madrigals’s Magic Key to Spanish:
This is an older book but one that remains relevant among the hundreds of resources out there. The author starts with the introduction of the many words and similarities that are shared between Spanish and English. This really makes you feel like you are making progress quickly and allows you to use your knowledge of English to make rather complex sentences early on. The book proceeds to introduce little “rules” and tricks to easily remember words and grammar but the focus is on acquiring this naturally. There are plenty of sentence examples with the translations often on the same page. This will save you time from flipping back and forth. As the chapters progress, there is a focus usually on one or two verbs with plenty of examples for the objectives of that particular chapter.
Overall, this is a great book for beginners and you will really fell like you can read, speak, and understand a lot of Spanish early on. This quick progression is a great motivation to dive into more complex grammar and patterns later on.
501 Spanish Verbs:
Although all of this information is available online on various websites, there is something about having all this information in one place right at your finger tips. Nearly every language you choose to study will have some sort of verb conjugation to deal with; it is unescapable and a necessary evil in your path to speaking at your target level. Not only is this book a great reference for looking up verbs and all of their conjugations but it also provides examples of common phrases and how they are used in sentences which is helpful in trying to differentiate between the tenses. It can be a bit daunting and is not a book you will ever read cover to cover, but if you like having a complete and consolidated reference handy when you need it then this is an excellent book to add to your collection.
In addition to the the verb tables, there are also useful charts that organize verbs into regular / irregular, lists and explanations for verbs used with prepositions and idiomatic expressions which is great as you progress your level in Spanish. If you are looking to test yourself, there are also verb drills at the end of the book to complete. Although not as thorough as an exercise book it is nice to have a little of everything all in one place.
First Spanish Reader:
There are a lot of dual language books that have text in both languages on adjacent pages, however this book by Angel Flores is particularly unique. From a language perspective, the stories are presented in a very gradual way so that only basic tenses, vocabulary, and verb conjugations are used in the beginning stories. As the book progresses that idea is that so too should the readers level. After the first 15 or so stories, the future and past tenses are introduced followed by others. The added benefit of this book is that it provides a glimpse at traditional Hispanic literature. Many of the stories are traditional poems, proverbs, or tales commonly found in Hispanic culture. This is a great way to get a feel for not only the language but the history and culture of native speakers. One drawback for this book is that it is a little dated. Published in 1964, it doesn’t present any current literature or stories. If you are interested in something more current take a look at the Harry Potter method.
Barron’s E-Z Spanish:
Barron’s is a well known publisher of a variety of workbooks. In particular, the introductory Spanish book is useful in that it presents a pretty thorough introduction in a gradual manner that allows easy independent progression. There are a decent amount of pictures and a lot of practice activities which will really help you solidify what you are learning. They also provide explanations and terms in Spanish with the English translations as well. This helps to build proficiency in grammar terms which can be useful when seeking assistance in class or with a tutor. As with most work books there is an answer key at the back to check your work and some fun crosswords and word searches when you need a break from the fill-in-the-blank activities. A drawback for this series is that there is no companion audio but if you are looking to supplement lessons or a class, this is an excellent book to help you structure your independent studies.