So, what’s the best book for learning Spanish?
It can be pretty hard to sort out. There are thousands of options!
To get the best of the best, we asked 8 travelers and expats to share the books that helped them learn Spanish. Here are their top twelve:
12 Best Books to Learn Spanish
1 – 3) Lonely Planet Spanish Phrase Books (Latin America, Mexico, Spain)
I organize Spanish immersion trips for a living, so I get asked this question often.
I always say that the best book for learning Spanish, is the *one you’ll actually use.* It needs to be accurate, well organized and accessible.
For this reason, I’ve started recommending the small Lonely Planet phrase books.
They are about the size of a stack of 3×5 notecards, so they are perfect for studying on those long train and bus rides, and small enough to whip out in a communication emergency.
4, 5) Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Verb Tenses
I was a ‘gringo abroad’ for a time… and now I own a business which keeps me very busy.
Anyways, I saw your request, and couldn’t help but answer…
In my twenties (I’m 32 now), I backpacked and visited every Spanish speaking country in South America.
I’ve also lived in both Colombia and Argentina for a short stints, roomed with a good friend from Mexico City for almost two years, and completed my MBA at ESADE in Barcelona, Spain — ranked by the Financial Times and Business Week as one of the top international business schools in the world…
More than anything, I wanted to learn Spanish.
There are several good sources (Spanish R&B Music being some of the most fun/effective), but as far as books go, bar none: “Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Verb Tenses” and “Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions” is some of the best material I’ve found on the subject…
It seems they’ve updated and expanded on this series since I bought it (the newer, revamped books don’t get as high of marks as the older ones…), so look out!
Why I like it so much is that it’s a book that, most importantly, isn’t overwhelming. Each book is around 100 pages. 100 pages is doable. 100 pages one can accomplish. 100 pages you won’t quit… Do yourself a favor, and buy this series… it’s one decision you’ll never regret 🙂
6) Spanish English: Bilingual Visual Dictionary
Submitted by: Anne Dirkse | Travel Photography & Workshops
My name is Anne and I’m a travel photographer, fluent in Spanish.
I did most of my learning when I was a lot younger, from junior high through college, but I still really find this visual dictionary really useful: Spanish English: Bilingual Visual Dictionary
Rather than the typical dictionary, it is organized a lot more like a phrasebook, by topic, but the focus is on building vocabulary.
I’m a visual learner, and the color photographs make the vocabulary a lot more memorable to me, and they resolve ambiguities when I don’t necessarily know the name in English: what’s the name of that little round bread…? This dictionary shows you, through pictures, and gives you the English name too.
The arrangement of words by topic is a lot more practical than the typical dictionary, where you have to know what you’re looking up. You can use this dictionary that way too, but the arrangement is designed for building vocabulary, for example learning the names of colors, animals, or tools.
7) Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish
I lived in Costa Rica for five years while researching my guidebook Costa Rica: The Complete Guide, and during that time I went from zero Spanish to fluency.
The best Spanish book I read, and which I still refer to, is Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish by Joseph J. Keenan.
It is an absolute classic.
In addition to clearly explaining confusing Spanish concepts like the subjunctive, it’s a fun read with lots of fun insight on Latin culture.
8, 9) The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Spanish on Your Own
Submitted by: Elizabeth Avery | Founder/CEO SoloTrekker4U.com
Having spent part of my high school years in Florida and minored in Spanish in college, I have always loved both the spoken Spanish language and literature.
Although I am especially keen on watching Spanish language movies and news on Univision to become more fluent, I can also recommend: “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Spanish on Your Own”.
- It includes cultural tips as well as language learning.
- They have an especially unusual whole chapter on cognates and false cognates! For anyone who mixes up embarazada with avergonzada ((pregnant with embarrassed), this is quite a difference. In addition, if you were looking for an avocado and were referred to a rather stern looking professional, you may have confused an aguacate with an abogado!
- It injects humor (Chap 5 Are Idioms for Idiots?) rather than mere rote memorization.
10) ¡Exacto! A Practical Guide to Spanish Grammar
For your piece on the best books for learning Spanish, I highly recommend ¡Exacto! A Practical Guide to Spanish Grammar by Ane Ortega, et al.
It’s incredibly straightforward and concise. Each grammar point is reinforced with a variety of explanations and examples so you can be confident you understand.
It was my go-to resource while learning Spanish in Guatemala and Mexico, and my language teachers ended up buying a copy as well.
There are so many grammar books, and grammar can be so dull, but this one keeps it simple without losing depth.
Here’s the book on Amazon: ¡Exacto!
11) How to Improve Your Foreign Language Immediately
The book that helped me the most was “How to Improve Your Foreign Language Immediately” by Boris Shekhtman.
It has some really unusual tips that helped me improve my fluency a lot.
Most Spanish learners don’t lack vocabulary or grammar, they just lack fluency, and Boris Shekhtman specializes in training people to speak a lot more fluently without having to learn tons of new vocabulary.
As such, the book is not specific to Spanish, but I feel that you can’t leave it out.
12) Learn Spanish Workbook
Submitted by: Jeremy Levine | La Escuela Del Sol
I saw your query seeking the best books for learning Spanish and thought you might be interested in our free iBook written by Spanish teachers of La Escuela Del Sol. If you have an ipad or mac computer, you can download it for free here.
La Escuela Del Sol provides a warm weather travel adventure for active adults who want to learn Spanish, fire dancing, surfing, obtain scuba certification or practice yoga in a tropical paradise. You can take a combination of almost any of our courses from 1 to 12 weeks. We even offer college credit for our Spanish curriculum.
The book is interactive and features audio for pronunciation, video lessons and tons of interactive exercises. Book two should be released before the end of the year as well.
Our Picks: In addition to these handpicked favorites, we used a very different set of tools. Here are the 11 books and courses we used to learn Spanish.
Bonus: More Language Learning Resources
In addition to the print books (above) we also want share the following Spanish – and general language learning tools.
DuoLingo: Learn Spanish App
Submitted by: Eric Gaden | Adventurenickel.com
Books are great, but I like a free app called duolingo better.
Pimsleur and Spanish for Cruisers
Submitted by: Dana Greyson | www.GalleyWenchTales.com
More word of-mouth as we plan to do our studying once we push off from land in mid-December.
Learn How to Learn a New Language
Are you concerned that you don’t have that “language gene”? And that you just can’t learn a new language? You need to check out this video – it is an Irish guy speaking 10 different languages. If you need a little motivation, this is it!
While he does sell a premium course, he has tons of free content and videos. Check out: Fluent in 3 Months
See our reader’s choice: The Best Book to Learn Spanish
Best Books to Learn Spanish: Overview
Now, It’s Your Turn
What is your favorite book for learning Spanish? Do you agree with these choices? Do you use a better tool, book or system?
Please share it in the comments below!