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Spanish For Dummies

Book Review

 

Title:

Spanish For Dummies

Author:

Susana Wald

Publisher:

IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., Foster  City, CA

ISBN:

0-7645-5194-9

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

November, 2000

Rating:

Spanish for  Dummies is a foreign language learning course consisting of a paperback book  and CD-ROM audio disk. It is one book in the popular For Dummies book series.

This program is presented in an outline format. Each chapter of this course is laid out in a similar fashion. A description of the chapter goals is at the beginning, then one of the chapter themes starts with bold faced print topic headers followed by the vocabulary or dialog. Each chapter has a central dialog with additional interchangeable vocabulary. Interspersed throughout the course are lists of the most important words that are shown as if written on a blackboard.

The CD that comes with this book includes dialogs from the book in the sections entitled "Talkin' the Talk." Each dialog is read at normal conversational speed, then repeated slowly with each element being covered separately. The recording quality of the CD is excellent and the speakers act out their parts in each conversation. The topics covered include shopping, dining out, hotel and travel. A tear out cheat sheet is also included at the front of the book to assist the student with basic principles of the language.

This course tries to do a number of things at once, and ends up doing few of them well. Large amounts of cultural material are included, and each chapter has multiple paragraphs about cultural differences and customs. This feature gives the course the feel of a travel manual instead of a serious language program. Some of the conversations also did not seem to be useful except in specific situations, and many of the phrases involve shopping or dining. A few of the situational dialogs cover playing chess and horseracing, topics that will not help the average tourist or business traveler. The presentation of the course is consistent with the goals of the author -- she states at the beginning of the book that she assumes that you do not want to become fluent in Spanish, but simply learn a little Spanish while having fun.

This program may be appropriate for intermediate level Spanish language students wishing to add new phrases and concepts to their knowledge while also learning more about Latin American and South American culture. Students looking for a serious self-paced study course will not find this one of the best basic courses.

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