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Spanish is one of the most popular languages for people to learn. Maybe you are planning to visit a foreign country like Mexico or Spain where Spanish is the primary language. Or, you may live in a section of the United States with a high percentage of Spanish speakers. Either way, having at least a basic understanding of Spanish can make a huge difference in how you are able to interact with others.
There are tons of resources available to help you learn Spanish at a basic level. Some people find a local class to attend where you can interact with others on a set schedule. Others elect for an online course.
For many, a simple book with a CD to help you practice pronunciation may be all you need. And, that’s exactly what this post is going to focus upon.
Disclaimer ~ I was sent copies of The Complete Idiots’ Guide to Learning Spanish and Spanish for Dummies for the purpose of doing this comparison review. Links in the post are affiliate ones.
Learning Spanish vs. Spanish for Dummies
It is not too often that I compare two very similar products in one review. Actually, I can’t think of a time when I did a review that included comparing a book with its competition.
For years now, consumers have been able to visit a bookstore and get a book on a topic that provides a quick overview of the material. If the book you picked was bright yellow and black, you held a ‘for Dummies’ book. The other choice has bright orange on the cover and is from The Complete Idiot’s Guide series.
The first pair of books I’m reviewing is for learning Spanish in your home.
Spanish for Dummies Quick Facts
Spanish for Dummies is in its 2nd edition.
It is co-authored by language instructors.
It carries the seal of Berlitz, an international leader in language instruction.
The accompanying CD provides the opportunity to practice real-life conversations.
Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Spanish Quick Facts
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Spanish is in its 5th edition.
It is written by a long-time language instructor experienced at teaching multiple levels of students.
An accompanying CD provides audio exercises to practice key conversations.
Just from that little bit, I’d say there isn’t much difference.
Perusing the table of contents and the mini-dictionaries in the back of each book, I’d even say that most of the same ground is covered in each text.
They both come with an audio CD to help you learn pronunciation as well.
Both books urge an immersion approach to better learn the language.
What are the Differences?
After my initial glance through each, I started wondering where the differences might be found.
Spanish for Dummies rounds out each chapter with a ‘fun and games’ page to reinforce your learning through tools like crossword puzzles.
Learning Spanish takes a more academic approach. Activities are set aside throughout the chapters where you practice translating or filling in the missing piece of the conversation.
While I viewed Learning Spanish as feeling more textbook like for their ‘activities’, the tone is more conversational and inviting in style to me.
While they both have CDs to help you learn good pronunciation, the audio CDs are different. Learning Spanish’s CD features many phrases that you may find useful.
Spanish for Dummies, however, goes for full conversations (dubbed Talkin’ the Talk dialogs.) So, you can learn what a reasonable response might be.
Other things that stood out for each book…
Learning Spanish sets the tone by talking about WHY you might want to study Spanish in both a humorous and more serious manner.
The author also suggests an approach for the complete novice and those of us who have ‘dabbled’ with learning Spanish in the past. What I liked in this first section of the book is the chapter showing how much Spanish you may already know.
Tackling a new language seems less daunting when you realize you may already know several words.
Spanish for Dummies has several lists of 10 near the end of the book. One catchy chapter is titled “Ten Things to Never Say in Spanish.” They were definitely phrases that would make you stick out if used. However, it wasn’t exactly what the chapter title had me thinking. But, I did appreciate the lists including one to make you sound fluent.
Resources for Spanish for Dummies
There are several books that compliment the Spanish for Dummies if you want a more in-depth learning experience.
Spanish Essentials For Dummies is a great pocket-sized guide to take with you.
Spanish For Dummies Audio Set allows you to learn in the car. Plus, it comes with a 96-page portable guide—filled with the words and phrases you’ll hear on the CDs as well as a mini dictionary.
500 Spanish Verb For Dummies has 500 of the most commonly used Spanish verbs presented alphabetically.
Spanish Phrases For Dummies is another pocket-resource guide with the focus on key phrases.
Spanish Grammar For Dummies is a next step resource after using Spanish For Dummies and 500 Spanish Verb For Dummies.
Spanish Word Games For Dummies gives you more practice on vocabulary through games and puzzles.
Intermediate Spanish For Dummies is the next book for after Spanish for Dummies.
Spanish All-in-One For Dummies combines 4 books into one. You receive Spanish for Dummies, Intermediate Spanish for Dummies, Spanish Verbs for Dummies and the Spanish for Dummies Audio Set. This comes in Kindle format without the CDs. As a homeschool mom, this is one I’d consider ordering for a one year program.
Resources for Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Spanish
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Spanish has a few complementary books that fit nicely and expand your learning.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Spanish – English Crossword Puzzles provides extra vocabulary practice.
The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Spanish Phrases, 3rd Edition is your resource when traveling.
Finally, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Intermediate Spanish is the next step in learning with this particular system.
Which would I recommend buying?
Hard to say as when all is said and done you’ll have most of the same ‘bases’ covered. The Spanish for Dummies series offers more complementary products.
It just might boil down to the tone of the book..and maybe price!
Other Resources for Learning Spanish
One of the most highly recommended resources to learn Spanish is Rosetta Stone. They offer the choice of Latin America Spanish or for Spain. There are similarities between the two. However, you want to pick the one for the area you plan to visit. Rosetta Stone uses an immersion approach which is proven to be more effective in the long run.
However, there are other options out there.
Learn Spanish: Fluenz Spanish (Latin America) blends a video tutor with a range of engaging, interactive workouts to improve your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.
Learn Spanish: Instant Immersion Family Edition Language Software Set is lower cost than other software programs. They provide a variety of tools to suit all learning styles: Software, 16-lesson Audio Course, Level 1 App, Interactive DVD, Computer Game, Phrase Guide.
Ouino Spanish: The 5-in-1 Complete Collection includes over 300 lessons, 48 pronunciation exercises and hundreds of engaging games and challenges. They offer the opportunity for the user to make customizations as well.
Living Language Spanish, Platinum Edition is based on the Living Language Method™. This approach uses linguistic science, proven techniques, and over 65 years of experience. Our four-point method teaches you the whole language so you can express yourself, not just recite memorized words or scripts.