Read Spanish For Beginners by Charles Duff Online


This complete, step-by-step introduction to the language enables students to speak, read, and write Spanish with ease. Includes a basic vocabulary of nearly three thousand words, and outlines the essentials of Spanish grammar....

Title : Spanish For Beginners
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780064632713
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 334 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Spanish For Beginners Reviews

  • J. Sebastian
    2018-11-17 06:10

    This book is only for a certain kind of beginner, one who is not afraid to work hard to conquer a new language. Duff has no illusions about language learning being easy, and for those who are willing to work hard at Spanish, this is a great book. There are no exercises like there are in most modern high-school or college textbooks; instead, there is much grammatical and syntactical material to learn, given together with extensive vocabulary lists. The student is expected to do the memorization work, master the material, and then invent his own exercises by using what he knows to write sentences of his own invention. This requires some ingenuity, and the task for the creative and active learner is to internalize the grammar and vocabulary and see how much he can accomplish with what he has been given. This is perhaps like heading into an unknown jungle to find one's way, and it is exciting, but one must have great energy and vitality. It is not an assignment for the timid. Alternatively, those textbooks that provide exercises that drill the student in patterns of the new language, lead the learner along more gently, habituating him to the new language, and may be a better choice for those who lack confidence, or who get bored easily and wish to rush ahead to something new. Duff cannot be taken too fast; he offers the injunction that one is not to proceed to the next section or lesson until one has thoroughly understood and mastered each part. And if you do what Duff advises you will learn tremendous amounts of Spanish, cutting your path to the other side of the forest. Making it through to the end gives a great sense of accomplishment, but getting there is unlikely for the undisciplined. This is not a great book to help your struggling Spanish student improve; it is for the motivated and mature learner.The book is a little dated when it comes to the situational material. There are phrases for the railway station or for when you are at the hotel, and interested in taking a bath in the morning. One can tell that times have changed from the following dialogue. The page from which this is taken offers the Spanish together with the English (as follows).I’d like to take a bath, may I?Yes. On the fourth floor there’s a bath with hot water.Can I bathe there?Sure. Just go up. The bathroom is at the end of the hall.Porter, the water is not hot.Wait a moment. I know what’s the matter.Now, sir, the bath is ready.What a pity this boarding house has no bath!It’s that way in the small boarding houses and inns. There are no baths.Then, what does one do?You have to wash in your room.Generally they take hot water to your room.Well, it’s better than nothing.People don’t bathe as much here as in the United States and England.I think not.(Though the dialogue might today be considered ridiculous. The grammar, the vocabulary and the syntax are still good.)Duff did a great job in representing all regional varieties of Spanish in his reading material. From time to time I ran into odd expressions or turns of phrase that I assume are the way to say things in the Spanish of a different region than the Spanish that I grew up with. The selections for reading are wonderful extended literary passages taken from Alarcón’s El Sombrero de tres picos (The three-cornered hat), and from La Vida de Lazarillo de Tormes, a picaresque novel written in the year 1554 by an unknown author, and a work of genius. These are now must-reads for me, after the introduction that I had to them in Duff.Duff reflects that “When we think of the difference between the English of Shakespeare and our present-day English, it is surprising to find that Lazarillo de Tormes, published ten years before Shakespeare and Cervantes were born, can be easily understood by anybody who has a good knowledge of modern Spanish. Castilian had reached maturity before the Siglo de Oro, the Golden Age of Spanish literature.” This is manifestly true.Here is Duff’s plan for how to make the best of the reading selections he offers for study, which include (in the earlier stages of the course and in almost all of the selections of the two works above mentioned) an interlinear translation. 1. Read the Spanish aloud slowly, making the best you can of the meaning.2. Read over the Spanish more quickly at least twice.3. Read over the translation to get the general sense.4. Go over the piece word for word––Spanish and English––until you understand the sense of each phrase and sentence.5. Read the Spanish aloud, thinking with the text, until you feel that you can follow the author as well as if he wrote in your own language.6. When you have done this you should be at home with the new words, grammatical forms, and idioms. Not until you have confidence that you have reached this stage should you proceed.7. When you come to a new instalment, go back over the preceding instalments so that you will not forget the words, etc., that you have learned.Though this may seem repetitive, and tedious when you are on the tenth instalment of one of the novels, it is sound advice, and if Duff’s instructions are followed faithfully, amazing gains in understanding and competence will result. I used to dislike interlinear translations, but if they are used responsibly in this way they are a good tool. The interlinear help disappears later in the book, with a translation supplied apart. After that there are supplementary readings by a variety of authors representing different countries of the Spanish speaking world, without the additional help of an accompanying translation. There is a steady progression throughout the course so that the challenge is always increasing as the learner gains in competence. Reading and re-reading a text for understanding is an essential and rewarding part of the learning.To give you an idea of the type of rigours not avoided by Duff, the glossary at the end of the book is intended not merely for reference, but actually to be read and studied repeatedly, until all words have become familiar. “The best way to use this vocabulary,” he writes, “which is too full for memorization, is to read and re-read it until you become familiar with the words, their meanings,––at least the commoner ones (which are given first––and the idioms in which they occur.” This amounts to studying 32 pages of dictionary entries. There follows a Supplementary vocabulary of more than 1300 Spanish words provided without definition that the student is asked to look up in a good dictionary of his own. To be sure, the student is expected to be continuing with reading, listening to Spanish radio programmes, continuous grammatical review, and using his Spanish to speak with others whenever the opportunity emerges. But though the book is a book for Beginners it is really for those beginners who are responsible self-learners and who have tremendous measures of endurance, determination, and patience. It’s for that special elite of language learners. Think of this as the linguistic equivalent of embarking on Shackleton's expedition across the Antarctic continent in 1914.Duff’s other language courses for beginners are similar in nature. My Spanish is excellent; I am a native speaker, and I wanted to review the grammar that I had not considered in years. I got to see how difficult Spanish can be for someone who wants to learn it well. Though Spanish has the reputation of being an easy language in comparison to other world languages, it has many difficulties for the English-speaking student. One thing I learned from Duff, that I had never seen explained in any other Spanish textbook before, was the reason for the difference in the two alternative forms of the past subjunctive, e.g. que yo tuviera vs. que yo tuviese. These are used interchangeably and not even native speakers make any distinction in meaning between them. Duff explains that “originally the r-form was the imperfect, and the s-form the past definite.” So there was originally in Spanish a distinction between a past-progressive subjunctive (the r-form), and the simple past or aoristic subjunctive (the s-form). I love all of Duff’s “beginner" books (German, French, Italian, Russian), but these are not for the timid, and cannot be recommended indiscriminately to every student as beginning texts. They are only beginning texts in that they start from first principles. To learn any language well requires tremendous dedication, patience, and ongoing practice; Duff does not conceal this.

  • Greg Zancewicz
    2018-12-03 03:58

    Just found it! The book I learned Spanish from so I could talk with the Mexican girl I met across the border one night. She was so impressed that I tried to learn Spanish that she married me - now going on 23 years!