REVIEW OF SPANISH AT HOME TEXTBOOKS
Average cost of the method
$42.90 per textbook (10 lessons, ~93 pages), or bundle three e-books for $89.90
Type of method
Structured approach to teaching Spanish, with each textbook containing 10 lessons that cover vocabulary, grammar, exercises, everyday expressions, and more. As you go through each lesson, you can practice verb tenses, acquire new vocabulary, practice speaking, do translation exercises, and practice speaking and listening.
There are over half a billion Spanish speakers spread throughout the world. In the United States alone, there are 45 million Hispanophones who speak Spanish as a first or second language, a number equivalent to the entire population of Spain. Spanish is the majority language in 21 countries and several dependent territories.
Spanish is so widespread that it is no wonder so many people try to learn it. Whether you’re looking at increasing your career opportunities, enriching your travel experiences, making friends, getting exposed to a wide variety of cultures and traditions, or doing business, the reasons for learning Spanish are endless, in fact probably commensurate with the amount of Spanish language learning resources available on the shelves of libraries and over the internet!
I have tried my fair share of language learning resources, and today I would like to introduce you to Spanish At Home, a series of textbooks, audio recordings, and videos that aim to make it as easy and fun as possible to make you learn
Spanish At Home was created over 10 years ago by Angela Cardenas and Angiolina Calvo, two Los-Angeles-based Spanish teachers originally from Peru. Angela and Angiolina each have well over a decade of experience teaching to schools, corporations, executives, doctors, and celebrities. Based on their experience teaching in the real world, they’ve developed a series of textbooks with accompanying audio lessons and videos that try to make learning Spanish as efficient and easy as possible.
At the time of writing, Spanish At Home offers a collection of three books, available either in electronic (e-book) or paperback format. Paperbacks come with 4 audio CDs or Mp3 files and are available for purchase on Amazon. The audio includes pronunciation help plus live recordings of Angela and Angelina’s private classes. In 2015, Spanish At Home added short Spanish video lessons available to anyone who purchase one or more textbooks (including ebooks). In these videos, a Spanish At Home teacher explains grammar and vocabulary, goes through practice problems, and shares exclusive tips.
How Does It Work?
Each Spanish At Home book contains 10 lessons, and each lesson contains four to six sections, including themes such as vocabulary, grammar, exercises, everyday expressions, Spanglish, oral exercise, and common mistakes. In that sense, Spanish At Home uses a more “typical”, structured approach to teaching the language. As you go through each lesson, you can practice verb tenses, acquire new vocabulary, practice speaking, do translation exercises, and practice speaking and listening. Below you will find a screenshot of a textbook’s Table of Contents, which should give you a good overview of what you should expect to find:
The book’s format is great because it’s a tool you can use either on your own or with a teacher. For example, if you’d like to take language lessons over Skype with an online tutor, such as on italki, having this kind of book would allow you and your teacher to easily structure classes and in between classes, you would have the opportunity to practice exercises in the textbook. The same applies if you’d like to take lessons with a teacher in your neighborhood. Additionally, Spanish At Home is a great self-study tool because everything is thoroughly explained both in the book and in the accompanying audio and video lessons.
One thing I’ve enjoyed about Spanish At Home is the fact that I could listen to the audio CD (MP3) on its own when reviewing or practicing lessons that I had already covered. This is great when commuting to school or work, among others. The audio recordings are very professional.
As mentioned above, each lesson contained within a textbook contains a number of themes. One merits particular attention: the “common mistakes” section, which is included in each lesson. I’ve found this section to be particularly useful because it highlights areas of common difficulty among the majority of Spanish learners. Most other textbooks besides Spanish At Home that I’ve reviewed in the past do not include such a section, although they certainly should!
So, on balance, what are the pros and cons of Spanish At Home? Let’s find out:
- The book format makes Spanish At Home a versatile learning tool. Whether you’re learning on your own or with a teacher, or even with a tutor over Skype, the book will suit a variety of contexts and situations;
- Books come with complimentary audio and video files, which are very helpful. The audio contains plenty of explanations and can be listened to as review material on its own;
- As you progress through the textbook, lessons slowly begin to blend Spanish into explanations. Given that lessons are also well structured, they’re easy to go through and help the learner build a routine;
- The “common mistakes” section is very helpful and helps to highlight common areas of difficulty among Spanish learners;
- For every book you buy, Spanish at Home will donate an educational book or school supplies to an orphanage in Peru. That’s actually pretty cool!
- The textbooks could be strengthened by including dialogues, preferably one or more per lesson;
- It would be useful to see the vocabulary that is introduced in each lesson used later in the lesson or throughout the textbook — for example in short stories. This could help reinforce vocabulary acquisition, assist in developing reading skills and serve as translation practice;
- There are few cultural insights within the textbook. It would be good to have, peppered throughout the lessons, various kinds of cultural insights that introduce Latin American and/or Spanish music, dance, customs, cinema, literature, and other forms of arts and culture to the student.