- Series: Routledge Frequency Dictionaries
- Paperback: 296 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (January 7, 2006)
- Language: English, Spanish
- ISBN-10: 0415334292
- ISBN-13: 978-0415334297
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.7 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 54 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #558,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish: Core Vocabulary for Learners (Routledge Frequency Dictionaries) (English and Spanish Edition) 1st Edition
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About the Author
Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Linguistics, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. Has published numerous articles on historical syntax and syntactic and lexical variations in Spanish and Portuguese, linguistic databases, and corpus linguistics. Creator of the Corpus del Espanol (www.corpusdelespanol.org), a 100-million word corpus of Spanish
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Fantastic for Spanish teachers and learners alike (although college or adult learners would probably get the most from this, not sure high school students would benefit from it on its own). I will be using this in adapting my curriculum for my middle school Spanish students. We do not use a textbook so I am lucky enough to be able to bring in resources and get creative. By focusing more on the most frequently used words in Spanish, I'm hoping they will experience understanding Spanish in "the real world" more quickly.
Another priority is to edit it, since it contains many errors and some questionable translations. I, at any rate, noted that the word "tejer" is translated "to sew or weave". I have learned "tejer" as meaning "to knit" (weaving may well be another meaning) and "coser" as meaning "to sew". I use those words with native speakers. Many of the typos I see are clearly the result of uncorrected computer scanning.
I would not recommend the resource to those who don't want to master the Spanish language. Tourists may find the terms less practical than expected- a well designed tourist course will have more practical vocabulary lists. I noticed the term for "bathroom" wasn't even featured.
I strongly believe that anyone composing a vocabulary list for a course in Spanish should consult this list before including a term, especially for first year Spanish. If a word is going to be taught to students, it needs to have some reasonable frequency. Coming up with categories and then shoehorning ones vocuabluary choices into that set of categories is what leads to giving students obscure and inappropriate terms to learn. It would be better to make sure that each and every word will be useful in the real world, and this resource can be part of that judgement (though other factors do come into consideration besides just frequency).
If suitably improved, this can be one of the most valuable tools that the serious student or teacher of Spanish could own. Even as is, it is well worth a rental or a purchase.
Here's an example of how powerful this method is. The authors make use of a 20,000,000 word corpus, and show how many times each word appears within that corpus. Believe it or not, the top 10 words (with el, la, etc. as one word) account for 7,014,177 words within that corpus--so 35% of the text overall! And by reaching the top 50, you will have covered over 50% of the corpus, or 10,161,171 words. In other words, half of the Spanish you will ever speak, or read, or hear may be represented just in that list. However, they also are kind enough to provide thematic vocabulary lists that cover animals, parts of the body, food, clothes, sports, the weather, professions and more. And as if that weren't enough, they also rank the words by their parts of speech at the end, allowing you to study the most common nouns or adjectives, for example.
Unfortunately, often Spanish textbooks will give you thematic lists as your main vocabulary builder. For example, suppose that (as I did) you have a lesson on family words. Well, only 6 family-related words (hijo, padre, madre, etc.) can be found within the top 1,000 Spanish words. Why should beginning students have to learn words like abuela (#2,408) or sobrino (#3,593)? Likewise, the most frequent specific clothing word in Spanish, traje (suit), is ranked at #1,710. Again, it's plain silly for beginning students to learn zapato (1,932) or camiseta (#4,427) when there are far more important words out there.
What I did, and what I recommend to any beginning Spanish student, is to go through the first 1,000 words and learn them. You cover a massive, massive chunk of the Spanish language in doing so. I feel great knowing that I've studied the top thousand words that I would need to use in Spanish, at least according to their list. Ultimately I'd like to cover the next 500, or even up to #2000 or more.
There is one little quirk about some of these Routledge frequency dictionaries, including the Spanish dictionary. They adjust the raw frequency ratings based on how well it's represented across the sources; e.g. if a word is common in one element of the corpus but rare in many others, they reduce its ranking. While they're smart people and this makes sense, I would perhaps prefer that they stick with the raw frequency (as they do with the German dictionary) and call it a day.
I enjoy these dictionaries so much that I now own the German and French dictionaries as well. This is a brilliant and extremely efficient way to learn vocabulary. I believe it's absolutely worth the price.