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Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative and Proven Approach Paperback – September 1, 1989
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Text: English, Spanish
From the Publisher
Anyone can read, write, and speak Spanish in only a few short weeks with this unique and proven method, which completely eliminates rote memorization and boring drills.
Original B & W illustrations.
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1. Speak Spanish
2. Read Spanish
3. Write in Spanish
4. Think in Spanish
There are so many things that I like about this book. For starters, the author of this book uses a very interesting method to help you quickly learn Spanish. What she does is teach the reader how to add hundreds and hundreds of Spanish words to his or her vocabulary by simply using the English words that you already know. For example, did you already know that the following words are both Spanish and English words:
The only difference is the pronunciation is different in Spanish. But the words are spelled the same way and have the same meaning in both Spanish and English.
In addition to showing the reader that he or she already knows many Spanish words because there are so many English words that are spelled the same and that have the same meaning, the author also shows how the reader can take many English words that he or she already knows and convert them into Spanish words just by making small changes in the words. For example, the author shows how we can convert many English words that end in “ist” into Spanish words by adding the letter “a” to them:
Pianist – el pianista
Violinist – el violinista
Dentist – el dentista
Oculist – el oculista
Capital – el capitalista
Communist – el comunista
Novelist – el novelista
Optimist – el optimista
I also found it beneficial that there is a helpful pronunciation key at the beginning of the book. Another thing that I really like about this book is that after every 9 or 10 lessons, there are a series of tests that help you test your progress and see how far you have come.
Near the end of the book, there is also a section called “Common Spanish Expressions” where you’ll find five pages packed with helpful Spanish expressions, such as:
Acabar de (plus infinitive) - to have just
A pesar de – in spite of
Buena suerte – good luck
Claro – of course
Dar la mano – to shake hands
Echar la culpa – to blame
Esta vez – this time
Me alegro de verlo – I am happy to see you
No lo haga – don’t do it
No es justo – it isn’t fair
Otra vez – again
Poco a poco – little by little
Ya lo creo – now I believe it
At the very end of this book, there is a handy 35-page “Vocabulary” section that is organized like a dictionary. You will find Spanish words from “a” (to, at) all the way to “zoologia” (zoology).
Out of the 45 chapters covered in this book, my favorites were Chapter 41 and Chapter 42. In chapter 41, the author teaches The Present Subjunctive and breaks down how to express hope, fear, doubt and desire in Spanish. In chapter 42, the author teaches The Past Subjunctive and breaks down how to express past hopes, fears, doubts and desires in Spanish. She even explains how to use the conditional and past subjunctive together. In other words, you will learn how to express the following in Spanish:
I would write a letter if I had the time.
She would buy an airplane if it were possible.
They would watch the movie if were interesting.
In chapter 42, Madrigal also covers the Past Perfect Subjunctive which enable you to express the following in Spanish:
I would have known the lesson if I had studied.
We would have spoken Spanish if we had studied.
If they had had time, they would have traveled to Spain.
The reason why Chapters 41 and 42 are my favorite chapters is because these are the chapters that teach the Spanish subjunctive. I, like many native English speakers, find that the Spanish subjunctive is one of the most difficult areas of Spanish. In Chapters 41 and 42, Madrigal does a fantastic job breaking-down the complex topic of the Spanish subjunctive.
The only thing that I did not like about this book is that the vocabulary does not cover modern technology. The first edition of this book was written in 1951. This book seriously needs to be updated. You will learn how to say the Spanish words for telephone, newspaper and telegram. But don’t expect to learn how to say cellphone, website or email in Spanish.
Although this book does not teach you any Spanish words related to modern technology, I still recommend that buy this book because it will allow you to quickly learn hundreds of Spanish words quite easily – just by using the English words that you already know. By the way, this same author, Margarita Madrigal, has another helpful book that you will find available here at Amazon:
In closing, I want to leave you with a list of my favorite three learn-Spanish products available here at Amazon:
1. Easy Spanish Phrase Book NEW EDITION: Over 700 Phrases for Everyday Use (Dover Language Guides Spanish) Easy Spanish Phrase Book - This is an economically priced, handy resource that easily fits into my back pocket. You can conveniently take it anywhere with you when vacationing in a Spanish speaking country in order to have more than 700 phrases in your Spanish-vocabulary arsenal. And unlike so many learning-Spanish books, there is also a section called "Computers and Technology" where you'll find Spanish vocabulary related to modern technology.
2.Learning Spanish Like Crazy Level 1 CDR - w/ Super Bonus Package - Learn Spanish & Speak Spanish - New & Improved for PC/Mac - Free Updates for 1 Yr LSLC - This is my favorite audio Spanish program because the program focuses on everyday, Latin American Spanish. It's geared toward the foreign-language learner who wants to eventually achieve fluency in Spanish instead of someone who just wants to learn a few travel phrases. Compared to the other programs that I have used, this one does the best job at teaching you how to develop an authentic sounding Latin American Spanish accent. The program also comes with a very impressive bonus package.
3. 501 Spanish Verbs with CD-ROM and Audio CD (501 Verb Series) 501 Spanish Verbs - If you think you can accomplish fluency in Spanish as an adult without mastering conjugating Spanish verbs, you are only fooling yourself. This book is an absolute essential resource for learning how to conjugate Spanish verbs.
And if you have any questions about Madrigal’s Magic Key To Spanish, please post your questions below and I will do my best to answer your questions.
I actually bought this book several years ago and tried a couple lessons before giving up in disgust and putting it back on the shelf. This was because the first few lessons are little more than huge, enormous, long lists of Spanish words, of the type "Look! Here are 100 Spanish words you already know because they are so similar to English", and "Look! Here are 200 more!" and so forth. It seemed at first that the book was going to be little more than long lists of vocabulary to memorize.
But, recently, I gave the book a second chance and am glad I did so. Once you get past the introductory chapters, the book does become rather useful.
Here are a couple things I like about the book:
1. Spanish has three ways of saying "you": "tu" (the familiar singular form, equivalent to the archaic English 'thou'), "vosotros" (the familiar plural form, American English's "y'all" or "you all" or "you guys") and "usted/ustedes" (the formal form, equivalent to French's "vous"). But in this book, the author entirely ignores "vosotros" and almost entirely ignores "tu", focusing entirely on "usted". Which, if you think about it, is totally fine, since as a foreigner visiting Latin America as a tourist, you should probably be using the formal form anyway. But by omitting "tu" and "vosotros", the book only needs to cover four forms: yo, usted, nosotros, and ustedes, rather than six, which means 1/3 less verb conjugation for you to get bogged down in.
2. The explanations of grammar in this book are so short, so succinct, so pellucid, that it's really something special. Other textbooks will spend an entire chapter twisting themselves in knots trying to explain the difference between the two verbs for "to be", ser and estar. Madrigal explains the difference in one little box. Throughout the book, the most topics typically most challenging and problematic for English speakers are reduced to extremely short, clear, easy to understand explanations unlike what I've seen in other books.
3. There are abundant (if sometimes repetitive and boring) exercises in each chapter, which gives you plenty of opportunity to conjugate verbs and practice the essentials.
One thing I did *not* like about this book: It proceeds at what, for me, was an ideal pace -- until the last couple chapters, when in the span of a few pages, the conditional, imperative, subjective and past subjunctive were all tossed in at the last minute without ample exercises to reinforce the learning of those tenses. The book had done such a good job with the simple past tense, the present, and the imperfect, that it was disappointing that the other tenses were sort of an afterthought.
Still, overall, for the price, and considering the many very terrible Spanish learning textbooks available in the US, this is a very good value, and there's a reason it's still in print after some 60 years or so. If you are a dedicated self-teacher of languages, this one is very hard to beat for its price.