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on June 20, 2016
In the preface to this book, the author, Margarita Madrigal, promises that if you complete this book, you will then be able to go to a Spanish speaking country and understand them. I will now go that far and agree with the author because I believe that in order to speak and understand Spanish with confidence, you will need a learning-Spanish audio program to supplement this book. But as the author promises, I honestly believe that this book will help you to do the following:

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:

Actor
Popular
Animal
Capital
hotel
Radio
Conductor
Probable
Cable
Ideal
Flexible

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.
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on November 26, 2016
I have to agree with all the other 5 Star reviews, this book is amazing. It starts out by explaining all the Spanish words you already know but didn't realize you know. Also, my 8 yr old Grandaughter is in love with this book. She asks to look at it every time she comes to my house. I'll probably order her one for Christmas.
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on November 9, 2014
I have been using Magic Key to teach Spanish for 20 years. Starting with close cognates and regular verbs gives the students confidence, as they can form understandable sentences from day one. People with limited linguistic insight sometimes complain about Madrigal's use of words, such as telegram, that have gone out of popular use since she wrote the book in the 50's, and they seem to miss that she was teaching a system that would allow the learner to access Spanish, and sophisticated Spanish at that, almost immediately, which certainly outweighs a few antiquated words. She also teaches the use of the past tense before the present tense, which is extremely useful in that 70% of conversational utterances are in the past tense.
It should be noted that this book is more effective with well educated learners who already have a strong grasp of Latin-based vocabulary. If one doesn't know what "negligent" and "amiable" mean, it won't help much to know that they translate to "negligente" and "amable".
And as always, everyone should be aware that, no matter how helpful a book may be, nobody learns to speak or understand verbal forms of foreign languages by reading a book. Mastering a language requires years of speaking and listening practice.
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on January 24, 2016
Madrigal's works! After two years of high school Spanish, one year of college Spanish, one year of living in Spain, and 37 years of marriage to a man whose first language is Spanish, I should have been fluent in that language. But, no ... until discovering the magic key that is Madrigal's. I was drawn to it by its promise of Andy Warhol's illustrations. But, quickly, I found that this easy to understand tutorial was much more than the usual conjugations. It is engrossing and helpful as well as easy to tuck into my purse for quick reference. This nifty guide provided me with the confidence I had sorely lacked, and a sensibility about learning this second language. Thanks, Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish!
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on September 5, 2016
I have taken Spanish classes in the past however I felt I didn't really learn very much. That being said I learned more form this book in the first few pages than months of Spanish classes. How can that be you ask? Well for some reason my Spanish teacher failed to tell us most English words that end in "or" such as doctor are identical to how you would say them in Spanish which this book tells you on page 1. The book goes on to tell you that most words that end in "al" and "ble" are identical as well. Right there I learned how to say more word in Spanish then months of Spanish classes and I only read three pages of this book. I don't know how you can be a Spanish teacher and not tell students that words that end in "or", "ble", or "al" are usually identical in English and Spanish. Anyways the book teaches you Spanish in easy to understand language and it truly does teach. I always struggled learning the Spanish verbs but this book made it seem easy. This book is by far the best Spanish teaching resource I have found.
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on January 29, 2015
I bought this book because I wanted to explore the Spanish language on my own. It makes learning Spanish so easy, you will enjoy going through the chapters and completing each exercise. It introduces you to reading and writing Spanish formally and will teach you important grammar, how to use verbs properly, and convert words into Spanish/English effortlessly. There are conversations to read in each chapter and sentences to translate into Spanish. For your formal Spanish needs this book is perfect. If you want a book to teach you how Spanish is more naturally spoken, then I recommend reading Streetwise Spanish. This book talks about speech as well describing how words should be properly pronounced, however any book can only go so far without an audio companion. However, go through this book first to have a solid foundation of Spanish and formal understanding of the language. You will not go wrong if you purchase Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish.
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on April 11, 2015
This is my favorite Spanish book for beginning self-study. It starts easy, which fosters self-confidence, and there is an easy, natural progression to more in-- depth learning. I have studied Spanish for two years, with an instructor twice a week, and I constantly refer back to this book. I have given copies away to beginners studying Spanish. I have worn out one copy, and had to order another.
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on February 25, 2014
Seriously. I have studied several languages in all levels of academia and have never used a textbook this intuitive or helpful. Will "Magic Key" get you all the way to fluency? No. Will it get you a good ways down the road towards proficiency? Absolutely.

Of course, some of the idioms are out of date and you need not bother yourself with learning how to ask about the reception of your telegraphs, but the simple, generalized rules for transforming English words into Spanish, the surprisingly useful approach of starting with the past-tense and the step-by-step guides to conjugation make for a compelling first step towards Spanish fluency.
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on May 22, 2017
The author leads you through Spanish grammar and vocabulary at a stead pace. Particularly valuable are the quizzes at the end of each section that allow you to test you knowledge as you go along. The quizzes are simple enough that you can complete each item in your head--but still difficult enough to require that the reader actually learn the material.

The only thing this book lacks a an appendix that summarizes verb conjugations and other important grammatical information.

I have just returned from a two-week trip to Spain and feel that I benefitted from studying this book.
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on February 22, 2015
Wonderful book for learning Spanish. I have read through the book and it provided an easy method to learning the language. I am not fluent in any manner, but it made learning some of the basic rules/words very easy. Used in conjunction with novelas, Spanish music as well as other sources, it would be easy to have a small conversation abroad with a Spanish speaker after reading and practicing what is taught in here. I would recommend this book to everyone who has a small knowledge of Spanish already. For just beginning, it may be best to work on the Spanish alphabet and take some free basic lesson's online before diving in. It will certainly help with pronunciation as well as understanding conjugation. The book does provide a basic pronunciation chart, but it can be difficult if you are just beginning. For high school students, this would be a must! It will accelerate your Spanish knowledge immediately and make high school Spanish a breeze.
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