I'm trying to learn Spanish on my own using an assortment of dictionaries, CDs, language guides and texts, and a couple of phrase books. In my search for learning aids I examined a number of phrase books; none were perfect, but this one seemed to have a better balance of features than most:
- Pocket-sized, with good quality flexible paper (not too stiff!)
- A Spanish-English & English-Spanish dictionary, with words indexed to phrases
- A basic language and grammar guide, incl. common verbs and conjugations
- Straightforward clear translations on a broad variety of topics
- Well-organized, clean layout, helpful pronunciation guidance
- Uses illustrations as an aid in appropriate places (e.g. body parts, parts of a car, etc)
Like most phrasebooks, the dictionary section is limited by the space available, but this one seems to include most of the words that are mentioned in phrase section. Still, you'll want to have a real dictionary to supplement this (or any) phrasebook.
What would make this worthy of 5-stars?
- Each section is color-coded along the edge, but there is no color key along the outside cover of the book. This would make it easier to quickly find and locate sections.
- The introductory sections on "Survival Spanish" (key phrases) and the language overview should be beefed up a bit. The grammar section has a surprising amount of useful guidance on verbs, but is much more sketchy about other rules of the language. Another 5 to 10 pages on grammar would go a long way toward making this a near-perfect phrase book.
After carefully examining a number of Spanish phrasebooks, I'm not sure that any of them are quite worthy of 5 stars... but the Frommer's is *very* good and has been the best that I've found.