My preferred books & courses for learning Spanish

I’ve tried lots of Spanish text books and other resources. These are the ones that suit me and that I have stuck with over the years.

A man reading a book in a park
Studying Spanish

Larousse Pocket Dictionary : Spanish-English / English-Spanish

A nice sized two way dictionary (meaning you can look up a word in either English or Spanish). Unless you are absolutely fluent or learning some very technical Spanish this dictionary will be more than enough. Each entry has at least one example of the word in use as well, and you all know how much I value examples as a way of learning. These bestselling bilingual dictionaries are practical, portable references for people who are learning a language or who are traveling but want more than a phrasebook. If you feel you want to dig a bit deeper before choosing, take a look at my advice for choosing a Spanish – English dictionary.

Each includes:
-More than 55,000 entries with 80,000 translations
-Updated vocabulary in all subject areas
Usage examples showing words in context to ensure accurate translation and give a clear picture of how they are used
-Idioms, abbreviations, and acronyms
-A helpful pronunciation guide

A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish by Butt & Benjamin

This is the gold standard of grammar books, and in my opinion, the best Spanish grammar book available. The book goes into great detail for every point of Spanish grammar. It contains many, many examples taken from actual Spanish books, newspapers and street conversations. Key features of this fifth edition include:

  • a ‘Guide to the Book’, enabling you to make the most of this new edition
  • new vocabulary such as topical and technological terms, bringing you up-to-date with contemporary spoken Spanish
  • more Latin-American Spanish, ensuring world-wide coverage
  • a clearer guidance to recommended usage

In spite of the detail it is fairly easy to read, and I actually enjoy just flicking through it (weird, I know). Amazon has a preview of some of the chapters so have look at that and see if you think it would help you with your studies. The red and yellow 5th edition is the most up to date. I have the green 4th edition which is still great and much cheaper! Here’s a little video preview I shot of some of the inside pages, plus amazon affiliate links to the 5th edition of the book (my video features the 4th edition). Hope it’s useful to you.

Gramática Básica del Estudiante de Español

I bought this book once I arrived in Spain, and it gives the impression of being a text book for use in the Spanish school system itself. All the explanatory text is in Spanish and the examples and exercises are illustrated by lots of cartoons. This actually works very well, and helped me to grasp certain principles such as direct and indirect objects. Each chapter addresses a particular tense or grammatical point. The exercises, examples and illustrations all work together to help you to understand and practice. I’m not sure why the Amazon prices are so high for this one, but they often have second hand copies for cheaper so it’s worth having a look.