Suggestions to improve broken Spanish
April 28, 2017 12:34 AM   Subscribe

My Spanish sucks! How do I improve?

The situation: I'm at a point where I can read Harry Potter with a few google searches for unrecognized words every few paragraphs. I can get around a Spanish-speaking country alright, but have to ask people to slow down sometimes. When I speak the grammar is messy and broken. I had average fluency as a 4 year old child.

What I think would help my situation: a concise textbook that very clearly explains grammar structures. I can look up the vocabulary elsewhere. I'm not qualified to know if this is what would help but it seems no matter how much I talk to people I still go back to the bad grammar habits. I think that having a clear structured map in my mind of what correct grammar looks like would make it much easier to speak correctly over the little bits and snippets of grammar advice I hear.

If you've overcome a similar situation or you know how to please let me know.
posted by bobertdude to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
If you want grammar, I recommend Gramática de uso del Español. I have the A1-B2 book. it also includes exercises alongside the grammar explanations. Note that the whole book is in Spanish, but there are plenty of websites you can use if you don't understand an explanation. If I don't get something right away (or after a couple of weeks) I sometimes search the Word Reference forums. Don't use Duolingo and the like - will not help for learning grammar.
posted by wingless_angel at 2:39 AM on April 28, 2017

The best grammar book I've found is Practice in Spanish Grammar by Mark Cholij. He gives a clear summary of concepts without using daunting technical jargon, then illustrates them with genuinely entertaining dialogues, and there are exercises for practice. It doesn't start from the very beginning, so there's nothing specifically on the present tense for example, but he does ease in with a useful revision of pronouns and the past tenses. I realise it's not the super-concise reference book you asked for, but it helped me get a very firm foundation in Spanish grammar while studying on my own.
posted by kelper at 7:19 AM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really love English Grammar for Students of Spanish.

It gives more form to the English grammar you already know, and then shows you how that applies to Spanish to give you a proper frame of reference. It really made Spanish grammar align in my head.
posted by Nerro at 9:54 AM on April 28, 2017

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