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Spanish

Lingo Mastery Short Stories Mini-Review: Lots of Unique Words

Lingo Mastery Short Stories

Rating 3.7
Price:

Kindle Books cost $4.60

Summary

Lingo Mastery provides 20 short stories in a series of advanced beginner books (about A2 on the CEFR scale) for various languages. Each book has a vocabulary list, reading comprehension questions, and a summary in both English and the target language.   If your primary goal is to acquire new vocabulary, then Lingo Mastery’s Short Story series may be helpful to increase your skills. Each chapter has a specific language focus, such as directions, verbs, nouns, or activities. These stories have a considerable number of unique words, so you may find yourself referring to the vocabulary list more frequently than in other graded readers. Keep in mind that the stories are not as engaging as a novel you might read in your native tongue, but the repetition is helpful to familiarize you with different concepts. Other graded readers, like those by Olly Richards, ESLC, and Mandarin Companion follow a single storyline — each chapter in Lingo Mastery, however, follows a separate storyline. Therefore, although the chapters are a manageable length, finishing one may not make you eager to move onto the next. If you do decide to invest in these readers, make sure to buy the Kindle version, which is about 20% of the paperback price.

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Read it! Mini-Review: Famous Stories in Beginner Spanish

Read it!

Rating 4.3
Price:

Kindle books start at $1.26

Summary

Read It! has published a handful of graded Spanish readers for A1 and A2 learners. These readers are more advanced than the A1 and A2 readers by Paco Ardit or Juan Fernandez, so you may want to have a basic understanding of the imperfect and past perfect tense before diving in. You can be sure that Read It! has engaging storylines, as they are all simplified versions of famous novels, including Sherlock Holmes, El Quijote, Moby Dick, and Journey to the Center of the Earth. For the most part, the writing seems to flow naturally — you will probably forget that you are reading to learn Spanish as you become immersed in the story. Read It! does not have a vocabulary list or reading comprehension questions at any point during the books. If you are looking for these tools to accompany your studies, check out the Spanish books by ESLC, Olly Richards, Juan Fernandez, and María Danader. Overall, Read It! is an enjoyable series with which you can confidently begin your Spanish reading journey.

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María Danader Graded Readers Mini-Review: Useful New Words

María Danader Graded Readers

Rating 3.8
Price:

Kindle books range from $2.95 – $3.02

Summary

María Danader’s graded Spanish readers are based on everyday dialogues and expressions. Each book has accompanying audio recorded by native Spanish speakers, a chapter summary in English and Spanish, vocabulary lists, grammar notes, and reading comprehension exercises. Unlike in Paco Ardit’s books, whose vocabulary use at the C2 level feels more appropriate for B1 and B2 learners, María Danade’s vocabulary words become more specialized as the levels progress — you will see words that you may not have considered learning, such as ‘baldosa’ and ‘trastienda’. The storylines may not be as complex as in Read It! And ESLC’s series, but they all involve a mystery that will probably engage you long enough to increase your comprehension and reinforce your current vocabulary. Overall, María Danader’s readers seem like a good investment for your Spanish reading journey.

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VerbSquirt Mini-Review: Use Conjuguemos for Free Instead

VerbSquirt

Rating 2.5
Price:

Freemium, $0.99

Summary

VerbSquirt is a conjugation app for mobile devices that uses multiple choice questions and matching activities to test your knowledge. You can learn by verb group, verb tense, or build your own custom exercises. It also has a summary page that allows you to see how many points you score on average per day, week, and month.
The app doesn’t have a very attractive interface compared to other resources, but if you want to tap on answers to practice recognition rather than active recall, VerbSquirt may be a good option for you. However, you may want to use Conjuguemos instead — it provides free exercises that require you to use active recall and type out the answers. You can also try SpanishDict or Ella Verbs if you are learning Spanish.

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Ella Verbs Mini-Review: More Features than Other Free Apps

Ella Verbs

Rating 3.8
Price:

Freemium, Free trial, $5.99/mo, $28.99/year, $68.99/lifetime access

Summary

Ella verbs is a Spanish conjugation app for mobile devices. It supports both Latin American and European Spanish. When you first enter the app, it will ask you to identify your confidence level for a series of verb tenses, then it will place you in one of thirty levels. Each level explains a specific verb tense, then adds conjugation, translation, and timed multiple-choice activities. There is also a free conjugation dictionary — with a subscription, you can quiz yourself on each verb or create a custom quiz. Conjugation guides will pop up when you answer questions incorrectly, and the quizzes are designed to test you on previous mistakes. Only the first six levels are free, but there is a three-day free trial if you would like to test the whole program. If you don’t want to pay for an app, both SpanishDict and Conjuguemos are free options for Spanish verb conjugation activities. However, these resources won’t record which verbs you had difficulty with, so they are not as personalized.

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ESLC Short Novels for Beginners Mini-Review: Engaging for A2

ESLC Short Novels For Beginners

Rating 4.5
Price:

Kindle Books range from $2.28 – $3.10

Summary

The Easy Spanish Learning Centre, with Álvaro Parra Pinto, edits, simplifies, and translates well-known stories into Spanish for upper beginner learners (perhaps at the A2 level on the CEFR scale). The workbook series includes ten volumes of about 120 pages each, following stories such as The Canterville Ghost, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Gulliver’s Travels.  The stories are engaging and will help you improve your reading abilities. At the end of each chapter, there are vocabulary lists (with some questionable English translations) and a variety of exercises to test your reading comprehension — and, if you go to the ESLC website link at the beginning of the book, you can get a free ebook with some tips on effective reading techniques. The dialogues use a noticeable number of exclamation points, which may be distracting at times, but this is more of a stylistic quirk rather than a pedagogical disadvantage. Overall the ESLC Short Novels provide over a thousand pages of engaging material for advanced beginners to start reading in Spanish.

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Internet Polyglot Mini-Review: Word Lists With Games

Internet Polyglot

Rating 1.3
Price:

Free

Summary

Internet Polyglot is a website for memorizing vocabulary words in dozens of languages. It has 44 “lessons” that cover topics like cars, time, religion, politics, feelings, measurements, and more. Each lesson is essentially a word list with native speaker pronunciation, an English translation, and a link to a picture to help you remember each word. There are picture games, matching games, guessing games, and typing games, plus a word search and a slide show that reviews all of the words in the lesson. Given that none of the vocabulary words in Internet Polyglot are taught using example sentences or context, learning vocabulary using this site may not be the best use of your time. You are probably better off using Anki to curate personalized vocabulary lists and downloading native speaker audio files from Forvo to accompany your flashcards. Nevertheless, you may find it useful if all you are looking for is a site that already has lists of vocabulary words with native speaker audio. If you are looking for audio files for less commonly-studied languages in context, you can check out iLoveLanguages.

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Paco Ardit Graded Readers Mini-Review: Average Storylines

Paco Ardit Graded Readers

Rating 3.6
Price:

Kindle books start at $0.98

Summary

Paco Ardit has written a series of graded Spanish readers for levels A1 – C2, although the C2 level may be more appropriate for B2 learners. Until Paco’s B2 level books, the writing does not flow very smoothly. There are few conjunctions to join simple sentences together, and the sentences stop after every ten words or so, making for a bit of a bumpy read. At the B2 level, however, the flow becomes more natural. The storylines do not seem very engaging, and they often have morals that may not vibe well with every reader. If your goal is to consume lots of beginner content and expose yourself to key vocabulary words, then Paco Ardit’s books may provide a relatively inexpensive opportunity to achieve that. However, if you love to read and are keen on finding engaging storylines to accompany your language learning, A2 learners may want to try the Read It! or ESLC series.

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Complete Language Lessons Mini Review: Almost Useless

Complete Language Lessons

Rating 0.2
Price:

$8.99 for the CD/$1.29 per track on Amazon, free on Spotify

Summary

Complete Language Lessons has audio courses for numerous languages on Amazon, Spotify, and Deezer. We tried out the Swahili audio course, Learn Swahili Easily, Effectively, and Fluently – and were extremely disappointed. The audio tracks we sampled consist of Swahili phrases repeated over and over again, with no translations, explanations, or anything in English. The audio quality isn’t great, either, and the occasional muted club music adds to the bizarreness.  It feels to us like the audio tracks are supposed to accompany a textbook, but we couldn’t find one. If one existed at some point, we suspect it’s no longer available. If you already speak the language and are looking for native audio recordings to help you improve your listening and pronunciation, you might get some value out of Complete Language Lessons. However, if your aim is learn the language, we would skip these CDs.

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Vocabulearn Mini Review: Unlikely to Teach You a Language

Vocabulearn

Rating 0.6
Price:

$29.99 on Amazon, free on Spotify

Summary

Vocabulearn has so-called audio courses for numerous languages on Amazon and Spotify. We don’t believe you’ll learn much from them, but they could help you practice your pronunciation. For this mini review, we tried out the Vocabulearn Swahili/English Level 1 course. It’s split into four CDs, each with its own theme, and then each theme is divided into four lessons. The themes are: Nouns; Adjectives, Adverbs, Prepositions, Conjunctions 1; Expressions; Verbs. In each track, we listened to long lists of words and phrases. First, it was said in English; secondly, it was said in Swahili. However, there were no grammar or contextual explanations, drills, or activities to help you remember the material. In short, we’re not convinced that you’d be able to make your own sentences or even remember the vocabulary after listening to these CDs. However, if you’re studying a language with fewer resources, we think you could use it to practice your pronunciation by repeating each word after the speakers say it.

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