Thursday, June 14, 2012

Trash or Treasure: See It & Say It In Spanish

Title: See It & Say It In Spanish
Author: Margarita Madrigal
Publisher: Signet Reference 
Date of Publication: 1961 

I picked this book up at a Goodwill because of the kooky cover. See It & Say It In Spanish epitomizes everything that confuses me about books that claim to teach you a foreign language. The book does not speak to you! How are you supposed to learn how to say words in a foreign language if you don't hear them spoken? Ah, but the author Margarita Madrigal has come up with a handy pronunciation key, at right.

I may just be very slow, but I am positive that I would not be able to utilize that key to accurately pronounce any of the words in this book. Maybe it would be useful in learning how to read Spanish, but it's advertised in the title as teaching you how to speak Spanish.

If you had no prior experience learning Spanish, and took this book as a guide to any Spanish speaking country in hopes of communicating in the language, I'm pretty sure no one would understand a word you said. In the moment, while frantically flipping to the right page that teaches how to order chicken in a restaurant, the average novice is going to ask for "polo," not "poyo." Hopefully whoever utilized this book encountered waiters who were exceptionally gifted at guessing games. 

+It might be better than having no language guide book. Maybe.

- The drawings are so bad. Is it just me, or does the dinosaur in the picture at left look like it's praying?
- The book never mentions accents or tildes. The reader is left to assume that these are just visual decorations randomly sprinkled over various words, not an integral part of the language or anything.

Final Verdict: Trash! Totally trash. I feel sorry for anyone who actually tried to use this book for educational purposes. It's part of a Signet series that includes books on learning Italian, German, French and English. It might be fun to collect the set, so that you could brag you have the worst language books ever. Otherwise, just say no.

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