As a Spanish teacher, I’m always looking for different books and tools that I can use to teach Spanish. So today, I’ll share with you my personal review and opinion about the Gramática de Uso del Español textbook for beginners.
In short, Gramática de Uso del Español A1-A2 is a very good book to learn grammar and vocabulary that will allow you to build your Spanish foundations. Due to its contents, this textbook is more suitable for beginners. The book contains a lot of exercises to apply the concepts learned in each lesson.
However, this is not a perfect book and it has some downsides that I’ll share with you in this review.
Before we start with the review, I would like you to know that I’m not just recommending books for the sake of making reviews. It actually took me a long time to identify good textbooks and, then, prune the list (multiple times) to give you the best of my recommendations. While it’s not perfect, Gramática de Uso del Español is one of my recommended picks.
Learning Goals & Objectives
As its name suggests, Gramática de Uso del Español A1-A2 is meant to provide you with the grammar information and vocabulary that you need to complete the Spanish beginner level. As a result, in this book you’ll find basic topics that will help you start your Spanish learning process.
At this point, it’s important to mention that this Spanish textbook for beginners covers the topics and language skills from the Instituto Cervantes program. In short, this is the main institution in charge of teaching and promoting Spanish around the world. What does this mean for you? That you’ll be learning vocabulary and grammar that are proven to be necessary for beginners.
In order to complete the A1-A2 level (beginner), this book contains grammar explanations, tables and cartoons with examples and a lot of exercises where you can apply the topics you just learned.
Unlike other books, this Spanish textbook for beginners also includes phrase structures when appropriate. Knowing that for most Spanish learners it can be difficult to form a single sentence, I think this feature it’s very useful.
As a teacher I think this is a great book for using it in a Spanish beginner class with young students and adults. But I have to mention that it is all written in Spanish. So even though this is great as an immersion technique, a lot of learners may not like it. Of course, a teacher can find ways to make it work.
This doesn’t mean that you cannot get this textbook to study yourself at home, just be aware that everything is in Spanish.
Design & Learning “User” Experience
Like many textbooks, Gramática de Uso del Español A1-A2 organizes its contents in a sequential and progressive order. For students and learners this means that you’ll start learning simple and basic stuff and you’ll start acquiring more advanced knowledge.
One thing that I like about this book is that each lesson follows the same structure: you start with the grammar explanations and, then, you jump into the exercises to reinforce this knowledge. And if like me you always want to know your score, each exercise comes with a little box where you can keep track of your correct answers.
Additionally, if needed, you’ll be referred to other sections of the book where you can find further information about a concept. Overall, the book has a very nice organization, but one thing it lacks is to present the goals or the skills that they will develop during the lesson. Of course, the book is all about grammar, but it wouldn’t hurt to know how or when you can apply this knowledge.
When it comes to learning aids this Spanish textbook for beginners contains a lot of tables and cartoons to make some concepts easier to understand. As a teacher, I think including images and cartoons is really helpful, especially, if you’re learning new vocabulary.
Since ‘Gramática de Uso del Español A1-A2’ is a textbook that focuses on grammar, you’ll be able to develop your writing, pronunciation and writing skills. However, the book doesn’t contain listening or speaking exercises which is a shame. So it would be up to your teacher (or yourself if you’re self-taught) to supply you with this type of practice.
Even though the book is written in Spanish, the instructions and the explanations are short and simple.
Many Spanish textbooks are written with standard vocabulary and follow common grammatical rules that all Spanish speakers use. However, in the case of Gramática de Uso del Español there is a small influence of Castilian Spanish which is more notorious in terms of vocabulary.
So for instance, you’ll find bolígrafo instead of pluma (which is the latinamerican word for ‘pen’). Is this a big problem? Not really. The worst that can happen is that if you travel to Latin America, people will tell you what’s the more common word for them.
Aside from this, this Spanish textbook for beginners covers all the different topics that you need to know in order to complete this level. Here is a quick overview of the things you’ll learn:
- Nouns and articles
- Different types of adjectives
- Comparative structures
- Different types of pronouns (personal, reflexive, indirect, direct, possessive, indefinite, etc)
- Interrogative words
- Present tenses
- Basic verbs: ser, estar, tener, haber, querer, ir, etc.
- Irregular verbs
- Reflexive verbs
- Past tenses: preterite, imperfect, present perfect
- Future simple
Even though this book is very focused on grammar elements, the explanations are thorough enough. They do teach you how to conjugate and how to form some structures. However, in some cases, their explanations are not enough. As a result, this extra information needs to be provided by the teacher or through your own research.
This textbook’s exercises are very good in the sense that they require you to put your Spanish skills into practice. So for instance, you need to choose the best option or word to complete the sentence and maintain the meaning. Of course, you’ll also find a lot of exercises to practice your conjugation.
One downside is that it doesn’t include speaking or listening exercises which are very important to develop all your Spanish skills.
Pros & Cons
After reviewing and comparing this book with other Spanish textbooks for beginners, here are some pros and cons that I found:
- The topics are presented in a progressive and sequential order.
- It contains visual aids such as tables and cartoons to make explanations easier to understand.
- There are a lot of exercises that you can use to practice and reinforce new knowledge.
- Unlike some Spanish textbooks, you can find the answer key at the end of the book.
- Each unit contains a quiz so you can evaluate your progress.
- The design is simple, but yet it’s very clear where each section is.
- All the topics presented follow the Instituto Cervantes program.
- All the exercises contain a model example so you understand what’s needed from you.
- All the content is written in Spanish. Although I like this, many learners don’t feel comfortable with it and may need some guidance at the very beginning.
- It doesn’t contain online resources.
- The grammar explanations may not be enough in some cases.
- Since it’s too focused on grammar elements, it doesn’t provide listening and speaking activities.
- After a while, it can get a little bit repetitive because you’re reading and answering grammar exercises.
- It doesn’t set the goals or the skills that you will develop in each unit.
Price & Where to Buy
As far as I know, you can only get Gramática de Uso del Español A1-A2 in its printed version. Since it’s a book with a lot of exercises that you have to complete, this may be better for your learning experience.
This Spanish textbook belongs to a textbook series, as a result, you need to make sure to acquire the one that is the most appropriate for your level. You can also find a version that has both the beginner and the intermediate level. But to me, it’s just better to stick with one level and make sure that you learn in-depth everything you need to know.
The price for Gramática de Uso del Español A1-A2 ranges from $30-$45 USD, you can check its current price here. It’s true that the price of this book may be a little higher than other Spanish textbooks. However, you’ll find over 400 exercises to practice your Spanish laid out in a sequential order.
Even though I really like this book, it’s true that it has its downsides: it doesn’t contain listening and speaking activities, so it would be up to do the teacher or the learner to find a way to practice these skills.
Additionally, the grammar explanations are not very thorough and it will require people to do extra work. However, this point is something that all Spanish textbooks have in common.
Gramática del Uso del Español A1-A2 is a Spanish textbook for young students and adults that want to start learning Spanish. As you may infer from the name, this book will provide you with the grammar elements and vocabulary to complete the beginner level.
In order to do this, you’ll learn from simple words to build sentences in past and present tenses. Throughout each lesson you’ll find tables, examples and cartoons that will help you better understand the concepts that are being presented.
One of the main advantages of this beginners Spanish textbook is that you’ll find simple grammar explanations and a lot of exercises and assessments to measure your progress. However, it’s important to mention that you won’t find activities to practice your speaking or listening skills and sometimes you’ll need to complete the grammar explanations with your own research.
Despite these downsides, this book can work perfectly in a Spanish classroom or if you put the effort, you can make it work if you’re learning on your own. So if you’re a beginner and you want to start learning Spanish or you have some basic foundations, I highly recommend you to get this book.
But if you’re looking for a book with all types of exercises (including listening and speaking activities), there are other Spanish textbooks for beginners that you should check. Good luck!