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Best Book for Learning Spanish: Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish

Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish Book Cover

Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative and Proven Approach

Could the book with the weirdest title also be the best to learn Spanish with? Hmm…

As many English speakers are trying to learn Spanish, especially in the United States and Canada, I thought this would be a good post to start off our “Favorite Language Resources” list.

The problem with Spanish being such a popular language to learn is that there is a crazy amount of “Learn Spanish” books and audio programs. But I would say most are not of very high quality. But Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish, in my opinion, is one of the best resources available, and it’s inexpensive to boot!

I started learning Spanish when I moved to Mexico in 2005. I lived there for 3 years, and even afterward I continued learning and practicing Spanish in earnest. In early 2006 I got my own copy of Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative and Proven Approach, by Margarita Madrigal, and I continued using it as a go-to reference.

With a book bearing a title like Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish, you know it’s going to be either really good or else really bad. In this case, it was the former; a book so good, it didn’t have to change it’s ridiculously long and strange sounding title. And in fact, the first edition was written over 60 years ago (1953). Why in print so long? Because it works, even with it’s tacky colors and Madrigally strange name(maybe the company never left the Madrigal family, so they refused to change the name…I smell a conspiracy…). 

How Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish Excels:

  1. Quickly teaches 1000’s of words you will remember
  2. Verb conjugation is made easy
  3. Teaches you to pronounce with confidence
  4. Pronouns not in English are made clear

1. Quickly teaches 1000’s of words you will remember

First thing I loved is how it starts off by progressively showing similarities between English and Spanish words, so that by applying a few simple rules, your vocabulary can go from 0-60 in 4 seconds flat.

For instance: the English “…tion” words and the Spanish “…ción” words. If in English the words are “temptation” and “convention,” in Spanish it becomes “temptación” and “convención.” Did you clock yourself? See? 0-60 in 4 seconds! Felicitations!

In like manner, the book shows you thousands of words that either have the same spelling, but different pronunciación, or slightly different spelling, but it’s still easy to distinguish the meaning. From the beginning therefore, I felt like I was making progress. There is a nice balance in the book between difficult and easy, and it eases the pain of the difficulties. And if you’re happy learning a language, you’re likely to optimistically keep it up as opposed to throwing in the toalla.

2. Verb conjugation is made easy

Spanish was the first foreign language I tried learning so all the “verb ending” stuff was a whole other ball game to me. Thankfully, MMKtoS(is that easier? it stands for Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish para su información) progresses with the simple verb forms that you use commonly and slowly adds forms as you gain the ability to do so. I think that’s the mistake a lot of language books make: they drown you with grammar information overload that goes way over your head. Our brains can’t take all that at once, and we need time to practice using the simple stuff before going into the trickiness. 

3. Teaches you to pronounce with confidence

Additionally, Spanish is a phonetically read language, the letters you read only have one possible pronunciation. None of this “using a “k-nife” against the “p-teranodon”” nonsense. The book explains the pronunciation system well, so you can read confidently and speak clearly. 

4. Pronouns not in English are made clear

Another key feature is the good old picture of the two guys resting in panchos sporting sombreros. I miss them…(they don’t have them in our Nepali language book for some reason…) When you see them, the pronoun beside them will be in plural form.

In English, for more than one “you,” we say “yousuns,” “y’all” or “you guys,” but in Spanish it’s a bit more sophisticated. There’s an actual “you” plural form, and a “you” that is polite, and a “you” that is informal. Anyways, the guys wearing sombreros will be your little friends guiding you to grasping this. Isn’t that exciting? Well I enjoyed those little visuals anyways. 

Great book. Makes learning a language quite enjoyable. Great value. Enough said. 

Getting Yourself a Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish:

Oh it’s still available! Amazon has new and used options to grab, some of the used copies being ridiculously cheap I might add. Gotta love Amazon. We bought a $1 used James Herriot book once from Amazon, and it was a beautiful hardcover book that seemed brand new. But, as a disclaimer, can’t always guarantee that kind of quality for used products. 

We welcome you to buy a copy of Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish through our link. As an Amazon Affiliate, whenever you buy anything through our links, we get a small commission without any additional charge to you. Please think of us when at anytime you are going to buy using Amazon, it applies no matter what you’re buying. Bless your heart and y’all come back now, ya hear? ¡Muchas gracias!

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One Comment

  1. Katie Kitty
    27 January, 2017 at 9:33 pm Reply

    Good post! I also have that book, but it’s mostly for Mexican Spanish and it’s a bit old already, so for traveling and general Spanish I prefer “Sueña” by Anaya (any level is fine) or “A Good Spanish Book!” by University Academic Editions. It’s better to learn with books written by authors from Spain, and even better if they are experts in teaching Spanish.

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