Go to the language learning section of any large bookstore and you will find Spanish dictionaries galore, along with dozens if not hundreds of Spanish instructional books, tapes, CDs, DVDs, flash cards and more. The choice is almost overwhelming.
Among dictionaries for people who are trying to learn Spanish, a handful rise to the top. One of the best is Barron's Spanish Bilingual Dictionary; A Beginner's Guide in Words and Pictures by Gladys C. Lipton and Olivia Muñoz.
This is a two-way dictionary (English to Spanish and Spanish to English) focusing on approximately 1,400 words in each language. It is said that the casual traveler can get along quite well knowing around a thousand words in a host country's language, if they're the right words and if he knows how to assemble them to express basic thoughts. Barron's Spanish Bilingual Dictionary might be all one needs, in addition to a phrase book, for negotiating the streets of Mexico City or Buenos Aires.
Each entry in this dictionary not only gives the word's translation in the opposite language, but also uses it in a sentence – which is presented in both English and Spanish. Many of the words are also illustrated with simple line drawings.
A couple of years ago, my wife, then-9-year-old daughter and I traveled to Guatemala on a family vacation that included several hours of Spanish language learning each morning. Before the trip we picked out dictionaries for taking to class. We bought this one for our daughter because it most resembled a children's dictionary. After a couple of days of instruction, though, I began envying her and wished I had a copy of my own. Whenever I had a chance to refer to it, I often found that I preferred its definitions and illustrative sentences to those in my “grown-up, " more comprehensive Spanish dictionary.
The strength of Barron's Spanish Bilingual Dictionary – its limited word list - is also its weakness, though. If you travel much in Spanish-speaking countries, especially if you take language instruction, you will inevitably encounter words that are not to be found here. My advice is to pack this dictionary along with a more complete one, and you will be all set for whatever language adventures await you.
Barron's Spanish Bilingual Dictionary is published by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. ; ISBN # 0-7641-0281-8.
H. Tim Sevets is books editor for the Solid Gold Info Writers Consortium , where he specializes in objective reviews of the top money-making reports sold over the Web. Recently, he reviewed an e-book that claims to show how to make money by tearing up old books and magazines and selling them on eBay. Read his opinion at http://www.solid-gold.info/tear-up-old-books-sell-ebay.html .