Cover Image: Unlocking Spanish with Paul Noble

Unlocking Spanish with Paul Noble

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Unlocking Spanish with Paul Noble by Paul Noble is an interesting and unique take on introducing or refreshing a reader on the Spanish language. I enjoyed it.

I minored in Spanish in undergrad, however like many others it has been more years then I care to admit since graduation, and while I read when I can, one can slowly lose the conversational aspects of a foreign language. So obviously I was excited for this refresher. 

I enjoyed the author’s unique and slightly different way to educate someone in a foreign language. It is definitely different then the traditional way I was taught, and I really liked looking at things from a different angle. He made things simplistic, engaging, and catchy. It definitely decreases the intimidation factor.

I would recommend this to anyone wanting to be introduced to Spanish, or anyone looking for a quick refresher.

4/5 stars 

Thank you NG and Collins Publishing for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR, Bookbub, and Amazon accounts immediately. Date of Publication 1/12/17.
Was this review helpful?
Ever tried to learn Spanish and found it too hard? Bestselling language coach Paul Noble has a quick and easy way to get you back on track with his unique tried-and-tested method.

Keeps things simple with three basic rules; don’t skip anything, don’t try to memorise anything and cover up to test yourself. A fun, jargon-free way to learn Easy-to-understand Spanish pronunciation PROVEN to work; Paul can teach anyone a language, even people who think they’re incapable
Paul’s course teaches you how to speak Spanish more effectively, giving you the building blocks to form a huge range of conversations. This is a practical way to learn the aspects of language that you’ll actually need and use; from booking a hotel room to navigating a menu, Paul will build your confidence and give you the tools to handle any holiday situation. You will unlock a range of vocabulary you already know.

Ideal for first-time learners or people who struggled in school, this book will help you absorb information quickly and efficiently, just like you did learning English as a child. Forget the way you used to be taught; this course guarantees you minimum effort and maximum success without the need for complex grammar rules or jargon.

“There is nothing so complicated in foreign languages that it cannot be made simple.” Paul Noble

A quick, easy and fun way to unlock your basic language skills. Perfect for beginners, this book will give you all the information you need to build basic conversations and get by on your travels.
Having a holiday home in Spain I really need to learn the local language and this has certainly got me on the right track
Was this review helpful?
A great addition in helping you learn Spanish in an informative and fun book.  As a beginner I can recommend this to those with a love of languages.
Was this review helpful?
I had heard of Paul Noble's methods so I got this book to brush up on rusty language skills. I like the phonetics used in brackets to help newbies with pronunciation. 

However, the coloured text does not work very well on Kindle  black and white devices as it is difficult to see against the white background. 

That said, it is a useful tool when used with other resources.
Was this review helpful?
I'm learning Spanish and as a beginner, I think this book is very helpful. I've learned that repetition is key to learn the basics of the language and this book does it perfectly!
Was this review helpful?
Unlocking Spanish with Paul Noble is marketed as a “fun and easy way to unlock your basic language skills”. I’d heard of Paul Noble’s courses before and remember the emphasis being on how it’s so different from other language courses and “proven to work…even [for] people who think they’re incapable [of learning a language]”. Those are pretty bold claims and to be honest, “unique” and “tried-and-tested” are phrases that every language course uses but they all usually end up being the same 10-minute podcast format with an emphasis on repetition and memorization with coloured flashcards and conjugating verbs... But I can honestly say that I was blown away by this course and it really is like no other language course I’ve ever tried!

(For context, I went into this course with a very basic level of knowledge and comprehension of Spanish. I had just started to learn Spanish through other courses but was very much at the absolute beginner stage.) 

The foundation of Unlocking Spanish constitutes three rules: don’t skip anything, don’t try to memorise anything, and don’t read the orange text (the answers) until you’ve taken a guess yourself. If you’ve had any practice with learning languages before, “don’t try to memorise anything” probably sounds really counter-intuitive and you’re probably questioning how effective this method could possibly be. But honestly? It works – and it’s revolutionary! I found that taking away that pressure of memorising every little thing and remembering a word or phrase straightaway not only made the process more enjoyable but also helped me to actually remember things. 

So if you’re wondering how exactly you get around to learning and remembering any Spanish if you’re being encouraged not to memorise the words and phrases you come across, the answer is repetition – but not in the standard flashcards or mnemonics way. The structure of each chapter (essentially a lesson) is completely geared towards repetition. The chapter starts with a phrase (in English), which always sounded way too complicated for me to even conceive translating it into Spanish. Then, throughout the course of the chapter, Noble breaks down each element of the phrase, talking you through how you would translate it into Spanish, adding in examples of different words and phrases that you could also use to construct different phrases (which I found was a great way of contextualising individual words/phrases while also growing your vocabulary). As you progress through the chapter and pick up these different words and phrases, you also begin to slot them together, working towards forming the full phrase that was presented at the start of the chapter, but all the while, previous words and phrases that you’ve learnt pop up, so there’s really no chance of you forgetting them. Then, at the end of the chapter, after you’ve successfully translated the introductory phrase, there’s a checklist section where all of the new words and phrases you’ve learnt in the chapter, plus all the words and phrases you learnt in previous chapters, are listed and you’re able to go through them and test yourself on whether you remember their meaning in both English and Spanish. This is probably the part that’s most similar to traditional language-learning techniques, but even still, Noble emphasises that  the point is not to go through the list and expect to remember all of the meanings straightaway, but to give them all a go and not skip any of them. As the same checklist is repeated throughout every chapter (with more words/phrases added to the end each time), there really is no need to force memorisation because even if you just read through the list each time you go through a chapter, it’s bound to stick.

I really liked the progression of the chapters, too. It starts off fairly simply, with Noble introducing the idea of “word robbery”, where he talks about words that are similar in Spanish and English and how certain word endings in Spanish correspond with word endings in English (such as -ic and -ical in English corresponding to -ico in Spanish). So in the space of a few pages, you’ve already picked up a whole heap of words. While this is obviously a really basic and surface-level way of learning vocab, it’s undoubtedly encouraging as it makes you feel like you’re making progress and eases you into the course. As you make your way through the chapters, you start to translate increasingly more complicated phrases. You also slowly start to incorporate different elements of the phrases you’ve learnt in previous chapters so that by the end, you’re essentially able to translate a whole conversation that includes present, past, and future tense phrases!

Also, something I was surprised about is that Noble jumps right into the past tense. I was completely new to the past tense in Spanish when I covered this lesson, so I felt a bit daunted at first and expected to get rather confused, but it was very straightforward and completely manageable. Sure, there’s no way you could learn how to form the past tense in Spanish just through using this book, and it definitely isn’t teaching you the grammar in any in-depth way, but as an introduction, personally I found it pretty useful. I’ve just started to dip my toes into learning the grammar of the past tense in Spanish through another course and I found the verb conjugations (particularly for irregular verbs such as ser (to be) and hacer (to make/do), which are pretty complicated in Spanish) much quicker and easier to pick up because I’d already come across them and begun to get familiar with them through Unlocking Spanish. 

So, this course does cover grammar in a very superficial way in general (for example, when explaining the differing conjugations of verbs for tu and usted, we’re just told to add an -s to the end of the usted form of the verb to get the tu form, which of course isn’t always the case and doesn’t help at all with understanding the actual grammar!). However, as this book is aimed at people who don’t like or want to learn a language through traditional methods, it certainly suffices. If you’re trying to learn the language more comprehensively, you’ll definitely need to supplement these lessons with other sources to teach you the ins and outs of the grammar.
One of the drawbacks of this course for me was that there’s no audio accompaniment, which means you don’t really know how the words and phrases you’re coming across are supposed to be pronounced. The transliteration is included, but I actually didn’t find it very helpful at all, as in a lot of cases where I’d come across a Spanish word before, when I read the transliteration, it didn’t actually read like how I’ve heard it pronounced. So when I came across words that were completely new to me and I wasn’t sure how they should be pronounced, I looked them up elsewhere without bothering to refer to the transliteration.

Now while I have been raving on about how Paul Noble’s techniques are pretty revolutionary, I just want to note that the way I’ve followed this course is by completing a chapter every day (or every couple of days), so I haven’t really given myself a chance to “forget” any of the phrases that keep coming up. Also, as I’ve mentioned, the technique involves a lot of repeating set phrases and isn’t trying to teach you the underlying ins and outs of the language, so I’m not really sure how useful it’d be in terms of reproducing what you’ve learnt and having a natural, “non-scripted” conversation in Spanish. The words and phrases in the checklist at the end of each chapter are presented in the same order every time, which does make me wonder whether I was actually committing these words to memory and they were becoming part of my permanent vocab or whether I was just getting so used to going through the list that I was just mechanically rattling through the definitions. When I got to the last checklist of the book for the last chapter, I actually paused and waited a week before coming back to it to see whether that (granted, pretty short) time away would have an effect on whether I was able to remember the vocab, but I actually got through it perfectly when I did come back to it, so perhaps this technique of repetition does actually work in the long term. I plan to come back to this book in a month or so and see how much of the vocab I can remember and whether I can translate the chapter titles unprompted – I guess that’ll be a better test of the effectiveness of this technique!

Overall, as you can tell, I was really impressed with this course and would definitely recommend it to anyone, really, who is trying to learn Spanish. If you’re a beginner like me, it’s a great way of getting familiar with different aspects of the language in a really non-daunting way (and certainly boosts your confidence and makes you feel like you’re making quick progress). This would also be a good book for people who have learnt Spanish in the past and are coming back to it, as the methods of repetition will help with jogging your memory and getting that practice at constructing different types of phrases (I’m actually making my way through the Unlocking German course at the moment, which is very similar to this Spanish course. I’d consider myself as being intermediate-level fluent in German, so I’m finding it a useful refresher). Another thing to note also is that this book would be useful to people learning both European or Latin American Spanish, as Noble includes the European and Latin American pronunciations of words and flags whenever there’s a word that’s more commonly used in Spain/Latin America (I always find it kind of annoying when Spanish courses just teach Latin American Spanish as even though the differences are few and not really that significant, I still prefer to know if there’s a word that’s more commonly used in Spain, so I was really glad that Noble considered and accommodated this). Noble also lets us know at the end of this book that he has a follow-up audiobook, which I’ll definitely be diving into next and have high hopes for!

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I've been meaning to learn Spanish for almost half my life after having visited the Canary Islands at 18 years old and falling in love with the language. At that time my only grasp of the Spanish Language was shouting 'A Mucho Burro Aliiiiiii' from the balcony of our Club 18-30 hotel - having no idea what it meant but having remembered it from an episode of Fawlty Towers....

I've tried all the modern apps and learning tools. I've been to night school at College and progressed through both Beginner and Intermediate Spanish lessons twice, and restarted again just last year at night school again. However, this book suddenly gave me something that the other methods didnt - bits just started to click.

The author has created a very simplistic and easy and memorable way of learning a language. He breaks it down into really understandable tips - like the endings of words. He explains how there are thousands of words you can learn in Spanish just by learning the ending, or by bastardising an English word. These methods just kind of 'go-in' and after lots of repetition (great because it means you don't have to keep going  back and re-reading bits) it starts to really sink in! 

The book did not feel like a chore to read and to be honest the language tips were just kind of going in without me actively focussing on learning.

I would recommend this author and these books to anyone attempting to learn a language. 5 stars.
Was this review helpful?
I have just been allowed the opportunity to review Paul Noble's 'Unlocking French' by NetGalley and requested his Spanish version and found it just as good as his French one.
This is a great book that builds on each chapter, helping you to put together phrases and sentences as well as showing the differences and the similarities in both English and Spanish.
A brilliant book for anyone looking to learn a new language.
Was this review helpful?
Well I was hoping to try out my Spanish on  holiday this year but it was not to be.  Paul Noble has come up with a fantastic way to remember things. I’m surprised how many words as similar to English.  I managed to use the book to say phases and my husband to translate.  Even he said ‘ gosh this book makes it easy’
Having a place in Spain we really want to learn the language. I certainly can’t wait to get out there to try out what I’ve learnt. 

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the arc in return for an honest review
Was this review helpful?
This book uses a really clever and novel approach to learning a language. Paul Noble quickly gets you speaking useful phrases in Spanish rather than the not so useful phrases you may have learnt on a traditional Spanish course.
I know no Spanish, so this is all totally new to me yet it definitely got me knowing some really useful Spanish surprisingly quickly.

The book starts with explaining to you just how many words are very similar in Spanish to English and how we can use simple rules to move from one language to another (in most cases).

This is a book you have to work through from the beginning, page by page, it's is structured in particular way to aid learning. Each chapter slowly builds up a multicomponent phrase. As you go through the chapter, the author asks you to cover the answers written in orange with a bookmark or piece of card, to get your brain working and so that you actually work through the multiple micro-tasks. Each answer in Spanish has a pronunciation guide as well as the actual written answer. There's no active memorisation required but the use of spaced repetition gets you effortlessly remembering how to say all sorts of different phrases. 

At the end of each chapter are increasingly long word/phrase lists that the author encourages you to keep going through until you only get 3 wrong. That sounds hard, but the way you're taught to put phrases together and the spaced repetition actually makes this much easier than it sounds. Noble also reminds you to not try and do too much and that if it takes all week to get through the word list, that's ok.

You start learning how to put together the phrase " I spent the weekend in Barcelona and it was lovely" and end with being able to hold a conversation including things like "Yes, I feel like going back to Barcelona but I’m scared of flying, so I’m planning to take the Eurostar." Unusually you actually start using the past tense before the present one, but it makes sense when you think about the kind of things you usually want to talk about.

There are no long list of grammar rules to memorise, instead there are really useful tips like how to remember when you change a word ending to match gender and when you don’t, and ways to remember how Spanish phrases are put together. For example, " I’m planning to" in English is "I have the intention of" if you literally translated the Spanish. Similarly, "you called me" in English, is literally translated from the Spanish as “me you called".

The book ends with ideas on where to go next as this book really is just a stepping stone to further learning although a really useful one. It definitely builds confidence and makes you realise learning a new language does not have to be as difficult as many courses make it. School may have you put off learning languages for life, but this book shows it doesn’t have to be that dull and difficult! I will definitely look up Noble’s audio course as this way of learning does seem much more sensible and useful than the usual ways!

Whether you are totally new to Spanish, learnt a little at school but not used it since, or know some Spanish but don’t feel like you know anything actually useful, this is a great little book to get you going and feeling confident about learning and starting to Speak in Spanish.
Was this review helpful?
This book is great for beginners to Spanish - I'd recommend it fully. it's easy to follow with good tasks to test what you've learnt. I've enjoyed learning more Spanish to use with my friends.
Was this review helpful?
I’ve listened to Paul Nobles audiobooks and wanted to try en ebook too to see how I fared with the different format. He makes things easy and I find his approach to languages logical and easy to take on, I’m nowhere near conversational yet but feel like I can grasp things better and I understand what I’m saying and the sentence structure.
Was this review helpful?
An awesome book, easy to read, understand and follow. I love learning languages and will definitely use this to improve my language skills!
Was this review helpful?
My daughter is in high school and has picked Spanish as her language to study at GCSE so I wanted to look at this book to see if it could help her out some more with her lessons and homework.  Plus I'd already looked at the Unlocking Italian book by this author and knew that it was pretty good way to learn.

Again like the Unlocking Italian Book, this Spanish book keeps everything simple and focuses on you learning words as opposed to simply memorising them and seeing there is a pattern to the words.  Some are quite close to their English equivalents again but have standard type of endings in Spanish - by the end of the book we could identify 12,000 words that are close to our own language.  This makes it quite easy to decipher.

Each chapter starts with a new set of building blocks. alongside tips and tricks throughout and each chapter is closed with a thorough summary and includes all that you have learned to date. This is really useful as it means that you don’t have to constantly flick back to previous chapters.  Each word you learn also is broken down phonetically so you learn how to say it correctly.

I liked the way there was a chart and explanation on how to remember the days of the week and the  Great Word Robbery list at the back of the book.

I think this book is great for learning Spanish, especially as it builds up each sentence as you go along and then takes what you have learnt and applies it to future chapters.

I received this book from Netgalley in return for a honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I found this very useful on my recent trip to Spain. I already had a good basic grasp of Spanish and this book built on my existing knowledge in an easy to use way. A bit repetitive at times but otherwise great. Recommended for beginner and intermediate level Spanish speakers.
Thanks to Netgalley and Collins for my copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
This is the perfect book for those who want to learn Spanish. It keeps everything simple and truly focuses on you learning words as opposed to simply memorising them. I would highly recommended to anyone wanting to learn Spanish.
Was this review helpful?
This was exactly what I expected, great resource for anyone wanting to learn Spanish. Easy to pick up.
Was this review helpful?
Unlocking Spanish with Paul Noble is an excellent introduction to learning Spanish, without the hardships of memorising thousands of words in the hopes of having an unlikely conversation. This guide helps with real life conversations and exchanges, in a very quick and easy to manage manner.

The quick witted theory of ‘stealing’ English words and placing a few letters at the end to transform it into its Spanish counter part simplifies the learning into an easy going experience. 

This text has definitely helped in my introduction to becoming bilingual ha!
Was this review helpful?
I'm not sure how useful "Unlocking Spanish" would be to someone who has never taken as Spanish course before. This book doesn't teach any grammar and instead relies on teaching how to "steal" vocabulary from English to quickly and effectively expand the vocabulary of someone trying to learn Spanish.

The phrases that are taught are rather basic and not really useful in real circumstances, so I think that this book might be more useful to someone like me who already knows basic grammar and is just looking for a way to improve their vocabulary and become better at constructing sentences.
Was this review helpful?
Unlocking Spanish with Paul Noble is a great book for beginners to learn words and phrases. I found it very easy to follow and I would recommend it. I look forward to trying out my phrases on my next trip to Spain.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Collins for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?