Reviews

There is no single method for learning the vocabulary of a foreign language. Among the many vocabulary-building techniques, mnemonics and etymology are helpful for high school and college students, as well for teachers and non-traditional learners. As opposed to rote memorization, the use of flashcards etc., the technique of associating words with real or made-up images, along with insights provided by learning the origin of words, offers a far more imaginative and intellectual approach to vocabulary learning.

Yong Huang offers in the introduction a clear and detailed explanation of the methodology employed throughout the work, which presents a practical balance between scholarly research and light reading. The corpus contains some 3,000 headwords, ordered in descending frequency of usage and based on the “Current Spanish Reference Corpus” of the Dictionary of the Royal Academy of Spain. Although linguistics does not play a major role in this book, some aspects such as sound changes from Latin to Spanish are occasionally touched on, as seen in the headword yerno. The index lists entries in alphabetic order for easy lookup, while the Appendix offers tips that are helpful in creating mnemonic images.

Yong’s work is an important addition to the field of language study, and will be a welcome supplement to anyone’s vocabulary-building tools.

Edward A. Roberts
Professor Emeritus of Central Michigan University, author of A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Spanish Language with Families of Words Based on Indo-European Roots


I opened Yong Huang's Learning Spanish Words through Etymology and Mnemonics with curiosity, as the description seemed different from any language-learning book I'd ever seen or used. As I began to read, I realized it filled a niche on my language-learning bookshelf I hadn't even thought of before. A sort of dictionary designed purely for language learners, the book lists hard to remember Spanish words in order of descending frequency, then couples them with etymological explanations, suggestions for mnemonics, and sometimes hints about pronunciation and meaning. This book is to an ordinary dictionary what specific directions are to an atlas; the system works as an efficient road map to boosting vocabulary by steering readers directly to the most effective words for building understanding and fluency fast, while pointing out shortcuts and possible pitfalls along the way. It's especially useful for well-read adults and polyglots, as many hints link the Spanish words to advanced vocabulary in English or words in Latin or other Romance languages.

Miranda Methenys
Spanish Teacher at District of Columbia Public Schools, polyglot, volunteer admin of Facebook Polyglots group with 23000 members worldwide

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