Spanish is the study of the Spanish language and its literature. In a Spanish degree, you can expect to study prose texts, poetry and drama, and also practice grammar, translation and spoken language practice. During a Spanish degree, you’ll be able to experience a year abroad, which will help you achieve oral fluency, and you will also deepen your knowledge of Spanish history and culture.
Here are some general resources related to Spanish. These should be a useful introduction, regardless of which Spanish related course you’re interested in and where you might want to study it.
It isn’t necessary to purchase all of these textbooks before starting your university course. If, however, you want to improve your Spanish grammar prior to any admissions tests you might be required to take, these would be a good place to start.
‘Grammar: Spanish Grammar in Context’ - A very accessible text focusing on Spanish grammar.
‘Practising Spanish Grammar’ by A. Howkins, A.C. Pountain and T. de Carlos - Perfect for brushing up on your grammar, will provide you with lots of exercises in preparation for your application.
‘A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish’ by J. Butt, C. Benjamin and A. Moreira Rodríguez - This is a more comprehensive, heavy text which is used by lots of first-years, but if you’re particularly interested in grammar and language, you may find it interesting.
These resources are particularly useful for brushing up on your grammar, vocabulary and spoken Spanish, which are essential for your degree. You could come back to these resources in the summer between A Levels (or equivalent) and starting university, if you wanted to make sure you haven’t forgotten all the language skills you’d learned!
SpanishDict.com 🔗 🌟 This website has lots of useful quizzes for specific grammar points which you might struggle with, or want to focus more on such as indirect object pronouns, or specific subjunctive uses.
Linguee 🔗 A particularly useful website if you’re looking to find idiomatic phrasing rather than specific words in Spanish.
Bowdoin Online Grammar Exercises 🔗 More online exercises which might come in handy.
Podcasts are a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the Spanish language. You are likely to come across a variety of accents, speaking paces and tones, all of which are brilliant exposure to ‘real’ Spanish, i.e. how it is spoken everyday, not how you’ve been used to with listening exercises from a textbook! Noting down phrases and vocab is a great way to expand your knowledge of the language, and is good scholarly practice for when you come to University.
University of Oxford Spanish Literature podcasts 🔗 The University of Oxford has produced a series of useful podcasts discussing a range of Spanish literature. This may be particularly useful for discussion in personal statements or help you understand a text more in preparation for any interviews you may have.
Radioambulante 🔗 A particularly good podcast website if you are interested in Latin America.
Coffee Break Spanish 🔗 🌟 An excellent podcast easing you into conversational Spanish with native speakers. Useful in preparation for interviews, in which you’ll probably have a short conversation in Spanish.
Spanish Podcasts 🔗 A range of short 20 minute podcasts, with transcriptions available if you wish to read and listen at the same time.
Watching videos or films in your target language is a great way to immerse yourself in it. Use English subtitles if you feel it necessary, or alternatively Spanish subtitles if you can read and understand it well but struggle with the speed or accent.
LangFocus on YouTube 🔗 An excellent resource for learning about languages!
Poetry, Music and Identity TEDTalk 🔗 🌟 This TEDTalk by Uruguayan singer Jorge Drexler discusses his song ‘Milonga del Moro Judio’ about diversity in Uruguay.
Reading and listening to well-written Spanish is invaluable to improving your language skills, and in particular reading and listening to the news is a great way to keep up with Spanish current affairs.
RTVE 🔗 Both broadcast and written news.
El Pais 🔗 A globally renowned newspaper with very well-written articles.
El Mundo 🔗 The second largest daily printed newspaper in Spain.
These are a few introductory books which you may find interesting/useful in terms of getting to grips with a period of literature, particular authors and so on. If you come across an author or period which particular interests you, do some further research on it - a quick Google search or look at the sources referenced in the original text. This process of self-motivated and self-guided research is great preparation for life as a student.
Project Gutenberg 🔗 🌟 A massive online library containing thousands of e-books - this can be particularly good for finding some of the set texts on the course, texts on preparatory reading lists or anything you have uncovered in introductory texts.
‘Spanish Literature: A Very Short Introduction’ - A particularly useful resource as a beginner’s introduction to Spanish literature. These are usually available widely in libraries, and second hand. This might be a useful springboard into a certain period of literature which particularly interests you.
‘Short Stories in Spanish: New Penguin Parallel Text’ - A particularly useful collection of short stories which might be of interest.
‘El jardin de senderos que bifurcan’ by Jorge Luis Borges
‘Cien años del soledad’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
‘Cuentos de Eva Luna’ by Isabel Allende - A particularly charming collection of short stories by Chilean writer Allende.
‘Novelas Ejemplares’ by Miguel de Cervantes
‘Novelas Amorosas’ by Maria de Zaya
‘La Generacion del ‘27’ - A poetry anthology which contains lots of different poets from the same time period.
Works by Nicolas Guillen, the national poet of Cuba, whose poems are short but expressive. These are a great read for discussion in any interviews you may have.
Read some Spanish poems and novels and write about the ones you enjoyed in your personal statement. If you have any interviews, you should be comfortable talking about these texts: why you chose them; things that stood out to you; and whether this inspired you to read more from that author/period.