Can anyone sugges any Spanish books or cds that might help me further my Spanish
I have listened to the Michel Thomas Spanish CDs but would like to know if anyone could suggest any other cds or books that might be useful.
villandra makes a good point. However I think it's important to study Spanish by the book.
If your'e too far at either end of the spectrum (study by the book vs study with natives) it could be troublesome. For example; If you only study native/common Spanish, your fluency and converstion abilities will definatley improve. But if you don't study the structure and rules for the language, you will have a hard time reading/writing it. And if you plan to use it in the workfield, it's important that you speak it correctly. Potential clients, board members, or whoever you work with will want an employee who can speak clearly and professionally.
On the other hand, if you only study by the book, it will be very difficult to attain comfortable fluency. It's important to know how to talk to the average everyday Joe. If strict Spanish is used with natives who don't understand the advances of the language, you won't be very productive.
I learned all of my Spanish through classes and text. When I began to speak with natives, many of them did not understand my vocabulary. But, because I had a strong foundation in Spanish, it was easy for me to adapt my language to those I spoke with, as well as to understand how they spoke it. It's easier to learn different styles of speech/vocabulary if you already have a good foundation in the basics. With my foundation in Castillian, I was able to transform it into Tex-Mex and Mexico Spanish because I understood the differences. So I think it's good to be well versed in both text book Spanish, as well as common Spanish.
I loved the Pimsleur CDs. I borrowed them from my local library.
I left out one thing. Of all the computer programs to learn Spanish I've come across, so far I like best this web site!
I really like Spanish Now, and Spanish Made Simple. Both are basic, interesting, textbook-style texts with lots of practice. Of the CD's I've tried so far, I like best Onlingo Spanish. It is very expensive however if you cannot find it second hand, and it isn't all that easy to find second hand. I lucked into it. What I like is that it gives you plenty of practice and time to learn the vocabulary and grammar, and most importantly of all, the pronunciation is Mexican.
That is particularly important if you want for any reason to actually communicate with people who live along the U.S. - Mexican border - they don't speak and don't understand the Castillian Spanish that is taught on most CD Spanish and by most academic Spanish teachers. I'm learning Spanish in order to become more employable; employers certainly don't want me to know only some schoolbook dialect of Spanish that noone here speaks or understands! My housemate, who worked her way up to assistant manager in a chain of pawnshops, told me not to even bother learning Spanish because Mexicans won't be able to understand me. And frankly, Mexican Spanish is much easier to understand than Castillian Spanish, even if you don't know any Spanish and even though Mexicans often don't pronounce any consonants, and often morph weak consonants into w. This is partly because Mexican speech is down to earth and not affected. South American countries in the far southwestern tip of the continent, also do not pronounce Spanish the same way as anybody else - and do not think that I haven't encountered their distinctive pronunciations on learn Spanish CD's. For example, in Chile and Argentina, all weak consonants morph into some kind of cross between j and ch sound that doesn't exist in any other dialect of Spanish. Instead of the hideously affected sounding speech of Castille, where all weak consonants morph into some kind of cross between s and th, and all vowels morph into English ee. I can't understand it, and neither can Mexicans, and my parents left me constitutionally unable to speak in any way that sounds affected. I bet people in Castille don't even sound anything like those CD's.
Mexican vocabulary is also very different from Castillian and Argentinian Spanish. There is also Tex-Mex; very important to the growing population of Texas, where I live, which could be part of the reason why noone hereabouts speaks or understands anything that resembles Castillian Spanish. Here the vowels actually sound like any cross between Mexican Spanish and English (and Mexicans understand them as long as they don't sound Castillian or Argentinian), and consonant pronunciation varies between Spanish and English pronunciation. Honest, now, I've tried asking Mexicans on the bus how to pronounce problem words. Some Mexicans insist that the h in hija is prounced, and pronunce it that way. That's particularly likely to be true if they speak English moderately well.
If they have any audio CD programs for law enforcement along the border, that might work. Now, I personally have other requirements in CD programs; it has to have follow along text, just for starters, and I want a chance to break down and practice the vocabulary.
Speaking of which, I didn't buy the Spanish Now CD's because I understand that they have no relatrionship to the text in the book, and therefore no text that corresponds to the content of the CD's.
The rather inexpensive text for border patrol officers to learn spanish is very good. Also, out of print, is a very old book, Spanish as you like it. I knew the author in Los Angeles, and went through it in thirty days with him -- an hour a day, one on one, and became rather fluent. Best to find a native speaker, one on one, on a very disciplined program.
I listen to the "Behind the wheel spanish" and "Learn in your car spanish" programs when I am driving to work and find them to be an excellent supplement to what I am learning here.