12.09.2013

3 spanish podcasts to try

Podcasts are such an easy and passive way to practice a second (or third!) language. When my husband and I were planning a short weekend in Paris, I was very motivated to learn enough basic French to be polite and make small talk. I turned to podcasts on iTunes because they were free, easy to transport, and I could listen to them anywhere. I was a novice in French, so it was important for me to choose a podcast that taught me phrase by phrase, or word by word. In Spanish, however, I am advanced, so I would choose a podcast entirely in Spanish, most likely one that is meant for native speakers.

No matter what level of language you are at, from novice to advanced, you will be able to find a podcast to fit your needs. All it takes is a little bit of research to choose the correct podcast for your level, some down time to listen (try your commute to work, or when you are getting ready in the morning), and voilà, you are becoming more proficient in the language of your choice!

Here are some Spanish podcasts I have found that can work for different levels of proficiency:

Coffee Break Spanish | Radio Lingua Network 

Coffee Break Spanish is a great option if you are just starting out with the language, or you are taking a trip to a Spanish-speaking country and would love to learn a few basic phrases. As the title suggests, it is meant to be a short lesson that can be completed during a coffee break at work. You are guided by Mark, who is quite the linguist! The lessons are numbered, so you can work your way through them. Once you have completed the numbered lessons, there is a third season called Show Time Spanish which is more challenging, and meant to be the next level of Spanish (intermediate learners).

Pros: easy to understand, fairly short (15-25 minutes), often times humorous and fun, there is a student learning along with you, good explanation of grammar

Cons: not taught by a native speaker (although, most high school and college Spanish classes are not taught by a native speaker, either! Mark really does a great job, so this isn't really a con), if you want to review anything you have to pay for the Season Pass which comes with supplements and more explanations. When I did Coffee Break French I found myself listening to episodes several times in order to nail down a phrase or concept.

News in Slow Spanish

Maybe you took a few semesters of Spanish in high school or college and you feel like Coffee Break Spanish is moving a little slow for you. You might consider News in Slow Spanish. You are guided by a native speaker who speaks slowly and clearly for language learners. You have the benefit of an authentic accent and phrasing without the stress of trying to understand a rapid conversation. The content is relevant, as it covers what is going on in the world that week.

Pros: easy to understand, short segments on grammar that was incorporated in that week's reading, an interactive website where you can learn more about what you just listened to, lessons are numbered, content is relevant

Cons: can be a little slow for someone looking for a challenge, one must pay for additional resources on the website

Cuentos a la Luz de la Luna

Cuentos a la Luz de la Luna (stories by the light of the moon) is an authentic resource - by Spanish-speakers for Spanish-speakers. This makes it a good podcast to listen to if you already have a background with the Spanish language, and wish to increase your comprehension of native speakers. It can also help you to learn new vocabulary in context. When the weather was still warm here in Minnesota, I would set my phone on the stroller and play these stories out loud when we went for walks. It never hurts for the baby to be exposed to native speakers, and I enjoy the added challenge of understanding Spanish at a conversational pace.

Pros: about 20 minutes long, the stories are usually funny, narrated by a native speaker

Cons: can be difficult to understand at times, no explanation of new vocabulary or grammar since it is an authentic resource, meant for children, so if you're not into the whole story telling thing, this may not be up your alley.

Those are just 3 of the incredible resources available to someone looking to learn or maintain Spanish as a second language. It is essential that we continue our education into adulthood to keep our brains growing and sharp. Podcasts provide a great way to improve our minds a little bit each day.

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