By Rhiannon Ashcroft
When it comes to language learning, the value of linguistic and cultural immersion has been well documented.
For many people, spending extended periods abroad is not realistic, so we've been looking for fun, practical ways for you to engage with the language and culture of the Spanish-speaking world from the comfort of your own home.
Fortunately for Spanish learners, there is an amazing selection of online resources that allow you to do just that.
I'm going to be sharing lots of ideas and inspiration for Spanish learners through a series of blog posts here, so you'll always have something new and interesting to add to your language learning experience!
Spanish Podcasts (part 1)
Over the last five years, it seems that podcasts have taken over the world, and for
good reason: where else can you access hours of free, professionally-created content? Listening to a Spanish podcast a few times a week while you wash the dishes or walk the dog is an excellent way to introduce Spanish into your daily life.
One of the great things about listening to podcasts is the "Change Playback Speed"
feature. This allows you to reduce (or increase) the speed of the audio by very small
increments and is an incredibly useful tool for language learners.
In this post, I will recommend some of my favourite podcasts to improve your listening skills. They range from scripted podcasts created for Spanish learners to conversational shows
delivered at a natural speed.
1. Notes in Spanish
Created by married couple Ben and Marina (he’s English, she’s Spanish), these short
podcasts cover topics as diverse as Spanish food, being a woman during the Franco
era, and el Camino de Santiago. They have various podcast series based on level,
starting from beginners right through to advanced and, for a fee, you can also make
use of their podcast transcripts and language exercises.
Although the episodes are unscripted and conversational, their dialogue is clear and
easy to follow. Budding linguists should look out for their latest spin-off show, 3
Words for Ascuas, which is delivered mostly in English but takes a look at some of
the most delicious Spanish words and phrases.
2. Coffee Break Spanish
Available in seven languages, the Coffee Break podcasts aim to give you short bursts
of listening content that you can use - you’ve guessed it - during your coffee break.
With four different levels available, from beginner to advanced, the podcasts cover a
wide range of topics and even include audio soap operas you can follow. A notable
feature of Coffee Break Spanish is their interviews, which allow you to listen to lots
of different accents.
3. Charlas Hispanas
The hosts of this Spanish learning podcast are Colombian, Peruvian, and Mexican, so
it’s a good option for learners interested in Latin American Spanish or who want to
get used to listening to a more diverse range of accents.
The episodes are around ten minutes long and vary in style; some discuss news and
culture, while others present useful expressions, vocabulary, and grammar.
Transcripts, explanations and worksheets are available for a small monthly fee.
4. Historia de España Para Selectividad
This podcast is aimed at native Spanish students preparing for the Selectividad (the
exams taken by students in Spain after secondary school to get into university) but is
ideal for anyone interested in learning about Spanish history.
The host is a History and Geography teacher from Jaén with a gentle
Andalusian accent, which gives learners a brilliant opportunity to get familiar with regional speech. The fascinating topics covered include: “Evolución política de Al-
Ándalus”, “Consecuencias de la Guerra Civil”, and “El papel del rey durante la
5. Curiosidades de la Historia
This National Geographic podcast is not made specifically for Spanish learners:
rather, it’s a collection of super-short episodes (often under ten minutes) covering
interesting historical events and issues such as “La vida nocturna de la Antigua
Roma” and “El nacimiento de la moneda”.
Not only does listening to this podcast give you some great insight into curious
incidents in history, but it’s also a fantastic choice for Spanish learners as the
dialogue is measured and much easier to follow than a conversational podcast.
My next article features four more inspiring podcasts from Spain and Latin America. In the meantime, let us know your favourites in the comments!
Rhiannon is a Spanish and English teacher and holds a TESOL certificate. Originally from Wales, she has spent the last ten years living in different parts of Spain, gaining a deep understanding of the language and culture. As well as teaching, Rhiannon works as a Spanish to English translator and copywriter and holds an MA in Translation.