Podcasts aren’t necessarily a good way to learn Spanish — they don’t offer the same visual and text materials as a class setting — but they can be a useful tool when used right.
Podcasts can help you develop your vocabulary and ability to comprehend Spanish without being able to see the speaker or read the words. You might pick up certain phrases, such as greetings, and learn new words.
If you find yourself struggling to pay attention or unable to distinguish individual words, you are probably listening to a podcast that is above your level of comprehension. Podcasts that are slower, scripted (rather than conversational) or geared towards Spanish learners are easier to understand and are a good starting place.
Don’t be upset if you are confident in your Spanish skills, but you have a hard time comprehending podcasts. Remember that listening is a different skill than reading, writing and speaking; it is natural to feel more comfortable in one aspect than another, and with practice and time, you will get to where you want to be.
Here are five podcasts to get you started!
1. Coffee Break Spanish
This podcast offers mini-lessons for beginning Spanish speakers. The hosts mostly speak in English, and walk the listener through one topic of conversation per episode, covering topics like the weather, jobs and ordering food. The hosts will ask you to repeat phrases after them, so this podcast is best listened to in private (unless you feel comfortable saying random Spanish phrases in public!) Listen to this podcast if you are just starting to learn Spanish, or if you want to review and practice certain skills.
2. The Duolingo Spanish Podcast
You might already be familiar with the Duolingo app, and their podcast is another helpful tool for beginner and intermediate Spanish learners. The podcast tells a different story from Latin America in each episode, weaving together interviews with the subject of the story, Spanish narration, and an English-speaking narrator who steps in to explain complicated parts of the story or provide more context. Additionally, transcripts of all the episodes can be found at podcast.duolingo.com.
3. Radio Ambulante
Radio Ambulante is an NPR podcast presented entirely in Spanish. That might be a hard transition for some people, but Radio Ambulante offers tools to help you along. Lupa (www.lupa.app) is an app that lets you slow down the speed of the podcast, view a transcript of the episode, and quickly search the definitions of words. The podcast tells true stories from Latin America, ranging from Hatian immigration to Chile to soccer in Perú and same-sex marriage in Costa Rica.
4. Las Raras
Like Radio Ambulante, Las Raras tells longform, non-fiction stories about Latin American issues. Las Raras, however, is a bit more conversational; one host takes you along for a ride with a man who places crosses in the places where migrants died trying to cross the border between the U.S. and Mexico. When Chile, the podcast’s home country, saw massive political upheaval in 2019, Las Raras produced an episode showcasing protesters' voices. It’s a little more challenging than Radio Ambulante, but it’s worth it.
5. El Gran Apagón (The Great Blackout)
El Gran Apagón is a fiction, sci-fi podcast that tells the story of a worldwide power outage that downs planes, eliminates communication and begins the end of the world. The story is told through clips of fictional radio shows, intercepted walkie-talkie messages and found recordings. While that can make the plot a little hard to follow, the suspense and innovative storytelling will have you on the edge of your seat!
Learning Spanish opens up a whole new world of movies, books, podcasts and other media for you to enjoy. Podcasts are a great way to apply what you learn in Spanish classes to the real world, no matter where you live! We hope you enjoy our recommendations!
However, podcasts are no replacement for a real classroom environment with certified teachers. Go to our homepage at www.spanishlearningclub.com to sign up!