Are your Spanish students getting tired of clichéd, scripted dialogues?
Then become an Internet sleuth and track down some authentic audio resources.
Listening to native speakers doing their thing is way more fun than, “Hola. Me llamo Pedro.”
Dialogues from CDs accompanying Spanish textbooks can sound…well, a bit scripted and downright unnatural.
That’s usually because they are.
In addition to not being very entertaining, these supplemental audio materials sometimes aren’t reviewed by native speakers.
Materials specifically designed for teaching Spanish in schools are all well and good, but they can be error prone simply because they’re written by non-native speakers. It’s not all about errors either. Even when the language is correct, it can still be a bit awkward.
Using authentic Spanish resources created by native speakers will greatly enrich your students’ learning experience.
Below we’ve broken down what’s available on the Internet into major types of authentic Spanish audio resources. Within each major type, we’ve provided all our favorite listening resources for teaching Spanish. Having all this in one place will hopefully make your teaching a bit easier!
4 Ways to Scout Out Authentic Spanish Listening Resources for Your Class
1. Spanish Language Radio
Most of us have our favorite—and least favorite—radio stations. There are the ones that play the newest tunes, some discussing news topics and still others which cater to nostalgia by playing the golden oldies.
Then there are those talk shows with obnoxious hosts that drive us totally nuts.
Listening to radio stations from different countries is a great way to practice Spanish comprehension as well as learn about the different aspects of their cultures.
Thankfully, there are tons of resources just a click away that you can use in the Spanish classroom to enable your students to listen to Spanish language radio stations.
Live streaming of Spanish radio is available via a number of sites, including Streema, which features stations from various Spanish-speaking countries. You can visit Surf Music and listenlive.eu, which both offer streaming from different parts of Spain.
Listening to radio stations from specific countries is an ideal way for your students to practice differentiating Spanish dialects. To listen to radio stations from South America, visit tunein, live365, or Zona Latina, which all feature comprehensive lists of radio stations with varying content ranging from newscasts to sports stats.
On the website DeliCast, you can listen to Spanish language radio stations streaming in the United States. You can see easily from the vast amount of Spanish radio stations on DeliCast’s home page just how important of a language Spanish is in the United States today.
Some of the above sites offer certain radio stations with a premium account that must be purchased, but doing so shouldn’t be necessary as there’s a substantial amount of freebies.
2. Spanish News Programs
Keeping up to date with the news is important to do in any language. Listening to news reports from Spanish-speaking countries is another wonderful way to train the ears of your students.
Broadcast-live.com has a comprehensive page listing many Spanish webcasts and their home pages. The Spanish edition of BBC news offers a podcast featuring audio news summaries.
One way to incorporate Spanish news radio into your students’ studies is to require that they listen to a short broadcast every day, once a week or any other regular period of your choice. Ask them to keep their ears tuned for new vocabulary to keep the listening activity more active than passive. They should be prepared to present summaries, discussion topics for the class or running vocabulary lists to demonstrate their progress with this activity.
3. Conversations with Spanish Speakers
Speaking in another language is arguably the trickiest part of learning one. Thus, it’s perhaps the most necessary aspect of practice!
Practicing Spanish conversation with a native speaker is one of the best ways to hone speaking skills, and provides mutual benefit to both participants. Talking with native speakers also enables you to learn vocabulary that you may not necessarily learn from non-native audio sources for learning Spanish.
There’s a number of ways to find a Spanish-speaking conversation partner for your students. If your students already have a person in their lives who’s a native Spanish speaker, encourage them to practice conversation with him or her regularly.
Connect with classrooms in the Spanish-speaking world. Ask your network connections to refer you to good schools (with students in the same age group as yours) where native Spanish students may be studying English and looking for chances to practice in class. Then you can host an international language exchange right in your classroom!
Another option is to check out conversation exchange websites. One example is conversationexchange.com. This site enables you to input search criteria about exactly what you want to find in a conversation buddy and find your perfect match with whom to practice. This makes it a great resource for your students to use outside of class.
Some sites, such as mylanguage.com, enable you to set up an exchange with a native speaker for a small fee (about $6). Of course, free resources have the benefit of being free!
Sometimes, you can find groups on Meetup composed of native and non-native speakers who get together to practice Spanish. It’s a good idea to encourage your students to join these groups outside of class in order to practice their Spanish conversation skills. If your students are less than enthusiastic about doing so, a little bribery never hurts—you can offer them some extra credit points for attending.
4. Spanish Audiobooks
Listening to Spanish audiobooks is another great way to practice listening, as native Spanish speakers generally are the ones providing the narration. While listening to the narration of native speakers, students can best absorb the way Spanish words should be pronounced and they can then pronounce them properly themselves.
Audiobooks are uniquely effective thanks to their clear, well-enunciated audio content. Narrators read at relatively moderate, even paces, which is ideal for learners who are still getting accustomed to understanding spoken Spanish.
Of course, these books can be purchased on sites like Amazon. However, if you want freebies, there are some sites that offer audiobooks in their entirety.
You might be surprised by how much luck you’ll have on YouTube! For instance, the entire audiobook for “Harry Potter y La Piedra Filosfal” is available and so is the audiobook for “El Hobbit.” Classic works by Spanish-speaking authors, such as Lazarillo de Tormes, are also available on YouTube. Sometimes the videos are separated into chapters, but they’re all there.
For classes with beginner students just kicking off their Spanish studies, you can check out simpler audio
books to use such as Oso Café, Oso Café or El Viento y El Sol. Of course, these are just two of the many options available on YouTube.
Certain podcasts also offer free versions of audiobooks. Loyalbooks.com has a variety of Spanish audiobooks from different genres like poetry and nonfiction available for free download, as does iTunes.
Also before splurging on an audiobook, be sure to check out the selection offered at your local public library.
There are tons of creative ways to incorporate audiobooks into your lessons. One of the simplest ways is to play a chapter or part of a chapter, depending on its length, for your students at the beginning or the end of class.
You can also ask your students to listen to an audiobook over the course of the semester or year as a long-term homework assignment. Have them prepare audiobook reports to share with the class to keep track of their progress along the way!
Even More Authentic Spanish Listening Resources
Looking for other types of audio featuring native Spanish speakers? Look no further!
Openculture is a site listing a plethora of supplemental resources and lessons for learning Spanish, many of which feature tips from native speakers. Simply listening to native speakers can be immensely beneficial as well.
FluentU boasts a huge collection of authentic Spanish video content.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons.
The interactive subtitles ensure that students never miss a beat. Every word comes with an in-context definition, image and multiple example sentences. They can even click on a word to see how it’s used in other videos across the site. This will give students an extra boost in Spanish listening comprehension!
Plus, FluentU provides plenty of tools for students to actively practice Spanish vocabulary and grammar, like dynamic flashcards, vocabulary lists and more. It’s perfect for honing students’ listening skills through at-home assignments or in-class activities.
Las voces del las mujeres features interviews with women from Spanish-speaking countries.
FluencyProf offers a number of Spanish listening activities.
There are tons of Spanish language podcasts such as the Latin American Grammy Awards, which can be a lot of fun to listen to in class. One activity idea for the last option is to have your students listen to the podcast and afterwards recall which artist or band won in each category.
With so many authentic Spanish listening resources readily available and just itching to be used, there’s no reason you need to stick to the stale, scripted stuff any longer.