person-driving-with-phone-set-up

9 Ways to Learn Spanish While Driving

Language isn’t like riding a bike. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

That’s why it’s important to take advantage of every spare minute and get creative on how to keep practicing your Spanish skills, even during the busiest times in your life.

You might have already learned about other ways to practice Spanish regularly. Now it’s time to bring another daily dose of learning to your life—in the car!

So check out several ways you can learn Spanish while driving, along with resource recommendations. 

Contents

1. Order your Spanish course to go

If you can order a cheeseburger to go while cruising around, you can do the same with your language learning courses. Here are several audio-based Spanish courses you can do while you’re on the go.

Pimsleur pimsleur

Available on: iOS | Android

For digital downloads, Pimsleur for European Spanish or Latin American Spanish is the option recommended by a lot of language learners who spend lots of time in their car.

Each lesson lasts around 25-30 minutes. You’re constantly prompted to listen, repeat, answer and converse with the audio lessons, so it’s all highly interactive. 

Here’s a complete review of Pimsleur.

Babbel babbel

Available on: iOS | Android

Another great option is Babbel’s audio-based lessons in podcast format. Perfect for car commutes, lessons range from five to 20 minutes.

You can choose whether you’d like to focus on European or Latin American Spanish. With Babbel’s emphasis on real-life scenarios, it’s a convenient and effective choice.

Read more about Babbel here.

Rosetta Stone rosetta-stone

Available on: iOS | Android

Dive into learning Spanish with Rosetta Stone’s lessons for European Spanish or Latin American Spanish.

There’s an audio portion called the Audio Companion, which is available for download in MP3 format through the website. Each audio clip is only a few minutes long and includes listening exercises for vocabulary, phrases, pronunciation and more. 

Here’s our full Rosetta Stone review.

Rapid Spanish: Earworms Learning

Rapid Spanish (European), Volumes 1 - 3 (Earworms) (Spanish and English Edition)The philosophy behind this course is simple: music can facilitate language acquisition.

The CD is pumped with lessons that use musical rhythms to plant some 200 Spanish verbs and nouns into your long-term memory. The tunes are so catchy that, soon enough, you’ll find yourself singing your way to all the basics of the language.

You can familiarize yourself with the Spanish accent as well, so you can begin to sound like a true native speaker. (This is a perfect starter for those who have set their sights on Spanish fluency.)

Also, anyone who travels and needs to get into Spanish fast will benefit from its sing-songy teaching style.

Learn Spanish with Paul Noble

Learn Spanish with Paul NobleFrom his many moons of experience studying languages, Paul Noble concluded that the traditional language teaching methods are both inefficient and ineffective. So, he devised memorable language tricks of his own and taught them to others.

This program boasts of lessons without rote memorization, vocabulary lists, set phrases or textbooks. With its unorthodox, and sometimes counterintuitive, teaching methods, it makes a bold “No Failure” guarantee.

It trumps all the classic excuses of not learning a new language such as “I just don’t have the time” and “It’s just too difficult!” because you’ll be learning without even trying.

The whole program is on 12 CDs, containing over 13 hours of audio featuring both European and Latin American Spanish.

Drive Time Spanish

Drive Time Spanish: Beginner LevelWanna turn your car into a Spanish University-on-Wheels? Drive Time accompanies you on commutes to work, daily errands or leisurely drives.

It’ll turn your hours on the road into time productively spent by serving up a healthy mix of vocabulary, grammar and conversation tips. You can actually learn the Spanish equivalents of the objects you see on your drive. How’s that for multitasking?

The program comes in 4 CDs that includes simple explanations, examples and lots of conversational practice. A 64-page supplementary reading includes extensive vocabulary lists, dialogue scripts and a helpful grammar reference—all for when you’re parked, of course.

Power Spanish Accelerated (I & II) Spanish Power Accelerated I cover

This program is from Mark Frobose, who’s described as the “only living architect of a successful major language method, a major language memory technique”.

This highly enjoyable and upbeat program is chock-full of memory retention techniques that keep learners motivated. It gives students the flexibility to express complete thoughts through sentence building exercises and effective repetition.

New material is interspersed with older material to make for a smooth learning transition. Without knowing it, and in no time, you’ll find yourself conversing in Spanish faster than with other programs.

FluentU 

FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.

FluentU has a wide variety of videos topics, as you can see here:

learn-spanish-with-videos

FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.

Plus, if you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.

learn-spanish-with-interactive-captioned-videos

Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.

learn-spanish-music-videos

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

practice-spanish-with-adaptive-quizzes

The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re studying with the same video.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Check out this FluentU review.

2. Listen to Spanish podcasts 

Downloadable Spanish podcasts make for great listening materials when you’re trying to learn Spanish while driving. Here are a few to check out. 

SpanishPod101spanishpod101

SpanishPod101 is one of our favorite podcasts. It has episodes that range from two to 10 minutes.

They have audio-only podcasts made by professional teachers, and these cover a wide range of topics, from grammar and vocabulary to real-life conversational skills.

Learn more about SpanishPod101 in this review.

Spanish in 180 SecondsSpanish in 180 Seconds Logo

A useful podcast for improving your grammar would be Spanish in 180 Seconds.

It’s not updated anymore, but you can still download its three-minute episodes online. If you play it throughout your drive, you can listen to more than one a day and quickly advance through the list of lessons.

3. Make it storytime with Spanish audiobooks

You can also check out audiobooks in Spanish.

Audible Audible icon logo

Available on: iOS | Android

Audible is one of the most popular places to find audiobooks.

You might find that some Spanish audiobooks are available through the Audible website or app directly. Others are available on both Audible and Amazon. Some are available only through CD on the main Amazon website.

Here are some of our favorites you can try:

Spanish Word Booster: 500+ Most Needed Words & Phrases

Spanish Word Booster: 500+ Most Needed Words & PhrasesFor those who believe in the Pareto Principle (80-20 rule)—which states that 80% of a language can be grasped just by familiarizing yourself with 20% of the words—this is the clear standout audiobook for you.

Here, you’ve got Spanish in a distilled form, saving you from wracking your brain with words and expressions that native speakers don’t even use. This audiobook features only the most important and usable expressions.

If you’re into listening to music while learning, you’ll definitely get into the beat of the lessons! By working with catchy rhythms and sounds, the brain recalls material quite easily. You could pretty much dance your way to a vocabulary of 500 of the most important words and phrases in español.

Spanish (from Living Language)

Living Language Spanish, Complete EditionThis is, hands down, one of the best audiobooks out there. The complete course covers 9 CDs, 3 course manuals and additional online lessons at the Living Language website.

There are 46 lessons in total. The CDs feature dialogues, vocabulary, audio exercises and reviews that are more nuanced than the other courses available.

Their online language lab features interactive games and challenging quizzes that reinforce the more intensive learning.

The program will benefit students of all levels. They’re so intuitively and organically sequenced that you’ll find yourself glued to the lessons.

Spanish in 10 Minutes a Day

SPANISH in 10 minutes a day® AUDIO CDThis audiobook proposes that in just 10 minutes a day, you can conquer the Spanish language.

It makes good on that claim by delivering a personalized, step-by-step method of instruction where words are treated as building blocks, which then form phrases and sentences.

The CDs come with a 132-page workbook and 150 sticky labels and flashcards. The components of the set nicely complement each other, giving students a fun and easy way to learn language basics.

Spanish in 10 Minutes a Day is designed not to be intimidating but instead to inspire confidence in students. It’s so much fun that you’ll probably get sucked in and end up spending 30 minutes to an hour studying every day instead of the allotted 10!

Spanish for Dummies (by Jessica Langemeier)

Spanish For Dummies From the proud line of Dummies books comes this 3-CD set laid out in similar fashion to the last audiobook.

It’s well-paced and starts out dealing with common words and phrases. It then moves to the different parts of speech, sentences and conversing in specific situations. (But don’t worry, it’s perfectly legal to skip around.)

Spanish for Dummies has an extensive word list that can help first-time Spanish learners and refreshers alike.

This would be another program that would be great to listen to inside the car, turning the daily commute into a daily learning opportunity. You definitely won’t be a dummy after finishing the program.

4. Tune in to Spanish radio stations

radio-in-the-middle-of-the-road

There are tons of Spanish-language radio stations, including music channels and Spanish talk radio. Spanish talk radio is a bit more of a challenge than music stations because you’ll have to keep up with the majority of what is being said. 

But don’t be discouraged: studies have shown that listening to a language—even if you don’t understand every word—can be a huge help in language learning. Some call this “passive listening,” and it can have fantastic benefits for your comprehension, grammar and vocabulary.

5. Bring your favorite Spanish music with you

Here’s an easy one! Chances are, you already listen to your favorite music in the car, so just switch out your English music with Spanish music while driving. 

If you’ve never listened to any Spanish artists before, a quick search for already-created Apple Music, Spotify or Soundcloud playlists should yield some good results. Pick your favorites and take them along with you for the ride.

Some popular Spanish language artists that you might want to check out include Enrique Iglesias, Romeo Santos, Shakira, Juan Luis Guerra, Alejandro Sanz, Gloria Estefan, David Bisbal, Melendi and Juanes.

6. Play Spanish word games

Ever play a game in the car just to pass the time? That’s the idea here, but you’ll be substituting the usual English words with your Spanish vocabulary.

  • One simple game is a twist on the Alphabet Game, in which you think of a Spanish word that begins with each letter of the alphabet. Better still, tailor those words to the vocabulary you’re currently learning. 
  • You can also play a version of the license plate game. Try making Spanish phrases using words that start with each letter of the license plate in front of you. Just don’t focus so hard on the plates that you forget to watch the road.

All of these tips work if you’re alone in the car. Any kind of word game will work, even one you invent yourself. If you have a passenger along with you, all the better! 

7. Use navigation apps in Spanish

Navigation Device in Car

Try switching your phone’s language settings to Spanish and turning on navigation when you leave the house. Ideally, try this out if you already know how to get to your destination. This way, you can listen along to the navigation in a relaxed way and pay attention to the Spanish directions.

Popular navigation apps like Waze, Google Maps and Apple Maps all have the option to change the language to Spanish. You can even enable these apps to accept voice commands (in Spanish!) so you can just say your destination out loud.

8. Observe your surroundings in Spanish

Ever played “I Spy” on a long car trip? You can do the same in your car. This trick is simple: pay attention to your surroundings and describe what you see in Spanish.

If you’re an absolute beginner, maybe start with just trying to identify 10 objects on your commute that you can name in Spanish. These can be things as simple as calle (street), coche (car) or sol (sun). If you’re a little further along in your language learning, try giving yourself a script to target specific vocabulary lists or grammatical structures.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Making comparisons: Challenge yourself to make ten comparisons between things you see on your commute, incorporating as many different nouns and adjectives as you want.

El árbol es más grande que el semáforo. (The tree is larger than the stoplight.)

  • Practicing haber (there is/there are): Haber is one of the most useful and important Spanish verbs! Describe the world around you using hay (there is/there are) and no hay (there isn’t/there aren’t). For an extra challenge, try using the past tense: había (there was/there were) and no había (there wasn’t/there weren’t).

Hay un libro en su bolsa. (There is a book in her bag.)
Había dos mujeres en ese coche azul. (There were two women in that blue car.)

These are just a few examples of “scripts” that you can use, but to get the most out of this exercise, create your own to match whatever vocabulary or grammar topic you’re covering in your Spanish class or studies.

9. Have someone quiz your Spanish in the car

Car passengers

With a little planning ahead of time, you can arrange to bring along your class notes and have your passenger quiz you. This can be done with vocabulary lists, flashcards or even sentences out of the textbook.

The passenger doesn’t need to know Spanish to help you. Later, once you’re out of the car, you can really hone in on what you need to improve. Plus, your passenger may appreciate the distraction!

If you have a carpool buddy who’s also interested in learning Spanish, you can even try to have conversations in Spanish.

Why Learn Spanish While Driving?

Most of us spend a lot of time (probably far too much time!) in the car. Nothing’s more annoying than twiddling your thumbs in bumper-to-bumper traffic or getting caught at all those red lights with nothing interesting to occupy your brain.

Here’s why it pays to squeeze in Spanish study time while you’re in your car:

  • It turns Spanish practice into a habit. Even if you only practice Spanish for 10 to 15 minutes while in your car, every little bit counts when it comes to language learning. Frequency is key to getting grammar concepts and vocabulary to stick in your brain.
  • It forces you to concentrate. Learning Spanish while in your car can be a great motivational hack. It forces you to get down to business and focus on language learning for a concrete, regular chunk of time.
  • It helps you jump-start your brain. In the morning, a little Spanish practice can be just as good as your cup of coffee for waking you up and getting you in the right frame of mind to excel at work. And if you experience a mid-afternoon slump during your ride home, fun Spanish language games can help you re-energize in a relaxing and productive way.

So why not turn that frustrating downtime into your advantage by learning Spanish while driving? Fill in those boring minutes where you just stare at traffic lights and listen to endless radio commercials with the tips above!

And One More Thing…

If you've made it this far that means you probably enjoy learning Spanish with engaging material and will then love FluentU.

Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.

FluentU has a wide variety of videos, as you can see here:

learn-spanish-with-videos

FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.

learn-spanish-with-interactive-subtitled-videos

Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.

learn-spanish-with-songs

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

learn-spanish-with-music-videos

The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. All annual subscriptions now on sale!

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