Until now, your scripted Spanish audio lessons have been lobbing you softballs.
Don’t you hate it when someone is talking to you, but you don’t understand more than one word in ten?
You keep saying “no entiendo,” but they just repeat what they’ve said a little louder each time.
Lets face it, you’re learning Spanish for practical reasons, and you most likely want to be able to communicate with Spanish speakers at some point.
Well, communication involves listening as much as speaking. Just like speaking, you need plenty of practice listening to spoken Spanish in order to truly understand what’s being said to you.
You might have this crazy idea that improving your Spanish listening skills is too boring or hard.
That’s fair—now that you’re past the basics you’re probably tired of textbook exercises and scripted dialogues (which are boring) but may not feel totally ready for native level audio (which is hard).
Luckily, if you have fun audio resources that are relevant to your interests, practicing Spanish listening can be not only easy, it can be a total blast!
How to Find Awesome Audio Resources for Intermediate Spanish Learning
Instead of sending you out into the world wide web with nothing to guide you, subjecting you to information overload and forcing you to sift through the plethora of possibilities alone, I’ve hand-selected the easiest, most practical, user-friendly and fun audio resources for your learning pleasure.
Below is a practical guide (with a few tricks and tips thrown in) of awesome audio resources to boost intermediate Spanish learners to the next level.
Make the Most of Podcasts and Audiobooks
Podcasts and Audiobooks are awesome for several reasons: They’re portable, you can search for subjects that interest you, once they’ve been downloaded they don’t require an internet connection—oh, and you can listen to them over and over again. Here’s how to find the right audiobooks and podcasts for you.
- Jump on over to Amazon and search in their audiobook section for audiobooks in Spanish. If you can’t find anything you like there, my tip is to jump onto Amazon Mexico and search for audiobooks “at the source.” At intermediate level, you should have no trouble navigating the site in Spanish and, as an added bonus, it’s a great tool for other Spanish resources.
- If you’re on iTunes, they have some cool podcasts in Spanish. I like Audiria and SpanishPodcast, but you should definitely go have a look around for yourself. They offer tons of awesome language learning podcasts that I’ve checked out, and my best recommendation for intermediate learners is: SpanishPod101. This is a really comprehensive podcast series by Innovative Language which is indeed all kinds of innovative—basically offering you an on-the-go, audio replacement to typical Spanish courses.
Get Portable Spanish Audio from the App Store
We all know why apps are awesome. They’re portable, handy and helpful. Language learning apps often turn learning into a game, some apps even allow you to compete against your friends. Most apps also have a home site online with even more resources available to you, and you can sync your progress across devices.
If you have a smartphone or tablet then I don’t need to run through how to find language learning apps—you’ve probably mastered the app store already!—but here are some awesome apps for language learning that specialize in audio learning:
- FluentU — Yes, FluentU has a new app that links to your account online. You’ll have access to a library of audio and video clips at your level, and the folks at FluentU have subtitled the video and audio content in English and Spanish for facilitated comprehension practice. You can even bring up an on-screen definition (plus usage examples, audio pronunciation clip and more) by hovering over any captioned word or phrase. Listen to the clips as many times as you like, pause and rewind as needed and even save your favorite videos and vocabulary. FluentU is constantly updating things and adding content to their vast library, so you’ll always have fresh new content to learn with!
- Babbel — This app focuses on listening, speaking and writing Spanish. Listen to sample questions and statement, and then use their voice recognition feature to talk back. It’s quite easy to use. If you love the idea of using an app like this and are dying for more recommendations, check out this post on the best apps for learning Spanish.
Use YouTube—It’s Not Just for Watching Epic Fails
That’s correct. YouTube can also be an educational tool. I know, shocking right?
You can turn everyone’s favorite procrastination device into a personalized Spanish learning school with the right know-how.
All you need to do is utilize the search function appropriately and away you go. YouTube even gives you recommendations based on the channels you follow and your previous searches. This means that after a few initial searches, YouTube will do all the search work for you!
So, next time you feel like jumping onto YouTube to laugh at an epic fail, watch that new music video or take a break from work, use these tips to search for some awesome audio and make your entertainment educational:
- Want to watch music videos? You can learn Spanish by watching Shakira, Chayenne, Prince Royce, Calle Trece and Juanes, but feel free to search for any Latino artist that strikes your fancy.
- Need subtitles to sing along? You’ll find that there are plenty of videos available with lyrics on screen—just try searching for the artist name, song title and “letra.” If you like having high quality captions to guide you, you can always turn to FluentU. As you sing along, check your understanding, add to your vocabulary lists or save lyrics for later translation.
- Want to watch a cartoon or TV show episodes? Most English-language TV programs have been dubbed over in Spanish or, at the very least, have Spanish captions. It’s often even easier to track down Spanish-language dubbed and subtitled versions than it is to find the original in English. My personal faves for learning Spanish are “Modern Family” and “Adventure Time,” but I’ve even searched for cartoons from my childhood and been pleasantly surprised at their availability in Spanish. Try searching for the Spanish translation of the show title or the original English title plus doblaje español (Spanish dubbing), doblada en español (dubbed in Spanish), en español (in Spanish) or subtitulado en español (subtitled in Spanish).
- Looking for a free online course? I had a “hallelujah” moment when I typed “intermediate Spanish” into the YouTube search box for the first time and saw all of the options available. My personal fave in this category is LightSpeed Spanish, but there’s a teacher on YouTube for everyone.
Don’t limit yourself to my faves—browse this audio buffet and find the teachers that work for you! These wonderful online teachers have gone to all of the trouble of recording intermediate Spanish lessons and putting them online for free! Lessons are typically labeled according to the grammar you’ll learn.
There are so many awesome things about this resource that I’m only going to give you the highlights: You’ll get exposure to different accents, different styles of teaching, bite-sized lessons, pause/rewind/repeat functions, options both serious and fun and learning at your pace.
Rock Out with the Radio
Feel like getting a little retro? Or you’re just not down with spending too much time searching on the Internet? That’s cool. I have a solution for you. We’re going somewhat old-school and using the radio. Not all countries have Spanish radio, but the Internet sure does.
You can listen to any kind of radio program that floats your boat as long as it’s in Spanish, and you’ll be sure to increase your Spanish listening power just by virtue of getting frequent exposure.
I’m a big fan of music, but using the radio as an audio resource doesn’t limit you to listening to pop music in another language. You can listen to talk-back, news, traditional music from different Spanish-speaking countries and all-Spanish advertisements. You can pick up local slang from different countries and regions, keep up to date with current events, practice your pronunciation while singing along, check your understanding of different subjects and get a feel for the rhythm of a language spoken in an everyday context.
Returning to the musical possibilities, if you like a song you hear, you can listen for the name and then Google the lyrics (elyrics.net, azlyrics.com and metrolyrics.com are al great places to start your search). Read the lyrics, translate them and see if you understood the song correctly! I can’t possibly give you a list of Spanish language radio stations in your local area, but here are some awesome online radio resources that I use myself:
There are plenty of other options out there, so keep searching. You’ll find yourself inundated with Spanish language stations. Oh, and don’t forget to search by rotating those dials on your more traditional radio!
Stay Abreast of Current Events
Watch the news. I’m not kidding, the news is a great learning tool and there are plenty of Spanish news channels out there to try. Tuning in is a great way to increase your knowledge of what’s going on in the world (or in specific countries). Not to mention, all the rich vocabulary used during current events discussions will be taking your Spanish to the next level.
Your vocabulary will expand with some really interesting words, you’ll be learning via interesting material and you’ll also be sure to impress your Spanish-speaking friends with your knowledge and ability to intelligently discuss things that are relevant to them. When Googling for sites, don’t forget to mix it up and Google in Spanish as well as English—”news in Spanish” and “noticias” will both bring back good results. Here are a couple of my favorites:
- UN in Español —Be aware of what’s happening with the United Nations by listening to audio bites here.
- CNN Español — CNN is covering lives news around the world in a multitude of languages. See what’s being broadcasted to Spanish-speaking viewers here!
- News In Slow Spanish — These guys have formalized the learning part of watching the news in Spanish, so everything here’s designed especially for Spanish learners who want to study language with the news.
Track Down Some Expert Guidance
Talking to native or fluent speakers is the best way to go if you want to really learn Spanish fast. Of course, not every Spanish student can move to a Spanish-speaking country for full immersion, so here are some practical ideas for taking advantage of the best Spanish audio resource: native Spanish speakers.
Online classes are a great way to get your Spanish audio fix from native speakers.
The online language school world is growing, and with it, the services and languages offered are increasing. Depending on who you learn through, these classes don’t need to be formal or expensive! The new movement in Spanish learning is natural learning, where you absorb the language by hearing more fluid spoken Spanish from natives.
There are even some online communities where other students will swap Spanish conversation classes with conversation time in another language. How cool is that?
What about asking for help from Spanish speakers that you already know for a regular conversation or discussion? If you think about your circle of family, friends and acquaintances, there’s bound to be someone who’s a native speaker or who knows a native speaker. Either way, this can help you get in touch with a native speaker and have them provide you with another awesome Spanish audio resource!
Here are some cool options for you to investigate:
- Looking to do some formal Spanish learning online? My personal fave for finding an online Spanish teacher is Verbling Spanish. Actually, it’s a fave for a lot of language learners! Verbling is a huge name in online language learning because it’s the master of pairing up tutors and students online. They help students like you and me track down the perfect tutor based on useful factors like price, availability, regional dialect and experience. There's guaranteed to be a Spanish tutor here who can work with your budget, schedule, needs and interests!
- Would you rather have someone teach you in person? Craigslist is always there for you. That’s right, check out the “services” section and see if you can find someone willing to exchange conversation time—or put a listing up yourself! They do charge a fee for a post now, so factor that in. And I know some of you might find the Craigslist name a bit sketchy.
To find a local Spanish tutor in a safer, more professional way, visit Wyzant. Wyzant has an excellent reputation for matching students with local tutors in all fields of study. Once you find the right Spanish tutor for you on Wyzant, you can meet up at your house, the local coffee shop or a library meeting space.
- Looking for an online Spanish course that will give you a certification? Coursera offers complete courses on an academic schedule. You’ll have a teacher, classmates, discussions, assignments, quizzes and grades—the works, academically speaking. At the end of it all, each Spanish language course you complete will provide you with certification. You can take courses about the language itself—linguistics, vocabulary, grammar, writing skills, speaking skills and so on—as well as courses about other topics that are fully taught in Spanish. Just head to Coursera and type 'Spanish' in the search bar to see what's currently being offered.
And here are some other resources and ideas for meeting Spanish native speakers that you may find helpful:
- 121Spanish.com — This cool site connects you with Spanish speakers for one-on-one lessons.
- Spend some time hanging around a local Spanish-speaking neighborhood or Hispanic restaurant.
- Check your community college for Spanish language study groups.
Be a Lazy Learner
Wow, do I ever have the lazy option figured out for you.
There’s no need to get up off your couch. Seriously. All you need to do is start watching TV and movies in Spanish. It’s as easy as flicking to your local Spanish network, putting in a DVD and changing the language or searching Netflix for Spanish titles.
I recommend that you put the subtitles/captions on in Spanish as well, as this will help you to understand what’s being said if you’re listening to an unfamiliar accent or facing complex subject matter. Pretty soon, you won’t need them!
Feel like watching a movie or series, but not sure what would suit you? I use IMDB to search for movies and programs in Spanish, read the synopses and then jump onto Netflix to see if anything I like is available. Of course, you can also ask for recommendations from friends and family.
Just like YouTube, there are also plenty of movies and programs that you’re already familiar with that have been dubbed in Spanish, and you can also search for these or keep an eye out for these as you hunt down cool things to watch in this fantastic language.
And there we have it, folks.
You have loads of awesome Spanish audio resources available to you, right at your fingertips. As intermediate level learners, you should be accessing a few of the resources above anyway, but I hope that these suggestions inspire you with new ideas that enable you to take your Spanish learning to the next level!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.