How much time do you think you spend in a car every year?
Can’t be that much, right? To and from work… grocery shopping… a few weekend trips here and there…
You might not realize that the average American spends 17,600 minutes driving every year.
That’s 293 hours.
No, I’m not kidding.
Now consider this. The Foreign Service Institute—where diplomats and military personnel prepare for trips abroad—estimates it takes 600 hours to reach a general proficiency in Spanish.
So, all that driving? Is it wasted mile time or valuable learning time?
We’ll take the hassle out of deciding which CDs to toss in the car. Each one will smooth the road to Spanish proficiency—and make all those miles fly by.
Just Press Play: CDs for Learning Spanish!
The 10 courses below represent a range of learning styles, levels and goals. Of course, any good language learning regimen keeps you on your toes, so don’t be afraid to mix and match the ones that seem interesting to you!
You can also pair up these CDs with other immersive learning tools like FluentU. This innovative app provides terrific audio learning with the benefit of additional support. FluentU uses authentic, real-world videos like news, music videos, movie trailers and more to teach users Spanish.
FluentU’s videos are subtitled and annotated, providing definitions and additional information about any word. It’s an effective, entertaining way to complement the CDs below, and you can take it anywhere with the FluentU iOS or Android app.
Just don’t try watching videos behind the wheel!
“What you understand, you know; and what you know, you don’t forget.”
That’s how Michel Thomas put it. A polyglot who spoke 10 languages, Thomas was a brilliant linguist who introduced his accelerated method of language learning to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars as well as the general public.
He taught languages for over 50 years—and more than a decade after his death, his methodology is still relevant.
So how do his courses work? He based the method on principles of instructional psychology, enabling the brain to retain information without repetition, memorization or homework. Spanish language components are broken down into brain-sized bites that’ll be easily recalled.
With this CD set, eight hours of audio material put the learner into a simulated classroom with two other “students” and an instructor, all of whom are already present in the audio classroom. Learners “interact” with the teacher and other students as material is presented, discussed and absorbed.
To build on the virtual classroom environment, there are interactive activities included in this package so you can apply your new skills. Confidence is a priority with this course so you’ll build your own sentences, reply to questions and rely on what you’re learning to carry you to the next level.
Dr. Paul Pimsleur’s method of strategic repetition and core vocabulary building is a full-on way to get your Spanish skills moving.
First, let’s get the methodology down. This program uses graduated interval recall, which just means that the coursework provides the optimal spacing for information to move from short-term memory to long-term memory. In other words, the audio is spaced out so that you naturally remember new words, rather than forcing yourself to memorize them.
But it’s not just about listening. You’ll be prompted to speak in response to the audio and participate in a simulated conversation. As your vocabulary and grammar foundations develop, it’s not difficult to respond correctly when prompted.
This course has eight CDs and eight hours of lessons. Each lesson has 30 minutes of speaking practice, vocabulary and grammar work. Greetings, numbers, asking and giving directions, telling time and other conversational basics are covered.
You may’ve already heard of Pimsleur, one of the biggest players in audio language learning. If you like this course or are looking for other varieties as you advance, Pimsleur has lots of options targeting both European and Latin American Spanish. You can keep it simple with the CDs or branch out to their MP3 and mobile programs.
Got a long commute to work? This program is recommended for use in cars. Structured for 30 minutes of study per day, it leaves you lots of time to either repeat a lesson or move forward at your own pace.
Conversational teaching techniques provide even absolute beginners with a foundation for basic discussions in Spanish. Words are given detailed descriptions and explanations as they’re introduced so everything is very clear. The program uses native speakers so learners can repeat words and phrases with confidence that they’re getting them “right” the first time!
There are three audio CDs with 44 hours of material. The creators of this course assert that it can take someone from beginner to advanced in three months.
Now, that’s something to ponder as the miles slide by, isn’t it?
Did you know Mexico has more Spanish speakers than any other country?
This course delivers authentic Mexican Spanish taught by an American instructor who’s helped out by Mexican assistants. Accurate pronunciation and cultural references are key elements.
It features eight one-hour audio lessons, making this a crash course in Spanish. It might not be for everyone but, hey, if you need to get your Spanish groove on ¡pronto! (soon) this could be perfect!
This course features eight CDs plus a workbook (which has transcripts for the lessons, making review time a breeze!).
The audio lessons rely on native speakers to introduce words and phrases, so the authentic pronunciation encourages accurate repetition on your part. This audio-lingual, listen-and-repeat method mimics the way native language is acquired.
It’s an instant immersion beginner audio course that covers the alphabet, greetings, common dining phrases, the days of the week and even some travel and cultural items. It provides a solid foundation for further learning—and even if the basics are all that’s needed, this is a course that’ll help get the job done.
Some learners don’t want to take the fast lane to absolute fluency. They want to get hooked up with essential conversation skills, important grammar issues and just complete a basic course to teach them enough Spanish to get by.
This is the course for doing just that.
The two CDs are accompanied by a book that reviews skills covered by the audio dialogues. The basics—like meeting new people or talking on the phone—are covered in enough depth that a learner will feel comfortable using the vocabulary soon after listening.
It’s a very good trial course to take before deciding whether continuing on a Spanish learning journey.
This is an upper-beginner course that builds on the essentials. It does assume the listener has a foundational knowledge of Spanish basics, so if you’re just starting to make progress in the language, this is the course to bring you to the next level.
By the end of the 10 days, this course promises that you’ll know how to speak with tradespeople, navigate public transportation, explain who you are and what you do for a living and have enough confidence to merge seamlessly into Spanish conversations.
Avenidas translates to avenues, and it seems wonderfully appropriate since this course looks like an ideal first path for Spanish learning.
It’s a book course with an accompanying CD that covers grammar and vocabulary. The emphasis is gaining competence to express thoughts effectively and creatively at a first-year level.
Customer reviews indicate that this course is often used with success in a classroom setting. So if you have more of a traditional learning style, this might be a great option for you.
The title of this course may have you hitting the brakes hard. I mean, unless you’re a construction worker this one’s not for you, right?
This two-CD course is definitely the go-to for bridging the communication gap between Spanish and English speakers on construction sites, but it has other applications as well.
Think about where you park your car—when you turn off the Spanish language CDs and head inside for the night. You go home, right? And what’s a home but a mini-construction zone?
Most of the items discussed between construction workers about building or renovating are pertinent to homeowners, too. Many of us need to know how to communicate with el fontanero (the plumber) or el electricista (the electrician).
Not every tradesperson who comes into your home speaks English—and communicating effectively with the one who’s going to work on your biggest investment is something you need to nail.
This short course also has more basic professional vocabulary and expressions that may interest you if you’re learning Spanish for work, even if that work isn’t construction.
For example, the course covers how to phrase instructions and commands, vocabulary for arranging work schedules and more.
Well, those highway miles aren’t always driven alone, are they? Lots of us have small passengers in our cars and occupying them while driving can be a challenge.
Or, it used to be.
Spanish for Children is a course designed to teach Spanish language and culture to young learners. It’s a great teaching resource—and an excellent diversion on long trips as well as short, around-town hops.
This is a three-CD course that comes with a guidebook as well as an activity book. It’s a complete beginner program that shows even young children can grasp a new language using only a CD course.
Children will learn how to describe places and things, talk about family, zoo animals and other simple conversational topics. And so will you!
This program makes learning Spanish fun—and make no mistake, this course is an effective learning tool for both driver and passenger! Adults will enjoy participating with their young ones, and the fun will make learning seem almost effortless.
Listening practice is a perfect way to learn Spanish and enrich your life.
Audio courses and lots of travel miles bump up learning to a new level if you take advantage of all that “wasted” time by popping a CD into the dash, pressing “play” and getting your Spanish language skills up to speed!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.