Hear that? That’s the sound of you learning Spanish.
To be fluent in the language, you have to practice Spanish listening. A lot.
After all, you can’t be fluent if you don’t understand spoken words.
You probably already know this, but it can be hard to know exactly where to begin and how to branch out.
Thankfully, there are a lot of terrific ways to practice your listening skills.
You can never have enough listening resources, and man, are there ever a lot out there.
To understand all facets of Spanish, it’s best to find a mix of native/authentic Spanish sources and educational/teaching sources.
This mixture will help you perfect your academic Spanish, laying the groundwork for good grammar—but it’ll also help you learn the real Spanish that will make you sound like a native speaker.
By mixing academic and authentic Spanish listening sources, you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Below, we’ll look at 28 terrific websites that will help you amp up both your academic and authentic Spanish listening skills.
But first, let’s talk about why you should always aim for variety in all aspects of your listening practice.
How to Practice Spanish Listening: 5 Tips for Improved Comprehension
I’m sure you listen to a lot of Spanish audio, but are you doing it right?
To really practice Spanish listening and improve your comprehension skills, you need to change your technique and just do one thing: Practice active listening.
Active listening is a process during which you actually pay attention to what you’re hearing (as opposed to passive listening, which is basically listening to any kind of audio while you do something else).
To transform your listening practice into active listening, you have to pretend you’re in class. You need to pay attention to what’s being said, take notes (ideally, by hand), look up words you don’t understand, re-listen to any fragment you don’t quite get, etc. (more on this in a sec).
In other words, you need to work with and on the piece of audio until you’ve milked all the content it has to offer.
Active listening will make a difference really fast.
You’ll be amazed at how much you’re getting from the same audios you’ve listened to dozens of times, and you’ll actually be improving your Spanish and getting ready for conversations in the real world.
There are many techniques you can implement to practice and improve your active listening skills.
Here you have five specific ones you can easily do to see quick results.
1. Choose Material Appropriate for Your Level
The first and most important step to practice active listening comprehension appropriately is to choose audio that’s appropriate for you.
Sure, going for topics you like is super important because you’ll enjoy your practice sessions, but if you choose a piece of audio for beginners when you’re an advanced learner, you won’t learn anything.
Likewise, if you go for advanced material while you’re still struggling with the beginner level, you’ll get frustrated and give up.
Opt for pieces of audio that are a little bit above your level. The perfect scenario would be a short clip from which you can understand around 60-70%. That way you’ll have 30% to learn from it.
2. Take Notes While You Listen
The next step to put active listening into practice is to work with the audio.
To do this, take notes while you listen for the first time.
These notes can be a summary of what you hear, grammar constructions you find interesting or don’t know yet, words that catch your attention or you don’t understand…
During your first listen, try to get as much from the audio as you can without pausing or listening to the fragment again, much like during a real class.
After the audio ends, analyze your notes. Look up the words you didn’t understand, have a look at those grammar rules you didn’t recognize and reread all your notes.
This will help you make a mental picture of the audio clip as a whole.
3. Listen to the Clip One More Time
Now listen to the clip one more time, paying special attention to the words and constructions you worked on in the previous step.
Without looking at the transcript of the audio yet, you should be able to understand around 90% of what’s being said.
During this step, you’re supposed to get a better idea of the audio as a whole. You know what the clip is about without a doubt, recognize the majority of the words and grammar constructions and can understand fragments you couldn’t before.
If you’re still struggling to grasp the main ideas of the audio, repeat the three previous steps until you manage to summarize the whole clip in one or two sentences.
4. Practice Your Pronunciation
The next step is to practice the pronunciation of words and phrases.
This won’t only help you improve your speaking skills, but also allow you to get better at understanding Spanish (if you know how to pronounce a word correctly, you’ll recognize it when you hear it).
The best way to practice your Spanish pronunciation is to repeat what you’re listening to.
This practice is normally called “shadowing,” and though it’s usually used without taking into account whether you understand the audio or not, by using it during this step of your active listening, you’ll be getting much more from it.
You don’t need to shadow the whole audio clip. Instead, you can pick words, phrases and sentences you find difficult to pronounce, as well as expressions you think will be useful for you in the future.
You can even learn the pronunciation of words you still don’t fully know or understand since these will be clear in the last step.
Listen to the audio as many times as you need, and practice your pronunciation until you feel confident enough to record yourself shadowing, then listen to yourself and analyze if you’re already awesome or you need to shadow a little bit more.
5. Listen One Final Time
During this last step, you’ll be giving the clip one last listen with all the information you’ve gotten from it.
If you have the transcript (which is highly recommended), read it while you listen one final time.
This is your opportunity to translate the words and phrases you still don’t understand, take final notes if necessary and make sure the audio is 100% yours.
If you’ve worked on the previous steps appropriately, you should be able to understand the whole fragment with just one final listen, but don’t get frustrated if you need to do two or three.
What’s important is that when you finish your active listening session, you understand absolutely everything from the clip you’ve chosen.
By including these five steps during your listening practice, you’ll boost your listening comprehension skills and will get better at understanding real conversations between Spanish native speakers.
The trick to becoming a master of Spanish listening is to practice, practice and practice some more.
To help you with this, I’ve created a list of the 28 best audio goldmines on the internet, so you get unlimited Spanish listening resources to practice your active listening like a boss.
28 Superb Sites for Spanish Listening Practice to Amp Up Your Skills
SpanishListening offers a nice selection of neatly organized listening activities for a variety of levels and focuses on many different topics like health, animals, sports, hobbies and more.
There are accompanying videos, so if you like to see the person who’s speaking, you can. You can even choose your video by who is speaking, and each speaker’s country of origin is listed. This way, you can select activities where you hear regional Spanish variations.
While this resource offers videos, the real focus is on the audio. If you have trouble, you can refer to a transcript. Accompanying exercises and quizzes help test your listening comprehension. This is a great way to confirm that you understand what you heard.
FluentU’s unique videos are an awesome way to improve your Spanish listening skills in a supportive, flexible format.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Easy Spanish from Easy Languages offers over 200 unique YouTube videos that are great for listening practice.
Perhaps the best feature of Easy Spanish is that much of the audio is from real people from different Spanish-speaking countries, including Mexico and Peru. This will help you get used to understanding regional accents.
Plus, if you have trouble with any of the audio, you can refer back to the video to see both the written Spanish and the English translation.
SpanishPod101 is a largely popular name in audio language learning, and they have regularly updated Spanish courses that are all done in the form of podcasts—along with some video lessons and learning features.
There’s an insanely large library of audio and video goodies here, with 1,600 lessons and counting!
And they’re all accompanied by printable PDF notes, flashcards, community forums and an app for on-the-go learning.
Not only does this audio course have material appropriate for all skill levels, from newbie to nearly fluent, but it also covers all your bases in terms of topics. You’ll listen and learn about a range of Spanish themes from vocabulary and grammar to culture and real-life conversations that you’ll bump into abroad.
To check it out for yourself, create a free account and see what the site’s all about.
Spanish Proficiency Exercises (University of Texas)
The University of Texas has compiled hundreds of short video clips that are perfect to practice your Spanish listening skills.
The six available levels (Beginning, Intermediate-A, Intermediate-B, Advanced-A, Advanced-B and Superior) include around 15 topics each, with several clips for each topic.
The clips show different native speakers from different Spanish-speaking countries briefly talking about specific topics.
It’s very interesting to see five or six different native speakers expressing their opinions on the same topic, or just describing what they think or feel about it.
Each clip is accompanied by a script you can read in Spanish or English, and there’s also the possibility of hiding it altogether.
Perfect for active listening sessions, these clips come with associated vocabulary lists, grammar explanations and whole sample sentences related to the topic!
Deutsche Welle is a massive multimedia reservoir that includes almost 40,000 audio and video clips you can use to amp up your listening skills.
Choose the type of medium you want (audio or video) and the topic, and you’ll get access to hundreds of hours of native Spanish content in the form of short fragments and full episodes that are perfect for active listening and shadowing sessions.
There are a lot of videos and audios on sports, politics and technology, but there are also more niche topics like religion, nature and law.
You can try your luck by clicking on any of the programs in the Emisiones (Broadcasts) section, or find an audio or video clip you like and then click on the Todos los videos (All videos) or Autor (Author) links on the right to get all the content related to a specific program or author.
Each clip includes a list of topics and keywords related to it that can come in handy when you’re practicing your listening skills, and all the audio and video content can be downloaded for free.
Looking for something a little less traditional?
Gritty Spanish is a course in street Spanish—featuring Spanish from Latin America, Spain and New York—that will introduce you to the fine art of Spanish cursing.
You’ll hear Spanish that you don’t hear in any other course because everyone else is too afraid to get real.
This course is meant for adults who don’t mind politically incorrect topics and vulgarity—though there’s a censored version for the more sensitive language learner too.
All in all, it’s a cool boost for Spanish learners at the intermediate level and above, and for anyone who wants to get grittier. You can try a free sample lesson to see how entertaining this course can be.
LingQ is a combo learning tool that covers everything from audio resources—like interviews, audiobooks, podcasts and more—to community forums, group classes led by professional instructors, one-on-one Spanish tutoring sessions, goals assessment and tons of other learning tools.
You can use this program on any device, from your computer to your smartphone.
FluentU’s Spanish YouTube Channel
That’s right! The team behind the FluentU language program that we previously discussed also produces world-class educational YouTube content.
If you ever find yourself mindlessly watching YouTube and thinking I should be studying Spanish right now, then the FluentU channel is the perfect remedy.
The videos range in scope from recipes to movies to TV countdowns and everything in between. Plus, new videos are added continuously, which are high in value and cultural significance.
For example, why not check out the video below, “Learn Real Spanish With These 7 Best Movies,” for a great introduction to the culture and language?
Or the following one, which gives you simple tricks to become fluent in Spanish fast?
In fact, one of the best things you can do for your Spanish learning is subscribing to the FluentU Spanish YouTube channel to ensure you never miss an upload. You can take these real-world tips and put them into your practice immediately.
Javier Bardem would be proud!
The storytelling method for learning languages is a fun way to learn through reading and listening to stories.
StoryLearning Spanish has adapted this method and has transformed a long story into short podcast episodes with transcripts so that you don’t need to attend a class to enjoy this fantastic way of learning Spanish.
Each episode of the story is narrated by one of its main characters. The clips include a fragment (heard twice) that’s the continuation of the story, the transcript and a small glossary with difficult words.
This podcast is great for intermediate learners who want to improve their listening comprehension with short audio clips that are undemanding and easy to listen to.
The episodes are around five minutes long, which makes them perfect for micro-listening sessions, and since the podcast tells a long story, it’s the perfect excuse to keep going back to it on a daily basis.
LdeLengua (L Is for Language)
LdeLengua is a superb podcast created by native Spanish professors with the aim of teaching Spanish teachers how to teach.
Because of this, I recommend it for advanced learners who need some challenging listening practice, as well as for any other student who wants to practice shadowing without the need to understand what they’re listening to.
The podcast covers topics related to teaching Spanish and its methodology.
It tries to help teachers come up with ideas for their classes, and it also offers ways of implementing new technologies into language learning settings in the smoothest way possible.
Who doesn’t know Telemundo?
One of the most famous American TV networks with broadcasts aimed at Latin American audiences, Telemundo offers Latin American telenovelas, news, children’s programs and sports in Spanish.
The video section on its site includes hundreds of short clips on business, sports, economics, famous people, politics, health, cooking and exercise, among many other categories.
These short clips, which normally range between one and three minutes in length, are an amazing source of native Spanish material you can use to practice your listening comprehension.
Since these videos are so short, you can use them for active listening and even short shadowing microsessions anytime, anywhere.
Audible is a subscription service for audiobooks. They offer a number of great Spanish options, which is perfect for listening practice.
Since audiobooks offer clean, precise spoken words, they’re often less daunting for language learners than authentic conversations.
Plus, there are enough books that you can certainly find something to suit your interests, and that will make listening practice much easier.
Audible offers options for every level of Spanish student.
Beginning Spanish speakers might try “El principito” (“The Little Prince”), which uses relatively simple vocabulary.
For more advanced learners, there are a plethora of options, too, including “Bajo la misma estrella” (translates literally to “under the same star,” but this is the Spanish title for “The Fault in Our Stars”)—perfect for the John Green fan (i.e., everyone).
Kwiziq is the place you should go if you want to not only improve your listening skills but also practice them in an easy and engaging way.
Divided into five levels (A1-C1), Kwiziq’s listening exercises come in two main types: Audio practice and Bilingual readers.
The audio-type exercises include native Spanish audio and dictations, while the Bilingual readers give you audio and its transcript (which you can click to know the translation of each word and phrase).
The topics covered go from airports and e-learning to books, witches and everything in between.
And if you thought it couldn’t get any better, Kwiziq also tells you the grammar points you’re going to practice before you even click on a topic.
Even though you get some exercises for free, you need to go premium to enjoy the hundreds of audio clips this cute little site has to offer.
Notes in Spanish
Ben and Marina are the couple behind Notes in Spanish, one of my students’ favorite Spanish podcasts.
They offer free podcasts for learning Spanish divided into four levels of difficulty: Inspired Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced and Gold.
All the episodes are in Spanish to ensure an immersive experience, but the Gold level includes an English analysis of the episode after the Spanish audio, which can come in handy if you’re following the five steps of active listening I described earlier.
There’s also another section called “3 Words For Ascuas” that focuses on words and phrases.
With Ben and Marina, you’ll learn about everyday topics in a friendly manner with approachable Spanish that gets more challenging as you progress through the different levels. This makes the podcast accessible to anyone, regardless of proficiency.
And if you want to have the transcripts of the episodes and a whole lot of bonus stuff, you can buy any of their packs on their website.
News in Slow Spanish
If you’re a beginning or intermediate student who wants to practice listening to Spanish news but you aren’t quite ready for the speed of actual newscasts, this is a great option for you.
News in Slow Spanish offers real news spoken at a slower rate than typical conversations.
Additionally, there’s a supporting transcript if you have trouble with the audio. You can even hover over some words for definitions!
“El Robot de Platón” (Plato’s Robot)
If you want to practice your Peruvian accent listening comprehension, “El Robot the Platón” is one of the best YouTube channels to do it.
And if you also have a curious mind and love getting to know about science and the latest discoveries, this is going to be your new favorite channel on the platform.
“El Robot de Platón” brings science closer to the average listener in 10-minute videos that are easy to digest and interesting to watch.
With topics such as the exploration of Mars, the dinosaurs, living beyond 120, water on the Moon or the future of Earth, among hundreds of others, Aldo Bartra and his YouTube channel will give you the best chance to improve your listening skills while getting to know the world around you.
“El Primer Café” (The First Coffee)
If instead of Peruvian Spanish, you want to practice the Argentinian accent, “El Primer Café” might be for you.
I say might because this daily podcast is a news podcast that covers mainly politics, economics, business and society, so if you’re not an advanced learner, you’ll struggle to understand what’s being said.
There are of course other topics covered, such as sports, nature and travel, but they mainly talk about what’s going on in Argentina and around the world, so the conversations are rather challenging.
If you’re interested in one of the most beautiful Spanish accents in Latin America (according to this humble Spaniard), you’ll love this series of 20-minute, listening-comprehension-boosting podcast episodes.
While a lot of people get music from Pandora, you might not know that you can get Spanish music through it.
Music is a terrific tool to help you learn Spanish, and Pandora has plenty of it.
There are plenty of channels to please any music fan, whether you prefer Spanish rock, Latin jazz or ’90s pop.
LibriVox’s slogan is “Acoustical liberation of books in the public domain,” and that’s exactly what they do.
They take books that are already in the public domain and transform them into e-books and audiobooks for everyone to enjoy. For free!
If you’re an intermediate or advanced learner interested in reading and the classics, LibriVox will probably become your next obsession.
Each book includes a short biography of the author, individual audio files for each chapter, a download link and a link to the online text, which can also be printed or downloaded.
Even though practicing active listening with whole books—especially older ones—can be a daunting task, the fact that these books have been divided into chapters makes using active listening with them much more doable.
However, if you feel this listening method is too complex to use for whole books, you can always download the audiobooks and listen to them passively while you commute, clean your house or just relax on the beach.
123TeachMe Listening Comprehension
This site offers hundreds of listening activities at four main levels: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Superior.
Each level is even broken down into further sub-levels to ensure that you find the listening activities that are perfect for your abilities.
Each activity then offers a listening excerpt followed by a series of questions to test your comprehension and help you more thoroughly engage with the audio.
RTVE is a state-owned TV and radio network out of Spain. It offers an array of video and radio clips that are perfect for improving your listening skills.
You can watch news and TV clips, focusing on the audio and simply referring back to the video for context. You can also listen to radio clips. This is a great way to have an immersive listening experience at home.
Since RTVE is out of Spain, keep in mind that all of this will have a continental Spanish accent.
Netflix, on the other hand, is great for binging… on learning, that is.
There are some great Spanish Netflix movies out there, so your movie night can be educational. Netflix even has an entire genre dedicated to Spanish movies, which you can browse here.
Catálogo de voces hispánicas
Cervantes.es has a Catálogo de voces hispánicas (Hispanic voices catalog) that offers audio excerpts of native Spanish speakers from a wide variety of countries and even regions within those countries.
Since accents can vary a great deal, Catálogo de voces hispánicas is a great way to practice listening to different accents. If you plan on traveling abroad, this is great preparation that will ensure you can understand Spanish wherever you go.
Again, listening to Spanish music is always great for listening practice.
Live-TV-Radio.com offers links to stations from all over Latin America. You can select your country of choice. From there, you have options for what sort of content you want or even which city the station is based out of.
For instance, you might try Continental AM 590 out of Argentina for talk radio, or for music, 959 out of Costa Rica.
There are plenty of awesome YouTube channels for learning Spanish, but few are as entertaining as HolaSoyGerman (Hello I’m German).
This Chilean YouTube sensation offers up funny videos (with some adult language).
You’ll practice your listening and maybe even pick up some punchlines. Unfortunately, this channel no longer updates, but it has such a great collection of videos that it’ll still be useful for learners!
While AudioViator is intended for travelers, it’s also a great option for Spanish learners.
AudioViator offers narrated Spanish-language travel guides for destinations around the world. This is a great way to practice listening while picking up geography and travel terms.
There are lots of great Spanish podcasts out there, and Cadena SER has a treasure trove of them.
There are options for people interested in sports, news, gastronomy and more. For instance, try SER Historia to learn about history and practice your listening skills at the same time.
So tune in to these 28 resources and listen up!
Thanks to some Spanish listening practice, your language skills will be rocking in no time.
Stay curious, my friends, and as always, happy listening!