The Definitive Guide to Learning Spanish by Podcast
While you aren't going become fluent in Spanish by listening to 20 minute lessons on the subway, podcasts do offer a great way to freshen up your skills.
One of the biggest challenges to immersion learning is maintaining all of the great knowledge you've accumulated once you get home. While learning a language isn't exactly "use it or lose it," as some like to claim, you will regress if you don't practice regularily.
By far, the best way to practice is to interact with native speakers. Whether that means volunteering with Spanish speaking immigrants through an organization like El Centro de la Raza, or working with a private tutor, it is important to get real-world conversational practice.
In conjunction with real-world practice, reading Spanish language newspapers, watching films, and listening to music in Spanish are great activities to keep your skills fresh. Podcasts can be especially useful because you can carry them with you on your smartphone and fit them into your schedule whenever you want.
We've broken down our favorite podcasts and audio lessons for learning and practicing Spanish below.
1. Coffee Break Spanish (Radio Lingua)
Our favorite Spanish podcast tops the charts for a reason. CBS is educational, enjoyable, and entertaining. Hosted by the jovial Mark Pentleton and his sidekick Kara, Coffee Break offers three seasons of beginner level episodes focused on travel Spanish, common phrases and basic grammar. Dialouge is presented slowly and clearly, but highlights native uses of the language from Spain and Latin America.
Radio Lingua / Free and paid versions
2. Showtime Spanish (Radio Lingua)
A more advanced level podcast from the creators of Coffee Break Spanish. Showtime Spanish jumps head first into concepts like the subjunctive mood and complex tenses through near-native-speed audio lessons, discussions, and audio-novelas.
iTunes / Free with paid extras
3. Foreign Service Institute
Diplomats and US State Department officials come to the Foreign Service Institute when they need to learn a language quickly and efficiently. Luckily for us, the FSI has released their audio lessons focused on traveling to Latin America for free. Course text materials are also available.
FSI Headstart Latin America / Free
4. Finally Learn Spanish (Edufone)
Edufone offers dozens of 5 to 20 minute podcasts focused on learning Spanish through real-life situations like applying for a job, paying taxes, or attending a parent-teacher conference. This is a great way to learn situational vocabulary and observe how it varies by region.
Edufone / Free and paid Versions
5. Insta Spanish Lessons
Stacey Tipton Reiman presents a professionally produced podcast with 15 minute lessons for all levels. Episodes focus on grammar, real-world usage, and listening.
iTunes / Free
6. Notes in Spanish
A collection of 20 to 25 minute episodes consisting of native conversations in "real Spanish". Notes in Spanish breaks its audio lessons down into three levels, Inspired Beginners , Intermediate , and Advanced. Supplemental worksheets are available on the NIS website.
NotesInSpanish.com / Free with premium features
7. Learn to Speak Spanish (Discover Spanish)
Aimed at beginning students, Learn to Speak Spanish offers 15 minute audio lessons designed to be listened to daily. There are 36 lessons in total, divided into 6 units. Both kids and adults will enjoy the unique cast of characters and hosts.
iTunes / Free with premium features
8. Mi Vida Loca (BBC)
The BBC offers a unique take on Spanish learning podcasts. The network has produced 22 episodes of an "audionovela" (a Spanish soap opera) based in Madrid. This fictional drama is designed to be listened to over 12 weeks and is supplemented with course activities and .pdf guides.
BBC Languages / Free
9. Learn Spanish with Maria
Maria Fernandez presents a fairly straight-forward approach to learning Spanish. Her 5 to 20 minute episodes progress from basic skills to more advanced concepts, sprinkling in quizzes and progress checks along the way.
Amazon / $0.99 per episode
10. Spanish Pod 101
Spanish Pod 101 presents a worldly approach to learning Spanish, offering audio and video lessons presented by native speakers with dialects from Peru to Mexico, Andalucia to Catalonia. 5 to 20 minute episodes are available for all levels.
iTunes / Free with premium features
11. Spanish Lessons On The Go (CSI)
Created by Coastal Spanish Institute in Costa Rica, SLOTG delivers a ten minute Spanish lesson each morning to your inbox. Lessons are broken into three levels (beginner, intermediate, and advanced), each featuring 20 lessons.
www.spanishlessonsonthego.com / Free
12. Interviews with Spanish speaking actors
While technically not podcasts, I find promotional interviews by actors like Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Gael García Bernal to be very helpful. They are predictable, well-produced, and the interviewer and interviewee tend to speak clearly while using important words and idiomatic phrases in context. Here are some vids to get you started:
Have a favorite Spanish podcast that we missed? Email us and we'll add it to the guide!