Spanish People Talking: 10 of the Best Listening Resources for Beginners
Reading, writing, listening, and speaking are the four basic building blocks of language learning. By practicing these simple skills regularly, you will eventually gain fluency in your target language!
Of the four areas, listening skills are the ones that tend to get overlooked the most. With all the grammar rules and vocabulary words to learn, listening practice is often put on the back burner. However, by listening to a wide range of resources, you develop your ability to understand more complex speech—and you support the other three skill areas, too!
To understand all the facets of Spanish, it’s important to listen to lots of different Latin American and Spanish people talking. Aim for variety in your listening practice. To perfect both your academic and “real-world” Spanish, use a mix of authentic sources and educational materials.
The Power of Active Listening
Because of the many regional varieties existing in Spanish, it takes practice to hone your ability to understand a wide array of spoken Spanish. Active listening is the key.
Active listening makes you a keener conversationalist and improves your pronunciation. The more often you hear the language spoken by a wide range of Latin American and Spanish people, the more natural you’ll sound.
5 Steps of Active Listening
As its name implies, active listening is the ability to focus on a speaker, understand their message, and respond thoughtfully. Here are the five basic steps of active listening.
- Pay attention
- Show that you’re listening
- Provide feedback
- Defer judgment
- Respond appropriately
Counselors, mediators, and other professionals utilize the active listening technique to provide therapy, solve disputes, or mediate conflicts. It’s also a super important skill for language learning.
Spanish People Talking: Top 10 Listening Resources
Using a selection of different resources will help prepare you to understand any spoken Spanish regardless of accent. You’ll be ready for everything from friendly conversations to formal business meetings.
The best listening resources for beginners meet the following criteria:
- Specifically designed for learners who are new to Spanish
- Include a video option and/or a written transcript you can refer to as needed
- Cover accents from a range of Spanish-speaking countries
Check out our list of 10 amazing Spanish listening resources. Don’t hesitate to use the tips and criteria I’ve set out for you to find even more great resources on your own.
SpanishListening provides over 400 free listening activities for different skill levels. Its collection of well-organized audio clips relate to topics like health, animals, sports, jobs, hobbies, and more.
You can make your selections by speaker, as the site lists each speaker’s name and country of origin. It also notes whether their monologue is beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Even better, speakers from every Spanish-speaking country make the short videos! Hone your ear to pick up regional Spanish variations and nuances by listening to speakers from Cuba, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, and more.
If you’re a visual learner, SpanishListening offers a transcript of each audio file. To confirm your comprehension, do the exercises and quizzes that go with each listening activity.
2. Easy Spanish
Easy Spanish features more than 100 unique YouTube videos that are excellent for listening practice. The majority of the audio is by real people from different Spanish-speaking countries. Interviews are filmed on the streets of countries like Mexico and Peru.
The casual conversations expose you to common phrases and colloquial sayings, as well as tune your ear to a spectrum of regional accents. If you’re a beginner, you can watch the video, as well as read along with the Spanish and English subtitles. Most of the videos are between five and 15 minutes long.
SpanishPod101 curates a regularly updated Spanish course, mainly in the form of podcasts. The content is free, but you need to register using your email address or Facebook account. Their vast library of audio and video files contains over 1,600 lessons. Each has companion PDFs of notes, flashcards, and community forums.
You can listen and learn about Spanish topics from vocabulary and grammar to more colorful cultural insights. The site offers material for all levels of proficiency. These lessons guide you through Spanish conversations with teachers who explain the words and phrases.
4. American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese
AATSP’s archive of online national Spanish examinations includes listening exercises for six levels. (Scroll past the reading section to get to the listening comprehension.) Each exercise includes several brief audio passages accompanied by related questions.
This method helps you practice your listening skills while testing your comprehension. Reflect on how much you actually understood, and don’t hesitate to listen to the same exercise multiple times. These academic exercises are especially helpful if you plan to take a test with a listening component.
5. News in Slow Spanish
One of the most challenging aspects of listening to Spanish people is the swift pace at which they speak. The words all seem to flow together, and their meaning can be difficult to grasp at first. Thanks to News in Slow Spanish, you can listen to real news stories delivered at a slower rate than typical conversation.
Like many sites, they provide a supporting transcript to follow along with. You can also hover over selected words to see their definitions. This unique resource empowers you to eventually move on to more advanced listening activities.
6. 123TeachMe Listening Comprehension
123TeachMe offers hundreds of listening activities at all levels in the form of short audio clips with quizzes. Interpret information, concepts, and ideas from a range of culturally authentic sources. This site helps you find listening exercises that are well-suited to your level. Each audio clip includes a series of questions to test your comprehension and compel you to fully engage with the content.
RTVE is a national TV and radio network in Spain. It offers an array of real-world video and radio clips that are excellent for improving your listening skills. You can watch news and TV clips, focusing on the audio and only referring to the video for context as needed. Or, listen to radio clips to give yourself an immersive listening experience at home. Because RTVE is out of Spain, all its audio has a Castilian Spanish accent.
8. Catálogo de voces hispánicas
Cervantes.es compiled a catálogo de voces hispánicas (“Hispanic voices catalog”) with audio of native speakers from many regions in Spain, Mexico, Central America, and South America. This catalog is a great way to get accustomed to hearing different accents. If you plan to travel abroad, it will help prepare you to understand Latin American and Spanish people wherever you go.
The site provides narrated Spanish-language travel guides for many international destinations. This is an effective way to practice listening with a focus on geography. Plus, you’ll learn context-specific terms about many fascinating subjects.
10. Cadena SER
Finally, Cadena SER offers a veritable treasure trove of quality Spanish podcasts. With options related to news, humor, sports, and more, you’re sure to find topics that grab your attention. For example, SER Historia is a superb way to learn about history and practice while your listening skills. Like RTVE, it is based in Spain, so the presenters speak Castilian Spanish.
Balance Your Study Time
According to one recent study, “current teaching practices may underestimate the value of having students produce the language themselves.” The researchers advocate for learners to balance the focus between production and comprehension practice.
Spanish students often say, “I’m better at understanding what I hear than I am at speaking.” This is a normal and natural phase of early learning, but it’s also important to speak and be willing to make mistakes.
Keep in mind that Spanish is easier to listen to than to speak. Plan your studies accordingly, seeking balance between these two skills. With persistence, you will become adept at both. You will become one of those Spanish people talking, just like the ones you are listening to and learning from! Here are two strategies to assist you.
1. Redactar (Compose)
Generating language yourself (for example, writing a journal entry or a story) is a valuable and potent learning experience, especially when you receive feedback. Expressing your thoughts, opinions, and ideas in written Spanish leads you through the process of sentence creation, just like speaking does. But, writing gives you time to think and look things up, unlike a live conversation. The key is to compose—in other words, turn your thoughts into Spanish sentences.
2. Hablar (Speak)
Speaking Spanish is a powerful act. In any language, the words you choose matter.
It’s important to devote some time each day to speaking Spanish, in addition to listening.
When you’re starting to speak Spanish, keep in mind that short sentences with simple words are easier to process and understand. With time, you will be able to delve into more complex topics and use advanced grammar.
Adding Spanish conversation to your day helps balance your speaking and listening skills. By speaking often, with a friend, tutor or language partner, you can practice this key skill.
Bonus: Learn how to think in Spanish!
Listen and Talk
Listening to Latin American and Spanish people talking is one of the four keys to mastering Spanish; speaking is another. Want to practice active listening and sharpen your speaking skills? Talk with our native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala. They’re equipped to meet you at your level and would love to meet you for a free trial class.
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