News in Spanish for Beginners
I became a language addict way back in the early noughties thanks to Shakira. Since then I’ve gone on to pursue a degree in French and Spanish with the Open University, and I’ve also studied Mandarin, Italian, German and various other languages along the way. With formal studying never quite being enough, I’m always looking for other methods to engage my language learning brain, podcasts being one of them. Here’s a few of my favourites:
Kerstin, a German language tutor, brings a mix of wonderful and inspiring guests on to her podcast, including popular language learning bloggers Benny Lewis and Olly Richards. She discusses current language news and offers up three varied tips at the end of each episode asking the guest to pick their favourite. The episode ‘I’m Not Dead Yet, So I’d Like to Keep Learning’ is particularly great because the guest, Randy Glover, was 57 when he began language learning, which goes to show you’re never too old to start.
In a similar format to the Creative Language Learning Podcast, this one features brilliant guests and gives you the chance to feel like you’re having a bit of a natter with them. As well as a variety of language learning topics – such as minority languages, constructed languages, and the link between languages and travel – Chris Broholm also talks a lot about goal setting. Focusing some attention on podcasts about language in general can help to keep you motivated. You never know, it may well inspire you to keep going for longer or even pick up another language by exposing you to concepts and languages that might be completely new to you.
You may have already come across [insert language here]pod101 if you’ve searched for podcasts in your target language. This series is always my first port of call when starting a new language. The podcasts cover a huge range of languages and the discussions are followed by in depth breakdowns of the individual elements of the specific language. Rather than translating whole phrases for you, you gain an understanding of each word and how it can be used in other contexts.
Offered in French, Italian and Spanish the weekly News in Slow episodes can prove useful for learners of all levels. Not only is the delivery perfectly timed (it’s slow, but not too slow) but being current news, chances are you’ll at least have an idea of what they’re talking about. Listening to news in a foreign language is great for increasing your vocabulary on current topics, which comes in handy if you’ll be chatting to some natives soon.
Talk in French offers loads of cultural information about France and the French language, including topics such as verlan (a form of French slang) and how the French celebrate birthdays and Christmas. The topics are interesting and diverse making it a great supplement to your French studies. There’s also plenty of information – including vocabulary and expressions – on the website to complement each episode. The website generally is pretty much indispensable if you’re studying French.
If Italian is your language, then Cher Hale is your girl. The podcasts vary from discussing culture, vocab and grammar tips, to interviews in Italian. It’s not just about language though, there’s also the odd motivational episode to keep you going. With episodes such as 13 Expressions to Keep Conversation Flowing in Italian When You Forget a Word, Hale really knows what you need. Full of encouraging advice and little nuggets of language gold for Italian learners, this one is well worth subscribing to.
The Yes Japan podcast series provides bitesize bits of grammar, vocabulary and culture – all in video format. George Trombley, author of the Japanese From Zero! series, explains everything with the Japanese examples displayed on the screen in the background. This podcast is an ideal addition for upper beginner to intermediate learners studying independently as it’s like having your own personal tutor clearing up the tricky grammar. The video complements the audio and not the other way around, which means you can just listen if you’re on the go. The videos are also available on the website.
One of my favourites for Spanish listening practice, Spanish Obsessed features Rob and Liz from the UK and Colombia. The advanced series is exactly what I spent too long looking for – natural and relaxed Spanish conversation to listen to anywhere. Rob and Liz produce podcasts for all levels of Spanish knowledge and even offer transcripts on the website with a free registration.
Another one that takes things slowly, Slow Chinese is great for beginner to intermediate learners of Chinese. Being a tonal language, listening slowly in the early stages can help to get to grips with the difference tones can make, which, of course, is great for listening skills and pronunciation. The podcasts are normally under 10 minutes long, meaning you can really focus (everyone has 10 minutes, right?). There’s also free transcripts on the website available in English and Chinese characters.
Offering brilliant language learning podcasts in German, Deutsche Welle is a little pocket of the internet packed full of resources for German learners. From news to motoring, fitness to football, there is something to suit everyone. If you’re a beginner, try the Warum Nicht? or Radio D series to get you started. If you’re more advanced Kultur.21 is worth checking out for its range of international topics, and is often presented in video format. The Deutsch Lernen section of the website is also worth a look for its huge range of materials for all levels.