Listen Up! Hearing Spanish Around the World

Hello, All.

The four main language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking), while related, are somewhat independent, as, for example, someone can read a language while not being able to carry on a conversation in it. And that may be all right. Some people are interested in learning a language to tap into the wealth of literature, poetry, and non-fiction available in it. Others may be more interested in being able to travel to countries where the language is spoken and be able to converse effectively during their visit.

Having crossed the Duobicon to Level 25 in Spanish last Friday, I am now going to intensify my efforts at listening. Since this past April, when I reached Level 24 and anticipated that I might wind down my use of Duolingo, I looked around all over for Spanish listening resources. Here's what's helping me a lot these days. Please share what you're finding useful, too. Thanks!

Not all listening resources are created equal. While there are hundreds of Spanish language broadcasts and podcasts/webcasts all over the world, having a general interest in and familiarity with the content of those sources is a big help, both in terms of motivation and comprehension. So, try to find something to listen to that you at least kind of care about.

Next, take it easy on yourself. It takes time to speed up your ears, so to speak. Try to listen just to listen. It's okay if you don't understand anything at all for a while. Trust me. It will. Just give it a little time.

But once you do speed up, do try to add to your vocabulary, even if only a little bit here and there, the words that you can make out. Today, I learned a new word: la ola, the wave. The meteorologist said ola de calor or heat wave and that is exactly what's coming up soon around here (western New Jersey/eastern Pennsylvania). Even if you don't know all the forms of every word, there's a big psychic payback to recognizing a word, especially in a familiar context.

With apologies to all fashionistas out there, I really couldn't get into the “vestidos de Lady Gaga” on CNN en Español on my car radio. It seemed as if every time I tuned it, they were covering entertainment. That's nice, but being more of “hard” news guy myself, I found these three broadcasts to be the most helpful to me now.

First, the daily local Spanish language broadcast on WFMZ News Channel 69. Go to (NOT .com, .tv) and look for the WFMZ 69News in Allentown, PA icon. Next, click on “On Demand” and look for the “Edición en Español”. Click on one of those (there are usually two or three out there before they age off) and there you have a half-hour of local news. It's about 80% of the English version. The rest has Spanish-language only type content, such as reports of visits to the hometowns of the staff (who are from Mexico, Honduras, Peru, and the Dominican Republic). The commercials are half in Spanish and half in English. And the irreducible local places names are fun (a lot of Native American, specifically Lenape, and also German and English with some Biblical ones, too). I have captured the audio by using the Windows 10 Voice Recorder so that I can put it on my iPod in order to listen on the road (69News doesn't offer the program as a podcast/webcast yet). For your listening enjoyment, here is a link to last week's broadcasts (they don't do weekends) => I do recommend watching it, too. But the audio alone is worth the price of admission. Did you know that the fire department rescued a family from a burning house recently? Yep, the word for fireman is el bombero. Great job, guys.

Second, check out the podcasts on the Colombian broadcaster Caracol here => News, sports, history, entertainment (!). National, international, local. (May visit Manizales soon. One of my best friends is going back home to there with his family now that he's just retired).

Last, check out On the Shoulders of Giants from the Spanish (Iberian peninsula) broadcaster here =>

This is a science/math exploration/interview program, both historical and current. From the life of Pi to the biographies of great men and women of science to current developments around the world, this show covers a lot of ground and always has something interesting.

I hope you find these resources useful. I look forward to hearing about yours, too.

All the best on your language journeys.


6 months ago


I highly recommend you try out the app Beelinguapp. It provides short stories and readings into your target language and offers toggleable side-by-side translations with a fairly large number of language options to choose from

You can filter readings through level of difficulty (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) and there is audio to go with the text. The text highlights whichever part the audio is on, and for some stories, you can even change the speed of the audio!

Some readings offer quizzes at the end to test how much you comprehended. You can read the questions in either your target language or primary language.

There is a premium version of the app that allows you to have access to the entire library of readings (and a few other perks as well that I can't remember), but there are still many, many free selections to choose from.

P.S. : In my experience, the so-called "Beginner" titles were still difficult to comprehend! So I recommend starting at beginner level and then working your way up. I believe Advanced contains a larger number of premium-only titles, but don't quote me on that.

PPS: I've been copying and pasting this post in multiple discussions because who wants to retype such a long message? So don't think I'm scamming you if you see this everywhere, I just really like the app.

6 months ago


6 months ago
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Thank you for all the Spanish website links. I enjoy reading in Spanish. Here is a link to un diario en Español. I haven't gotten around to reading it yet, but I will try reading it soon! :)

6 months ago

You're welcome. And thanks for your link. Just visited El País's website and found a wealth of material there.

6 months ago

Michael, Thanks for those sites!

6 months ago

You're welcome.

6 months ago

Nice, thank you!

6 months ago

You're welcome.

6 months ago

Great resources! Thank you!

I use to find podcasts for my computer and phone. Two I highly recommend:

-- - an energetic radio program where they play music and talk about things that matter...nonpolitical, interesting and fun!

-- - Radio Ambulante, of course. Truly remarkable.

6 months ago

You're welcome. Thanks for your recommendations, too. Just checked out and it's great!

6 months ago

Thank you for posting this. Good luck for your next steps and congratulations

6 months ago

You're welcome. Same to you!

6 months ago
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