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The Benefits of Using Podcasts to Improve Your Spanish

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By Dr. Karolina Kopczynski
Faculty Member, School of Arts, Humanities and Education

The idea of podcasts is not new, but they are becoming more popular every day. According to PodcastHosting.org, 55% of Americans have listened to podcasts at least once, and 37% listen to a podcast at least once a month.

There are many benefits of listening to podcasts. One of them is learning a foreign language such as Spanish.

Many individuals choose not to study Spanish in a traditional in-person or online classroom because they do not have much time to spare. For instance, it takes way too long to drive to a college or university, find a parking spot, and then go to a 50-minute class that meets three times a week for the whole semester. Similarly, learners enrolled in online classes have to find a space to do their work, dedicate time to read the material, take tests and complete required assignments. 

Todo lo que puede ser imaginado es real. (Everything you can imagine is real.) – Pablo Picasso, Spanish artist

Podcasts Provide Greater Convenience for Learning Foreign Languages

Podcasting, however, provides an opportunity for instructors to broadcast audible lessons in foreign languages. With the podcast, students can learn Spanish on the go.

Podcasts can be utilized in every setting. For instance, someone learning Spanish could listen to a podcast on a smartphone while driving to school or work, shopping, working out, or waiting at the doctor’s office.

There is supporting research on how much learning a foreign language benefits our brain. In a 2016 study, researchers from the University of California at Berkeley concluded that listening to podcasts stimulates multiple parts of our brain.

Spanish-Language Podcasts Also Increase Your Knowledge of Culture and Grammar

Podcasts for learning Spanish make learning fun and also increase your knowledge of another culture. For instance, students listening to a Spanish-language podcast could learn about Shakira, Frida Kahlo, the crisis in Venezuela, Machu Picchu and the different types of coffee served in Spain. Other types of knowledge that you could pick up include the idiomatic expressions used in Bolivia, the vocabulary to describe a living room and the conjugation of the verb “saber” (know) in various tenses.

The majority of foreign-language podcasts are designed by native speakers, which provide you with an opportunity to practice your pronunciation. Yet another outstanding feature of podcasting is that you can speed up or slow down the episode, depending on your listening needs and abilities.

Lo difícil lo hago de inmediato, lo imposible tardo un poquito más. (The difficult is done at once, the impossible takes a little longer.) – Cantinflas, Mexican comedian and actor, quoting French statesman Charles Alexandre de Calonne

Where Can You Find Podcasts in Spanish?

The University’s library has many different multimedia resources, including podcasts. In the library, you can find beginner-level Spanish podcasts.

Also, Notes in Spanish offers podcast recordings suited to students at three different levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. You can listen to hosts Ben Curtis and Marina Diaz from Madrid, Spain, talk about the Spanish language and culture. They teach vocabulary, grammatical structure and culture.

Other podcasts for learning Spanish include:

  • Let’s Talk Spanish by ESpeak Spanish – You can learn about many different cultures of every Spanish-speaking country via their podcasts. You will learn vocabulary, grammatical structures, pronunciation and cultural traditions. 
  • CoffeeBreak Languages by Radio Lingua – This site offers podcasts in Spanish and other languages. There is constant repetition to help you memorize vocabulary and idiomatic expressions.
  • LightSpeed Spanish by LightSpeed –This site also offers podcasts at the beginner level. Language lessons are conducted by hosts Cynthia Durán from Madrid, Spain, and Englishman Gordon Smith. They teach vocabulary, verb usage in context and culture.

Lo importante es marcarse metas en la vida y poner toda tu alma en cumplirlas. (Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.) – Amancio Ortega, Spanish businessman

Spanish is spoken in over 20 countries, so listening to podcasts in Spanish will not only teach you the language, but also improve your audio comprehension. Furthermore, Spanish-language podcasts will enhance your sensitivity to the different accents used in other Spanish-speaking countries and improve your pronunciation skills as you listen to words on a repetitive basis.

Lastly, podcasts will improve your knowledge of appropriate grammatical structures and sentence structures. From the podcasts, you will come to know Spanish-speaking countries, as well as geography, history, music, art, gastronomy and daily routines. Have fun!

About the Author

Dr. Karolina Kopczynski is a native of Poland. Her passion is learning foreign languages and their cultures. She earned her B.A. in Spanish from UMASS, Amherst, where she also studied French, German, Italian, and Russian. She completed her study abroad program in Oviedo, Spain. Dr. Kopczynski obtained her M.A.T. in Spanish and ESOL from the School for International Training, VT, in 2000. She also lived and studied in Russia, Mexico, and Greece.

In 2010, Dr. Kopczynski completed her Ed.D. from the University of Phoenix in Curriculum and Instruction. In 2015, she completed two additional master’s degrees from the University of Jaén in Spain and the University Iberoamericana in Puerto Rico in Applied Linguistics in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language and Formation of Professors of Spanish as a Foreign Language. She has experience instructing Spanish at all levels and designing online Spanish courses. Dr. Kopczynski was a recipient of the 2021 Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching Award from the University.

Recently, Dr. Kopczynski and her colleague presented at the Teaching Excellence Summit on the Implementation of Technology into Spanish online classes to increase participation. She has also presented at Northeast OER Summit about interactive tools to engage participation.

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