Today we have the pleasure of welcoming a guest contribution by Eleena de Lisser, who runs Voices en Español, a bilingual blog and conversational Spanish podcast (iTunes - RSS Feed). In this post, Eleena draws on her experience and offers an overview of the best free audio lessons that will teach you Spanish (which happens to be the number one second language studied in the United States). Other Spanish lessons can be found in our larger collection How to Learn Languages for Free: Spanish, English, Chinese & 37 Other Languages. Many thanks Eleena, and take it away...
Learning Spanish today is as easy as sitting in front of your computer and downloading online audio to your MP3 player. If you’re motivated, you can learn a great deal of Spanish at little to no cost without ever leaving the comfort of home. A tremendous range of instructional Spanish language podcasts, from the beginner level to advanced, are widely available on the internet and many of them are free. (Some charge for accompanying transcripts and written practice exercises.) So whether you are a raw beginner or a seasoned language study veteran, there is a podcast out there to suit you. Here are the details on a handful of educational Spanish language podcasts that are worth a closer look:
Coffee Break Spanish (iTunes - Feed - Web Site), whose slogan is “language learning with your latte,” is undoubtedly king of the instructional podcast hill, with a large and loyal fanbase. It is ideally suited for beginners and other students seeking a review of basic Spanish grammar and phrases. Mark Pentleton, the producer and instructor, and Kara, his student, are Scottish, so while you won’t be hearing a native Spanish speaker’s pronunciation in the initial episodes, that seems to add to the charm of the program for some listeners.
Another popular instructional series is Notes in Spanish (iTunes - Feed - Web Site), produced by Ben Curtis and Marina Diez, a husband-and-wife team out of Madrid, Spain. Ben is British and Marina is Spanish, and they too have built quite a large following for their conversational Spanish podcasts (for beginners, intermediates and advanced students), which promise to teach listeners “real Spanish” the way it is actually spoken every day in Spain.
LingusTV (iTunes - Feed - Web Site) is a unique entry into the instructional language podcasts arena. It’s an educational video podcast done in the form of a television sit-com (situation comedy), laugh track included. While the actors speak solely in Spanish, subtitles are provided and explanations of vocabulary and grammar points are provided on the web site.
SpanishPod101 (iTunes - Feed - Web Site) distinguishes itself from other currently available instructional podcasts by providing lessons that feature different accents from around the Spanish-speaking world. Dialogues are repeated multiple times and an English translation is provided, to further aid learning.
For advanced language students seeking a change of pace and a break from grammar drills, there are my two podcasts: Voices en Español (iTunes - Feed - Web Site), which contains interviews and literature readings with native Spanish speakers from all walks of life, and Cody’s Cuentos (iTunes - Feed - Web Site), a Spanish-language podcast of classic fairy tales and legends. While Cody’s Cuentos isn’t a conventional instructional podcast, the fact that you probably already know the story in English will aid your comprehension of understanding the tale in Spanish. Transcripts for the stories are available on the Cody’s Cuentos blog so that you can read and follow along in the text while listening to the audio.
This is just a small sample of the kind of Spanish language programming currently available online. Several more Spanish learning podcasts are listed here in our collection of Free Language Lessons.