When I first began learning Spanish (16 years ago this month! Crazy!), nobody had ever even heard of a podcast. Heck, the iPod wouldn’t even hit the market for another year and digital audio was considered a thing of the future.
Fast-forward to present day and the amount of podcast subscriptions through the iTunes store recently surpassed one billion. And that’s understandable because podcasts offer an unparalleled way to keep up with what’s going on in just about any ecosphere that can be discussed with the spoken word. However, if you’re anything like me, you only discovered the true value of these bad boys about a year ago when you were finally able to wiggle your way out from the rock you’d been living under.
Since that time, I’ve been able to sort the treasure from the trash when it comes to Spanish-language podcasts for beginners. (Keep an eye out next week for our article on podcasts for intermediate and advanced learners!) Below is a list and review of my seven favorite Spanish podcasts for beginners, along with a synopsis and rating of each one.
Marina (from Madrid) and her husband Ben (an Englishman) live in Madrid, Spain, and bring you real-world conversations about everyday topics using lingo you won’t find in most textbooks. This podcast is recommendable for beginners, even those who only know a few basics, as they break down everything they discuss and even have transcripts and activities for the podcasts available for purchase on their website. I’m hoping that this shining review will convince Marina and Ben to let me buy them a glass of wine the next time I’m in Madrid. I dig their podcasts that much. 5 out of 5
Rob (from the UK) and his partner Liz (a ‘Colombiana’) have conversations about interesting topics on these two separate podcasts. The ‘Spanish from Scratch’ podcast is intended for true beginners, while ‘Beginner Spanish’ is intended for those with somewhat of a base. Spanish Obsessed is great because it’s a meeting of both Spanish and Latin American culture and language. Rob’s background in language teaching and linguistics and their shared experience in various Spanish-speaking countries provide a ton of honest, genuine Spanish communication and education. They provide a range of material for purchase for both levels on their website. 3.75 out of 5
Listen as Mark takes Kara on a journey from a true beginner level of Spanish to fluency. Both natives of the UK, you’ll learn from the perspective of two people who have gone through the process of learning Spanish themselves. This one is for absolute beginners and I’d recommend starting with episode one. 4 out of 5
JP and Liliana take you through short, beginner-level conversations from natives that contain a wealth of useful expressions for getting along in many real-life situations, such as doing laundry, going to the supermarket, or even ordering a drink at your favorite locale. They allow you to listen to the short conversations several times and then break down for you exactly what has been said, expression-by-expression. The high quality audio and charisma of JP and Liliana will have you listening over and over again. 4.5 out of 5
These short podcasts touch on a variety of relevant topics and range anywhere from one to fifteen minutes in length. The hosts are typically energetic native speakers from all over the Spanish-speaking world who have conversations that range from Spanish holidays to discussing parts of the body. One aspect of this one that I found especially enticing was how they will let you listen to conversation once in full speed and again much slower so you can get a better grasp of what has been discussed. 3 out of 5
Now, as of this writing, ¡Hola Viajeros! only had seven total episodes on their podcast and I’d say this one is intended for higher-level beginners with a solid foundation of Spanish already in place. That said, I wouldn’t mention it here if I didn’t think there were some real value to be had. The native-speaking host discusses various aspects of Latin American culture at a slow enough pace that it will help bridge the gap from early-beginner to high-beginner for many of you. I know there are aspects of this one that are non-ideal, but I’d certainly recommend giving giving it a try. 3.5 out of 5
Q & A Spanish seemed to sign off sometime around March of 2013, but their backlog of episodes is chock-full of valuables insights. On this podcast, students learning Spanish would call in to ask questions about challenging aspects of learning the language. JP (seemingly our friend from the Spanish by Choice podcast) and a native Speaker named Nahyeli then provide the callers with expert explanations and advice. Certainly worth a listen. 3.5 out of 5
Have you listened to any of these? Agree or disagree with any of my ratings? Tell me what’s up in the comments!