Spanish podcasts are, without doubt, one of the more relaxing and pleasant ways to learn Spanish. Of course, at Spanish Obsessed, we are known for our range of Spanish podcasts, so we’ve put together a short guide for how to use our podcasts, and provided a list some of our top recommended and most popular podcasts for you to listen to right now.
What are Spanish podcasts?
We should distinguish here between podcasts designed for learners, and topical podcasts, in Spanish. Both have their uses for the learner, but at the lower levels it is easier to use podcasts which are designed with the learner in mind. This doesn’t mean that they are inauthentic, but just that you will find the pace a little easier.
Of course, we encourage (and produce) authentic materials between native speakers as well, and learners of a higher level should listen to these too. We provide some recommendations for how to find topical podcasts in Spanish towards the end of the article.
Why listen to podcasts in Spanish?
Here are a few reasons why you’ll find Spanish podcasts helpful:
- Ease of use. If you have a smartphone, you can download and listen to podcasts at your convenience. This means that you don’t necessarily need to carve out “study time” in your day – a lot of our users listen while driving, or running other errands.
- They are engaging. Once you find a connection with the podcast hosts, you’ll find that listening to them is a joy. That means easier, fasting learning, and less time “studying”…
- You can go at your own pace. Unlike in a group setting, you can go at the speed where you feel most comfortable. No one will hold you back, and no one will push you too far.
What’s the best way to use podcasts to learn Spanish?
The simple answer, of course, is simply to listen!
Beyond that, here are a few pointers to help you out:
- Consistency is key. As with all language learning, persistence and determination beat talent, always. Commit to doing something every day, no matter how small.
- Once you have created your habit, remove any barriers which will prevent you from carrying it out. These can be small things, like bookmarking pages, or downloading files, but you need to make it as easy as possible for you to stay consistent, without wasting needless energy.
- Be comfortable not understanding everything. If you are listening to native level Spanish conversation, you will probably find that you don’t understand everything. If you do, you need to find more challenging material! Get used to that feeling of not catching every detail, but try to “zoom out”, and follow the general gist and conversation. Know that with time, it will get easier.
- Repeat. Good quality materials bear repeated listening. One of our listeners mentioned that he listened to one of our podcasts over 30 times! Once you are comfortable that you understand the gist and overall topic of a conversation, it will be easier to understand with repeated listenings.
- Use accompanying materials. Our podcasts include transcripts, translations, notes, and exercises (available to gold members). Use these to solidify your comprehension, and ensure that you don’t miss any details.
Use a combination of gist and detailed listening to get the best out of podcasts.
Use gist listening to begin with, giving you an overview of the topic and the general idea of the conversation. Don’t worry about missing details – try to focus the broader conversation.
Move on to detailed listening on shorter sections, repeating often and mentally noting new vocabulary and structures.
Our top Spanish podcasts, by level
For complete beginners:
Funnily enough, almost no one is really a complete beginner… Most people have some hangover of Spanish from High School and are simply rusty. However, if you truly are starting from zero, we suggest our structured course Spanish from Scratch. This will take you through the absolute basics of Spanish, while making sure that you are prepared for the everyday situations you might face in a Spanish speaking country.
For “false” beginners:
Maybe you are coming back to Spanish, or just feel pretty rusty. You don’t want to start completely from scratch, but if you go to any advanced material you quickly get lost. Here are some of our favourite podcasts from our “beginners” series:
In this podcast, we explore some simple ways that you can talk about how you feel in Spanish. You’ll meet the super useful verb sentir, and learn how to use reflexive verbs (useful for expressing feelings). We cover some common positive and negative emotions, and you’ll learn about using the verbs tener, dar, and poner with emotions, and the difference in meaning those verbs give. A short, packed episode!
This podcast covers all those little strategies, sentences, and even individual “filler” words that native Spanish speakers use to keep the conversation going. These are great to learn to help your Spanish sound more natural, and will immediately give your spoken Spanish a huge boost (or, at least make you sound more fluent!).
For intermediate learners:
If you feel you have a good grasp of grammar and vocabulary, and have covered the basics, give our intermediate series a try. In these episodes, we hold conversations in Spanish, but not at the 100 mph, native level pace. That doesn’t mean it’s not real Spanish, of course, as Lis is a native Spanish speaker, but it does mean that your comprehension and confidence will get a boost. Check out some of our top episodes:
One of our early intermediate Spanish podcasts, in this episode we talk about those times we might have told some porkies, and whether it was worth it after all.
In this entertaining episode, Rob and Lis discuss the worst jobs they’ve ever had. Rob talks about his time working as a dishwasher, and as a binman, including one fairly disgusting anecdote related to cat food…
We released these podcasts in one batch in September 2018, bringing together our best work yet (well, we think so…). You can listen to the first 3 episodes for free, and purchase the course to get hold of them all.
For advanced and beyond:
Check out our advanced series for full speed conversation between native speakers from all over the Spanish speaking world. Here are a couple of our favourite episodes:
Lis chats with our Mexican friend Mariana about dating in Latin America vs Europe, and some of the differences in European and Latin men.
Rob chats with Venezuelan friend Clarissa about the turmoil her country is facing, and the difficulties she and her family have had.
Native Spanish podcasts
Of course, there is a wide range of Spanish podcasts produced by Spanish speakers, for Spanish speakers!
Instead of recommending specific podcasts, we’ll show you how to find the right podcast for you. It’s best to choose podcasts where you are genuinely interested in the topic. Think: if this podcast were in your native language, would you be interested in listening to it?
What not to do…
Have you searched for a podcast in Spanish, by literally Googling “podcasts in Spanish”?
Of course, Google will return you results in English, for English speakers. That’s where you’ll find material designed for learners (like us…!).
To find actual podcasts, in Spanish, for native Spanish speakers, we need to change tactics.
How to find the most interesting podcasts in Spanish
Instead, think about what kind of podcast you actually want to listen to. How would you search for that, in Spanish? Do that search instead, and the top results you’ll see will be native material. Here are some searches I’ve just tried that give me some great results: