Get Listening Practice in Spanish on the Internet

This page is for anyone looking to get more listening practice in Spanish and it is Part 2 to my article on Local Spanish Immersion.

If you're looking to give yourself a "Local Spanish immersion program" experience, listening to native Spanish TV programs are good exposure to the language. However, with what is available on the internet, you can find such a variety of topics to meet your listening practice in Spanish needs. You can be hearing native Spanish spoken 24/7. 

A Listening Comprehension Theory

But, here's the catch about listening.  When something new as a foreign language is heard, we usually need to hear things repeated and slowed down. This is very normal and there is a theory of language acquisition proposed by Stephen Krashen, a  prominent linguist and bilingual education advocate. He calls it the "Silent Period"  where "real language acquisition develops slowly, and speaking skills emerge significantly later than listening skills, even when conditions are perfect. The best methods are therefore those that supply 'comprehensible input' in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear." To make the most of listening practice in Spanish, 3 things need to be kept in mind.  1. Speaking comes later than listening  2.You need to listen to things you can understand 3. Like what you're listening to and be relaxed when you do it.

1. Speaking comes later than listening

If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. You need to hear a lot of the new language you are learning in order to get the right sounds and rhythm of it. By getting in a lot of listening first, you become familiar with the sounds of Spanish and where stress is put.  I know there are different personality types out there who are outgoing and don't mind using the little Spanish they may know immediately. But, there are others who are relieved to hear it is okay to hold back on speaking immediately. The "Silent Period" in the beginning suits them fine.

2. You need to listen to things you can understand

This idea almost seems too obvious. In language learning teaching, it is known as "comprehensible input" or "meaningful language." However, it really may be hard to come by other at first.  For example, in every day life situations will you be able to find Spanish speakers who will speak slow enough for you to understand?

 I have a few suggestions here. Find videos that have transcriptions and translations into English, and then listen to them over and over. One of the best places on the internet that does this for free is http://www.laits.utexas.edu/spe/

On the introductory page, right beneath the faces, are the various levels. Click on the one that pertains to you and there will be people talking on various topics. You are able to control whether you see the words in Spanish, a translation in English or nothing at all.  If you work with a teacher, you can make your own video with the same topic. You are able to see and hear the relevant vocabulary in the videos. 

Another site I would recommend for improving your listening comprehension in Spanish is http://lomastv.com/?a=1307. I recommend this site to my students because you hear native Spanish with accents from around the Spanish speaking world. It also has genuine Spanish videos of music (such as by Juanes, one of my favorite singers), cooking, interviews and dramas.

Maybe you have come across a Spanish soap opera (novela) on TV and they are speaking so fast you can't understand most of it. At this site, you can press a button to slow the speed down while you listen. Also there is transcription in Spanish along with the English translation. There are some videos you can see for free to check it out. If this suits your learning style, you can sign up for videos and or lessons at a very reasonable price.  I also recommend to sign up for their free newsletter, they write up great grammar points.

3. Enjoy What You Listen to and Be Relaxed

Very self explanatory here. Find videos of topics you like. Sit down or lay back, maybe have a favorite drink on hand as you listen and take in the language. If you listen to things on the same topic, you don't have to be obsessed about catching every single word, since it will probably be repeated again.

See:

Part 1 of Creating You Own Immersion experience

More on Spanish Learning Strategies