The good news is that there are fun ways to improve your listening, which don’t end in a headache.
There are some great Podcasts online that are targeted at improving your listening skills as well as vocab and grammar. Most of them are super entertaining as well. This is my personal favorite form of listening comprehension and some podcasts that have helped to improve my listening skills are:
- Duolingo Spanish Podcast:
These ~20 min audio provide entertainment through the real stories of people living in Latin America. The stories range from the passing down of family traditions to personal stories of fighting for their LGBTQ rights. Each episode comes with a transcript that you can read along with should you need to.
- News in Slow Spanish:
This program is a weekly show which speaks about current world events at a reasonable pace with which to follow along to. It is a 25 minute show, but unfortunately you can only get the first 10 minutes free. This first 10 (for the frugal like myself) is still very informative and easy to follow.
Watch a Spanish movie with Subtitles
For movie lovers this method is a great way of combining an easier part of learning the language (reading) for the more difficult (listening). Watching them with subtitles gives you the chance to catch what the audio is saying, almost like Karaoke but with a storyline. There are some great Spanish films, two of my favorites being Roma (emotional and hard-hitting) and Relatos Savajes (fast paced and funny).
Listen to Spanish Radio
Even passive listening can subconsciously alter the way your brain works and picks up on the language. An easy way to do this is to switch on a local radio while you’re getting ready for your day in the morning. You don’t have to pay full attention to what’s being said or understand everything, but your brain is being trained, never-the-less, to catch words. You’ll be following along with the radio personalities in no time.
Practice! Speak to Natives
Colombians are also willing to have conversations for travellers. They are super friendly and welcoming and want to get to know you. Our weekly Colombia Immersion “intercambio” on Friday’s is a great opportunity to meet locals who are eager to help you with your Spanish. In Envigado, we play games to encourage conversation while enjoying beer (also a good way to improve speech and comprehension :P).
Also in our weekly cultural activities and field trips, you will have the chance to immerse yourself in the real Colombian culture, have natural conversations with locals and start to polish your listening skills. You will not only learn a lot but you can also make new friends with whom you can practice in the future.