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Using Technology to Improve Your Spanish Listening Skills
Monday, January 6, 2014

by Jayk G., Tutor Tango Staff Subject and Test Prep Tutor

Spanish is a tricky language. One could spend years studying Spanish on paper, yet be let loose in a Spanish-speaking country and be completely unable to communicate. That's why listening to real conversations is just as important, if not moreso, than book learning.

The only true way to learn Spanish is complete immersion, surrounding oneself with hispanophones. With the busy lifestyle of a modern person, this may be easier said than done. Thus, we happily turn to technology, to provide us with a myriad of Spanish Listening situations.

If you're lucky enough to live in a large American city, Spanish speaking populations may be just around the corner. While conveniently located, actually understanding the coursing flow of words which sallies forth from a native speaker is easier said than done.
So, our first bit of technology we must champion is the tape recorder. To the untrained ear, one can simply not hope to separate and comprehend the fast and insistent march of palabras that cascades forth from Spanish speaking lips. But a tape recorder can allow one to slow down these words, or--an even more common feature on many devices--repeat these words over and over.

It may be a little presumptuous to suggest that our novice speaker plant themselves in a public place in a Spanish speaking neighborhood and record conversations, but it is possible. We do recommend meeting and talking with a native Spanish speaker and perhaps interviewing them, asking them a list of questions prepared in Spanish, and then recording their responses.

One could meet and make friends with any Spanish speaker, or perhaps ask a local restaurant or store owner to converse in Spanish about a common purchase or occurence in their establishment. After long consultation with a recording device, our aspirant Spanish speaker may be able to return and patronize the business using the useful Spanish gleaned from that very conversation!

Tape recorders are of course a little outmoded. Perhaps a cellular phone, iPod, iPad, laptop, or other popular device might be used for said recording. Perhaps with a little finagling a video might be made as well, so the Spanish is even more easy to understand when accompanied by lip movements.

Now many readers may exclaim about their sad lack of proximity to any Spanish speaking individual, or about their intense shyness which will lamentably prevent them from interacting with any romance-language-based individual. We beseech these readers not to give in to despair! There are means and methods to provide even the extremely isolated with aural pathways to spoken Spanish, so when they do one day emerge into the sunlight of the Spanish speaking world, they too may communicate.

The piece of technology we prescribe to these lonely ones is the very same medium by which this writing presents itself in front of the reader: the internet. The web has a plethora of Spanish Listening portals, and, in conclusion, we shall enumerate them for those who linger seeking answers:

Free Spanish Podcasts: www.audiria.com

News In Slow Spanish: www.newsinslowspanish.com

News Videos In Spanish: www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/

Educational Spanish Conversations: www.notesinspanish.com

Argentinian Radio: www.buenoaires.gob.or/radiociudad

Recordings Of Spanish Speakers: www.laits.utexas.edu/spe/

Audio Spanish Lessons: nature.berkeley.edu/ucce/50/ag-labor/spanish/

There are so many more resources out there. Time to get that technology fired up!