Spanish Tools, Continued

In the previous post I looked at smartphone apps and Web sites that have helped me learning Spanish. Now I want to mention some YouTube channels and Podcasts that I have used.

YouTube Channels

All Language Resources

Channel Address: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3iaeeUxWOgUXFK6kfIp_Ig

This might be a good place to start since it is pretty much a review site for the various tools that are available. Like all review sites, it is people’s personal opinions, so it takes a little time to figure out how reliable they are. I’d try a few of the free resources they recommend and see if you also like them before I would spend money on a paid site just because it came recommended. They also have a blog for their Spanish reviews at https://www.alllanguageresources.com/spanish/. Of course, they cover many languages, not just Spanish.

¿Qué Hora Es? Spanish For Beginners (Season 1)

Channel Address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyLl_0d0EBw&list=PLTpetkN815Qyuc2RbC1kxxMQvxjQ3RnYG

This is a television program produced by AIB network, which appears to be based in Georgia in the United States. It is presented as a classroom-style series of lessons, with the instructor, Dr. Danny Evans, writing on a white board as he presents to material. I find this to be a very valuable addition to the other tools I use because it provides the more systematic background to the grammar of Spanish that is not so easily grasped from the smartphone apps. Lessons run 15-20 minutes each, and I try to do one every day. Of course, as a YouTube channel I can repeat a lesson, and I have on occasion taken the same lesson two days in a row just to help cement my understanding. At the end of each lesson is a brief bit of culture information as well.

Culture Alley Spanish

Channel Address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWEXFfqwh7w&list=PL80Flen6gkH_9j4OxsDucs9mbKjl5ccvU

Culture Alley is a YouTube channel offering free language instruction in several languages, Spanish being one of them. The language courses are offered in a PowerPoint style as a series of slides with a voice-over. They are well done, and like the ¿Qué Hora Es? channel above offer a systematic look at grammar which supplements the more flashcard-oriented approaches of many of the smartphone apps. Lessons are 15-20 minutes long, and there is a little bit of culture at the end.

Daily Practice

The key to learning anything is daily practice, so my approach is to set aside some time every day to work on my Spanish. My daily schedule for this starts with the smartphone apps I mentioned in the previous posts, which will take me about 15-20 minutes. I get a daily nag on my phone for those, so I start there. Then I go to the YouTube channels above, which will take me 30-40 minutes to hit both ¿Qué Hora Es? and Culture Alley. On some days that is all I do, and it ends up being about an hour. But if I am not pressed for time I will hit a few of the Web sites I mentioned in my previous posts. I find I look forward to my daily session and that after about 3-4 weeks of work it is starting to sink in. If I keep it up for a few years I should be able to survive a trip to Mexico.

Podcasts

I listen to a lot of podcasts in general, so it was natural for me to add Spanish language podcasts. But they are not part of my daily cycle. The way I listen to podcasts is driving in a car, or working around the house. If you are going to be washing dishes or mowing the lawn, why not listen to podcasts while you do these things so the time is more productive? I also like to walk for exercise, and listening to podcasts while doing that just makes sense. So while these are not in my daily routine exactly, they are a nice supplement. Now a note on getting these podcasts : Many of them do not have an RSS feed. I got a lot of them through iTunes, which I do have installed on my one Windows machine.

Coffee Break Spanish

Web site: https://radiolingua.com/category/coffee-break-spanish/

Reviews

This is one you will hear mentioned by a lot of reviewers, and it is a good one. Short episodes of 15-20 mins. are conversational, and you get to hear words and phrases and repeat them. I think the name of the podcast is that the episodes are short enough that you do one on your coffee break, if that is a custom where you live. The host, Mark, is a Scottish man who is also the founder and CEO of the Coffee Break series. Seasons are set in levels that go from beginner (Season 1) to more advanced (Season 4). Advanced is all relative, of course, so it probably is more accurate to say it gets to maybe high Intermediate. This is also available through the Google Play store. They also have a YouTube channel.

DuoLingo Podcast

Web site: https://podcast.duolingo.com/spanish

Reviews

This podcast is a bit different from the others. It presents stories narrated by native speakers in different countries. So it is in Spanish, but they do speak more slowly than normal speech. And there is an English narrator who intercuts some material that helps explain what is going on. The idea is that you may pick up some words and phrases in the Spanish narration, then the English part helps you stay on track and confirm what you heard. They are putting out one episode a week of around 25 minutes. The first one, for example is narrated by a reporter in Mexico about his favorite fútbol star, and how he met and became friends with him.

From a Zero to a Hero

Web site: https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/babbels-spanish-podcasts

Reviews

This is an introductory level Spanish podcast from Babbel with a student, Catriona, who is Scottish, and her teacher Hector, who is Spanish. This is very beginner-oriented, so I would recommend this for anyone starting out who does not know any Spanish (which describes me!) Babbel also has an higher level podcast for when I get to that level. Also, while I have purchased a subscription to Babbel, this podcast is free. I think it serves as marketing for their product.

Spanishpod101

Web Site: https://www.spanishpod101.com/helpcenter/getstarted/itunesfeeds

Reviews

When you read the reviews you will see a certain common view, which is that the content is good but the marketing is annoying. And I think that is a fair assessment. I think I get more out of accessing this content directly on the Web site than as a podcast because I can download transcripts and read along as I listen to the audio

Notes in Spanish

Web Site: https://www.notesinspanish.com/

Reviews

This is actually three separate collections, for Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced. It is presented by a husband and wife team where the husband (Ben) is British, and the wife Marina is from Madrid. The focus is on peninsular Spanish and culture, and it works well as a podcast.

News in Slow Spanish

Web Site: https://www.newsinslowspanish.com/

Reviews

I mention this only because I see it praised in so many places. It is really aimed at the Intermediate or above student, so I am not quite ready for that as yet. I did note that they have two different series for Intermediate, one that focuses on Spain, the other on Latin America. I’m definitely going to be getting this when I am ready for it.

Summary

The first thing I want to repeat is that I am not claiming that these are the best tools available, or that you are guaranteed to learn with them. As a former teacher I know that the student matters more than the instruction. I aim to put in 1 hour every day using these tools, and I know that if I keep showing up I will make progress.

Second, many of these places have a podcast, plus a Web site, plus a YouTube channel, and so on. If you want to learn a language find the tools that work for you. I watch a lot of YouTube, listen to a bunch of podcasts, always have my smartphone handy, and have a web browser open in front of me pretty much 24×7, so I have picked tools that work for me. A lot of these tools are available for free, but I find the ones that I pay for tend to push me a bit harder. You decide what works for you.

Finally, there are lots of languages, and at least for all of the major ones there are similar sites, often from the same companies I mentioned here. I have seen other European languages, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and so on. I had my reasons for picking Spanish, but I think it is a good idea to learn another language in general.

Listen to the audio version of this post on Hacker Public Radio!

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