When it comes to studying a foreign language, proper understanding is the key to learning. This is specially the case with Spanish, a language that simply begs to be listened to and understood. When language teachers evaluate their students’ performance, listening comprehension is one of the most important grading components.
To properly learn Spanish as a foreign language, students are expected to do a lot of listening. To this effect, students get many chances to listen to their instructors and fellow students in the classroom, but this is far from sufficient. Thankfully for Spanish students, the 21st century has brought along the advent of the Internet and podcast technology, which provides valuable opportunities for listening and practicing.
How to Subscribe to a Podcast
Many people believe that they need an iPod or an iPhone to listen to a podcast. This is simply not the case; a podcast is simply an audio program that is digitally recorded and published online. Many podcasts are periodic or episodic, which means that they are posted in a way similar to blogs.
In most cases, podcasts are mp3 files hosted somewhere on the Internet. Archived podcasts can be either streamed or downloaded to a computer, to a portable mp3 player or to a smartphone. Many podcasts are produced in a way that resembles a radio program or even a class schedule; these are published online by means of the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) Internet protocol.
To subscribe to a podcast means to add a feed to an RSS reader application, which is part of many Web browsers. To do this, simply visit a website that publishes podcasts and look for an orange logo that looks like a couple of waves. Clicking on this RSS logo will enable a subscription to that feed, which means that the RSS reader will automatically check for new podcast episodes and download them.
Choosing the Right Spanish Podcast for You
In a way, listening to Spanish-language podcasts is similar to listening to Spanish-language radio, but the topics tend to be more educational and the speech is more conducive to learning and intellectual engagement. Students who are at the beginner level should look for podcasts produced by Spanish academies since they actually focus on teaching.
Intermediate and advanced students may enjoy the Spanish language podcasts of BBC Mundo, La Voz de America and Radio Ambulante. Many of these podcasts are produced with listeners for whom Spanish is a second language, and thus they are ideal for learning.