Spanish is a wonderful language to learn; it is the third most spoken language in the world with over 400 million speakers worldwide. Learning Spanish is a great skill to have if you love traveling and can also be extremely useful in business when dealing with Spanish or Latin American firms. With Spanish spoken in Europe, Central and South America and several Caribbean countries as well there being over 50 million Spanish speakers in the United States it is a language that is bound to come in handy from all walks of life.
While the rewards of learning Spanish are plentiful, it can be a very difficult language to learn, particularly when you are listening to Spanish. Spanish is a passionate and fast-paced language and, like any other language, it can be quite a challenge to understand when people speak fast. As well as its rapid pace, Spanish has a diverse range of accents and dialects which can cause added difficulty when trying to decipher the words.
It is true that the best way to improve your listening skills is to listen and converse with native speakers. However, the speed in which they talk can be a brain overload and lower your confidence, making you more reluctant to engage.
If you’re looking for ways to help you become an expert in listening to Spanish, so that you can converse like a native, then follow these four simple steps.
Spanish Listening Practice: Four Simple Steps To Becoming An Expert In Listening To Spanish
- Listen To Spanish Songs
While music is a universal language, it can be a great way of fine-tuning your ears to deciphering lyrics. So change your Spotify or other music database search to Spanish or Latin genres and enjoy the tune and the melody and get to know it. When you’re comfortable with the song, start to listen more carefully to the lyrics and see if you can translate. If you get stuck, many websites will have the lyrics available for you to read although try to work them out for yourself first.
Many popular artists like Shakira, Enrique Iglesias and Nelly Furtado have both Spanish and English versions of their songs, so this can be a great first step by listening to the Spanish version of a song you already know well. Often there is a slight change to the lyrics to make the song fit with the music, see if you can decipher any differences throughout the songs.
To start your journey into interpreting Spanish lyrics, choose songs that are slower to start with, so you have time to take in the words. Artists like Juanes or Chenoa are good for beginners as they have clear vocals on their tracks. Once you progress, look for artists that fit your musical tastes, like Calle 13 if you like reggaeton and funky beats or Ojos de Brujo who have more of a rock vibe.
- Watch The News In Spanish
Most people like to catch up with the news on a daily basis and watching the news in Spanish is an easy way to get your daily Spanish listening fix. To keep reinforcing your Spanish learning and make Spanish part of your life, establish a daily routine that involves a Spanish interaction. Watching the news, or even just the weather forecast is an easy habit to get into, particularly if you usually follow the news at a certain time, such as over breakfast or when you get home from work.
Listening to the news in Spanish is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the language and boost your listening skills. The news is ideal for beginners to the language as typically the news is clearly spoken and rarely uses regional dialect. New reports have easy sentence constructions involving easy to understand descriptions and statements. Watching the news can also help you to understand regional dialects through interviews.
There are many Spanish news channels available online, so practice by listening to an item and jotting down the important information from the story, you can then compare your findings with an English broadcast afterward to see how well you did.
- Change Your GPS Settings
The best way to practice your Spanish listening is to have it seamlessly in your life, and a great way to do this is through daily tasks such as using your Sat nav. Listening to a Spanish GPS will give you help in understanding numbers and directions. With GPS navigation, it is spoken in clear directional phrases and should be easy to decipher.
To start with, use your GPS with familiar places so that you can get accustomed to the commands in Spanish, after a while you’ll find you can navigate to new places relying solely on your Spanish listening skills.
- Watch Films In Spanish
Almost every DVD will offer language settings, so challenge yourself next time you settle down in front of the TV and put a movie on with Spanish audio. To make it easier, add Spanish subtitles, so you can help your understanding by reading the words as they are spoken.
Start with a film you’ve seen already but want to watch again and as your Spanish improves, venture into films you haven’t seen or heard about and when you’re ready, remove the subtitles entirely.
By following these four simple steps, you will quickly see your Spanish listening skills improve and your confidence will grow. These four simple steps will ensure you are ready to participate in active listening with Spanish speakers, by which that means not only listening to what they say but also asking questions and following up. If you can’t find any Spanish speakers to try out your new found listening skills with, then try learning street Spanish through an audio program. Gritty Spanish is a great Spanish learning program that uses entertaining dialogues spoken by native Latin Americans and Spaniards. A perfect way of getting to grips with Spanish in real-life situations, so you can fully prepare for your travels and business meetings.
This was a guest post by Eldon Mirjah, the creator of Gritty Spanish I and II, an audio program that helps improve your listening and reading comprehension in Spanish.
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