NOTE: This is a paid review however we have included our honest observations and critiques of Gritty Spanish. Payment to create this review in no way affected the content of the review.
What is Gritty Spanish?
Gritty Spanish is an audio program for intermediate to advanced Spanish learners that will help you improve your listening and reading comprehension in Spanish. It features native speakers using the everyday language, words and expressions in conversations that you will actually hear on the streets.
What do you receive when you purchase Gritty Spanish?
Gritty Spanish is a downloadable program that includes:
• 31 Audio episodes in normal speed
• 31 Audio episodes in slower speed version
• 31 Side by Side PDF bilingual transcripts
• Kindle and PDF eBook versions (with instructions on how to use those files on your tablet or mobile device).
• A PDF about the voice characters which tells the country accents per episode
Here is a look of the folders and audio episodes:
Gritty Spanish Review
The core of the Gritty Spanish program is the 31 audio episodes that average 5 minutes long. The shortest episode is 2:49 minutes and the longest is 10:33 minutes in normal speed. The episodes were recorded by native actors from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Spain, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guatemala, and Honduras. These native speakers give students the experience of listening to a variety of native accents and phrases.
The stories featured in these episodes were written by Gritty Spanish’s creator Eldon Mirjah and are set in New York. The episodes include background sound effects and music that will help you imagine the scene.
One of the first things that will grab your attention is that the vocabulary in the episodes includes colloquial expressions as well as swear words and phrases. That is precisely what sets Gritty Spanish apart from other Spanish audio programs. It is not neutral textbook Spanish, it’s the Spanish that you will hear in the street among friends. You need to feel comfortable with this type of language in order to use Gritty Spanish.
The program includes the episode transcripts in three formats: Kindle, PDF for mobile devices and PDF Side by Side. The side by side bilingual transcripts in PDF are the best ones to use because the two-column format helps you follow and understand the dialogs better. Each transcript sheet starts with an English synopsis of the story to prepare you for what you’re about to hear. You can also use the synopsis to pick the stories that most interest you.
Take a look at this example of the first page of the Episode #2 PDF transcript:
Recommendations on how to use it
On a video interview we had with Eldon Mirjah, he recommends using Gritty Spanish like this:
1. Pick an episode. (Each episode is independent from the others so there is no set order).
2. Read the full PDF transcript. Pay attention to the words or phrases you don’t understand and look for the English translation in the right column.
3. After reading the transcript, listen to the slow audio version first. Keep listening to the slow version for a couple of times until you are comfortable with it. At some point, you may not need to follow the dialog with the PDF.
4. Try listening to the normal speed audios.
Gritty Spanish Audio Program Review
Gritty Spanish will help you improve your listening comprehension skills. If you are an intermediate or advanced Spanish learner, you can add Gritty Spanish to your arsenal, especially if you don’t have the opportunity to interact with Spanish speakers on a daily basis. Once you “graduate” from textbook Spanish, I believe it is a good tool to experience the “real world Spanish,” the one that you actually will hear on the streets of any Spanish speaking country.
I like that Gritty Spanish leaves out the “neutral Spanish” and that it exposes you to different Spanish accents (Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, etc.) and colloquial vocabulary. I think it is a nice way to expose you to the diverse Spanish accents and vocabulary.
This is not a traditional audio learning program, it is a tool specially focused on listening to native speakers. If you are looking to learn grammar, verb conjugations, etc. you will not find this here. Instead, Gritty Spanish will help you fine tune your ear with Spanish conversations at real speed, with real expressions, from real native speakers.
• Good variety of episodes
• Episodes are not too long
• Excellent audio quality
• Expose you to a variety of accents
• Side by side PDF transcripts
• Slow audio versions are a great added value
Things to improve:
• It would be great to have videos of the actors in the scenes
• Some people may not feel comfortable with the use of swear words in the stories.
• Exercises for each audio, for example, Cloze activities, vocabulary exercises, etc. would greatly improve Gritty Spanish
• It would be nice to identify colloquial Spanish words or expressions (for example: tío, pepitos, más lento que una melaza, hecha y derecha) in the PDF transcripts to learn how they are translated to English.
• This is a first step in helping people learn about the variety of Spanish accents that exist. A further step would be to create videos or even whole courses to learn about a specific accent and vocabulary, for instance, Dominican Spanish.
If you are looking to practice real-world Spanish comprehension, check out Gritty Spanish.
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