How to Improve Spanish Listening – 4 Ways I Did It!


If you are learning Spanish and hoping to become more fluent in the language you are probably wondering how to improve your Spanish listening skills.

It’s not that difficult at all and there are simple ways that you can do this consistently over time, and in a short space of time mind you. You just have to want to do it and make the commitment. What is your incentive for improving your Spanish listening skills? If you can find an incentive beyond just trying to become fluent in the language, then that will serve as your inspiration for this part.

When I wanted to improve my skills in high school, it was so I could pass Spanish A-Level and get a good grade. And I can assure you that when I first started A-Level, there was no way that I was going to get a good grade with the type of marks I was getting in Spanish listening comprehension. I sucked at it DAB Radio Spain.

My Spanish listening skills were as bad as if not worse than my French listening skills. And I was good at Spanish because up until that time I had always followed Spanish beginners and intermediate courses outside of class because I wanted to learn to SPEAK the language. And I became very good at speaking Spanish with the accent and everything. But it was still beginner/intermediate level.

Let’s face it, when you are learning a language in school and its teaching is based on reading and writing the language but not on speaking and listening so that you can achieve fluency in the language, you’ll have a serious problem when it comes to communicating smoothly and easily in the language at advanced level and with native speakers who speak naturally and seemingly, very quickly.

Have you ever listened to some of those Latin American radio stations where it sounds like the speakers never stop to take a breath?

But somewhere in the midst of what you are hearing are Spanish words that you are supposed to recognise since you’ve been learning Spanish for a while… but somehow you are getting…NOTHING, not a shred of meaning because you can’t UNDERSTAND ANYTHING!

Just a tad depressing, right?

Yep, it was for me too! And I haven’t even started talking about the speed of the Spanish yet! It was like the speakers were trying to compete with Formula 1 cars and WINNING!

I, on the other hand, was LOSING.

So clearly, I had to come up with a plan to improve my Spanish listening skills. I figured I had to do more listening, structured and unstructured.

Here’s what I did!

Listen actively

Choose a dialogue from your Spanish course. This is your base for authentic Spanish now that is accessible in terms of speed and vocabulary. As you listen, you are listening for individual words and how those words fit into the context of the dialogue you are hearing. Of course, you make a note of the vocabulary that is new to you. Listen as many times as you need to within a 15 minute period at most. Answer any questions given at the end of the text correctly.

Listen passively

There are two ways to do this. Sit, turn on the radio and listen without doing anything and just allow the Spanish to flow over you. Just listen, NOT to individual words, but to the syllables you hear or rather to the intonation of the Spanish. I guarantee that things become a lot clearer.

The second way is by having Spanish play in the background as you are doing chores or driving or whatever else. Could be music from a Spanish speaking country or Spanish news. It has to be natural, fluent, flowing, authentic Spanish dialogue.

Listen and repeat

Listen to a Spanish dialogue from your Spanish course. Listen and repeat what you hear as you hear it. So you listen and then pause the CD or your media player. You repeat using the same intonation and accent to improve your fluency. It also helps with listening as you are training yourself to be more familiar with the accent as you yourself are speaking it. So when you hear it, your brain is has already been triggered to pick up certain intonation patterns which makes understanding the language easier.

Listen and shadow

Listen to Spanish radio interviews. Shadow the presenters and guests. You repeat what you hear at the same time, in real time so there is no option to pause or stop. You repeat what they say with the same intonation and accent. You are doing this for the same reason I gave in Point 3 above.

Please remember that with each of these tips you are only doing about 10-15 minutes at a time. You do NOT need to listen for any longer than that because then the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

Your Spanish listening skills should improve in no time!

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