When learning Spanish, working on and improving your listening skills is very important for your communication. After all, if you don’t understand what someone says, you won’t be able to keep a conversation going.
According to some research, for many Spanish learners listening and understanding is one of the biggest challenges they have to deal with. For that reason, we’ve compiled 7 tips and activities you can do to improve your listening skills in Spanish.
All of these activities are easy to do and you can combine them if you want. By the end of this, you’ll have different ideas and tactics on how to train your hearing and have a better understanding of Spanish conversations.
1. Practice with Spanish listening exercises
If you’re wondering how to improve your listening skills in Spanish, one of the best things you can do is practice with recordings and listening exercises. For these types of activities, you don’t need to have a book or a cd player. In fact, there are many resources online that you can use for this purpose.
The advantage of using recordings is that you can look for conversations appropriate for your Spanish level. Additionally, these exercises are based on daily-life situations, as a result, you will be in touch with popular vocabulary, grammar and expressions.
Activities you can do with listening exercises:
Even though just listening to these types of exercises is useful, you should try to push yourself. Here are some suggestions you can try:
- Pick up new words and expressions
- Find exercises where they test your understanding
- Follow the conversation as much as you can without using subtitles or transcriptions
- If you don’t understand some words, try to infer the meaning based on the context
If you don’t know where to start, on this website you’ll find a huge collection of videos of Spanish native speakers talking about different and daily-life topics. You can sort by your Spanish level or by the accent you want to practice.
Just remember: before jumping to the transcription, try to follow the video by yourself 😉
2. Add Spanish songs to your playlist
When learning a new language, one of the easiest and funniest ways to practice listening is through music. As a result, you may want to include a few Spanish songs to your playlist. Songs are not conversations, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot be useful for learning and practicing Spanish.
In fact, songs are rich in words, verbs, grammar structures and expressions that Spanish speakers use on a daily basis. And if you’re not very shy, you can sing along and improve your own pronunciation.
When it comes to songs, it may be difficult for you to find songs that match your Spanish level. What you can do is search for singers from different Spanish speaking countries. That way you will be more exposed to different vocabulary and accent which can help you to strengthen your Spanish listening skills.
3. Watch movies and tv shows in Spanish
Most Spanish learners struggle with listening to native speakers in conversations. However, an easy way to tackle this issue and improve your listening skills is to watch movies and tv shows in Spanish. Fortunately, nowadays there are different platforms and options that you can use for this activity.
One of the main advantages of using movies and tv shows to improve your Spanish listening is that, even though they may be fictional, they will all have conversations with common, current, and useful vocabulary. Additionally, you can choose content from a specific Spanish country, that way, you’ll practice the accent and vocabulary you need.
Piece of advice: if you’re just starting with Spanish, it’s recommended that you watch movies or tv shows with subtitles in your language. That way you can follow the story while you get familiar with the Spanish pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and speed.
4. Find a conversation partner
Many Spanish learners wonder how to improve listening skills in Spanish. And one of the best ways to do it is to have a conversation partner. On top of practicing your speaking, having a conversation with someone will force you to listen to what they’re saying and answering accordingly.
For this situation, you can try to find another Spanish learner or a native speaker to have a language exchange. Keep in mind that the goal of this activity is to work and improve your listening skills, so make the most of it and avoid using your mother tongue during your session.
Activities you can do to improve your listening skills with a conversation partner:
- Set a topic or situation that you’re interested in (it can be a political issue or practical activity such as being a tourist in a Spanish speaking country).
- Make a list of words or expressions that you don’t understand and check them with your conversation partner.
- Ask your partner to speak Spanish as much as possible.
- Catch new vocabulary.
- Rephrase what your partner said and make sure you understood what he/she said.
- Ask questions based on your conversation partner’s opinions.
The advantage of using this activity as a way to work on your listening, it’s that you will be in touch with current vocabulary and you can actually see (or listen?) how tenses, grammar structures and expressions are being used in a regular conversation.
5. Practice with different speakers
When working on your Spanish listening skills, one of the most difficult things for learners is to be able to understand different Spanish speakers. Even though they all speak Spanish, each person has their own speed, accent, pronunciation, set of vocabulary and use of slang.
So if you really want to improve your Spanish listening skills, you need to practice with different speakers. That way you’ll be exposed to different speeds and accents which will help you strengthen your listening skills and push yourself harder.
Activities you can do to improve your listening skills with different Spanish speakers:
- Pay attention to their accent and vocabulary.
- Challenge yourself: if you have trouble understanding a person, push yourself, and practice with her/him as much as possible.
- Find speakers of different ages and countries.
- Establish a conversation topic that you’re interested in.
- Rephrase what you hear to make sure you understand them correctly.
- Pay attention to pronunciation and new vocabulary.
6. Be consistent and use the right content for you
Just like any other aspect of Spanish, in order to get better with your listening skills, you need to commit and practice in a consistent way. The best thing you can do is to set a specific time of the day to practice your listening skills.
Many people see listening activities as a passive task. And in some cases, it’s nice to have Spanish in the background when you’re doing some light task. However, it’s also recommended that you focus on your practice and you try to learn as much as possible.
Additionally, when looking for resources or exercises, try to find content appropriate for your level. The idea is that you shouldn’t get discouraged because you didn’t use the best resources for you. Here are some suggestions for Spanish beginners:
- Choose short videos
- Add subtitles or follow the transcriptions
- Repeat a conversation as many times as necessary
- Look for small Spanish conversations
- If using songs, read the lyrics and try to follow the song
7. Listen to audio courses or podcasts
Another common way to improve your listening Spanish skills is to listen to podcasts in this language or to find an audio course for your level. The advantage of choosing an audio course is that you can follow the lessons and you’ll be practicing your listening, understanding and speaking skills. As a result, this option can be more suitable for Spanish beginners.
If you already have some Spanish foundations, then, you can opt to listen to podcasts in Spanish. Fortunately, nowadays there are different options available to find podcasts on topics you may like.
Activities you can do to improve your listening skills with podcasts and audio courses:
- Identify new words and expressions that you can add to your vocabulary.
- Pause and repeat the podcast as much as needed so you understand the topic and the conversation.
- Pay attention to the pronunciation and try to repeat it (especially useful for audio courses).
- Write down common expressions that you can include in your conversations.
- Identify common types of words, such as greetings and farewells.
Improving your listening skills in Spanish will allow you to have better communication with other speakers. Since listening is one of the main foundations in any language, on this list, we’ve included some activities and advice that you can follow in order to improve your listening skills in Spanish.
Make sure you find the best resources for yourself and take the time to practice! Before you know it, you’ll have better-listening skills. Good luck! 😉