After spending quite a bit of time listening to Spanish podcasts, I felt quite fortunate to stumble across Ben and Marina’s Notes in Spanish site and podcasts. Surely you’ve all experienced the feeling of frustration during the language learning process. It’s one thing to learn from a book, but quite another when you’re in the world attempting to converse in Spanish and there are phrases or manners of saying phrases which you can’t quite grasp. In their podcasts, Ben and Marina converse about normal things occurring in Spain and in the world in general. This is a great substitute for real immersion because Ben and Marina are using common conversational phrases and conversing about real occurrences. There are audio podcasts for each level of Spanish from beginners to advanced and the podcasts can be listened to for free. There are many things that you can learn from the context of the conversations, but if you subscribe to Notes in Spanish you can download the transcript and use the worksheet to help you gain even more from the podcast. Below I will go into a little detail about how the site is organized and what it has to offer for each level of language learner.
For the Spanish newcomer the inspired beginners section is where it’s at. I recommend that you to start at the very first podcast and go through them all. The first audio podcast for beginners starts with Ben and Marina introducing themselves and explaining their backgrounds. They continue to explain the concept behind Notes in Spanish and how they hope to teach the things you might not learn in a textbook. They explain the usage of the verb gustar, phrases to help make small talk, and other basic phrases to get your Spanish “arsenal” up to date. In addition to being useful for beginners, others that already have an understanding of Spanish can benefit by listening and refreshing their memories. If you are a beginner or perhaps trying to get back into learning Spanish, it can be very motivating to know that Ben has been through everything you’re going through at the moment and is still learning new words and phrases.
Need some extra help? If you feel like the podcast is going just a bit too fast for you, you most definitely would benefit from having the transcript of the conversation right in front of you. You can then make notes to help you remember particular things from the podcast and continue to study it at a later time, with or without listening to the podcast. You can obtain the worksheets for the beginners’ podcasts here.
In the intermediate podcasts Ben and Marina have a regular conversation about what is occurring in Spain or what is occurring in their personal lives. They speak fairly slowly so that the listeners can understand and hear clearly every word they pronounce. At the end of the podcast Ben and Marina speak just a little bit about what they have talked about during their conversation. If you still feel like you’re not grasping enough of the information from the context of the conversation you can purchase the transcripts and worksheets on the website.
The advanced audio section is the highest level of Spanish that Notes in Spanish offers. In this section you will probably notice that Ben and Marina talk a bit faster than they did in the intermediate section. The advanced level is where Notes in Spanish started. Podcasts 1-34 are the original podcasts of Notes and Spanish. The first 34 audio recordings do not have accompanying worksheets or transcripts. If you have benefited or think you will benefit most from listening along with the transcripts then the transcripts can be purchased starting at podcast 35.
In addition to audio podcasts there is a lot of other useful information on the Notes in Spanish site. Go to the blog to see interesting videos and easy explanations of some of the most confusing things in the Spanish language. Learn how to use tricky verbs like dar and become an expert at the elusive subjunctive as well as many other helpful things.
Notes in Spanish Gold
Finally, Ben and Marina have recently launched Notes in Spanish Gold, a subscription based service where they offer new podcasts w/ transcripts on a weekly basis. One difference between these podcasts and the others that they offer is that at the end of each podcast they spend several minutes reviewing new phrases and slang. The podcasts tend to be a little longer than the normal podcasts (about 20 minutes).
If you like what you’ve seen on the Notes in Spanish website be sure to sign up for the free newsletter so you can keep up to date on all the new things occurring with Notes in Spanish.
Leah Budke is a college student currently working on obtaining bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Art Education at Fort Hays State University. She has always had an interest in languages and cultures and is continually expanding her knowledge of other ways of life. She has studied abroad in Italy and is planning to feed her travel bug by studying abroad in Spain. In addition to learning languages, studying cultures and traveling, Leah is passionate about human rights issues, environmental issues and animal rights. You can read more of her writings on her blog: www.futureexpat.wordpress.com.