As the owner of the Language Academy I get asked a lot about things people can do outside of class to practice their language skills. I have worked with and have seen other teachers work with all kinds of materials, some great and some not so great. I have a few old standbys but recently I have come across a couple of gems that have really surprised me. Here are 5 of my favorites:
1. EL PAIS – Let’s start with an old standby. I can hardly think of a better way to practice your Spanish than reading. EL PAIS is Spain’s version of the New York Times, which means they cover all kids of topics and the website is updated frequently. Are the articles difficult to read? Yes, they are, but you are also exposing yourself to rich and well written Spanish. I still read it every chance I get.
2. RADIO AMBULANTE – A few months ago someone told me about Radio Ambulante and my mind was blown. It’s an NPR podcast that is entirely in Spanish and it is really, and I mean really good. Think of it like This American Life but with stories from Latin America, and all in Spanish. Is the host hard to understand for non-native speakers? He is, but the stories are worth the extra effort. I recommend listening with headphones to enhance the experience.
3. CLUB OF CROWS – This is another recent discovery. An advanced class that I teach wanted something to watch so I went searching and found this show. It’s a Netflix series, in Spanish, about a fictional soccer club in Mexico, that is both hilarious and dramatic at the same time. Rarely have I come across an international television series that is this good – a few shows come to mind, but Club of Crows is pure gold. Be warned that there are adult themes, some nudity, and adult language in the series, but it is also very Latin and a joy to watch.
4. BEIN SPORTS – Do you like watching sports? I do. A couple of years ago I decided to join the cord cutters and get rid of cable. In order to watch my favorite sports, I signed up for SLING TV and pay and extra $5 per month for the Spanish package, which includes BEIN sports, the Spanish equivalent of ESPN. That’s means loads of soccer games in Spanish as well as things like Moto GP. As a bonus with the Spanish package you get Univision Deportes and NBC Universo, which broadcast Formula 1 and American football games in Spanish respectively.
5. OLÍMPICA STEREO – This is one of my all-time favorites. On a trip to Colombia o to visit some friends and their families, we discovered Olímpica Stereo. Imagine a radio station that everyone from age 8 to age 80 listens to, with great music and lots of fun banter too. They even have a free app so that you can listen on the go and you’ll need to pick the city of the station you want. My favorite? I am partial to Manizales because that where we spent the most time with our friends. I can almost taste the empanadas and aguardiente.
Craig Snyder is the Owner & President of the Language Academy of the Carolinas, Inc.