Your commute to and from work or school is the perfect time to brush up on your Spanish — or any other language you’re studying! Here, New York, NY tutor Lauren P. shares six tools to help…
Are you new to learning Spanish or want to brush up on what you’ve learned already, but can’t seem to find the time to practice or study? Stop using that as an excuse! Use these six tools to learn Spanish in the car or on public transportation during your commute.
(Plus, each of these tips also works for other language learners — so whether you’re learning Spanish, French, German, or something else, we’ve got you covered.)
Search your podcast app for free podcasts focused on learning your target language. For Spanish learners, I recommend SpanishPod101. The engaging and culturally relevant podcast is made specifically to teach beginner and intermediate Spanish. Over 300,000 podcasts have been recorded and can be listened to on your phone or mp3 player.
For an engaging plot line, get hooked on the Destinos Spanish soap opera series provided through Annenberg Learner. Similarly, BBC’s mystery series “Mi Vida Loca” targets beginner Spanish speakers. Whether you listen to instructional lessons, enticing mysteries, or pop culture Spanish podcasts, you will be flooding your brain with contextualized Spanish and building your language skills.
2. News Sites
In addition to following the news in English, find a local news station or newspaper in your target language. If you are familiar with daily news topics in English, you will be able to recognize names of culturally and politically relevant people and places. By already knowing the main concepts surrounding key people, events, and topics, you will slowly be able to translate specific words.
Having trouble finding Spanish radio stations? The BBC and CNN are available in Spanish here or here. Try listening to video clips or print articles ahead of time to read during your commute alongside the English articles.
What is a better memory tool than music? If listening to the news is too tedious for your morning commute, sing along to a Spanish radio station. The good thing about music is that lyrics repeat the same words and phrases. Many songs, regardless of language or genre, share common topics and themes. As those hit songs play again and again, you may find yourself inferring the meaning of those loving adjectives and verbs.
Listening to audiobooks is a soothing and educational way to enjoy your commute. Make the most of your audiobook experience by downloading a book you are already familiar with in English. If you know the story of “The Giver” or “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, you will pick up on vocabulary words quickly as the plot unfolds.
Better yet, download an entire series of books! With familiar characters and settings, you will expose yourself to more words in less time. You can easily find audiobooks in other languages, including Spanish, at Audible.com. If you commute via public transportation, you can use the same strategy with hard copy books.
5. Free iTunes Downloads
You can find a wealth of free lessons, audio clips, podcasts, and radio shows to stream or download from iTunes. For example, “Coffee Break Spanish” is a podcast series ranging between 15 to 30 minutes, designed to help you learn Spanish in the car as you drive.
For shorter clips, search for “Five-Minute Spanish” to download 36 free five-minute Spanish lessons from the University of Arkansas. Similarly, “Discover Spanish” offers 44 free 15-minute lessons. “One-Minute Spanish” and “One-Minute Latin American Spanish” will each get you 17 audio clips to learn on the go. If you’d rather listen to conversational Spanish , check out the free clips from “Notes in Spanish”.
Finally, you can download a free Spanish textbook by searching “Español I” by David Vance. This requires iBook software and is obviously more appropriate for public transportation commuters, not drivers!
6. Language-Learning Apps
If you are a public transportation commuter, try using a fun language-learning app or game while you’re in transit! Whether you want to learn and practice new vocabulary words, complete grammar drills, or watch videos in your target language, there are tons of great apps to choose from. Here are some more tips for learning languages with your smartphone, including recommended apps.
Editor’s Note: See our other Spanish app recommendations here!
Even though it is difficult to commit to second language acquisition, it’s easy to make the most of your time with these six tools to learn Spanish in the car during your commute — or any other language, really!
Of course, these should supplement the time you’re spending each week with your private tutor. And with many tutors offering lessons via online platforms, it’s easier than ever to find a teacher who fits with your schedule. Book some lessons, practice during your commute, and you’ll be speaking Spanish in no time.
Not signed up for lessons yet? Find a Spanish tutor in your area here!
Lauren tutors various subjects in New York, NY. She has her Master’s Degree in Education (with a concentration in students with learning disabilities), and is a certified NYC Special Education teacher. Learn more about Lauren here!
Photo by Chris Goldberg