My free Spanish podcasts & TV
I cannot imagine trying to learn Spanish before the internet existed. When I was still living in the UK, I had never heard of intercambios and I did not have cable TV so finding a source of Spanish to listen to was tricky. Then along came free Spanish podcasts, internet streaming radio and TV from all around the world. These days a multitude of programs is available to us, covering many different subjects in the Spanish language, and there is no excuse not to be regularly listening to something. I am a bit of a news freak so most days I listen to the free BBC Mundo podcasts in Spanish. Five days a week they put out a 15 minute summary of 4 or 5 news stories from around the world. There is a heavy South American focus and most of the journalists are from Latin America but, although I am learning mainland Castillian Spanish, I find it good to hear a variety of accents. UPDATE: This has now changed format to a once a week podcast on Thursdays. The first one comes out tomorrow so we shall see if it is longer or more in depth.
There is a good science program on Spanish TV hosted by Eduard Punset, called Redes. Each episode is available as a TV podcast on iTunes as well.
I also watch the main TV channel here in Spain, La 1, and also the local Catalan station TV3. Living in Barcelona I must at least be able to understand Catalan, but I have to be honest, I did not expect to be learning two languages when I started planning my move to Spain 5 years ago.
One tip for using these podcasts and programs for learning, if you are finding them too fast to understand, is to slow them down a bit using a playback application. I have Intervideo WinDVD installed which works OK for me. There may be better ones out there these days. I usually find that just slowing things down by 10% or so gives my brain a chance to follow along.
If you follow any good free Spanish podcasts, please let me know in the comments. I wear my iPod at work every day, and that learning opportunity cannot be wasted.