Listening to Spanish

ClayA2Kwiziq community member

Listening to Spanish

I'm almost 2 years into learning Spanish and I get lost after hearing a couple of words if I close my eyes.  I watch shows and listen to Spanish podcast, and my ear for Spanish has not developed at all.  What could I possible do to change this?

Asked 3 years ago
ClaraC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Hi Clay,

Some things that may help you:

Firstly, don't forget that here on Kwiziq there are lots of articles and stories read by our wonderful teacher Inma. As you listen to these articles, the Spanish text is there for you so that you can read whilst listening. When you hover over the sentences, you'll see everything translated into English for you with links to grammar etc. Start by just doing all the A1 levels. Listen and read at the same time. Then practise listening without the text.

Additionally, something that I have found really helpful and has vastly improved my listening skills is the following:

On Netflix or YouTube, TED Talks or whatever medium available to me, I choose a film or programme that I am very familiar with in English. In my case, English is my first language. So, whatever your mother- tongue is make sure that you initially choose something you know well in your first language. On Netflix there is the option to change the language to Spanish. So initially I watch e.g. a film in Spanish with English subtitles. Sometimes I watch the film in English with Spanish subtitles. Then I watch the same film in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. When I start to feel that I'm following and understanding the Spanish more easily, I then watch the film in Spanish without any subtitles. I continue doing this until I know the film really well in Spanish. I do this all the time and as I said it has really helped me.

As you start to feel more confident you'll be able to watch films & programmes that you're unfamiliar with and ones that have only been produced in Spain or Spanish speaking countries.
Just keep rotating the subtitles as I've explained.

TED Talks ( also has the option to use Spanish and English subtitles for many of it's talks. I'm not sure if they offer subtitles in other languages but it's likely that they do.

I also find that reading written Spanish helps my listening skills. When you see the 'written word' it helps you to make better sense of words and sentence structures when later listening to Spanish.

So, another thing I do... I buy (or use what I already have at home) copies of books that I know well in English that have been translated into Spanish. I read the English version first, then the Spanish. Of course there are also books originally written in Spanish that have been written in other languages. One of my favourite Spanish authors is Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Another great Spanish speaking author is Isabel Allende. I have both the English and Spanish versions of these author's books. I also listen to their books being read on Audible.

One final thing, if you have access to YouTube, watch childrens programmes in Spanish. This way you'll be listening to a more basic level of Spanish which will help to strengthen and build your listening skills for later more complex Spanish.

Sorry for this extremely long reply but I get excited about sharing what's worked for me.

I hope this helps a little.

Clara :)

MarshaC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

For me it was increasing my vocabulary and listening to Spanish every single day.

DeniseB1Kwiziq community member

It has taken me 7 or 8 years to hear words in the middle of the conversation.  In the beginning I could understand the first word and the last word said.  Then subsequent years, I could hear and understand 1 or 2 more words.  I was so happy.  You can't stop with continued listening and vocabulary develpoment you will begin to hear it all!

ClaraC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I love what you've shared here Denise... 

As you say, it's such an amazing & gratifying feeling when you start to hear full sentences in Spanish! Such a beautiful language. 

You're absolutely right, increasing vocabulary and listening constantly. When my daughter was at school I used to insist that she learn 5 new French words a day, haha. It paid off though and she got top grades in her French exams. :))

SherryA2Kwiziq community member

I have started to listen to more podcasts. El Oso Latino Habla Español is one that has helped. Also Story Learning Spanish. 

GarryA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Clay - We all get that! The remedial key is these great read-along audio stories. First time through, listen (eyes closed or open) and just let your mind skip over unrecognized words. Next, scan through the text for unfamiliar words and click to see the translation. Then for the second time , read along with the audio. If you get lost, stop the audio, read from the start up to where you got lost making sure you now understand the vocab and start the audio from just before where you got lost. Usually after three audio shots the story makes sense and your vocab and comprehension improves progressively. Good luck!

And thanks to Lawless for the great material!

RachelleA2Kwiziq community member

Keep trying!!! Practise practise. Everyone is different as each brain is different. It'll come over time. Don't be too hard on yourself.

CA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

The best way to learn is to get yourself a Spanish or Latin American girlfriend (or boyfriend)!  Or if you're married, a friend or friends that you can hang out with.  (Some people in my town join the mostly Spanish-speaking soccer players after work.)  Try to spend some time in a Spanish-speaking country if at all possible.  Many places now offer schools where you can spend a week or two of your vacation studying Spanish part of the day.

GarryA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I'd guess your vowel pronunciation might be the problem. Unless your brain recognized the vowels correctly,, it can't recognize the words that contain them. If some of you A's sound as in car and some as in cat and your E's, some sound as in egg and some as in day, same thing. Perfect your Spanish vowel pronunciation, get rid of your mother tongue pronunciation and things will improve dramatically. The key is the vowels  . . .

Listening to Spanish

I'm almost 2 years into learning Spanish and I get lost after hearing a couple of words if I close my eyes.  I watch shows and listen to Spanish podcast, and my ear for Spanish has not developed at all.  What could I possible do to change this?

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