For those of us from the United States our first foray into foreign languages tends to be a high school Spanish class. As high school students we may or may not think to hard about “the type” of Spanish we are learning. It’s all the same, right? Well, sort of. Spanish grammar is pretty much the same anywhere, but just like the differences between British and American English, the accent is different and some words are just more common to say in Spain vs. Latin America. Take gracias (thank you), for example. I’m sure you pronounced it as grasias instead of grathias. That “th” sound is present in most parts of Spain and no it’s not a lisp. Wherever you are in your Spanish language journey, familiarizing yourself with different accents and vocabulary can help you communicate with ease.
Here are 7 of my favorite resources to fine tune your ear for European Spanish.
Coffee Break Spanish
Despite it’s name, I started listening to Coffee Break Spanish on my commute to work. The bite-sized lessons, no more than 20 minutes, really helped me review without even needing to open a book. But don’t worry if you are new to Spanish and need a little more hand-holding. The hosts, Mark and Kara, start with the basics, and as you learn Kara is learning Spanish right along with you. Another thing that makes this podcast so great is that Mark often makes note of the differences between Latin American Spanish and European Spanish as you go.
I will start off by saying that this podcast definitely is not for Spanish newbies. However, if you like to travel then this is the podcast for you! Each episode the hosts profile a different location around the world and discuss everything from the local cuisine to the top tourist attractions. You may not catch every word, but it sure is fun listening to a place you’ve been or want to go being described in Spanish.
This is the first Spanish show I ever binge-watched on Netflix. This drama has it all. A murder mystery, forbidden love, and gorgeous actors (who can actually act). Most soap operas tend to drag for me and I end up giving up around episode fifteen or so, but Gran Hotel did not disappoint. The show was so successful it was even recreated in Mexico and Egypt (not sure if those versions are as good as the original). I already got one friend hooked, so I’m confident you’ll like it too.
If you watch Gran Hotel, you’ll recognize a familiar face in Cable Girls, the actor Yon González. Hopefully, like me, you won’t mind seeing this handsome man’s face so soon. Cable Girls is Netflix’s first Spanish original series, and is one to watch for it’s message of female empowerment and friendship. Set in the 1920s Madrid, the show follows the lives of four women working at a telephone company. For Spanish beginners, this show is perfect because the subtitles closely match the spoken dialogue.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not really a gym person. I never wake up and say, “hey, I think i’ll go to the gym today.” My brain is more like “hey girl, the weather’s nice today. You should take yourself out for a run.” Aside from group classes, like yoga, you would never see me at the gym when it’s nice out. However, when winter rolls around most of my activity comes to a halt. The last thing I want to do is leave my warm bed and go outside in the cold. I’d rather rather be a blanket burrito. What’s a girl to do? Well with Gym Virtual on Youtube you have no excuse not to workout at home and learn Spanish. Gym Virtual has hundreds of fitness and health videos all in Spanish. Since I’ve found Gym Virtual my blanket burrito days have become far less frequent and my glúteos far more sore (cries in Spanish).
While the rest of the world was obsessed “Despacito” this past summer, I was listening to “Mala Mujer” by rapper C. Tangana. When I first heard this song you could have told me that this guy is from Colombia and I probably would have believed you. It wasn’t until I listened to the song for the second time and paid attention to how he pronounced veces that I decided to look up where he is from (Madrid in case you are wondering). He is already being compared to Colombian artists like J. Balvin and Maluma and that’s not a bad thing.
Another talent from Spain, by way of the Andalusia region, is Abraham Mateo. You may already know him. Only nineteen, this singer songwriter has collaborated with dozens of artists like Farrruko and CNCO. His latest collaboration is with Pitbull on Pitbull’s new single Jungle” featuring E-40. Mateo’s accent is not as strong as say C. Tangana’s when singing, but look up some interviews and you can hear the difference. Like America, there isn’t one accent in Spain, so it’s good to familiarize yourself with some different ones.
I know the article title says 7 resources for learning European Spanish, but I couldn’t finish without mentioning Memrise. Memrise has complete courses for European Spanish and Mexican Spanish. I finished the Spanish (Spain) course in a couple months and it really helped me learn a lot of vocabulary more commonly used in Spain. Try it! Memrise is available on Desktop, iOS, and android.
Do you know any other podcasts, YouTube channels, or websites to learn Spanish? Let us know and leave a comment.
Jalena is a traveler first, design enthusiast second, and a wine connoisseur last. And by connoisseur, she means she sometimes swirls the glass. You can find her living the nomad life between Asia and Europe, and hopefully one day Latin America.