Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I am Amazed

We were given Task #7 for our Web 2.0 training. The task was to listen to a podcast and answer some questions. I've started back to my Spanish lessons again, so I thought I'd go back to a series of podcasts I listened to in 2008, called Coffee Break Spanish, to see if I had progressed any.

It was nice to hear the cheesy theme music again, and to be suitably impressed by the ability of the host, Mark, to switch from a fairly pronounced Scottish accent to what is, to my ear, a pretty good castellano accent. Unfortunately, his sidekick, Kara, who has a hopeless ear for language and makes other learners feel comfy thereby, wasn't present on the episode I chose so I didn't get to remake our acquaintance. I chose Lesson 50, because I knew I had progressed a little since the old days. To my astonishment, I'd improved to the extent that the progress of the podcast lesson was painfully slow, so I went in search of a more appropriate level of instruction.

I Googled "intermediate Spanish podcast", and came up with a site called Learnoutloud.com. They had SSL4YOU, EspanolSegunda Lengua para Todos (Spanish as a Second Language for Everyone). I listened to a podcast called Crazy Weather, and whereas once I would have been completely lost, now I could get one phrase in five. However, I realized that I was out of my depth when I realized that the screen I was staring at while I listened through the headphones was a transcription of what I was listening to. I didn't realize that until half way through the podcast. Sigh.

Now I was on the hunt for something that was not too easy, not too hard, but juuusstt right! I finally found what I was looking for at DiscoverSpanish.com where I listened to and participated in a lesson, featuring Johnny Spanish and Cristina from Miami on asking for things in a restaurant. Although the lesson was fairly easy, it required me to construct sentences based on the theme of the lesson. That's just where I'm at! Reading and writing are getting easier. Listening is OK, if the accent is something I'm familiar with, but actually having to open my mouth and speak extemporaneously is still a challenge.

I enjoyed my little foray into the world of language instruction podcasts. Some were little mini-stories, others were expositions of word usage, like CBC's "C'est La Vie"--one of my favourite radio programs ever. Lots of them were tied into language learning systems, and used the podcast as a "hook".

Only some of these podcasts could be used in-library, since many of them require you to speak aloud. That could be a bit of a disruption. But for highschool students struggling with the subjunctive mood or for travellers looking for some phrases to take south with them, these are great resources; especially if all of our language instruction materials are out!

Hasta la vista, baby!


  1. An old hand at podcasts eh? Good work.

  2. What a thoughtful post. You have me convinced to stop procrastinating and learn Spanish this way. Thanks for sharing!