Listening Comprehension in Spanish
So, you know the grammar rules, you are the best in your Spanish class, your grades in Spanish are really high, you know a lot of vocabulary, but when it comes to understanding what someone is saying in Spanish, you don’t understand a thing!
This post is mostly for people who already know some Spanish and are looking for an answer to why they can’t understand this or that person when they speak in Spanish. Here you will find some suggestions you can follow to improve your listening comprehension when learning Spanish (or any other language)!
Here, some suggestions:
Consistency is Key.
You should practice everyday and train your ear at least ten minutes a day. Think of it like a workout routine or if you don’t like the gym, think of it as brushing your teeth: you have to do it every day.
Maybe one of the reasons your listening could be so poor is because you have paid more attention to improving or practicing other skills. You should definitely give as much time as listening as you are doing with other skills such as writing or reading, because, in the end, this is what you’ll mainly use to communicate.
Watch Videos with Subtitles in Spanish.
This is so you can make a connection between what you see and what you hear. Watch a video with subtitles and then remove them once you are familiar with the content of the video. Either if it’s a YouTube video or a movie, there are many resources nowadays readily available for you and almost always for free so you can improve your listening comprehension.
On YouTube, for example, sometimes the videos themselves don’t have the subtitles added to them but you can click on the CC (Closed Caption) option and sometimes you’ll find subtitles in the target language. Watch out though with Automatically Generated subtitles on this platform. They suck. You’ll recognize them because they say “Spanish (or whatever language) Generated”, so only go for subtitles that don’t have this word on them. Probably someone took their time transcribing those subtitles so check them out.
Listen to Different Levels of Audio Material.
What this means is that it would be good to go sometimes to more basic levels of language than what you already manage. This is to help you review and consolidate what you already know or what you are already learning.
This could be encouraging as well because as it won’t feel too intimidating to try and it is still within your comfort zone of language learning. You’ll feel that you’re improving and you’re using the language you learn.
Also, from time to time, try listening to audio material that is aimed at native speakers, like the news, the radio, podcasts, etc. This is not for you to try to understand everything they say, which could be discouraging, but simply to experience the sound of the language and get familiar with the phonemes, exclamations and intonations that also play an important role in communication.
Speak with native speakers (when possible).
It is good to learn to read, write, and make grammatically correct sentences, but if you never get to use your target language with a native speaker, chances are that you could miss important clues that would tell you about the conversation itself through intonation and other patterns that only native speakers have.
Also, if you never speak to a native speaker, when you first do you will probably be surprised how much training it will take you to get used to hear things you were not expecting like slang or expressions.