How to Learn Spanish by Consuming Media/Content

Hola, ¿cómo estás? Bienvenido de nuevo a mi blog. O bienvenido si acabas de encontrar mi blog.

Welcome back to another post. While I was thinking of what I wanted to right next I knew I wanted it to do with languages. If you read my #PathToPolyglotism post, then you know that I am learning languages. One of the languages is Spanish. I’d have to say that out of the languages I’m learning it’s my favorite. Sure, it may be partly due to the fact that I’ve been studying it for years so it’s not as much work or frustrating to learn. I’m looking at you, Russian.

However, I also love learning Spanish because it’s a beautiful language. It’s widely spoken, so it’s useful. Also, many of the places on my travel bucket list are Spanish speaking countries. Such as Spain, which I know in my heart I will love. One aspect of learning Spanish I’ve been focused on is listening. Yes, speaking a language is super important. But I’ve always struggled being able to understand people who were talking at a normal pace for them. Because it’s one thing to understand a video where someone is teaching Spanish, or your actual Spanish teacher. They’ll usually speak slower. That can give you a false sense of where your listening comprehension is.

If you’d like to learn how to consume media and content in Spanish (or whatever if your target language), keep reading.

Importance of Consuming Content

With Spanish in particular (because I’m too much of a newbie with Portuguese and Russian) I’ve been consuming a TON of content in Spanish. From Spanish-speaking Youtubers, to podcasts, to Netflix shows, Instagram influencers, you name it. I’m trying to normalize consuming Spanish language content. However, what I’ve come to realize is that uh… accents vary. Okay, I’m not just realizing this. But I am seeing how important it is to expose yourself to a wide array of accents. That not only means different people with different voices, talking styles, etc. It also includes people from varying countries.

Of course when you find a Youtube channel or influencer whose content you enjoy, it’s easy to begin bingewatching them. In fact, when I first discovered Paulina Galindos or “Pau” as she’s called, I binged so many of her vlogs. She was one of the first people I followed when I began taking the whole “consume Spanish media” concept more seriously. Little by little I found more people. But even then I found myself going back and forth between the same few people. I’m not saying this didn’t help me at all. It really did! I began learning new words and phrases and simply got better at listening as a whole. However, I couldn’t even say I was getting used to a Colombian accent, or Mexican, or Spanish, etc. I was getting used to those specific people.

Well, why is this a problem? Remember how I mentioned that your Spanish teachers can give you a false sense of how well you’re listening skills are? The same applies here. For instance, I really enjoy Mariebelle’s beauty channel. But she also speaks relatively slow and clear. This is not the same as many other people. Or, take Holly’s Youtube channel. She has nearly perfect diction (in both Spanish and English, how amazing is that?) in her vides. But, again, that’s not how you’ll hear people speaking day-to-day with friends, at the bar, on the streets.

I Thought It Was Becoming Easy. I Thought Wrong.

Recently I came across a Youtube channel called Misias Pero Viajeras. They are two young women who are good friends and travel the world and document it. With a focus on budget travel, they’ll at times choose affordability over convenience or comfort. This is right up my alley! The duo are from Peru so I was also excited to listen to a potentially differet accent as I don’t know of any other Peruvian content creators. I began watching their videos and I was so lost. Like, completely. At times I felt like I was a total beginner in Spanish and the years I spent studying never happened. Particularly, Daniela to me speaks extremely fast and it’s hard for me to keep up at times.

That’s when I realized that I’d be doing a disservice to myself and my language journey by not expanding my horizons. Because I got extremely frustrated. I thought, whatever I’m just going to unsubscribe and find someone I can understand better. Well, in real life I can’t just unsubscribe and remove myself from everyone and every situation. I’ll have to struggle, get frustrated, maybe feel stupid at times, in order to improve. It’ll be a challenge. But it’s a challenge I am accepting because I want to be fluent in Spanish. And if you’re serious about conquering a language, which I’m sure you are, you’ll want to understand a variety of people in a multitude of settings.

If you think about it, there are people who speak your native language that you could recognize would be hard for people to understand. I mean, people joke that they can’t understand half of what Ariana Grande or the 1975 say in their songs. By the way, they’re both amazing. Certainly there are people you know or have come across that you can understand perfectly, but you recognize speak quickly or pronounce words unusually. But because you’ve been exposed to many different forms of the language, albeit since birth likely, you still comprehend. Well, when learning Spanish (or any other language) I believe you should keep this in mind.

So What to Do?

I don’t have a mindblowing solution. You will have to purposely seek out content from a variety of sources. Yes, that’s a lot of work but learning a language is work. If you’re passionate about it, you should be willing to make the change and put in the extra effort. I began seeking out people from different backgrounds, nationalities, genders. This is a little challenging because there are some countries that seem to dominate such as Mexico and Spain. However, even if you can’t find a channel to subscribe to, you can find one-off videos from a country. Or you can try searching for TV shows/movies from a particular country.

Unforunately, besides Misias Pero Viajeras I haven’t found many channels outside of the Mexico-Spain-Colombia monopoly to subscribe to. Do you know of any? Let me know in the comments! Until then, I’ve been trying to find more people, even within the the big 3 países to at least get a variety of people. Even within a single country there are different accents! This has involved combing through many Youtube channels and recommended videos to find people I enjoy. I have had luck with this! Currently as I’m writing this about a third of the channels I’m subscribed to are in Spanish. Please note that I don’t typically subscribe to channels teaching a language (I have a post coming soon on the best Youtube channels to learn Spanish, so hold tight!). Plus, I don’t subscribe to every channel I watch.

Diversify Your Content

Once you’ve diversified the people you’re watching, it’s also beneficial to diversify the type of videos/media you’re consuming. Although I love travel videos, I don’t want to just watch Spanish content about travel. There are many benefits to expanding the content you’re viewing.

Build a Wider Vocabulary:

The biggest pro is that you’ll be building a stronger and wider bank of vocabulary. When I started watching beauty and skincare videos I learned a lot of word and phrases that I likely wouldn’t have learned watching a travel vlog:

  • El cuidado de la piel – Skincare
  • Me quita todo lo que tengo en la cara. – It removes everything that I have on my face.
  • Labial – Lipstick
    • Pintalabios” is another word for it, the word I learned. But through consuming content in Spanish I find “labial” is much more common.

I even learned fitness related words and phrases from fitness Instagramers or Youtubers:

  • Conexión mente-músculo – “Mind-muscle” connection
  • Calentar – to warm up.
    • I knew this one could be used for other things, but I didn’t know it could also apply to your body when you workout!
  • Ropa deportiva – Workout/athletic clothes

When I refer to consuming content I mean all types, not just Youtube. But watching Youtube taught me phrases and words I probably won’t hear listening to a podcast:

  • Bienvenido de nuevo a mi canal. (yup, the phrase from the beginning of this post!) – Welcome back to my channel.
  • Quita los comentarios. – Remove the comments.
  • Si quieren que suba mas vídeos en este canal, avisenme. – If you want me to upload more videos on this channel, let me know.

While you may not use certain phrases everyday, you are acquiring vocabulary and recognizing word structure. For me, I sometimes struggle with the verb “quitar” and I’ve began to grasp the concept better by hearing it used in various ways. Building your vocabulary base in extremely important when you don’t have the benefit of growing up around a language. So don’t limit yourself to only watching sketches or vlogs or makeup tutorials.

Huh, What Was That?:

Going along with my earlier point that some people talk at differet speeds, I notice this is true for different types of content. For instance, people typically talk quicker and less clear in vlogs no matter the language. Why? Because it’s their day-to-day life, around friends and family. They aren’t going to be thinking of speaking with perfect diction and grammar and at a tone that is easy to discern. Sometimes we mumble and stutter, etc. So while some people will cut that out or avoid it in their sit-down videos, vlogs are usually more carefree

Comedy:

Comedy also tends to be faster. I was attempting to listen to a Brazilian podcast that was based on pop-culture but also had a comedic flare. Welp, I couldn’t understand a word. Additional, I am trying to listen and understand stand-up comedians thanks to a tip from Youtuber Bilingue Blogs. He suggested listening to comedians because of their fast pace, slang, and the double meanings of words. If you can understand a joke in a foreign language, that’s a pretty good sign you have a good grasp on the language. This has proven to be a challenge for me and something I know I need to work on. I take Spanish lessons and my tutor had me listen to the video below during one of our lessons. I had to answer questions throughout and it was a challenge for me! Try listening to it and see how much you can watch out.

Language Exchange:

I previously wrote a post comparing two popular language exchange apps, HelloTalk and Tandem. But whichever app you use, you can find people from many different countries in your target language. For some apps you can specifically filter it to find people from a particular country. If the app includes a voice note or call/video feature, this can be another way to expose yourself to more people and accents. Additionally, you have the opprtunity to interact with a variety of voices, can ask questions about slang. There’s nothing to lose!

 

Thanks for Reading.

If you made it to the end of this post, thank you. I appreciate you reading the article and hope you found it informative and entertaining. If you’d like to continue keeping up with me subscribe to be added to the email list. Also, check out my Instagram and Youtube channel. If you’re more of a blog reader, keep checking back here because I update my blog weekly. Catch you next time!

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