Learning Spanish: Tips and Recommendations

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Using an app or going to classes? Looking for a Hispanic boyfriend/girlfriend or moving to a Spanish-speaking country? If you want to learn or improve your Spanish, but you don’t want the same old tips or tools, this post is the perfect place to start.

Reading is fundamental

Many students ask me how they can broaden their vocabulary or keep improving their Spanish. The answer is very simple: by reading books in Spanish. This doesn’t mean you have to go and read Don Quixote or the latest novel by that famous Hispanic author you’ve heard about in the office. No. Reading is ideal for learning new words and expressions, for fixing how certain grammatical structures or lexical combinations are used, and for learning about topics that may not come up naturally in a Spanish class. However, it’s important to know how to choose the right book for your level and how to tackle your first reading in Spanish.

Beginner and basic level learners (A1-A2)

Graded readings. Don’t try to read books for children. Children’s books are not as easy as you might think. Keep in mind that these are books which have the content adapted to children, but not the grammar and sometimes not even the vocabulary: they are meant for native speakers after all and they do not need it. The graded readings, although they may sometimes contain some content that is a little more complex than the level in question, work very well. They are short stories, with the content adapted to the level you need and with exercises at the end to practise reading comprehension and vocabulary. In many cases they also come with an audiobook version. Two resources for the price of one!

A book series for A1 students where each book is set in a different city: Barcelona, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Havana… 

A mystery and detective series with each book being a different case.

Lecturas en español

These are different kinds of stories where you have a handy glossary on the side of the page with the words and expressions that can be more tricky. Here is the link for A1 and A2 options.

The Instituto Cervantes also offers free readings on its website. Just click on this link and select one of the books displayed. Click on the book you want to read. You have resources for pre-reading the text, the text, a glossary and post-reading exercises.

Intermediate and advanced learners (B1-B2)

Now is definitely the time to start reading books in Spanish. At these levels, children’s books can be a good option, you can turn to Roald Dahl’s books in Spanish or you can look at the options in the 10-12 years series from the popular Barco de Vapor. You can also start reading some novels or short story books, journalistic texts, blog posts, etc. What you should keep in mind is the following: you don’t have to understand 100% of the words, the important thing is that you can understand the content and figure out what you don’t know from the context. If there are 10-25 new words on a page or in a chapter, don’t get frustrated. The first thing to do is to see if you understand what they mean from the context, if you do you don’t need to look up the word at that point but if the word makes it difficult or impossible to understand what you are reading, then you do need to look it up before you go on. From all the new words you encounter, it is only recommended that you look up and try to learn a manageable list, be realistic. It is not possible to learn 60 new words every day, but maybe 5-10 will do. If you have too much trouble understanding what you read and need to use the dictionary all the time, don’t worry, you just need to go back to graded readings and have a bit of patience: learning a language is a long-distance race, not a sprint.

C1-C2 learners

At this level you should be able to read almost any book in Spanish. If you want recommendations or ideas to get you started, here is our post about 10 recommended readings from different Hispanic authors and very diverse genres. You’ll surely find something just perfect for you.

Listening: the key to a good pronunciation

Listening exercises are a very good method to check not only our listening comprehension, but also that our pronunciation is correct. The first rule is that if you learn to mispronounce a sound or a word in another language, when you hear it you will not recognise it. Listen and repeat what you hear. Record yourself and check that your pronunciation is correct.


A convenient way to keep practising Spanish on your way home or to school. There are numerous podcasts for learning Spanish, but this is our selection for you.

Let’s Speak Spanish: the podcast (A1-B2)

Yes, we’ve put ourselves at the top of the list, but only because our podcast offers you content tailored to different levels of Spanish and your interests: grammar and vocabulary, classic stories, Hispanic culture and traditions, science and music in Spanish. There really is something for everyone.

ProfeDeELE.es: the podcast (A1-B2)

You have probably visited their website or used some of their resources in class, but… did you know that they also have podcasts? You can listen to them on their youtube channel and they last between 8 to 15 minutes. They are ideal for learning a bit of everything, because they cover different and random topics: the most curious hotels, globalisation, friendship, etc.
They also have another series of podcasts perfect for travellers and for those who want to listen to different accents and discover the history of different Hispanic places: Trotamundos

If you want more recommendations, here is a list of the 17 best podcasts to learn Spanish.

B2-C2 learners

For B2-C2 learners, we recommend starting to listen to podcasts and follow youtube channels that deal with topics you are familiar with, related to your profession, for example, or your interests. In this way it will be easier for you to listen to something in Spanish and become part of your routine and not lose motivation. In addition, these are the topics on which you will need the most vocabulary to communicate in Spanish with the same fluency as in your own language.


In web or app version it is a perfect tool for people who like listening to music in Spanish. What better way to practice listening comprehension than with your favourite songs? It is a traditional “fill-in-the-gaps” exercise, but with songs, trailers and movie scenes. You decide what kind of challenge you want: beginner (complete 10% of the words), intermediate (25%), advanced (50%) or expert (100%). You can browse by artist, topic or music genre.

Movies and TV shows


On youtube and completely free is available a miniseries for Spanish learners: Extra. It follows the story of two flatmates: Lola and Ana, their neighbour: Pablo, and an old pen pal of Lola’s: Sam. Sam, who comes from the United States to spend some time in Lola and Ana’s home, will encounter many difficulties due to his poor level of Spanish. 

Radio Televisión Pública Española

Radio Televisión Española (RTVE), the Spanish BBC,  offers the possibility to watch subtitled content and even change the playback speed of the video. If you need some ideas, here are some recommendations.

TV show that follows the life and cases of a detective who has to balance her complicated personal life with her professional life. There are 3 full seasons and 3 specials available.

If you not only want to practise your Spanish but also learn more about the history of Spain, we have the perfect show for you. It is about a secret Ministry of the Spanish government in which there are portals that will take you to any historical period and the mission of its employees, including some historical characters, is to ensure that history is not altered.

Speak, please!

Although we’ve been telling you how important it is to read and listen the language, it’s no use if you don’t have the opportunity to put everything you’ve learned into practice in a real situation: a conversation. If you have other friends who are learning Spanish, it’s not a bad idea to try to get together for a board game session in Spanish or just to chat in Spanish for a while. However, keep in mind that if they are not Hispanic either, they could make the same or other mistakes that they won’t be able to spot and correct. This practice is ideal for losing the fear of speaking Spanish and making mistakes.

Language exchange

Wherever you’re from, there’s probably a Hispanic community in or near your area, so why not find someone who wants to improve or perfect your language, while you do the same with your Spanish?
If you don’t feel like or can’t do it in person, there are plenty of online options, where you can select the person (gender, age, nationality, city, interests…) and the level of contact you want (audio messages, video calls or meeting in person). Here you have a few of the most popular apps/platforms for language exchanges: HelloTalk, Tandem, MyLanguageExchange, ConversationExchange.

Learning apps

Apps are not the best answer, but they are not the enemy either. The problem with many apps like Duolingo is that they don’t prepare you for a real life scenario and give you a false sense of fluency in a language that you don’t really have. On the other hand, the grammar is not always well organised, the vocabulary can be repetitive and impractical, and those that allow you to practice pronunciation are not very reliable.

On the other hand, if you just want to get an idea of what a language sounds or looks like, an app is a good option. If you are someone who needs a base before starting a course or you don’t want to show up the first day in a Spanish class without knowing how to say anything, it’s perfect for that. Also for people who want to refresh their knowledge or practice just a few minutes a day in a quick way and with immediate feedback.

Take some lessons

It doesn’t really matter if you don’t have the time to join a school and go there every week, you can always take online lessons with a private teacher. Private lessons are the best idea for busy people or for those who prefer a more tailored learning experience. If you’re looking for a good option why not take a look at all the things Let’s Speak Spanish has to help you in your journey to Spanish fluency?

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