Learning Spanish – Creating An Immersion Learning Environment Part 2

Now in my previous post on how to create an immersion learning environment, I waxed lyrical about a lot of things.

  • How having too much choice means we make no choice at all.
  • I am still faced with lots of things getting in the way of me really starting to learn Spanish.
  • That immersing myself as much as I can in the language will really help me
  • How the Internet is going to be my friend
  • And that I have a plan.

Here is my Initial Plan

Just to remind you, here is a summary of my first daily activity plan:

– I will create a background ambience by having Spanish language podcasts on in the morning
– 10 minutes will be spent reading the News in Spanish
– I will sit and actively listen to 10 minutes of Spanish Radio
– I will watch 10 minutes of a Spanish soap opera on Spanish TV

So what I am going to do in this post is describe where and how I found the resources to put my plan in to action.

My first port of call of course is the good old search engines.  I am not sure why I used “engines” and not “engine” because for me there is only one – Google.

It was time to work out exactly what I am going to watch, read and listen to.

Finding Spanish TV News Channels

I started my search by looking for something to watch.  I know from past experience of being abroad and only having TV in the local language that watching TV helps.

Whilst I have not been able to understand any of what I watch, after a while you the same words used.  You begin to spot patterns and start to identify phrases.  Having a visual clue also helps.

So I did a search for “What are the main news stations in Spain?”.  Here is what Google told me.

Main News Stations in Spain

The link that stood out for me was the one for the BBC.  If there is just one good thing about our national broadcaster is that it promotes and supports language learning really well.  So I followed the link and it took me to this great page.  On that page it listed the different online Spanish TV channels.

BBC Listing of Spanish Language TV Channels

 If we go down the channel list we get these:

TVE 1 and TVE 2 – both of which can be found here.

These first two channels are from the state owned broadcasting company (the Spanish equivalent of the BBC) and include national TV, Radio and news and either is a great place to start.  Antena 3 Noticias is the privately owned third channel in Spain

There are other channels too but rather than overload you with lots of examples, these are the top three. You can find this BBC page here to explore more if you want.

A Brilliant News Site To Help Your Learning

What was most useful for me was following the link on that page that said “learning with the News”.  Here there was some really useful advice.   But more importantly it led me to the news site EuroNews.   Ironically this is a news site I have been featured on for my study skills work with students!

Now finding Euronews (again!) was a huge find for me for these two very important reasons:

– The same stories are covered in different languages
– There is a written transcription of the news item video underneath it in the language you are watching it in

This is a fantastic resource because:

  • – you can go and watch a news item in Spanish,
  • – It is easy to follow the text in Spanish as the news reader is speaking.  It is not always a 100% transcription as occasionally the newsreader misses or adds the odd word or two.
  • – AND then once you have tried to grasp what it means, you can go and watch EXACTLY the same item in English.

Here is where you can select which language to watch the videos in:

Euronews For Learning Spanish

So whilst your English headlines might look like this:

It will look like this in Spanish.  All at the click of a simple link.

Euronews In Spanish

I can’t stress just what a perfect resource this is for watching & reading the news.

Finding Spanish Radio Channels

What about Spanish Radio?

Well I think relying on any of the talk channels at the radio part of the Spanish National Broadcaster (RTVE)  is a good place to start. It like the equivalent of the BBCs iPlayer in that they have podcasts and recordings of old shows that you can listen to. There are also live streams of its radio channels.

If you go to their programme menu page, half way down you will see where you will be able to live stream any of the radio stations. I personally tune in to Radio Nacional which is a predominantly talk radio station.  It has regular news bulletins as well as interviews, documentaries and phone in chat shows.

Live Spanish Radio

For radio, I don’t think there is anywhere better to start.

If you find yourself visiting a specific area, then you might want to explore some of the regional stations.  But you’ll have to do your own search for those as I haven’t got that far in my journey yet.   However you may have to dig hard to find those without adverts and that don’t just play music.

Once you have practiced enough with the national channels then you might want to try off the beaten path.

Spanish Soap Operas

This is probably the bit that fills me with most dread – getting hooked on a Spanish Language Soap Opera. I must admit, I am not a fan of the UK versions and I couldn’t think of anything worse than watching Eastenders or Coronation Street. However I am here to learn another language, not pass commentary on cultural issues.

So why are soap operas such a good thing to watch?

Well you will have lots of dialogue about ordinary (and not quite so ordinary) issues between the characters. You will be able to see the interaction and emotion between them and this will help you in trying to understand what is going on.

I am sure you are aware that words are just a tiny part of communication that is really dominated by tonality and body language. These will be much easier to experience in a well acted soap opera.

Though the cynical part of me thinks that “well acted” and “soap opera” are not phrases you usually find in the same sentence!

Where do you find them?

Well thank heavens for Youtube. In Spanish the soap opera is called a telenovela. Doing a search on You Tube, I found a number of these

Estefanía | Episodio 1 | Jose Luis Rodriguez Pierina España
Doña Bárbara | Episodio 1 | Marina Baura
Pobre negro | Episodio 1 | Franklin Virguez Marlene Maceda
Pura sangre | Episodio 1 | Lisbeth Morillo Crisol Carabal

Each had at least 4 episodes of about 40 minutes each.

Here was one recommended on FluentU that was also found on Youtube. It had 58 episodes of 10 minutes each with English subtitles, though I found them a bit distracting. The acting is also TERRIBLE!!! Though I suppose the genre is not supposed to win Oscars!

Te Sigo Amando Parte 1 (English Sub)

Here’s My Soap Opera Recommendation

A further search found this page on the national channel for a soap opera that has been aired since 2005.  It is called “Amar en Tiempos Revueltos“.  Now I think (based on my learning so far + a bit of a guess) this translates to something like “Love during the Revolution”.


It actually came back as “Love during scrambled times”… mmm a love story with an egg theme.  Another reason not to translate things literally or rely on google translate too much!  A bit more digging and it came back as “Love in Difficult Times”.  But I suppose if you focussed your relationship around how well you could knock up an egg based dish then you would have difficult times!

…I digress.

If this sounds like something you then all the episodes from 2005-2013 can be found here.

Now finding that little lot took me the best part of a morning, so hopefully it will save you some time.

If you have any resources you recommend, then please do let me and your fellow readers know about them in the comments below.

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