1.31.2009

The best way to learn a language, obviously, is to immerse yourself, hence the trip to Mexico City (2 days!). But as I have learned during the past several years, there are tons of online resources available for people who want to brush up on or improve their language skills, but who lack the ability to take off for a couple of months. Some of my favorites include:

Spanishpod went from totally free to mostly free to mostly subscription, but the product is worth the money, with consistently engaging lessons for all levels and fairly entertaining tangential audio and video offerings.

Notes From Spain has on my iPod/iPhone since early 2005, when it was mostly the audio ramblings of a British expat living in Madrid and learning about the new form of online life-sharing: podcasting. I distinctly remember how much I loved the first soundscape, giving me another glimpse of life out on the streets of Spain. Bringing in his Madrileña wife and offering Spanish-language podcasts at various levels has turned the hobby into a full-fledged business and a great resource for Spanish learners and hispanophiles.

Voices en español is a great blog and podcast run by an American former(?) journalist living in Madrid. A gringa, she offers advanced-level content through the lens of a non-native speaker.

BBC Mundo's daily 15-minute podcast presents the news of Latin America through the BBC's perspective.

El País, one of Spain's top newspapers, offers the news of the day along with video and audio add-ons. It's obvously a great resource for keeping up with Spanish events, but it's also really interesting to read about U.S. news from a different point of view.

El Universal is a new one for me, but I figured I should make Mexico's flagship newspaper a regular part of my media consumption. Once again, there are great multimedia offerings and a fantastic list of podcasts.

RTVE stands for Radio y Televisión Española and it kicks major ass. The site has really beefed up its content in recent years and now boasts a fantastic library of streaming television programming and downloadable radio broadcasts from all of its different channels. A highlight is Cuéntame cómo pasó, which I watched beginning to end this season. Following a Madrileña family during the years before and after Franco's death (and Spain's transition to democracy), the show is a well-produced and fascinating mix of soap opera and history lesson.

Similarly, Radio y Televisión de Andalucía has hooked me with "Andaluces por el mundo." The show hits me on multiple levels, offering a general world travel program combined with the Spain factor and a challenging, rapid-fire Andaluz Spanish to try to follow.

Continuing with my mild obsession with all things Spain, Multimadrid and Madridman mostly feed my desire for English-language information about traveling to and living in the country. But they also have Spanish-language forums and grammar tools that would be useful to any learner of the language of Cervantes.

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