Capitalize on Your Commute
When I used to work in an office, my morning commute took about 40 minutes. I’d walk to a train, ride for about ten minutes, and then walk a mile to my office.
As I headed out the door each morning, I’d put my earbud headphones in and start listening to a podcast from Spain. This became a small daily pleasure I looked forward to, and I felt listening to Spanish podcasts helped wake up my brain on the way to work.
Likewise, switching into my second language on the way home forced my brain to stop thinking about work. I needed to dedicate all available neurons to Spanish comprehension.
What You’ll Need to Start Listening to Spanish Podcasts
If you are an urban dweller like me, a smartphone, a podcasting app, and a good set of headphones are all you need to start incorporating podcasts from Spain into your día a día.
If your commute involves driving, for safety’s sake you should ditch the headphones and listen to your podcasts through your car’s stereo system.
For Bluetooth-enabled cars, just pair your phone with your vehicle, and then when you hit play on your podcast app, the Spanish podcast should begin playing through your car’s speakers. Bluetooth can really drain your phone’s battery though, so I recommend having your phone connected to a car charger when you use this approach.
Another option, if your car is on the newer side, is to connect your phone using a 3.5mm audio cable. Think of it as a headphones cord that has a headphone jack at both ends.
You plug one end into your phone just like you would a set of earbuds, and then you plug the other end into your vehicle’s external audio input. It is also a headphone-sized hole, and it is likely labeled AUX or AUX IN. To the best of my knowledge, this approach uses the same amount of battery power as using a pair of earbuds with your phone.
If your car is older, you can still listen to your audio, but you’ll need an FM transmitter instead of the cable. You’ll set the transmitter to an unused frequency on your radio dial, and then plug your phone into it.
I haven’t used one of these personally, but here’s a link to the top-selling product of this kind on Amazon. It has a USB port in the cigarette charger end, so you can simultaneously use it to listen to audio and keep your phone charged, all from just one cigarette lighter.
Podcasting Apps for Android
There are many podcasting apps, including free and paid versions.
With paid versions you typically get more control over when and how new podcasts are downloaded, and features such as variable speed playback. I have an Android phone, and I’ve been using the paid app Doggcatcher for many years. I like that Doggcatcher is compatible with Chromecast so sometimes when I’m home I play my Spanish podcasts through my TV as I’m cleaning up the house!
MakeUseOf, a tech site for non-techies, has a great round-up of other Android options here. According to MakeUseOf, Pocket Casts ($3.99) has stolen the crown from DoggCatcher ($3) as the best podcasting app; it cites AntennaPod (free!) and BeyondPod ($7) as decent options as well.
Pocket Casts and BeyondPod, like Doggcatcher, support Chromecast. The free app AntennaPod doesn’t appear to support Chromecast at this time.
Podcasting Apps for iPhone
Pocket Casts ($3.99) is also MakeUseOf’s top pick for an iOS podcasting app. Honestly, for a whopping total of about four bucks, it sounds like Pocket Casts is the way to go if you are going to buy a podcasting app for the first time. You can read their other picks for iPhone here.
Note: If you like using iTunes on your desktop or laptop, and want podcasts downloaded to your computer to sync with your phone, be sure to research an app that can do that.
Pocket Casts doesn’t do that, but a competitor called Downcast does, and Downcast also supports Chromecast.
So You Have the Equipment, Now What?
Many podcast apps have a directory of podcasts, and you can just search by name for what you want. Popular English-language podcasts like This American Life, Serial, Freakonomics and Radiolab are pretty much guaranteed to pop up in search results, but in my experience it isn’t as easy to find Spanish podcasts that way, let alone something as specific as podcasts from Spain!
So for the stuff that we want, such as radio programs from Spanish National Radio, more than likely we’ll need to manually add the feeds in a podcasting app.
To do this you’ll need to have the RSS feed for the podcast you want. RNE has a webpage dedicated to helping you find this information.
Once you have copied the RSS feed URL, open your podcasting app and add a new feed. Usually this is a button that says “Add New” or something similar. Then you’ll paste here the RSS feed that you had previously copied, and the feed will be added. Check your selected podcasting app’s FAQs for more help with this step.
Spanish Podcasts for Your Commute, for Your Workout, for Your Lunch Break – or Whenever!
No matter your length of commute, there’s a free Spanish podcast out there for you! Below are some selections from Radio Nacional de España. Most programs descriptions have been loosely translated from RNE’s show descriptions.
These aren’t even a drop in the bucket compared to what’s available at the RNE website, though. Check out the full list of RNE programs available as podcasts here.
One to Ten Minutes
Alborada – Daybreak
What it covers: A short inspirational message, usually about three minutes long, which encourages Spaniards to work toward improving Spanish society.
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/74973/audios.rss
A su salud – To Your Health
What it covers: Diverse health content, including nutrition, the history of medicine, current events and new findings in health.
Frequency: New content every 2-3 days
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/23753/audios.rss
Caminantes – Wayfarers
What it covers: Boots laced up, this program hikes a route in Spain, paying close attention to everything it passes along the way, including nature, history, culture and patrimony.
Frequency: Weekly, on Saturdays and Sundays
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/81470/audios.rss
Viaje al centro de la noche – Journey to the Center of the Night
What it covers: Unknown and forgotten stories that deserve to come to light, even if only by the light of the moon.
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/68640/audios.rss
Ten to 15 Minutes
Con los cinco sentidos – With Our Five Senses
What it covers: Literature, music and film allow us to connect with our emotions, and “Con los cinco sentidos” suggests different readings from around the world that deal with the objects, gestures and spaces in which and with which we live.
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/82111/audios.rss
Mujeres malditas – Damned Women
What it covers: Women, who despite their merits in fields such as literature, music, and art, faced discrimination and stigma during the times in which they lived. These women in many cases encountered hardships such as illness, yet they remained in charge of their own lives and destinies.
Frequency: Weekly, old episodes only
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/47470/audios.rss
Travesías en Radio 5 – Journeys on Radio 5
What it covers: The program travels to different parts of the world to cover the social, cultural, and political affairs that matter there.
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/45831/audios.rss
About 30 Minutes
Agro5 – A Podcast about Agriculture
What it covers: Geared toward ag professionals, this podcasts covers both progress and problems in traditional Spanish agricultural sectors such as sheep farming and wine, which are undergoing dramatic transformation.
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/80570/audios.rss
Alimentos y salud – Nutrition and Health
What it covers: How nutrition affects our health, including advice for adjusting one’s diet, and information about how to prepare foods to receive the maximum health benefits.
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/1881/audios.rss
América hoy – America Today
What it covers: Explanation and analysis of the most important news from “Iberoamérica” (aka Latin America) which includes interviews, reports and commentary. Hosted by Teresa Montoro, who has one of my absolute favorite voices on Spanish radio.
Frequency: Daily, Monday to Friday
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/1991/audios.rss
Caminos de ida y vuelta – Journeys of Coming and Going
What it covers: This program, which is produced in collaboration with the UNED Center for Migration and Exile, is directed towards Spaniards who live abroad. It tries to contribute to the understanding of migration and life in exile, both past and present, and to explain the realities of what life is like for Spaniards living far from home.
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/60331/audios.rss
Ciencia al cubo – Science Cubed
What it covers: When science, art, current events and a good sense of humor combine, you get “Ciencia al cubo.” This half-hour programs is made up of interviews, research news, curiosities, and music.
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/1902/audios.rss
About an Hour
Artesfera – Artsphere
What it covers: Radio Exterior’s “sociocultural laboratory” which examines society and culture from an open-minded point of view. Listen to discover books you will love but have never heard of, and to learn about the best Spanish independent cinema, current events in “alt” Spanish society, and other topics such as education and environmentalism.
Frequency: Daily, Monday to Friday
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/80211/audios.rss
Sin distancias by UNED & Radio 3 – Without Distance by UNED & Radio 3
What it covers: Spain’s Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (National University of Distance Education) covers current events and UNED research topics by interviewing its professors and other prestigious guests of note. This is one of my favorite programs because the topics vary wildly from week to week.
RSS feed: http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/2098/audios.rss
De Cine Iberoamericano – On Spanish & Latin American Film
What it covered: Little known cinema coming out of Latin American and the Iberian Peninsula. Teresa Montoro led this program, and interviewed directors, actors, screenwriters and producers. The show also covered film festivals throughout Spain and Latin America. This is the first podcast I began listening to in Spanish, and I was heartbroken when it was cancelled in 2014. I recommend past episodes, especially since many of the films discussed can now be found on Netflix!
Frequency: Weekly, cancelled September 2014
RSS feed (get old episodes): http://api.rtve.es/api/programas/46230/audios.rss
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