If you're learning Spanish, have you ever considered learning while driving? Whether it’s your commute to work or travelling on holiday, time spent in the car can feel like a waste of precious hours. Especially if you are stuck in traffic!
In reality, a car journey is the perfect opportunity to learn Spanish while driving. Instead of viewing drive time as a hassle, this article is all about how to transform that time into a personalized language lab.
Learning Spanish while driving has a few distinct advantages (and a couple of disadvantages as well). Even if you don't have a daily commute or an upcoming trip by car, many of the suggestions in this article will apply with a little creativity.
If you're a cyclist, you should be able to replicate the suggestions as long as your headphone or speaker arrangement allows you to safely hear traffic while cycling. If you take public transport you'll need to swap speaking exercises for reading and writing.
So, let's get into it and discover how to learn Spanish while driving!
By the way, if you're getting started in Spanish and want to go from beginner to intermediate fast, I recommend Spanish Uncovered. It's my story-based course that will get you to conversational fluency quickly, without getting bogged down in grammar.
The Benefits Of Car Learning
There are at least three main benefits of learning Spanish while driving:
You Can Speak Without Fear Of Being Overheard
You can only master so much of a language without actually saying the words. Speaking Spanish is a vital part of learning the language. But like most language learners, you probably feel self-conscious about your pronunciation. That’s where car learning comes in! As long as you are driving alone, you can speak freely without any embarrassment.
The chance to practice difficult words or phrases over and over again can be a real benefit when it comes time to hold a conversation in Spanish. Your mouth will already be familiar with the shape of the words thanks to practice in the privacy of your own vehicle.
Language Practice Won't Take Any Extra Time Out Of Your Daily Schedule
If you have ever said, “I would learn Spanish if only I had more time,” this is the most important benefit for you. The fact of the matter is, you will already be driving. So why not use that time to learn and practice?
Making the most of your drive time will give you the best of both worlds. By the time you get home each evening, you'll be free to relax without guilt, having already completed your language study for the day.
You'll Have Built-in Opportunities For Regular, Short Revision
Not only will you have completed your Spanish study for the day, you will be getting more regular Spanish practice by building it into your commute. How often do you skip language practice or forget all about it when life gets busy? Tying your language study to a daily routine like a commute will help cement the habit into your life.
And if your car learning is taking place on a long trip instead of a daily trip, that has benefits, too! A sustained period of Spanish practice over a few days or a week is like a mini language camp. All without taking any extra time in your schedule!
Downsides Of Car Learning
In spite of the many benefits of learning Spanish while driving, there are a few downsides. Here are some of the most common disadvantages (and what you can do about them):
You Can’t Read Or Write While Driving
Listening to audio alone does not make for a complete learning experience. Missing out on the ability to read the words on a page or see what’s happening in a video will limit your resource options a bit. That said, you can catch up on the other modes of learning (reading, writing, etc.) during other learning sessions.
Very Short Drives Can Make For Disjointed Language Sessions
How much value you get from your language studies may depend on how long you are in the car. But even a short trip can be useful for brushing up on vocabulary, pronunciation, or a narrowly focused lesson.
If You Carpool Or Take Public Transport, You Won't Benefit From Solitude
As mentioned earlier, not all commutes happen alone in a car. Speaking exercises are hard to do with others in the car unless all passengers are learning Spanish together. On the other hand, trading driving duties can give you each the chance to utilize written or video lessons and give you someone to talk to.
If you commute on public transport or walk to work, a good set of headphones will give you the freedom to do most of the suggested activities in this article with minor modification.
How To Learn Spanish While Driving
Now that you know all the benefits of learning Spanish while driving, what should you actually do during your drive? There are a number of options depending on what level of Spanish you are comfortable with and how long you plan to spend in the car.
Full Audio Programs
You may want to consider an audio language program as the backbone of your Spanish learning. You can find Spanish language lessons for free on BBC Radio or Spotify. Or you may choose to purchase an all-inclusive program on CD or mp3.
Reinforcement Through Audio
Another option is to leave the structured Spanish learning at home and use your drive time to improve your fluency by listening to authentic Spanish being spoken in real-life situations.
I’ve already written about the many reasons to focus on authentic, full-speed audio. And your commute or travel time is a great opportunity to do just that with one of the following resources:
Spanish Stories In Audio Format
You might be surprised at how much you pick up listening to an audiobook in Spanish, even if you are a beginner. Audible en Español is Audible’s all-Spanish collection of audiobooks and Libra Móvil has both libros (books) and audiolibros (audiobooks) all in Spanish.
Stories provide a fantastic connection to any language, and Spanish stories are no different. If you’re traveling with children, you might all enjoy The Spanish Experiment, which offers retellings of classic nursery rhymes and children’s stories by a native Spanish speaker.
You can also listen to my collection of Short Stories in Spanish as an audiobook. There's a beginner version as well as an intermediate one. If you want to improve your conversational Spanish, don't miss the audiobook versions of 101 Conversations in Simple Spanish, available in beginner and intermediate versions.
Podcasts (In And About Spanish)
Podcasts are so popular because they let you choose exactly what you want to hear on demand. When searching for podcasts in Spanish, you can find podcasts in Spanish and podcasts all about the Spanish language as well.
Radio Ambulante is a podcast of Latin American stories. Nómadas is a travel show from Spain’s public radio station. And Españolistas is a Spanish-language podcast that covers a wide variety of topics and targets intermediate Spanish learners.
And of course, you can now improve your Spanish with the StoryLearning Spanish podcast, a daily podcast for intermediate learners.
Gain Cultural Awareness
In addition to spoken language and Spanish revision, consider dedicating some of your travel time to feeling part of the Spanish-speaking world.
Music, sports broadcasts, and the news in Spanish are all great ways to use your listening time to broaden your horizons. And pick up Spanish slang, common Spanish phrases, and what is being talked about around the world in Spanish right now.
Learn Spanish While Driving: Time For A Car Trip
With these suggestions and a little creativity, time spent driving can be much more than a way to get somewhere.
In fact, you may find yourself looking forward to your commute a little more once you make Spanish learning a regular part of your drive.
So, now you know how to make the most of future car journeys, go download a resource that interests you whether it's a podcast, audiobook or audio course and get ready to create your own mobile language lab!