News In Slow Spanish
News in Slow Spanish is easily one of my favorite language learning resources I’ve come across. They offer so much more than just current events narrated at a slower pace. It’s a comprehensive, engaging, fun, and effective way to study Spanish. It offers material in three different levels, for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners, along with lessons using Spanish from either Spain or Latin America.
I’m super impressed with the quality of their lessons.
Teaches grammar and expressions in a unique way that’s very thorough.
The amount of value offered makes the price quite reasonable.
- Pretty much everything – seriously.
- The beginner course gets students listening to, reading, and understanding Spanish much faster than most other courses would.
- The grammar and expressions lessons are fantastic, and there’s a huge catalog of these available.
- The news stories are, of course, interesting.
I Don’t Like
- The advanced level is useful but not as impressive as the rest of their content.
- Their app is very basic so you may prefer using the mobile version on your phone.
7-day free trial, then $22.90/month. You also have the option to prepay for any amount of months at a time, which doesn’t change the monthly price.
News in Slow Spanish is an online resource offering a wide range of material for Spanish language learners. It covers material in beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, and it is much, much more than just a slo-mo Spanish-language news source.
After extensively trying out both the Latino and Spain versions of News in Slow Spanish, I am happy to say that it’s easily one of my favorite resources for studying Spanish. It’s an excellent combination of effective and entertaining.
The subscription includes all of the material for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students.
This review will look at each feature separately, with detailed descriptions of everything that’s included, starting with the courses.
Let’s get into it.
This is a unique type of beginner course, starting with the fact that it’s not really meant for absolute beginners. Instead, this course was made for those that may have previously learned some Spanish — in high school, for example — but haven’t used it in a long time and may feel like they’ve forgotten most of it.
This course is split up into 25 lessons, the first five of which are free to try.
It’s really one of the most fun courses that I’ve seen. The two hosts do an outstanding job of making the lessons more enjoyable. Although they’re pretty obviously scripted, they still flow together very naturally. This is in stark contrast to something like Rocket Spanish where the scripted lessons can be super corny and boring.
The hosts also do a great job of mixing English and Spanish together naturally. In fact, quite a bit of Spanish is used, especially considering it’s a beginner course. By the end of the first lesson about cognates, for example, you’ll hear (and understand) an entire paragraph spoken completely in Spanish.
Each episode in the G.U.T.S. course consists of 5 sections: Grammar, Lesson, Story, Quiz, and Pronunciation.
After seeing grammar listed as the first part of the episode, I’d imagine many people mentally prepare themselves to be bored as they prepare themselves to memorize grammar rules. But, these grammar sections are much different than you’re likely expecting.
They’re audio dialogues that last around 15 minutes and you can follow along with the interactive transcripts.
Right off the bat, it’s apparent that they’re different than those you’d find in most other places. The two hosts start the lesson with something fun — maybe a song, poem, quote, or something similar. Basically, they capture your attention and make it so you’re excited to learn.
Again, they make things fun, adding in lots of jokes without coming off as cheesy. And although this section is about grammar, much of the dialogue has nothing to do with grammar. They may be telling stories or talking about some unique cultural thing.
While that’s happening, each time that grammar point is used, you’ll see it bolded in the interactive transcript. This makes it easy to see how it’s used naturally. I really like this method and it reminds me quite a bit of Grammar Hero.
Of course, there will be some explanations as well about how the grammar point works. But, even these are more interesting than you’ll find elsewhere. For example, when talking about the different verb conjugations, they make it into a chant with a nice beat.
Overall, I absolutely love this way of teaching grammar, and the fact that they manage to make the lessons as fun as they are is really impressive.
In the Lesson part of the episode, G.U.T.S resembles other resources that you’re probably used to seeing already. It’s not much different than a textbook.
Here, you’re given a written document that breaks down the grammar point using explanations and examples. Although it’s not at all exciting, it’s a necessary part of mastering Spanish grammar.
I absolutely love this part of the G.U.T.S. course.
In each episode, you’ll be able to read and listen to part of a story, entirely in slowly spoken Spanish. In each episode, it takes around 4-5 minutes to listen to the story. Each episode also connects with the previous episodes, so by the end of the 25 episode course, you’ll have read and listened to an entire story.
I love that even though this is a beginner course, you’re sort of thrown into it here. While it may sound really hard to listen to this much Spanish right away, it’s actually perfect. The vocabulary, sentence structures, and speed of speech are fitting for the level.
Plus, with their interactive transcripts, you’ll be able to click on the more challenging words or phrases to get a translation.
This reminds me a lot of Spanish Uncovered, a somewhat expensive beginner course. Both make heavy usage of stories early on, and while they’re more challenging than most other courses, they’re also more enjoyable, and I believe more effective.
Following the story is a short comprehension quiz. Although it’s only a 5 question multiple choice quiz, it’s very useful. These questions are written in English and ask you questions about the story you just read and listened to.
This works well as a means to check how well you understood the story. If you do poorly, you’ll probably want to go back and re-read the story a few more times.
In the pronunciation section, you’ll be given 5 phrases. With each phrase, you’ll listen to it and then record yourself saying the same phrase. This is a useful method for noticing places where your pronunciation might sound a bit off.
Although this part is super useful for improving your spoken Spanish, you can find the same features (plus a lot of other ones) on Speechling for free. There, you can record yourself mimicking thousands of words and sentences. Additionally, if you’re willing to pay, you can get feedback on your pronunciation from a teacher.
So, although the pronunciation section of G.U.T.S. is helpful and worth doing, you can find something better than this elsewhere for free.
I thoroughly enjoyed this course. While it probably wouldn’t be ideal for an absolute beginner, I’d strongly recommend it to anyone that has studied a little Spanish before and is ready to jump back into things.
I love the way the course is structured. It’s far more enjoyable to use than pretty much every other resource I’ve come across. The hosts do an amazing job of making the lessons fun while providing a good mixture of English and Spanish.
I love how the lessons get you listening to longer Spanish content, in the form of the stories, right away. The grammar lessons are also excellent as grammar is taught both indirectly and then more explicitly. It often feels more like you’re just listening to some interesting stories rather than forcing yourself to study.
Because this course is so enjoyable to use, it often doesn’t feel like you’re studying. Because of this, studying doesn’t feel like a drag and it’s easy to stay motivated and continue learning.
In each lesson of the grammar course, you’ll find dialogues, a grammar lesson, quizzes, audio narration, and an interactive transcript. These lessons cover many different grammar concepts and are an excellent source of information.
If I wasn’t told that this was a grammar section, I never would have realized that’s what it was. If you’re only listening to the audio lesson, you won’t hear any grammar descriptions, rules, or explanations. Instead, what you hear is an interesting story about the history or culture of Spain or a part of Latin America.
So, what does this have to do with grammar then?
Well, at the beginning of the lesson, you’re told what the main grammar point will be. Then, while talking about some interesting non-grammar topic, that grammar point will be used multiple times in a completely natural way.
The way grammar is taught here reminds me a lot of Grammar Hero – a resource I enjoyed using but felt like it was a bit too expensive.
Then, if you look at the transcript, you’ll see each time the grammar point was used, that it has been bolded. You’ll also get some detailed explanations of the grammar point used, which I’ll talk about later.
Given the nature of the grammar dialogues, where grammar isn’t explicitly taught but rather used naturally, the interactive transcript is very useful.
Most of what makes News in Slow Spanish so good is its uniqueness. While there’s nothing unique about the Grammar Lessons, they’re absolutely important.
This section is basically the same as you would find in any good textbook. It explains how the grammar point is used and gives examples.
While you could find this in other places, and even for free online, the fact that the grammar lesson ties in directly with what was taught in the dialogue makes it really useful.
After the grammar lesson, you’ll come across some quizzes for practicing what you’ve learned.
The fill-in-the-blank questions are pretty straightforward, but they’re a nice way to interact with specific grammar points.
The grammar catalog has tons of grammar points that were taught in previous episodes. While I wouldn’t recommend simply working through the catalog point by point, it’s definitely a resource worth spending some time with.
I especially like the idea of using this as a supplemental resource to a more structured textbook or grammar book.
Remember how the grammar part of the audio lessons didn’t really feel like a grammar lesson at all? The same is true for the grammar points in the catalog, making them far more useful than simply learning grammar.
They follow the same structure, with the audio dialog talking about something completely unrelated to the grammar point but using it often. Then, by reading through the transcripts, you’ll notice it being used and begin to internalize how it’s used.
So really, the grammar catalog is a massive resource to improve your listening, vocabulary, understanding of culture, and of course, grammar.
The expressions course is split into several different topics, each full of lessons teaching an expression that falls into the particular category. Like the lessons in the grammar course, these come with interactive transcripts, dialogues, and explicit lessons. There are no quizzes, but there is a section for practicing pronunciation.
I didn’t expect to like this section nearly as much as I did, and it might actually be my favorite part of News in Slow Spanish. That’s really saying a lot because I’ve enjoyed nearly every part of this program.
Most resources that teach an expression may only tell you an English equivalent and then give you a couple of examples. Not so with News in Slow Spanish.
This part is similar to the grammar dialogue section where the main grammar point isn’t explicitly explained. You’re given an expression and its English equivalent at the beginning, but from there, it doesn’t necessarily feel like a lesson about that expression.
Instead, it feels like you’re listening to a story or discussion, which often incidentally teaches you about some aspect of the culture. Then, several times throughout the dialogue, you’ll hear the expression that was mentioned at the beginning.
This is the absolute best way to teach expressions. You’re able to listen in on a situation in which it’s used very naturally. It doesn’t feel so much like you’re studying, more like you’re listening to some interesting discussion.
This is another aspect of News in Slow Spanish that surprised me with just how high-quality it is. During the dialogues, the hosts use the expression multiple times within the context of a discussion where it would come up naturally. They don’t really explain much about the expression, they simply use it where fitting.
In the expression lesson, you learn a lot more about the expression. Similar to the grammar lessons, there’s no audio, but it doesn’t resemble a textbook in the way that those lessons do. This part is much more unique.
This section is written nearly entirely in Spanish. It explains how the expression is used, including English equivalents, and what I love, even going into the history of how the expression originated.
There are also some examples that often end up being longer than a single sentence. This makes it easier to understand the context in which it’s used. Then, after the example, you’ll also be given the English translation for that example.
The expressions catalog is super useful and worth spending time digging through. It includes all of the lessons in the expressions course. News in Slow Spanish has been around for years, so this catalog is massive.
While listening to old news stories may not be very appealing to most people, the items in the expressions catalog are timeless. Because of the structure and depth of these lessons, they’re really useful for learning about much more than just the expressions.
This is a super valuable resource that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Beginner and Intermediate News Stories
As much as I like the Beginner G.U.T.S. course, I actually like the News in Slow Spanish intermediate-level materials more — which is saying a lot.
News in Slow Spanish began as a resource for intermediate learners to help them bridge the gap to more advanced content. It certainly does this well. Its most recent offering is the news stories at the beginner level, which are also done exceptionally well.
News stories at both the intermediate and beginner levels feel like they’re at an appropriate difficulty. They achieve this through narration speed, word choice, and contextual narrations, which we’ll look at next.
It may be helpful to complete the G.U.T.S. course before tackling the beginner-level news stories, as they may be overwhelming to someone who hasn’t seen much Spanish before.
They offer a Latino version and a Spain version, each releasing a new 30-minute episode once per week. This may not sound like much material, but there’s actually a lot more to it than I expected.
The news stories are the main component of News in Slow Spanish. As is likely clear, the main draw to these lessons is that they are current events, narrated and discussed in slowly spoken Spanish, making them easier for students to follow.
But, there’s a lot more to them than that.
The two hosts narrate the news story and afterward discuss it, adding in their opinions and other information. This is done entirely in Spanish.
The news stories are interesting, and there’s a clear focus on the region selected. So, more news stories about Latin America in the Latino version and more news stories about Spain in the Spain version.
Some news stories do overlap which is pretty unavoidable. They do a good job of keeping this to a minimum, though, which is nice considering the subscription includes both editions of the program.
Even when the news stories are about the same topic, they’re not simply copies of each other — the narration and commentary are different and are performed by different speakers.
The news stories are super interesting and enjoyable to listen to. Each of the four news stories released each week will last somewhere around four or five minutes.
Interactive News Transcripts
Since the lessons are entirely in Spanish and can cover some complicated topics, there are bound to be some instances where you need to see a translation, especially at the beginner level.
With the Interactive News Transcripts, you’ll see several words or phrases are written in red. These are the more challenging parts of the news stories. If you then hover over those sections, you’ll be given their English translation.
I like that often times you’ll be given a translation for a whole phrase and not just a single word. This is helpful as sometimes the meaning could still be confusing if you were only given the translation of each individual word.
In making news stories at the beginner level more accessible, the majority of the story is often in red and has accompanying translations.
This is probably my least favorite part of News in Slow Spanish. That’s not to say that it’s bad or not useful, it’s just that Speechling does the same thing better and is also free.
Here you’ll find around six phrases for you to listen to. You’ll then record yourself saying the same phrase and compare it to the original. It may not sound super helpful, but recording yourself mimicking native speakers is a great way to improve your spoken Spanish.
It’s very rare for me to review a resource and walk away feeling as impressed as I do with News in Slow Spanish. They do everything exceptionally well. The lessons are so interesting that it almost doesn’t feel like you’re studying Spanish.
Typically, companies try to throw as many features at you as possible, with many of them being useless (looking at you SpanishPod101). With News in Slow Spanish, everything serves a purpose. They’ve gone far above and beyond what’s standard in the language learning industry.
The material for advanced learners is pretty easily my least favorite of all three levels. But, even so, it’s still not a bad resource by any means and may be worth paying for, at least for some people.
It’s a little bit strange because the intermediate level of News in Slow Spanish was originally created (I assume) to be a bridge to native materials. And now, an extra level has been added in. That said, it still serves a purpose.
At the intermediate level, the stories are spoken quite a bit slower than a natural pace. At the advanced level, the audio is sped up significantly, though it might be slightly slower than what you would find on a TV news program.
Similar to the intermediate level, each week a new episode is released. This covers 4 or 5 news stories and lasts about half an hour. Because Spanish is spoken at a quicker pace here, quite a bit more of the news can be covered.
The biggest benefit to this resource over watching the news from a traditional source is that you’re given the interactive transcripts.
These are definitely useful and can be a huge help for those that don’t quite have a high enough Spanish level to get everything they want out of traditional sources. Though, if you were to do some digging, you may be able to find transcripts to the news stories that you can watch for free online. Then, if you used a plugin like readlang or dictionarist, you could get translations.
But, even then, sometimes news shows go super fast and I’m not completely sure that you’d be able to find the transcripts anyway.
One suggestion I’d make that would give the advanced level a lot more value would be to add in comprehension quizzes with each episode, similar to those given in the beginner course.
Final Thoughts on Advanced Material
The advanced level of News in Slow Spanish is definitely the weakest of the three levels. But it’s still not bad. I’d first recommend those considering this level to try watching native news programs on their own. If they find those too hard, then it could definitely be worth getting access to the material in the advanced level.
They also have a section called “series” which allows you to listen and read along to both fictional and nonfictional stories broken out into different chapters or parts.
These lessons don’t come with any grammar dialogue, lessons, etc., so if this is something that you value then you may not want to spend too much time with these.
However, if you are beyond a total beginner and want to study with something that’s a little more entertaining than some of the news content then this section may be worth checking out. The current content ranges from beginner to advanced so you can try it out no matter what your level is.
This app is available for use on Apple or Android devices, and it contains all of the weekly news stories at the intermediate and advanced levels as well as the series episodes.
You’ll have to use the browser version of News in Slow Spanish for access to the courses, but the app makes for convenient practice with news stories. The app is relatively basic, but it’s functional, and it allows for playlist creation and the downloading of episodes for offline listening.
The pricing is pretty straightforward. Signing up gets you seven free days, and then you’re billed the $22.90 monthly price. The subscription will then continue until you cancel it.
This subscription includes both the Latino and Spain versions, as well as all material from courses, series, and news stories.
You can cancel the automatically renewing subscription at any time, at which point your subscription will remain active until the end of the current billing period.
If you aren’t a fan of the recurring subscription model, there’s an option to prepay for 1-12 months. There are no savings for purchasing several months upfront; they simply multiply $22.90 by the number of months you wish to buy. This is a good way to avoid auto-paying for a subscription you forgot you had.
News in Slow Spanish is Awesome
I expected to enjoy News in Slow Spanish but came away super impressed.
The intermediate level is ridiculously good value. The beginner level is a great resource for those who have learned some Spanish but feel like they’ve forgotten everything. The advanced level can be a very useful crutch for those that are nearly ready for native materials but aren’t quite there yet.
You can try News in Slow Spanish for free before deciding to subscribe. The first five lessons of the beginner course are available for free.
italki is a good supplemental resource to improve your Spanish speaking and writing. You can find inexpensive online tutors or free language exchange partners. Additionally, you can use the app-based community features to get your writing corrected for free.
Another resource I really enjoyed trying for Spanish was Baselang. They offer unlimited 1-1 online lessons each month. It’s not overly expensive and their curriculum is actually quite solid.
All that said, News in Slow Spanish is a unique resource that I would absolutely recommend.