Like most people, there have been many times where I’ve subscribed to a service, only to forget about it and continue auto-paying for much longer than intended.
News in Slow Spanish is available as a monthly subscription but subscriptions aren’t automatically renewed because they consider it to be bad practice.
The fact that they don’t do this says a lot about them as a company. Without a doubt, they’re leaving a lot of money on the table in order to do what they consider to be the right thing. Very few companies would be willing to do the same.
And, while this alone is fairly insignificant when you’re deciding whether or not to pay for their product, it’s certainly a very good sign.
Fortunately, 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.
Their plans can be slightly confusing because they have three separate products – one for each beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. These levels also contain different features with different plans and subscription lengths available.
This review will look at each level separately, with detailed descriptions of everything that’s included.
I’ll start with the beginner course, but you can click the links below to jump ahead to either the intermediate or advanced levels.
Let’s get into it.
Unlike the other levels, G.U.T.S is only available in Latino Spanish.
It’s a very 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, like 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, with the first five of them being free.
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 comes 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. For example, by the end of the first lesson about cognates, 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. These grammar sections are much different than you’re likely expecting.
They’re audio dialogues which last around 15 minutes and you can follow along with their interactive transcripts.
Right from the bat, it’s apparent that they’re different than those you’d find most other places. The two hosts start the lesson with something fun, maybe a song, poem, quote, or something else. 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 them 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 on their 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 the grammar.
I absolutely love this part of the G.U.T.S. program.
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 to 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.
There are three options for purchasing the beginner course on News in Slow Spanish.
First, you can subscribe for three months at a total cost of $59.90. This would be my recommendation as that should be plenty of time to work through the materials.
Second, you can subscribe for six months for $89.90.
Finally, you can get lifetime access to the course for $149.90.
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 your studying. Because of this, studying doesn’t feel like a drag and it’s easy to stay motivated and continue learning.
As much as I like the Beginner G.U.T.S. course, I actually like News in Slow Spanish’s 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.
They offer a Latino version and a Spain version, each releasing a new 30-minute episode once per week. An episode is made up of four news stories, a grammar part, and an expressions part.
This doesn’t sound like much material but there’s actually a lot more to it than I expected. I basically knew what to expect with the current events parts of the program, but the grammar and expressions sections really took me by surprise.
Those parts are a ton of fun to listen to and age very well, making even the ones that were recorded years ago worth spending time with.
There are three different plans, with different materials available, so it can be a little confusing figuring out which plan to choose. So, to make it easier, I’ll explain what each of these features is like exactly and which plans they’re included in.
This is the main component of News in Slow Spanish. As you should be able to figure out, 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.
Each audio lesson lasts around 30 minutes and is comprised of the previously mentioned 4 news stories, grammar, and expressions. 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 to overlap which is pretty unavoidable. They do a good job of keeping this to a minimum though, something that those who purchase the bundle, which includes both programs, would definitely appreciate.
Even when the news stories are about the same topic, they’re not simply copies of each other, the narration and commentary differ.
The news stories are super interesting and enjoyable to listen to. Each of the four news stories will last somewhere around four or five minutes.
After the news stories, there’s a section about grammar.
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 the culture Spain or a part of Latin America.
This makes them fit in really well with the rest of the audio lessons. It follows the news stories and can give you a much deeper understanding of the Spanish speaking world.
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. If you end up subscribing to their Silver or Gold plans, you’ll get some detailed explanations of the grammar point used, but I’ll talk about that later.
Next up, is the expressions section.
I didn’t expect to like this section nearly as much as I did. 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 places that teach an expression may only tell you an English equivalent and then give you a couple of examples.
This part is similar to the grammar section in that 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 like so much like you’re studying, more like you’re listening to some interesting discussion.
If you subscribe to the Silver or Gold plans, you’ll get more information about this expression there. I’ll talk about that later though.
Included in all except the audio only plans, are the 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.
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.
This is just like the Interactive News Transcripts, but obviously, for the grammar part of the lesson.
Given the nature of the grammar lessons, where grammar isn’t explicitly taught but rather used naturally, this part is very useful.
Besides being able to clear up any confusion you have about the content in the lesson, you’ll also find that the grammar point has been bolded each time it was used. While the grammar part of the lesson may not have felt like you were learning grammar at all, combining that with these transcripts, and the Grammar Lessons (which I’ll talk about next) is a great way to internalize grammar.
Most of what makes News in Slow Spanish so good is its uniqueness. However, there’s nothing unique about the Grammar Lessons, but 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, makes it really useful.
If it cost extra money for only this feature, it may be worth looking elsewhere, but given how useful the other parts of the Silver and Gold plans are, I wouldn’t bother trying to find an alternative to these lessons.
There’s also a huge grammar catalog.
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.
By now you’re familiar with the interactive transcripts and see that they’re very useful. The Interactive Expressions Transcripts are the same.
One other thing worth mentioning with these is that sometimes while reading the transcripts of a news story, grammar point, or a different expression, you’ll find that another expression is used.
When that happens, you can click on that expression and be taken to the in-depth explanation, including the dialogue and the Expression Lesson (which I’ll talk about next). In this way, you can go down a rabbit hole of expressions.
This is another aspect of News in Slow Spanish that surprised me with just how high-quality it is. During the expressions part of the audio lessons, the hosts used that expression multiple times within the context of a discussion where it would come up naturally. In the audio part, they don’t really explain much about the expression, they simply use it where fitting.
In the Expressions Lessons, 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 which often end up being longer than a single sentence. This makes it easier to understand the context in which it’s used better. Then, after the example, you’ll also be given the English translation for that example.
There’s also a huge expressions catalog.
The expressions catalog is super useful and worth spending time digging through. It includes all of the dialogs of the expression section of the audio dialog, the interactive transcripts, and the lessons. 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.
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.
In each lesson, you’ll also find the grammar quizzes which relate to the grammar point that was taught earlier. These are really useful since to master the grammar point, you actually have to be able to correctly use it.
These are fill in the blank questions, which require you to not only understand what you’ve read but also use the grammar point correctly. They can be pretty challenging but you can check your answers if you get stuck.
You can still click on the red words as well to see translations if there are parts you don’t understand.
There are lots of different plans with different features and subscription lengths.
|One Month||Six Months||One Year|
Here’s a quick recap of what’s included in each plan.
Audio Only – Only the audio, duh.
Bronze – Audio, Interactive News Transcripts
Silver – Audio, All Interactive Transcripts, Grammar and Expressions Lessons
Gold – Audio, All Interactive Transcripts, Grammar and Expressions Lessons, Pronunciation Practice and Grammar Quizzes
There’s also a Spain and Latino Bundle which gives you access to both programs. This raises the price on each of the plans but gives you access to a lot more content. To give a rough idea of this cost, the one month Bronze plan would cost $20.90 and a one year Gold plan would cost $209.90.
What would I recommend?
I think for most people, it would make sense to sign up for either a 6-month or 1-year plan due to the cost savings that come with a longer subscription length. This wouldn’t necessarily be the case with most resources, but News in Slow Spanish is so extensive that you’ll be able to get a ton out of it.
If you’re only looking for some listening practice, the Audio Only plan is solid value, but I think most people would be better off using one of the other plans.
I’m a huge fan of the features included in the Silver plan so would definitely recommend that over the Bronze plan. The Gold plan is interesting because the Pronunciation Practice is available elsewhere for free. But, for only an extra $10 per year, getting access to the grammar quizzes is certainly useful.
It may also be worth choosing the Spain and Latino bundle, especially if you don’t have a strong preference for either course. There is some small overlap in the news stories which is inevitable when a major event happens but they do a good job of keeping this minimal. Even when a news story is covered by both programs, they’re covered differently. However, the grammar lessons are the same for each language (though presented at different times), so that does take away some of the value.
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.
I also love their approach to teaching grammar and expressions. It’s not the easiest way to do things, but I’d be very surprised if there were a more effective way to teach these things.
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 Change of Pace subscription option made 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 does serve a purpose.
At the intermediate level, the stories are spoken quite a bit slower than a natural pace. Whereas 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 plan 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. I’m not sure 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’ll be able to find the transcripts anyway.
One suggestion I’d make that would give these a lot more value would be to add in comprehension quizzes with each episode, similar to those given in the beginner course.
There are two plans and three subscription lengths available in either the Latino or Spain course.
|One Month||Six Months||One Year|
|Change of Pace||$21.90||$79.90||$129.90|
|Change of Pace+||$26.90||$109.90||$169.90|
Alternatively, both Latino and Spain can be bundled together. This would raise the cost for each of the above options. For a rough idea, the Change of Pace plan for one month would cost $29.90 and the Change of Pace+ for one year would cost $219.90.
So, what’s included in each plan?
Change of Pace – Audio Lessons and Interactive News Transcripts
Change of Pace+ – Audio Lessons, Interactive News Transcripts, Grammar Catalog Access and Expressions Catalog Access
Since I’ve already written extensively about what’s included in the grammar and expressions catalog, I won’t talk much about them here. I think they’re great for intermediate learners and could still be quite good for advanced learners.
The only thing that makes these less useful for advanced learners is that the audio is recorded at a slower pace for those parts. For intermediates, that’s perfect, but advanced learners might find that a bit frustrating as they’re already getting accustomed to listening to faster Spanish.
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 subscribing to the advanced plan.
Both the Change of Pace and Change of Pace+ plans have merits, along with all of the different subscription options. I don’t have a strong preference towards either of those or to any of the subscription lengths.
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, as well as an intermediate, and advanced lesson 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 get your writing corrected in their Notebooks section 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.