Most of us spend on average 7-14 hours in public transportation a week. For instance, statistics show that an average of 1 hour a day is spent in public transport in most European countries. How many Spanish classes would you be able to take if you had that commute time available for class?
The good news is you can actually use that apparently wasted time and transform it into a tailored Spanish session. Want to know how?
These are the tips I have personally gathered through experience, and what I’ve learned from my own students. Check it out!
#1: Use downloadable podcasts in your mobile: There are many sites that offer free access to very interesting podcasts in which you can learn Spanish pronunciation and train your listening comprehension while learning new grammar and vocabulary. We recommend you start by trying one of these: Audiria (it offers great material for all levels with free worksheets and online activities to check your understanding) and Podcasts in Spanish. This last one offers all podcasts for free and only charges for the accompanying material like worksheets, etc.
Whenever possible try to download the recordings in advance into your mobile, and even the worksheets if they are available for download. This will allow you to have them despite of any internet connection problem while you commute.
#2: Get a Spanish learning app: You’re probably familiar with Duolingo, which is a great language learning app also available for Spanish learning. It provides tons of activities to work on your grammar, vocabulary, listening, writing, etc. It is mainly chunk-based so you’ll be learning small chunks of language, but it is good for learning and reviewing specific topics. Another one is Memrise, which is mainly focused on learning through flashcards and it’s great for beginners and also for more advanced learners in need of reviewing and memorizing words.
#3: Listen to the radio: A fantastic way to be exposed to authentic Spanish is by listening to the radio in Spanish. We recommend this practice for intermediate students and above, as it might be pretty difficult for a beginner to grasp the meaning of what’s being said, especially because the radio presenters might speak fast. In this link you can find lots of Spanish radios with internet streaming, and in this one there are tons of Latin American radios: (both for listening to music and for news updates).
#4: Buy an audiobook: There are many audiobooks at a very low cost available on Amazon that you can buy and have them handy for any long commute. These two have great Amazon reviews and are aimed at people that spend much time in public transport or driving to work, so that commutes are no longer boring and a waste of time.
This one, “Learn in your Car. Spanish: The complete language course” is a great option for beginners to work on vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. For intermediate levels and above there are plenty of audiobooks with short stories and adapted novels, to enrich your knowledge of Hispanic literature while learning Spanish. These are some options to consider: Spanish short stories for intermediate level + and all audiobooks from Editora Delearte, which publishes Spanish readers, like this one El hombre muerto (Advanced C1) + Audiobook + Activities. If you’re using public transport you can complete the activities too, and if you’re driving you can get all the listening activities done and leave the other ones for later.
#5: Commit yourself to some writing!: Writing is the most difficult part cause it will require a bit more effort on your side. But there are plenty of ways you can get some writing practice at any free time you have. One idea is for you to get a writing buddie through one of the many apps that connect worldwide language learners, for example HelloTalk. Another idea is to write all your daily notes in Spanish. Many of us use our commute time to organize our schedule, make notes, plan activities, etc. Why not make your grocery list, daily planning and personal notes in Spanish? One more thing you can do is to start a Spanish diary. Who knows, it could even end up being a great blog! To write, you can use any note-taking app like Evernote or OneNote. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling for now. The best thing is to get your writing done, and then when you have time you can show it to your Spanish buddie or correct it in Grammarly.
If your internet connection is good and you’re commuting by public transport for at least 30 minutes, you could also consider taking a real Spanish class by Skype with a native teacher. You can use this class for speaking practice, pronunciation, and also for asking questions about all the things you’ve been learning on your own during the week by making great use of your commute time!