Did you know the average American spends 18 days a year in their car? That's almost eight and a half hours per week!
In our busy modern lives one of the biggest challenges to speaking a foreign language is often finding the time to learn it. You can have conjugation charts and Spanish learning apps galore, but if what good are these resources if you don't have an opportunity to use them?
The time you spend commuting everyday is an easy if not obvious solution to the all too common language learning problem of just finding time to practice.
In this post we outline some of the best approaches for learning Spanish in the car and share some of our top recommendations.
If you want to checkout the best options for learning Spanish outside your car click here.
Let's get started!
Use common sense
A slight disclaimer here: please drive responsibly while learning Spanish! We don't recommend or endorse watching any sort of video or reading any text while driving. In fact the only thing you should look at while driving is the road (shocker).
Needless to say the only resources we talk about in this post are audio based. Some courses/apps may have non audio features such as video or text, but we do not recommend that you use these non audio features while driving a vehicle.
How to learn Spanish in the car
It goes without saying (but we'll keep saying it anyways), that any method you use to learn Spanish while driving, needs to be audio based. You want to expose your ears to Spanish while keeping your eyes on the road.
Listening is a crucial part of learning a foreign language, and developing your skills in this area should be a substantial part of your language learning routine.
However just playing Spanish music or audio in the background won't magically improve your language skills. You need to engage with the audio you're listening to. That is, do your best to comprehend it. Listen for the words you know and try to deduce the meaning of the ones you don't.
This kind of active listening usually requires that you listen to a piece of content several times before you become more comfortable with it.
You also need to gauge your language level. You want to listen to something that challenges you, but not so much so that you have no idea what you're listening too. Look for content that has some words you know mixed in with others you don't.
Best learning for car learning
$14.95 per month
30 minutes a day
Pimsleur is probably the second most popular language course behind Rosetta Stone. It is audio based and focuses on helping learners improve their conversation skills.
The course uses a unique and effective question/recall/respond technique to get you on your feet in your new foreign language. In each 30 minute lesson you are given a series of Spanish words and phrases along with their english translations.
As the lesson progresses English will be used less and less and you will have to respond to prompts/questions in Spanish. This allows you to recall new vocabulary and practice it much like you would when talking with native speakers.
No other audio course I know of goes so far in giving you a functional vocabulary and giving you chance to practice it in real time.
Pimsleur's Spanish courses are now available through their app. The app includes a driving mode for listening in the car. When you're not studying in the car, the app also provides a hefty reading comprehensive tract to help you get comfortable with reading Spanish.
For a $14.95 per month subscription you get full access to all 5 levels of Pimsleur's Spanish courses. There is even a free trial one week trail that also gives you full access.
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
The focus of the podcast is to introduce new vocabulary and teach you new grammar, all in the context of an actual conversation.
There are literally hundreds of lessons available on Spanishpod101, and they are all sorted by level and topic. While the lessons themselves are well structured, overall Spanishpod101 doesn't force you to follow a specific learning track. You are free to listen and use any lesson you want.
Spanishpod101 is a substantial learning tool (it's also pretty affordable too). In addition to the podcast lessons, the site also features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.
10+ minutes a day
The Gritty Spanish course is an audio based learning program centered around a series of recorded dialogues. Each dialogue has two recordings (one faster and one slower), as well as written transcripts in both English and Spanish.
This program isn't a full on Spanish course, and it doesn't pretend to be. It's true strength is as a Spanish learning tool.
Gritty Spanish uniquely tackles the challenge of Spanish fluency by exposing students to a variety of Spanish accents, colloquialisms, and even swear words. No other Spanish course or program can boast such a practical approach to expanding your Spanish vocabulary.
The conversations are centered on everyday informal interactions you're likely to have on the streets with native Spanish speakers.
Your daily drive to and from work or around town is a great time to improve your Spanish skills. Hopefully this list of resources helped you find a course that meets your specific learning needs!