My Spanish language journey has been, uh, sub-optimal, to say the least, so I don’t know if I have much to recommend for the beginner stage . I made it to the intermediate stage with a combination of mediocre high school Spanish classes and then revisiting the material through the Duolingo app years later, which allowed me to more or less recover what I had learned in school.
I don’t know if I can recommend the Duolingo app (especially since they’ve started going down the route of AI translation…), but I can recommend the Duolingo podcast! I credit that podcast with basically all of my early gains in listening comprehension. If you’ve made it to the early intermediate stage, it’s a great podcast, because it’s a bit slower than natural speech (and has a fair amount of English support), and it uses limited vocabulary. It also has transcripts available, though I confess, I never used them. You’ll get practice with a variety of different accents, too.
The podcast is genuinely really great! I was surprised by how interesting I found the episodes. There’s something for everyone in there. My favorite was The Mystery of the Itata season they did, which is genuinely an incredible story just as a narrative.
When I started out listening to the podcast, my brain took long enough to process the sentences, I feel like I was always a step behind the conversation, but after listening to around 100 or so episodes, I was able to understand everything at spoken speed with like 99% comprehension.
I eventually decided to move on to a harder podcast, so after googling around for some advice on the subject, I picked up Radio Ambulante, which is an NPR podcast primarily aimed at native speakers. It’s similar to the Duolingo podcast in terms of overall tone and topics that it covers (some people who worked on the Duolingo podcast were actually with Radio Ambulante initially), but there’s no English, and the Spanish is spoken at native speed, and the vocabulary is not artificially limited. It also has transcripts! And I believe an English translation you can reference as well? So it’s pretty accessible, as far as upper intermediate/low advanced listening resources go.
It took me several episodes of Radio Ambulante before I feel like I was able to adjust to the difficulty, so my comprehension for the first few was much lower, but now I feel like I’m able to grasp most of the Spanish (though my comprehension varies depending on the topic), and I’m really enjoying it! I feel like I learn a lot from it.
In addition to podcasts, when I reached the point where the Duolingo podcast was easy for me, I started watching Bob Esponja (the SpongeBob SquarePants Spanish dub). It’s been decent practice because the vocabulary is fairly everyday (give or take some sea-related terminology that is considerably less everyday for most people…), and the episodes are essentially entirely standalone, so you don’t have to worry if your comprehension is only spotty for one, because the plot will resolve by the end of it and it’ll move on to something else.
Before that, I’d watched a few Spanish TV dramas and films with Spanish subtitles, and those went alright, but I was looking for something I could try listening to without subs, and Bob Esponja was a good fit because it’s entertaining enough to keep my attention, and I had some familiarity with the series already, but had zero real investment in it, so it doesn’t bother me if my comprehension isn’t perfect.