Can I learn Spanish by listening?

There are many questions about learning Spanish by listening.

Some of the most frequently asked questions are…

  • What if I’m a beginner? Isn’t this only necessary for more advanced learners?
  • Should I focus on specific listening skills?
  • How do I practice listening to Spanish?

And last but not least,

What is listening? 

Listening is…

the ability to make sense of spoken language. 

This allows us to develop speaking, reading, and writing skills. Learners improve their ability to recognize and differentiate between sounds, words, and phrases. Overall, this helps learners enhance proficiency in understanding and communicating in the target language.

Which brings us to the main question,

Can I learn Spanish by listening?

The short answer is…


The longer answer if you’re into the science of language…

Listening involves complex cognitive processes within the brain. Many neural connections must be made within the brain. The key auditory processor contains the auditory cortex (receives sound), Wernicke’s area (comprehension of speech), and Brocca’s area (produces speech).

This means listening involves actively receiving and understanding auditory information, including words, phrases, and intonation, to comprehend meaning and respond appropriately.

It is the foundational skill for all the language skills.

What if I am a beginner? Isn’t this only necessary for more advanced learners?

Listening skills are helpful for learners at any level.

Listening should be considered the primary language input.

Listening is the end goal, and it supports the development of all language skills including speaking, reading, and writing. 

It is essential to develop comprehension and fluency, both in speech and print.

Should I focus on specific listening skills?

There are several listening skills we can target. The subskills that fall under listening include…

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness helps learners to recognize and distinguish Spanish sounds. Learn more about phonological awareness here


The ability to connect sound to print allows learners to speak clearly, understand word boundaries, decode new vocabulary, and predict patterns in speech. More about phonics here.


Expanding vocabulary through listening helps learners develop listening comprehension and strengthens proficiency in all language skills. Click here for more about vocabulary.

Morphological Awareness

Morphological awareness is the ability to recognize and understand the meaning of morphemes in words. Morphemes are the smallest units of meaning in language.


Comprehension is the ability to understand and make sense of words, phrases, sentences, and passages. It involves direct recall, making inferences, and comprehension of the message. 


As you gain confidence, challenge yourself with more complex listening materials. Explore different accents, speech rates, and genres to adapt to varied real-life situations.

And finally, 

How do I fit listening into my language learning plan?

1 – Warm up for your listening practice with phonological awareness activities. Doing sound drills prepares your ears and brain for the cognitive processes required in listening. This makes listening a smoother process. 

2 – Incorporate comprehension activities before, during, and after your listening practice. For example, before reading, predict vocabulary from the topic of the audio. After reading, recall information using questions like “Who or What?”, “Did what?”, “Where or when?”.

3 – Align the subskills with your listening practice. This connection helps learners understand how the activities make their listening practice effective.

In sum, listening equips you to become an effective communicator in Spanish. Listening skills help build confidence along your language learning journey.

Now you know about learning Spanish by listening!

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