So what is Audiria?
|Audiria was the brainchild of two Málaga-born brothers|
Photo credit: Nicole Abalde licensed CC BY-ND 2.0
Conceived as a not-for-profit project by two Málaga-based brothers, the site aims at promoting the Spanish language and culture throughout the world through its free language-learning podcasts. The brothers are also supported by two other members of their family, one from Burgos and the other from Madrid. All four of them are currently based out of Madrid. Outside of the family, the team of four is often helped by a volunteering contributor from Connecticut in the US.
Amongst a plethora of Spanish learning podcasts that came out of the woodwork as we got down to hunting them down for reviews, Audiria stands out on many counts. One important feature is their offer of a new podcast everyday. Yes, that’s right, a new stuff for listeners every single day without exception! This alone makes it a rich source of materials for even the most prolific of learners who love to devour a lot very quickly. And it’s not just the numbers that they excel at. Audiria podcasts are based on a wide-range of topics and areas of interest and are crafted to suit all levels of proficiency in Spanish. So, in short, there’s something for everyone.
How it works
As already said, Audiria publishes one audio file, or podcast, everyday which is available to learners for free with no strings attached. These podcasts, called chapters by the website, are mostly plain audios, but can also at times include videos.
Each podcast is tagged, and thus classified, on the basis of linguistic complexity – Level 1 podcasts are for the beginners, Level 2 for the intermediate, and Level 3 for advanced students.
Other than levels of difficulty, podcasts are also classified into various “channels” on the basis of their central themes – Press, Songs, Kitchen, Art, Don Quixote, History, Daily Scenes, Culture, Slow, Short Scenes, TV, etc. – so that the readers can choose to listen to chapters discussing topics of their specific interest.
Each chapter is posted along with a well-documented transcript to aid comprehension and these transcripts are sent right to the learner’s email if they are subscribed to receive them. These transcripts go a long way in helping the listeners get their heads around certain podcasts recorded with a high, native-level rate of speech.
To further reinforce their comprehension, learners can take tests answering a bunch of random questions pertaining to the chapter in question and, if registered, can review their progress using a bunch of statistical analyses. Furthermore, the site also offers a “Utilities” section where one can look up the meaning of any new Spanish word they come across while listening to the podcasts. The same section also allows one to review the conjugations of any Spanish verb, quite handy at times.
An extremely rich aspect is the “Resources” section where one can find neatly categorized links to a wide variety of online resources, all bunched up under the “Multimedia” sub-section. These resources include online tutorials, dictionaries, radio and television sites, Spanish learning games, and online language learning communities among others.
Why we love it
The biggest strength of Audiria’s content is its freshness. There’s a new podcast every day to ensure you never get bored or repetitive. All four contributors being native speakers of Spanish, the content is expectedly authentic, more so in the “TV” and “Pictures” channels. And if you already have leastwise an intermediate-level acquaintance with the language, the readings from Don Quixote and Alexander Dumas are worth listening to. Furthermore, the selection of external links in the “Resources” section seems mighty thoughtful and methodical. Those links can satisfy pretty much all your Spanish learning needs; none of them is there “just for the heck of it.”
|Audiria podcasts are modeled on real-life scenarios and contextual Spanish|
Photo credit: Mystery People licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
Another big plus is that the chapters are modeled on real-life scenarios and contextual usage. Nothing sounds artificially staged. This serves to offer you an interesting window to the rich Hispanic culture and lifestyle. And there are just tons of reading, listening, and writing activities for practice. It is this neat packaging of interesting content with reinforcing practice that makes Audiria such an engaging experience.
On the technical side, the audio quality is excellent to begin with and so is the quality of transcripts (one of the benefits of having a native Spanish-speaking electrical engineer on board). As far as the site itself is concerned, the clean layout leaves little room for confusion and the page itself loads fairly quickly. No overdose of ads either; there are some on the right but they are small, few, and quietly tucked away in their corners never interfering with your learning. This is quite unlike the annoying “in-your-face” flash ads, popups, or banners many other peers toss at you.
If awards and recognitions drive your trust in a service or product, Audiria claims to have been elected as the official project of the UNESCO International Year of Languages in 2008. We sure do hope that UNESCO’s verdict counts!
And what they could do better
There is yin and there is yang. There is good and there is bad. Of course, Audiria is a marvel to work with and an irresistible tool worth every Spanish learner’s arsenal. However, like anything else in the world it, too, has its fair share of flaws. Actually, calling them flaws might be too harsh on them and even an exaggeration. How about areas of improvement, instead?
To begin with, they still lack a simple list of general language topics one can expect to have covered with them, a syllabus. It’s no big deal but a definite good-to-have especially from the standpoint of absolutely fresh learners who are as clueless about what they need to learn as they are about what to learn.
|Being a madrileño service, Audiria’s Spanish follows the accent of Spain throughout|
Photo credit: Osvaldo Gago licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
Another downside (not sure if it’s even fair to call it a “downside”) is that being an essentially madrileño service, Audiria podcasts are almost exclusively European in nature. What this means is they are excellent if the accent and pronunciation you intend to pick is that of Spain. But if you prefer or just need a Latin American dialect, Audiria might not help much at least with the pronunciation bit. The basics are still the same though and it will still teach you Spanish if you are not fussy about accents.
But these little clinks, in no way, take away from the otherwise extremely effective Spanish delivery mechanism that Audiria is and should not deter you from experiencing it. Overall, it’s a wonderful resource to get exposure to spoken Spanish, picking up some interesting trivia on culture and literature along the way. One promise that Audiria delivers quite efficiently is that of being an engaging teacher. Just use it for what it does best, i.e., the podcasts and activities, and you are good. For grammar tips you’re better off referencing some other site that specializes in it.
And don’t forget to let our fellow learners know about your experience with Audiria! Actually, feel free to do it better – let us know if you stumble upon something else that trumps Audiria or is at least as good and we all can explore it together, maybe?