News in Slow Spanish Review: Quality content, poor website

Updated: August 12, 2022
Fact-Check & Editorial Responsibility: Kris Broholm

Join us as we use current events to learn Spanish with News in Slow Spanish. In this review, we’ll go over what it is, how it works, and whether or not you should subscribe.

Our Verdict

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Navigating the counter-intuitive website is our biggest hangup with News in Slow Spanish. It, ironically, slows down the learning process and gets in the way of its outstanding audio quality and thorough coverage. If you can get past that, you’ll struggle to find a better source of contextual supplementary Spanish lessons.

TL;DR News in Slow Spanish Review

Here are some quick pros and cons of News in Slow Spanish, if you haven't got time to read the whole review: 

Pros

  • Excellent audio quality
  • Breaks it down for you visually and audibly 
  • Encourages learning via real-world context
  • Provides full coverage for both European and Latin American Spanish

Cons

  • It will not get you to fluency alone
  • Navigation of the site is a nightmare
  • “Enrolling” in a course is the only way to track progress, and the free trial expires after one week
  • Expensive compared to alternatives

What is News in Slow Spanish?

News in Slow Spanish is a weekly podcast series that introduces you to current events in Spanish. It's delivered at varying paces depending on your skill level, but, as the name suggests, the narrators speak slowly and clearly to help maximise your understanding. 

The company also provides two other courses: Get Up to Speed for absolute beginners, and Change of Pace for more advanced learners. And if Spanish isn’t your thing, the News In Slow programme also offers French, German, and Italian variants, too!

What can you do on News in Slow Spanish?

In this News in Slow Spanish review, we'll go over each of the three main programmes: Get Up to Speed, News in Slow Spanish, and Change of Pace.

Get Up to Speed

This series is not meant for absolute beginners of Spanish who have never taken a formal lesson before. The opposite, really. It’s meant for people who have attempted to learn Spanish and, for whatever reason, given up or had to stop their progress. 

Conducted in English, the G.U.T.S series covers the basics of the language, most notably in the form of grammar. Each lesson contains the following: 

  • The core content of the lesson, given in both written and podcast form
  • A story, with both narration and text to follow
  • A brief quiz covering the story topic, and
  • A pronunciation module, where you try to replicate the native speaker’s words in a recorded format.
The lessons in G.U.T.S are excellently written. The script…not so much.

In our opinion, the podcast script this series uses for the lesson itself comes across as a bit…much. The narrators lean in too much to the engagement factor that it ends up sounding a bit contrived and almost cringe-worthy. 

Nevertheless, the lesson content itself is thoroughly explained, and the narrations boast excellent audio quality. Not a computer-generated pronunciation in sight here; just authentic, fluent Spanish.

News In Slow Spanish

News in Slow Spanish actually corresponds to its intermediate series, or at least it did until early 2021. At the time of writing, the programme launched a new series following the same principles as the intermediate series, only meant for beginners. 

The beginner’s News in Slow Spanish series is still in a fledgeling state, so we’ll focus on the intermediate series for this review.

Each week, the podcast covers a variety of current events, from coronavirus vaccinations to political unrest in Latin and South America, and much more. You can listen to the podcast in its entirety, or listen to the topics one at a time. Each portion of the podcast is accompanied by a transcript, with difficult keywords highlighted so you can view translations.

The narration in the intermediate series is a bit faster than that of the beginner News in Slow Spanish series and uses a slightly more complex set of vocabulary. You can also adjust the speed of the narration, bumping it up to 1.5x speed or knocking it down to 0.5x speed. 

It also does away with the accompanying quizzes that the G.U.T.S series has but keeps the pronunciation practice module. 

Change of Pace

Change of Pace is the advanced series of weekly news podcasts that News in Slow Spanish offers.

Similar to News in Slow Spanish Intermediate, it simply covers the same topics in more complex terms, with a slightly faster narration to accompany it. 

This series also eliminates the pronunciation practice module. Whether it’s because they assume you’re more comfortable in your pronunciation or if this is a feature they plan to add to advanced content later, we can’t say. 

What we can say is that Change of Pace focuses solely on your listening comprehension.

Other Series

The programme also has a wide variety of other series on offer. These cover everything from meditation to music, from the stories used in the G.U.T.S lessons to more common folktales and urban legends. These side topics aren’t discussed in as great depth as the current events podcasts are, but they’re a fresh change for those who need a break from the news.

What does News in Slow Spanish look like?

We’ve got to be totally honest, here… Navigating News in Slow Spanish is a bit of a nightmare. 

When we created and verified our free trial subscription, it provided three links: one to G.U.T.S, one to News in Slow Spanish Intermediate, and one to Change of Pace. By following each link, each series is broken down into individual lessons, and from there, you can click and view each lesson’s individual component. 

From this easy-to-navigate list…

So for example, I can click on Lesson 1 of G.U.T.S and view the lesson, the grammar explanation, the story, the quiz, and the pronunciation module. Or, I can view each individual current event in any of the news podcasts in News in Slow Spanish Intermediate. 

If this were how the entire website was laid out, we would have no qualms with it. This setup is intuitive and makes larger content chunks more manageable. Unfortunately, I can't find these links anywhere else on the website. 

Other than the initial confirmation page, I haven’t been able to find links to these directories anywhere. When you click on lessons from the homepage under their corresponding tab, the layout is very different, and not nearly as intuitive.

…to this hard-to-navigate slider. No, there aren't any links to click on to get to the first page. Yes, we were sad about it too.

And that’s not the only problem.

The News in Slow Spanish Intermediate and Change of Pace courses each have hundreds of podcasts, and the search function is…non-functional, at best. I tried to search for the first podcast and came up empty. If you want to backtrack, you have to physically scroll until you reach the podcast you want. 

We’d recommend you bookmark those links from the initial subscription confirmation to save yourself some headache. It won’t save you from the headache entirely, but it will help.

Who is News in Slow Spanish best for?

News in Spanish is best for people who have, at the very least, a baseline understanding of Spanish. Even if your skills are rusty and need polishing, you’ll benefit most if you aren’t an absolute beginner. From there, anyone with an interest in broadening their understanding of Spanish will find News in Slow Spanish useful. 

It is not, however, a substitute for a more traditional approach to language learning. You will not become fluent through News in Slow Spanish alone; it is best used as a supplementary tool. It also only has one way of tracking your progress: by “enrolling” in a course from the courses page. 

This feature is not available for all series News in Slow Spanish offers, and you are given a week to complete a course before you “fail” and have to re-enrol. It’s a bit of a clunky system for tracking your progress if you ask us.

What languages does News in Slow Spanish offer?

Unlike most programmes, which default to either Latin American Spanish or European Spanish, News in Slow Spanish offers both. The differences between the two aren’t enough to be mutually unintelligible, but enough to warrant the two separate courses. 

It’s similar to the difference between American and British English; you can get by in one knowing the other, but there will be some things you just don’t understand. That’s why News in Slow Spanish chose to bridge the gap between them by offering both versions of Spanish.

How much does News in Slow Spanish cost?

A monthly subscription to News In Slow Spanish will run you $22.90 USD each month. There are no alternative subscription options, but no contracts, either. You subscribe when you want, and cancel whenever you like, as well. It's definitely not the cheapest language learning program out there, but its high-quality content is worth the price tag.

You can try out the program for free for seven days with their trial. However, you will be required to provide payment information!

What are the Pros and Cons of News in Slow Spanish?

Pros

  • Excellent audio quality
  • Breaks it down for you visually and audibly 
  • Encourages learning via real-world context
  • Provides full coverage for both European and Latin American Spanish

Cons

  • Will not get you to fluency alone
  • Navigation of the site is a nightmare
  • “Enrolling” in a course is the only way to track progress, and expires after one week
  • Expensive compared to alternatives

Are There Any Alternatives to News in Slow Spanish?

News in Slow Spanish vs. Spanish With Paul

If you’re a fan of the guided audio format, you may want to give Spanish with Paul a look. His content is all completely free, and he too features high-quality audio and some of the best explanations of grammar to date. 

We, however, found his content to be extremely boring. Read our review to find out why we’d recommend investing money into a good audio programme rather than use Spanish With Paul.

News in Slow Spanish vs. Bite Size Spanish

The problem with podcasts is that they tend to be long, and News in Slow Spanish is no different. Their lessons can stretch upwards of fifteen minutes, and that’s not including any stopping and starting if you struggle with comprehension. 

Bite Size Spanish reduces that by offering language courses in short, easy-to-digest dialogue-based lessons. These lessons take only a few minutes every day to complete, helping to prevent that dread language-learning burnout. 

Take a look at the programme for yourself!

A Round-Up of Our News in Slow Spanish Review

For the concept, News in Slow Spanish is outstanding. The audio quality is some of the finest we’ve seen on the market. The coverage of real-life events makes it easier to understand Spanish as it’s actually used outside of a classroom setting, and the broad variety of topics, not just the current events, makes sure that there is something for everyone. 

It even goes the extra mile by providing two entirely separate programmes for Latin American Spanish and European Spanish. We just can’t get past the struggle of navigating the website. If it could improve upon its directory system and its search function, News in Slow Spanish would have a home run on its hands.

Ori Starling

Ori Starling is a writer, editor, and translator based out of the United States. Their interest in languages began over 25 years ago, teaching themselves Spanish at a young age from tapes so that they could speak with family. Since then, they've studied Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese, with plans to continue their lifelong language learning journey.