If you've flown on an airplane, you've probably seen this headline on an ad for Rosetta Stone. While a comprehensive software package is no doubt a great way to gain exposure to a language, fluency requires a commitment most people aren't willing to make. And, if you're like me, you also don't have $200 extra dollars for it. So, I went searching on the Internet for other tools to help move closer to bilingual status.
Podcast Alley is a great site with access to free global podcasts. This is where I found CoffeeBreak Spanish, one of the top-rated podcasts in the world. Entirely free, and part of the Radio Lingua network, it was recorded weekly over 2006 and 2007, and includes about 80 episodes, 15-minutes each, all easily downloaded to your iPod, iPhone or computer. The Radio Lingua network also has podcasts for many other popular languages. I can't vouch for the others, but CoffeeBreak Spanish is so good, word-of-mouth advertising and marketing is all they've needed.
CoffeeBreak Spanish is hosted by a Scottish man who's fluent in Spanish, and a Scottish woman who just like the listener, is there to learn. They're actually in the process of re-recording the entire podcast now, but you can download all of the old ones and listen to them over and over again. It's a brilliant way to supplement your language education, especially if you take public transportation to work.