Learning Spanish with TV shows: Tips and ideas


What can be a better way to learn Spanish than doing it while watching one of your favorite TV shows?

Many of my students keep asking me suggestions about TV shows in Spanish that they could watch to improve their learning and also, and if watching a TV show really helps to improve.

Well, watching a TV show in the target language (that is, the language you are learning) can be really helpful, but can also be fruitless.

Let me explain.

No passive activity is going to give you many results. TV shows, podcasts, music… all these resources give amazing results when used as an addition to your learning routine, besides making the experience a lot more fun!

  1. What’s the purpose?
    1. Serious study approach to this material
    2. Just to spice things up and increase your motivation

Both approaches are valid and very positive, but just have in mind that minimal input brings less results than doing a conscious effort. So if you want to make your Spanish learning more fun and keep your motivations up,  watch a Spanish movie with English subtitles, but if you want to see a big improvement in your Spanish skills, then watch a short TV show adapted to your level while reading the transcripts. And, hey, you can do both!

2. Find a TV show or podcast adapted to your level. Some suggestions:

Yabla has got loads of content for languages learners, includes subtitles and you can even modify the speed!

This series is designed specifically to language learners. It’s similar to “Friends” in that the story revolves around a group of friends living in Barcelona. An American guy, Sam, comes to stay with the two girls, Ana and Lola, and the series is about the group and Sam’s attempts to learn Spanish. His mistakes often lead to pretty ridiculous misunderstandings, as anyone learning a language will surely understand… 😉

The Spanish characters correct Sam as he makes mistakes and there are recaps every now and then that go over the language Sam is learning. The series is very entertaining and perfect for elementary to intermediate level students, as it has Spanish subtitles and the characters speak slowly and clearly.

Web series are a new and interesting option to watch independent series. Normally, episodes last around 10 minutes. “Malviviendo” is good for learning Spanish slang related to drugs and relationships (which is some of the most popularly-used slang). The characters talk pretty quickly, so this show is suitable for more advanced learners.

This show is about five Spaniards trying to start a new life in the UK. The episodes are focused on their experiences learning English and finding housing, jobs and new friends, while while trying to keep in touch with their loved ones back in Spain.

This TV show is perfect for beginners, since it will help you to develop your comprehension skills. It is particularly useful because each episode has dialogues in Spanish and English. The show also has English subtitles when the characters are speaking in Spanish and vice versa.

Les Luthiers (French for musical instrument makers) are a very well-known Latin American music and comedy group. These guys are a class act, and their numerous Spanish TV shows are full of refined humor and musical skits. Hence their name, they play a homemade instrument each episode, in homage to their fictional character, Johann Sebastian Mastropiero. Sadly, Mastropiero lacks any real musical talent.

These shows are best for intermediate and advanced learners. The comedians speak slowly and very clearly. They’re perfect for learning vocabulary related to music, history and social aspects of modern and older times.

So, now you can pick and choose the show suitable to your level.

The next step is watching it… with a pen and a notebook in hand to note the new words and expressions that might appear.
Don’t hesitate in stopping the video and taking notes, listening again and again until you catch the words. However, I don’t advice trying to get everything all the time as it will make you frustrated and tired. Getting the general idea is the main goal.

 

Let me know in the comments what is your experience watching TV shows, or if you have any other suggestions to add to the list. Looking forward to your comments!

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