15 Ways to Learn Spanish By Watching TV
Is it possible to learn Spanish by watching TV?
Yes! And it’s much easier now thanks to Netflix and other streaming services. In terms of learning Spanish and other languages by watching TV, we’re living the dream right now.
Read this post to learn how and why to learn Spanish by watching TV, including links to plenty of high-quality resources.
Let’s get on with the show!
Benefits of Learning Spanish by Watching TV
One of the biggest challenges of learning a foreign language is understanding the real language that everyday people use. The jump from educational materials to authentic language is often shocking, for example, when traveling to a Spanish-speaking country.
How can learning Spanish by watching TV help you?
The language in movies, shows, documentaries, and news in Spanish is realistic. You hear and learn natural structures, common idiomatic expressions, and high-frequency vocabulary.
What’s more, TV shows and films are entertaining!
Where to Find High-quality Material
Streaming sites make learning languages with TV easier. It’s a cinch to find movies made in Spanish-speaking countries or turn on Spanish audio or subtitles.
To find high-quality subtitles for the Spanish movies, use the catalog from Language Learning with Netflix. Just choose Spanish as the desired language and the country you’re located in, and you’ll get a list of titles.
Check out the following articles on our Homeschool Spanish Academy blog to choose interesting movies, documentaries, and series to learn Spanish:
- List of Disney Movies to Watch in Spanish
- 5 Awesome Spanish Movies on Netflix to Watch Right Now
- 15 Good Family Movies to Watch in Spanish on Netflix
- 12 Entertaining Argentinian Movies to Watch on Netflix in 2021
- 11 Native Spanish Shows on Netflix for Teenagers (14+)
- 10 Must-See Spanish Shows on Hulu
- 9 Native Spanish Shows on Amazon Prime to Watch in Latin America
- 8 of the Best Spanish TV Shows for Adults in 2020
15 Ways to Learn Spanish by Watching TV
When it comes to watching TV in Spanish, it’s important to focus on achievable tasks. The first 5 items on the list help prepare you to learn Spanish by watching TV. From the remaining 10 list items, I suggest choosing one or two strategies at a time according to your individual needs and goals.
1. Install Netflix Chrome Extension
First, install the Language Learning with Netflix Chrome extension. This tool lets you watch TV shows with double subtitles (English and Spanish, for example), choose between human and automated translation, highlight and save specific vocabulary, set the reproduction speed, and more.
This handy software makes it much easier to learn Spanish by watching TV.
2. Use VPN and Netflix Codes
Use a Netflix Catalogue extension to find Spanish movies with high-quality subtitles or a Netflix code to find all the movies in Spanish available in your location.
Download a good VPN like Hola to unlock Spanish content outside your location. This enables you to access RTVE (Radio Televisión Española) outside Spain.
3. Watch Passively
Start watching Spanish TV passively. Turn it on while doing other things, just to hear the sound and to peek from time to time. Turn on the Spanish audio and English subtitles.
This method doesn’t require much effort on your part and still lets your brain pick up some vocabulary and get accustomed to the melody of the Spanish language.
4. Incorporate TV Watching into Your Daily Routine
Plan your TV watching routine. Do you always watch an episode of a series before going to bed? Dedicate it to passive watching.
Be sure to choose time slots in your daily and weekly schedule for more active ways to learn Spanish by watching TV. Remember, repetition is crucial, so it’s better to have shorter periods every day than to spend all day Saturday in front of a TV screen.
5. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
If you’re a beginner, it’s best to focus on one movie or one series first and watch it over and over again. Why?
This will help you memorize vocabulary, phrases, and dialogues naturally. Read stories about real people Spanish with Argentine telenovelas. If you’re a fanatic of How I Met Your Mother, you’ll quickly pick up “challenge accepted” and other iconic phrases.
Narrowing your show and movie choice also helps you focus on the strategies mentioned later on in this article.
6. Write Down What You Hear
This is a great exercise to improve oral comprehension and spelling.
Play a short clip of a movie or series without subtitles. Write down what you hear and check it against the subtitles. Did you get it all? Did you spell everything right?
7. Repeat Dialogue and Record Yourself
If you want to learn Spanish by watching TV, language shadowing is one of the best methods. Play a clip and repeat the words aloud.
Don’t forget to record yourself to check it against the original. This exercise helps to improve pronunciation and intonation. You’ll also be working on your speed and your sinalefas.
8. Write Down Vocabulary Words with Translation and Examples
If you hear a Spanish word in a movie that you don’t know, and it’s often repeated or you find it intriguing, write it down along with an English translation.
Keep a special notebook to write down new words and phrases from TV shows. Jot down the movie title and an example sentence.
9. Watch in Spanish with English Subtitles
This passive learning method constantly trains your ear.
Beginning Spanish learners tend to complain that native Spanish speakers speak rapidly. At first, a foreign language sounds like one single and impossible-to-understand word.
Listening to authentic Spanish audio and associating it with English words and expressions helps you get through this stage quickly.
10. Watch in Spanish with Spanish Subtitles
What’s the point of watching TV in Spanish with Spanish subtitles if you’re a beginner? This practice actually has lots of benefits. Primarily, you’re starting to associate Spanish sounds with specific letter combinations. You may discover, for example, that the letter h is mute in Spanish or that ll is pronounced differently than you thought.
11. Improve Your Spelling – English Audio with Spanish Subtitles
When you watch TV with English audio with Spanish subtitles on, you’re working on your spelling, in addition to picking up new words.
People who read have better spelling. Seeing Spanish written is easy to do while watching TV.
12. Retell What You Watched
Even at beginning levels, you can start retelling orally or writing down the storyline of the movies you watched. Incorporate as many of the new words and phrases you learned as possible. Don’t worry about grammar mistakes; this is about fluency rather than accuracy.
13. Improve Your Oral Comprehension by Watching New Material
While watching your favorite movie or series repeatedly is awesome, it’s helpful to surprise yourself with unknown content from time to time.
Find a movie you know nothing about or watch the first episode of a series and try to understand as much as you can. This is how you force your brain to work on oral comprehension, quite similar to real-life situations in a foreign country (but less stressful). Rewatch it later in English to check your comprehension.
14. Watch Documentaries and Youtube Videos
If you’re interested in specific vocabulary, such as gardening, cooking, or climate change, look for TV content that targets these topics.
Netflix has many interesting educational documentaries to choose from. And Youtube channels exist for everything:
- videojuegos – video games
- cómo tejer – how to knit
- cómo cocinar – how to cook
- cómo entrenar a tu perro – how to train your dog
- cómo aprender español – how to learn Spanish
15. Watch the News
Watching the news in Spanish is a practical way to learn useful vocabulary. Watching news may be easier than reading or listening to it, as the images make comprehension easier.
Check out the following sites for high-quality news content in Spanish:
Give Your Spanish a Boost
Are you convinced that it’s doable to learn Spanish by watching TV? It’s not only doable but also entertaining. What’s more, by becoming bilingual you’re also improving your cognition and decision-making abilities. And all this from the comfort of your couch.
An excellent strategy to complement learning Spanish by watching TV is speaking with a native speaker. Sign up for a free trial class with one of our certified, native Spanish-speaking teachers and have a one-to-one conversation to show how much you’ve learned just by watching TV.
Want more Spanish resources? Check these out!
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- Adapting Education: Spanish Lessons for All Learning Styles
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