Why Disney Movies with Spanish Subtitles Are Amazing Learning Tools
What’s your favorite Disney movie?
No matter how old you are or where you live, chance are you have a favorite.
Even if you don’t, you’ve probably watched at least one Disney film in your life.
Want to turn your favorite Disney movie into a Spanish-learning tool?
You can, with Spanish subtitles!
But don’t just turn those subtitles on: Make a game out of it!
In this post, we share six fun ways to turn your Disney movie watching into a Spanish language-learning game.
Why Learn Spanish with Subtitled Disney Movies
Disney animated films are great Spanish teaching tools because they include some tried-and-true elements: Universally appealing heroes and villains, traditional storytelling methods and deliciously catchy songs.
Here’s why it’s a good idea to learn Spanish with the Disney princesses:
- Universal appeal: Disney’s universal storytelling methods and appeal to all ages make them ideal movies for learning Spanish.
- Familiar content: If you’ve already watched the movie you plan to use for learning, you’re familiar with the story and can focus on the language it uses.
- Supremely quotable: Can you quote some lines from a Disney movie? I bet you can! Now you’ll be able to do so in Spanish. This isn’t just impressive, it’s also a great way to remember sentence structures and vocabulary.
- Translation practice: With the games in this post, you’ll be improving your translation skills and strengthening your vocab and grammar knowledge.
- Musical learning: Things are more memorable when you put them in a song. You’re sure to know some Disney songs in English. Now sing them in Spanish!
- It’s fun!
Gather Your Disney Spanish-learning Supplies
To play the games below, you’ll need:
Disney films with Spanish subtitles
Seems obvious, right? This can be from your own personal DVD collection or a streaming service like Hulu or Netflix.
Either option usually allows you to change your subtitle language preference. Make sure it’s set to Spanish to start with!
Grab your physical dictionary, use a Spanish dictionary app or visit a browser dictionary like SpanishDict.
Your favorite language-learning tools
Disney movies are a fun way to learn, but you won’t learn Spanish from Disney alone! You’ll need to supplement these games with some great language-learning programs.
If you love learning with videos, for instance, you’ll love FluentU!
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos topics, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
Plus, if you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and recommends examples and videos for you based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re studying with the same video.
Now, ¡Canta conmigo! (Sing with me!)
“Can you feel the love tonight… for learning Spanish with Disney movies!”
6 Games to Turn Any Disney Movie with Spanish Subtitles into a Language Lesson
1. ¿Cómo es la línea? (What’s the Line?)
Here’s one for the fans!
This game will teach you all your favorite Disney quotes… in Spanish.
The point of the game is to guess a line in the film, translate it into Spanish, then use the Spanish subtitles to see if you’re correct.
You can play this game (and any of the games on this list, really) by yourself or with others—the more the merrier!
How to play:
1. Turn on Spanish subtitles and hit “play.”
2. Pause the movie at random.
3. Try to guess the next line in English.
4. Translate the line into Spanish.
5. Press “play” and see if you were right, or close.
If your translation was off, write down the line. Check where you went wrong—you might find a weakness to focus your studies on.
2. Perdido en la traducción (Lost in Translation)
Translation is difficult, particularly when there isn’t a direct translation or if a phrase is culturally specific.
When a Disney movie (or any movie) is translated into Spanish, the translators try to make the conversations sound as natural as possible. This means that, quite often, dialogue isn’t translated word for word, but rather to in a way that gets the basic gist and overall meaning across.
In this game, you’ll look for these translation discrepancies.
How to play:
1. Turn on Spanish subtitles and play the movie.
2. As you watch, compare the spoken dialogue to the Spanish subtitles.
3. Whenever you see/hear a discrepancy, pause the movie.
4. Translate the Spanish line literally, word for word, and see how it differs from the English version.
Can you tell why the translation was written the way that it was? How else can you translate the English line into Spanish? Try translating it back into Spanish literally.
This exercise will show you just how important word choice is in getting your point across (in any language!).
3. ¿Cómo se dice? (How Do You Say That?)
Let’s test your translation skills!
This game requires a copy of a movie’s English language script.
Thank goodness for the internet and Disney fans, because they’ve transcribed many Disney films! Check out the list posted by the New York Film Academy Student Resources, “10 Great Websites to Download Movie Scripts,” to find the Disney film script you’re looking for.
How to play:
1. Find a Disney movie’s script in English.
2. Choose your favorite lines and/or scenes from the movie and translate them into Spanish.
3. Watch the movie with Spanish subtitles on.
4. Pause the movie during the lines or scenes you translated.
5. Compare your translation against the official subtitles.
Did you manage to get close to the official translation? If you didn’t, try it again, this time focusing on the meaning instead of the individual words.
4. ¿Qué es la conjugación? (What’s the Conjugation?)
Spanish verb conjugation can a daunting challenge.
In this game, you’ll get to practice your Spanish verb conjugation and hear it used in conversation.
How to play:
1. Choose a tense to focus on.
2. Play the movie with Spanish subtitles on.
3. Watch the subtitles for the tense you chose.
4. Pause the movie whenever you find it in use and write down the line it’s in.
For an extra challenge, try this game without focusing on a tense.
Instead, pause the movie occasionally and try to figure out which tense the verbs are using. Then, check yourself against the English audio.
5. Canta con las canciones (Sing Along with the Songs)
Okay, I know this is the game you have been waiting for.
Disney is famously known for the songs from its animated classics (or infamously, if they get stuck in your head in a ceaseless loop). No matter what language Disney songs are translated into, they’re fun and catchy.
Does anyone remember the Disney Sing-Along-Song series from the ’80s and ’90s? Too bad Disney stopped the series… they should bring it back! (Hint hint.) This game is the Spanish-language version!
This is a sing-along game, but with a Spanish twist: rhyming in Spanish!
How to play:
1. Choose a Disney song you’re familiar with.
2. Sing it through in English once.
3. Then, use the Spanish subtitles (or just find a Spanish version of the song) and try to sing it in Spanish.
4. Restart the song and pause it at the end of a line.
5. Try to sing the next part of the song based on its rhyming pattern.
This game is a great way to boost your vocabulary!
For a fun twist, try to come up with a different continuation for the song, following the rhyme pattern.
6. La búsqueda de vocabulario (The Vocabulary Hunt)
While Disney movies revolve around universal themes, they also contain huge amounts of advanced and basic Spanish words.
Each Disney animated movie is like a themed Spanish dictionary. “La Sirenita” (“The Little Mermaid”), for instance, uses many words about the ocean, while “Hercules” can teach you more… well, heroic words.
This game reinforces and builds your Spanish vocabulary.
How to play:
1. Choose a scene from a Disney movie.
2. Before you watch it, write down all the words you can think of that fit the theme of the movie or scene.
(For instance, for a scene from “The Little Mermaid,” you might write down words related to land and walking, or the water and marine life).
3. Watch the scene.
4. Every time you see a word from your list, put a check-mark next to it.
5. Every time you see a thematically related word, write it down.
How many words did you check off? Learning vocabulary in related groups makes them more memorable. Write down the definition of any word you didn’t know before.
Now let’s finish our earlier sing-along.
Canta conmigo una vez más, por favor. (Sing with me one more time, please.)
“And if you learn Spanish tonight, it can be assumed, your incomprehensible days are history, in short, you’re no longer doomed!”