Want a way to learn Spanish that involves sitting on your couch snacking?
Learning with subtitles is the route for you.
Subtitles or captioning will help you see any spoken words written out, either in Spanish or in a different language.
This makes it easy to learn new vocabulary and practice reading, listening and pronunciation. That’s a lot to learn with one easy, entertaining task!
But before you start learning Spanish with subtitles, let’s lay out the basics.
Why Learn Spanish with Subtitles?
It’s easy to learn Spanish with subtitles. Repeated exposure is key to learning, and using subtitles is an easy way to do this. You only have to put in as much effort as you feel like putting in. Even if that amount of effort is nearly none at all, over time, you’ll still pick up new words if you keep exposing yourself to Spanish with subtitles.
When you learn Spanish with subtitles, it never feels like studying. You’re exposing yourself to a lot of valuable information, but it’s fun, so you keep doing it. Over time, you’ll learn without even trying.
Learning Spanish with subtitles offers an immersive approach that will teach you more authentic Spanish. One of the big benefits of living abroad is that you’re exposing yourself to Spanish often, whether it be in conversation or through the media. By using subtitles, you’re getting the media immersion without leaving home.
How do I know if it is quality content?
One of the biggest challenges to finding the right resources is that there are too many. In fact, it is definitely possible to find bad translations, outdated subtitles, and boring videos (trust me)! That’s why the FluentU Spanish YouTube channel is your secret weapon.
From the same team behind the FluentU language learning program (more on that later!) comes the FluentU YouTube channel.
When you want to know which movies are worth watching, which series are binge-worthy, and how best to make use of this content, simply jump on and check the latest upload.
Even better, you can subscribe to the channel to make sure you never miss any new vids!
How to Learn Spanish with Subtitles on Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and More
Watch English-language video with Spanish subtitles.
This will help you practice reading. To practice your reading and your speaking skills, try saying the Spanish words aloud with the scene.
If you’ve watched the film a lot, try muting the film and relying on the Spanish. This will help you connect the written words with what’s happening, which will help you practice thinking in Spanish rather than translating into English. Thinking in Spanish is the key to fluency! Plus, muting the film will allow you to read the Spanish out loud without distractions.
Watch Spanish-language video with English subtitles.
This will help you practice listening comprehension.
Try to listen primarily to the Spanish version, but when you don’t understand something, rewind and refer to the English text. This is a great way to transition into watching material in Spanish without the intimidation factor of having to understand 100% of the Spanish. Just keep in mind these subtitles aren’t always perfectly accurate translations.
Once you’re familiar enough with the movie, try removing the subtitles to practice listening without any comprehension help.
Watch Spanish-language video with Spanish subtitles.
Try going into full Spanish mode. This will help you connect spoken and written Spanish.
Rewatch scenes with complex grammar rules. Study the written version and pay attention to the spoken version.
Speak along with the movie/TV show as it progresses. Do voices if necessary. The goofier the better! This will help you practice your pronunciation and prepare you in case you’re ever cast in a Spanish-language sitcom.
In all of the above cases, you can expand your search for Spanish videos to watch online with the help of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service like HideMyAss! VPN. Using a VPN, you can hide your IP address—guaranteeing privacy and security while surfing and streaming—and make the internet believe that you’re in a Spanish-speaking country, meaning that you’ll gain access to websites and video hosts that are blocked in your home country. It also greatly expands your Spanish-language movie options on a variety of video streaming sites. More videos, more subtitles!
While totally legal, using a VPN may violate the laws of some regions or the user agreements of some websites, so be sure to look into that.
4 Great Types of Video for Learning Spanish with Subtitles
Spanish-language movies are a great way to learn real Spanish.
They’re long enough to fully immerse viewers in the language and environment while still being quite entertaining. With a few useful tips, you can easily learn Spanish with movies. Using subtitles will make movies the learning tool of your dreams!
Netflix is one great source of Spanish-language movies. Many Spanish- and English-language options offer captioning and dubbing in other languages. With Netflix’s handy guide, you can change language settings, add closed captioning or even change the appearance of the closed captioning if it doesn’t meet your aesthetic criteria.
DVDs are another great option. Many DVDs offer dubbing and/or closed captioning. This means that you can choose which language you hear and which language you read. If you’re considering purchasing a DVD to learn Spanish with subtitles, just check the product details. It will usually list the language it’s in, any languages it’s dubbed in and any subtitles that are available. To access these options, you can usually do so in the “Settings” or “Options” menu.
To learn Spanish with subtitled movies, you might try popular Spanish-language films like “Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios” (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown). The version linked here is in Spanish and offers English subtitles.
Even your favorite childhood cartoons can be of service when learning Spanish. Disney films often offer multiple language options. For instance, “The Little Mermaid” can be bought on Amazon with English or Spanish audio and with English or Spanish subtitles.
When it comes to subtitled television, you have a number of options including Spanish drama series and other great shows.
Regardless of which television show you choose, you’ve got a great study option. Television shows cover a diverse array of topics, so there’s something for everybody and they’ll be able to teach you any type of vocabulary.
Additionally, most shows are short enough to jam into even the busiest schedule. To get subtitled shows, you can try cable, Amazon Prime, Netflix or DVDs.
If you happen to get Spanish-language television via cable, you can look into adding subtitles. Similarly, you might be able to add Spanish subtitles to English-language programming. Just check with your cable provider for instructions on how to add subtitles.
Amazon Prime is another good option for subtitled programming. While many videos only offer English-language subtitling, you can check each video by following Amazon’s directions.
Turning on Spanish subtitles can make Netflix a great learning resource. Netflix offers a nice selection of Spanish-language TV shows, so you’ll have plenty of options.
There are also some great options when it comes to DVDs. For instance, the popular comedy “La Fea Mas Bella” (“The Most Beautiful Ugly”) uses the original Spanish with English subtitles.
If you’re interested in watching American TV shows, you’ll have some options. “American Horror Story Hotel” and “Modern Family” have Spanish subtitles, English subtitles and Spanish dubbing, so you can configure your subtitle/language combination any way you like.
If you want to watch the English-language version but read Spanish subtitles, you can catch up on “Game of Thrones” or enjoy a classic: “Friends.”
Netflix offers similarly great shows both subbed and dubbed in Spanish, including popular Netflix originals like “Stranger Things.”
FluentU is specifically designed to turn authentic subtitled videos into personalized learning lessons.
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 gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re studying with the same video.
There are some awesome YouTube channels designed to help you learn Spanish. YouTube videos are great because you can find something that suits your interest and watch it anywhere—all without spending a dime.
Finding subtitled YouTube videos to help you learn Spanish is also quite easy—just search “Spanish subtitles,” and you’ll find a lot of options of videos in Spanish with English subtitles. “Español subtitulos ingles” (“Spanish subtitles English”) yields some videos that are in Spanish with English subtitles and some videos that are in English with Spanish subtitles.
One good option is “El Pasajero” (The Passenger). This short film is about a taxi driver who tries to rob a passenger, but the robbery does not go as planned.
Many YouTube videos also offer subtitling via automatic speech recognition. Be warned: automatic speech recognition usually isn’t very accurate. If the spoken language is very clean and crisp, it will sometimes work. Either way, it can be interesting to try as long as you are aware of the fact that it isn’t always accurate. To use it, click the “CC” in the lower right corner to turn on the closed captioning (if there’s no CC, the video doesn’t offer closed captioning). Then, you can adjust the language settings by clicking the “settings” icon that looks like a gear.
When you learn Spanish with subtitles, learning is always fun.
The biggest chore you’ll have will be popping the popcorn.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.