A Quick Guide to Learning Spanish with Comics
Music and movies are like hammers and screwdrivers in the world of Spanish study materials; they’re the basic tool you’ll return to again and again.
They’re hugely powerful for increasing your vocabulary, improving your pronunciation, providing enjoyment and holding your attention.
Tiras cómicas (Comic strips) will help you round out your toolbox, like adding a ball-peen hammer to the mix.
- Spanish Comics Online
- How to Learn Spanish with Comics
- Resources for Learning Spanish with Comics
- More Comics in Spanish
Spanish Comics Online
The Go Comics site has a variety of comics in Spanish, and with their smart phone apps you can have easy access to a daily dose of your favorites – free, if you don’t mind the ads. Several long-time favorites like Garfield, Dilbert, Calvin & Hobbes and Snoopy are available. With the handy-dandy search by date feature, it’s even possible to check for the availability of a Spanish-language version of a comic strip you came across in an English collection.
As you make progress, check out cartoons originally written in Spanish. In doing so, you will meet new characters and be introduced to cultural information from the cartoon’s home country.
Space restrictions force comic strip writers to get to the point, making them a perfect location for finding useful vocabulary. The goal most comic writers have of appealing to as many readers as possible means they’re also a perfect location for finding basic, everyday terms and expressions. And, there is the advantage of having pictures to guide you in understanding what’s being said.
How to Learn Spanish with Comics
First, find a comic that looks interesting.
Then, look for a phrase in the comic that you can pull out and put to work simply by adding one or two different words to it. Learning another language becomes more fun if you have words at your disposal when you want them. Each time you play with a phrase, you are increasing the odds that it will come to your mind and successfully exit your mouth when you are in the midst of appropriate circumstances, instead of several minutes later.
Look it up if you need to, and write it down so that you can review it later. Pretty soon, you will have a ton of phrases that are associated with images in your brain.
You can use this method with any visual Spanish learning you do. Or, you could use a program like FluentU, which does most of the hard work for you.
FluentU’s videos include cartoon clips, movie trailers, inspirational talks and other authentic Spanish content. And each video comes with interactive subtitles that provide definitions at a click. Save words to your flashcards and study them with FluentU’s personalized quizzes.
Once you’re feeling prepared, check out these seven comics below with some of the phrases that caught my eye, and see if there is a particular term or phrase that could come in handy for you.
1. Garfield en Español by Jim Davis
¿Crema batida? (Whipped cream?)
Justo cuando ya no puede mejorar (Just when it can’t get any better)
Lo hace (It does)
Say it with me, “¡Rayos!” Everyone can use another quick-release frustration word.
2. Garfield en Español by Jim Davis
Estoy aburrido, Garfield (I’m bored, Garfield)
Hagamos algo (Let’s do something)
¿Quieres ir al aeropuerto y fingir que vamos a algún lado? (Do you want to go to the airport and pretend that we’re going somewhere?)
¿Cómo a un lugar con vida? (Like a place with life?)
“Hagamos algo” offers an excellent opportunity for practicing the days of the week:
Hagamos algo el lunes. (Let’s do something on Monday.)
Hagamos algo el martes. (Let’s do something on Tuesday.)
Hagamos algo el miercoles. (Let’s do something on Wednesday.)
Hagamos algo el jueves. (Let’s do something on Thursday.)
Hagamos algo el viernes. (Let’s do something on Friday.)
Hagamos algo el sábado. (Let’s do something on Saturday.)
Hagamos algo el domingo. (Let’s do something on Sunday.)
3. The Wizard of Id – Spanish by Parker and Hart
Toma, prueba mi cereal nuevo (Here, try my new cereal)
Está lleno de arco iris y unicornios (It’s full of rainbows and unicorns)
Efectos secundarios de una cantidad de azúcar (Side effects of a quantity of sugar)
Ever attempted to get a friend to offer an opinion of a bottle of iffy drinkable yogurt you found at the back of your refrigerator? Next time use Spanish and see if it lends you more credibility.
Toma, prueba este yogur dudoso. (Here, try this iffy yogurt.)
Toma, prueba mi bebida. (Here, try my drink.)
Toma, prueba esta galleta. (Here, try this cookie.)
4. Ziggy en Español by Tom Wilson & Tom II
¿Qué máquina de oficina sé manejar? (What office machine do you know how to operate?)
¡Soy muy bueno con esas máquinas de hacer café que usan los chirimbolitos esos! (I’m very good with those coffee machines that use those little thingamabobs!)
What are you good with? Say so with Spanish!
Soy muy bueno con niños. (I’m very good with children.)
Soy muy bueno con computadoras. (I’m very good with computers. – Latin America)
Soy muy bueno con ordenadores. (I’m very good with computers. – Spain)
Soy especialmente bueno con chirimbolitos. (I’m especially good with thingamabobs.)
5. Calvin and Hobbes en Español by Bill Watterson
No hay forma de que me paguen suficiente para este tipo de molestia (There is no way they pay me enough for this type of hassle)
¡¿Cómo pueden ir tan rápido las piernitas de un niño?! (How can a kid’s little legs go so fast?)
¡Seguro en su fortaleza, el Hombre Estupendo planea su estrategia! (Safe in his fort, Stupendous Man plans his strategy!)
¡La niñera no está a la altura del intelecto estupendo del Hombre Estupendo! (The babysitter can’t match the stupendous intellect of Stupendous Man!)
¡Calvin, vas a estar en un gran lío si no sales! (Calvin, you’re going to be in a huge mess if you don’t come out!)
¡Has vuelto vivo! (You’ve returned alive!)
¡Por supuesto! ¡Hice una corrida estupenda en cuanto Rosalyn fue alrededor de la casa! (Of course! I did a stupendous run as soon as Rosalyn went around the house!)
¡Aún no sabe dónde estoy! (She still doesn’t know where I am!)
Show some extra enthusiasm the next time your friend is at your door by greeting them with: “¡Has vuelto vivo!“
6. Snoopy en Español by Charles Schulz
No me importa mientras no jueguen por dinero… (I don’t care as long as they don’t play for money…)
Add some style to your response the next time you’re about to answer a question about where you want to eat or which movie you want to see by exchanging your English “I don’t care” for the Spanish version: “No me importa.”
7. Dilbert en Español by Scott Adams
Necesito una excepción al congelamiento del presupuesto de viajes porque debo ir a solucionar el problema técnico de un cliente importante (I need an exception to the travel budget freeze because I have to go resolve an important client’s technical problem)
No, porque las metas financieras arbitrarias son más importantes que satisfacer a los clients (No, because arbitrary financial goals are more important than satisfying clients)
Espera… ¿Por qué eso suena mal cuando lo digo en voz alta? (Wait… Why does that sound bad when I say it out loud?)
Si lo hace sentir mejor, yo no estaba escuchando (If it makes you feel better, I wasn’t listening)
Here’s an opportunity to start using the often-used English phrase, “I wasn’t,” in Spanish: “No estaba.”
Notice that the “yo” is not necessary; it’s used for emphasis or to eliminate confusion over the person involved. Because “estaba” is also the conjugation for third person singular (he, she, it, and you-formal), “no estaba limpiando” works for each one of those individuals. Therefore, unless you’re confident that the person you’re talking to understands who you’re talking about, consider tossing in a pronoun for clarity. To change from “I wasn’t” to “I was,” simply eliminate the word “no.”
Yo no estaba cantando. (I wasn’t singing.)
Estaba cantando. (I was singing./He was singing./She was singing./It was singing./You (formal) were singing.)
No estaba limpiando. (I wasn’t cleaning./He wasn’t cleaning./She wasn’t cleaning./It wasn’t cleaning./You (formal) weren’t cleaning.)
Yo estaba limpiando. (I was cleaning.)
Él no estaba limpiando. (He wasn’t cleaning.)
Ella no estaba limpiando. (She wasn’t cleaning.)
Usted no estaba limpiando. (You weren’t cleaning. – formal)
Esa cosa no estaba limpiando. (That thing wasn’t cleaning.)
Give Spanish-language comics a try, and see how they fit with everything else you’re doing to learn Spanish fast! They’ll be a nice addition to your Spanish toolbox, and luckily without the weight!
Resources for Learning Spanish with Comics
Laugh ‘N Learn Spanish by Lynn Johnston
Learning Spanish with Comics
Spanish Trips Through Comic Strips
More Comics in Spanish
Tiras de Humor
Todo Tiras Cómicas