Are you more of a Pixar fan, or do you tend to prefer DreamWorks?
Maybe you dig Disney films, Tim Burton’s animated masterpieces or the work of lesser known, independent filmmakers.
It matters not where your animation preferences lie—if you enjoy getting lost in the wonderful world of animated cinema, you’ll be thrilled to know that you can do so while simultaneously learning Spanish!
Watching movies made in Spanish-speaking countries will boost your Spanish skills in more ways than you’d think. If you view films from different parts of the Spanish-speaking world, you’ll learn to distinguish between various accents. Furthermore, the fact that they’re made in these countries means you can gain insight as to their varying cultures.
And let’s just face it: Whether you use Netflix, YouTube, the television, DVDs or something else, watching videos, TV shows or movies in Spanish is way more entertaining than reading a dry old textbook. Just sayin’.
How to Learn Best While Watching Spanish Movies
Simply sitting on the couch with your eyes and ears glued to a Spanish-language movie is helpful for learning, but there are ways to interact with the film and boost the learning benefits even further.
If you love the very idea of watching and learning with authentic Spanish resources like these, FluentU would be an ideal tool for you.
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.
Below we’ve got a short list with more ideas for you to explore while immersing yourself in brilliant animation. Of course, this is far from a complete list of ways in which you can get involved while screening movies, but it’s a start!
- Repeat after characters. Doing so will turn what could be just a listening exercise into a speaking one.
- Use subtitles if you find them helpful. For more of a challenge, use Spanish subtitles. This way you can comprehend what’s going on in the film even if the characters are difficult to understand. Depending on your level of Spanish and what works for you as a learner, you could also watch the film with English subtitles if it’s an option.
- Write a list of words you didn’t understand while watching and look them up afterwords. Another idea is to pause the movie and look them up on the spot, but doing so may not lead to the most fluid film-watching experience. Looking up words you don’t understand is an excellent way to boost your vocabulary.
- Watch the movie in English. If you loved the film enough to watch it again, watch it the second time in English! This can be a great test of your comprehension to discover how much of the story you understood. You can also try watching a movie in English first to get the gist and then again in Spanish. This way, you won’t have to worry about understanding exactly what’s being said—you already know what’s happening! Still another option is to swap back and forth and play each scene in one language and then the other.
10 Must-see Animated Movies in Spanish
“Arrugas” is a 2011 film from Spain directed by Ignacio Ferreras. This critically-acclaimed and award-winning film tells the story of elderly residents of a nursing home. To help their friend, they concoct a wild plan what changes up the monotony of their day-to-day lives.
One benefit to watching this film is that the characters speak with a Spanish accent, so it can help you fine-tune your ability to distinguish it from others.
“Las aventuras de Tadeo Jones”
Adventure! A search for a lost city! Peru! Enticed yet?
Well, then it’s time to check out “Las aventuras de Tadeo Jones,” directed by Spaniard Enrique Gato. Follow Ted, the construction worker who wants nothing more than to be an archaeologist, as he finally gets to live his dream! Like “Arrugas,” this movie can help you to better distinguish the Castilian Spanish accent.
“¡Vampiros en La Habana!”
Okay, okay, this film was made in 1985 and thus may not live up to the expectations of modern-day animation. However, Juan Padrón‘s animated flick is entertaining and a fantastic way to practice your Spanish listening skills.
If you’re into vampires (like 90% of the population these days), you’ll definitely want to check this movie out. The vampires can now step out of the shadows thanks to a potion which allows them to survive the formerly deadly sun. When vampires worldwide find out, they travel to Cuba and the American and the East European vampires engage in a battle for the potion.
Due to its tropical island setting, this film is ideal for honing your ability to listen to the uniquely colorful Spanish spoken in Cuba.
A recent (released in 2014) animated production from Spanish director Samuel Ortí Martí, “Pos Eso” follows the life events of Trini, a world-renowned Flamenco dancer. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a cheerful, happy-go-lucky film by the fact that it’s animated.
As a matter of fact, even the trailer above might be a bit disturbing for younger folks.
It can get downright creepy and terrifying. The proof is in the trailer and the description on the movie’s main page calling “Pos Eso” a “comedy of Satanic action.” That being said, it’s a wonderful quality of creepy. It was even featured in the Atlanta Film Festival.
This film is another great option for those focusing on learning Spanish used in Spain.
The plot of this Argentinian film is relatively simple: it follows a boy named Amadeo during an adventure with the players of his Foosball game. “Metegol,” directed by Juan José Campanella, quickly gained global popularity and critical acclaim. A great option for those learning to distinguish the Spanish spoken in Argentina from that spoken elsewhere.
Did a teacher ever punish you in a bizarre way for acting out in school? If so, it was probably nothing in comparison to the punishment doled out by Anina’s teacher in the Uruguayan film “Anina.“ I want to keep you in suspense, so that’s all I will say.
Alfredo Soderguit won best director for this movie. Not only is the story itself unique, but also the style of animation. A great option for learning the dialect of Spanish specific to Uruguay.
A creative brainchild of Mexican storytellers, this animated film tells the story of Mexico’s War of Independence from the perspective of three different people.
It was directed by Carlos Kuri and released in 2010. The Spanish spoken in Mexico has many unique elements to learn, and it’s easy to hear them shine through the language in this film. It’s also a great way to learn about the history of the country.
And guess what? It’s available to watch in its entirety on YouTube! The quality isn’t fantastic, but it’s free, so what can you expect?
If you’re subscribed, you can watch the trailer above on FluentU, complete with interactive subtitles and learning activities!
“Una pelicula de huevos”
Wilbur from “Charlotte’s Web” didn’t want to be bacon. The chickens in “Chicken Run” didn’t want to be somebody’s dinner. And Toto the egg from “Una pelicula de huevos” has no desire to become an omelet, so he decides to embark on a journey to fast-track becoming a chicken (he probably doesn’t realize that it causes pretty much the same problem).
This Mexican film, directed by Gabriel Riva Palacio Alatriste, is another fantastic option for those wishing to hone their Mexican Spanish skills.
“Gordo, calvo y bajito”
Have you ever thought that perhaps your life would be dramatically different if you didn’t look the way you do?
Well, 46-year-old Antionio Farfan, the main character in “Gordo, calvo y bajito” has! He feels that his appearance is to blame for his mundane notary job, until a fatter, balder and shorter man takes his job and is loved by all. He then embarks on a journey facing his fears.
This Colombian film was directed by Carlos Osuna. The unique animation is far from the CGI we’re accustomed to in American movies. Colombian Spanish has its own unique quirks that appear in much of the dialogue of this film.
“Martín Fierro, La Película”
This flick is ideal for those of you wanting to work on your Argentinian Spanish and for those wishing to learn about Argentinian history and culture. Multiple directors from the country created this animated film about Martín Fierro, a rebel fighting for freedom against the corruption and power of his government. It’s based on what’s arguably one of the most important books in Argentine literature, “El Gaucho Martín Fierro.”
Love those options? Then have at ’em! They’re an immersive, colorful way to kick your learning up a notch.
Perhaps after viewing these films, you’ll even start to consider the animation you watched in the past completely overrated and find a brand new favorite.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.