Zap on the television and start flipping through channels—it’s time to study Spanish.
Or better yet, just open a new window on your browser and start streaming right now.
Drama series are particularly helpful for this.
Their subject matter is diverse, so there’s something for everyone. The continuing plot lines will make you really want to tune in regularly. You’ll still get all the enjoyment from watching, but this time, with a side of learning.
Watching Spanish language dramas will help you improve your vocabulary and listening skills. Want to amp up your learning even more? Try jotting down some key words or phrases to look up later. If you decide to watch an episode more than once, you might even try saying some of the lines out loud, thereby improving your speaking skills as well.
To keep improving your learning, you can apply the same techniques you use to learn by watching Spanish movies.
To select what show is best for you, it helps to consider what sorts of shows you enjoy watching. Choosing something you’ll really like will help ensure that watching it never feels like work.
So, in addition to your subtitled Netflix binges, you’ve got to check out these Spanish language dramas to improve your learning.
10 Spanish Language Drama Series to Dramatically Improve Your Learning
English title: Since “El Príncipe” refers to a place name, the English language title seems to be the same.
What it’s about: If you like the tension of “Homeland,” “El Príncipe” might be right up your alley. This Spanish thriller started in 2014 and focuses on an intelligence agent investigating a possible connection between police and terrorists in Ceuta (a Spanish city connected to Morocco). During the course of the investigation, things get more complicated when the investigator falls in love with a drug dealer’s sister.
What you’ll learn: In addition to more general vocabulary, this show will help you learn more terms related to politics, terrorism and drug wars. The show also provides an interesting look at the current relationship between Morocco and Spain (for some historical context, it might help to remember that much of Spain was once under Moorish rule).
English title: “The Ministry of Time”
What it’s about: If you enjoy the quirky time travel in “Doctor Who,” “El ministerio del tiempo” might be a good choice for you. This Spanish sci-fi adventure series began in 2015 and follows a group of characters from various centuries who join an agency that seeks to prevent people from using time-traveling doors to change history. The ragtag group includes a 21st century paramedic, a 19th century female student and a 16th century soldier.
What you’ll learn: Since the characters travel throughout history, you’ll learn a lot about Spanish history through watching this show. Therefore, it may also help build your vocabulary of words about key historical events.
English title: “Lord of the Skies”
What it’s about: This American-made show began in 2013. It’s about a Mexican drug kingpin (Amado Carrillo Fuentes) in the 1990s.
What you’ll learn: Since this is based on real events, you’ll learn about the history of the Juárez Cartel in addition to political terms and more general words and phrases.
4. “Gran Hotel”
English title: “Grand Hotel”
What it’s about: If you enjoy period pieces like “Downton Abbey,” this one might appeal to you. The series ran from 2011-2013. Set in countryside hotel in the early 1900s, this Spanish mystery series follows a young man investigating the disappearance of his sister. But many secrets lurk in the corridors of the Grand Hotel.
What you’ll learn: As a period piece, this will give you some insight into what life was like in early 1900s Spain. Additionally, you’ll surely pick up a few words about mysteries, affairs and hotels.
5. “El barco”
English title: “The Boat”
What it’s about: If you watch “The Last Ship,” you might also enjoy “El barco,” a series which ran from 2011-2013. In this post-apocalyptic Spanish mystery, an incident with a particular accelerator leaves a group trapped aboard a ship—and the world has become mostly water. Though the group experiences much isolation, the greatest danger may be “the others.”
What you’ll learn: A bit of physics terminology will certainly be bandied about, as will some nautical terms. However, you can also learn more general vocabulary that people use in day-to-day interactions and casual relationships. There’s also quite a bit of survival-related problem solving.
English title: “The Boarding School”
What it’s about: If you like “Pretty Little Liars,” “El internado” may be your new favorite show. This Spanish mystery, which ran from 2007-2010, follows a group of students as they investigate their school’s dark, mysterious past. Full of conspiracies, secret organizations, lies and romance, “El internado” will certainly make learning Spanish fun.
What you’ll learn: You’ll learn words about mysteries and conspiracies in addition to school-related terms and general vocabulary.
English title: “Velvet”
What it’s about: If you enjoy the glamour and style of “Mad Men,” you might also enjoy “Velvet,” a Spanish series that began in 2013. Set in the 1950s and 1960s, it follows a high-end Spanish clothing store, its business and the love affair between the store’s heir and a seamstress.
What you’ll learn: Since this show focuses largely on the business, you may pick up some helpful business terminology in addition to clothing terms. You’ll also get a look at the styles that were popular in Spain during the 1950s and 1960s.
Here’s another big plus: You can watch “Velvet” on Netflix.
English title: “The Time Between Seams”
What it’s about: This Spanish show ran from 2013-2014 and follows a dressmaker during the Spanish Civil War. The main character covertly works against the Nazis, leading her to many adventures.
What you’ll learn: The Spanish Civil War was a very important part of history that isn’t often discussed in US schools, so this is a good opportunity to learn more about it. Many of the characters are actually based on real people, so it has strong historical value. Additionally, you’ll learn terms related to social issues and political conflict.
9. “Vis a vis”
English title: “Vis a vis”
What it’s about: “Vis a vis” premiered in 2015. Much like “Orange is the New Black,” this series takes place in a women’s prison. A naïve young woman is imprisoned for fraudulent accounting.
What you’ll learn: Prison and legal terms will certainly be on your vocabulary list.
English title: Metastasis
What it’s about: This Colombian remake of “Breaking Bad” premiered in 2014. If you couldn’t get enough Walter White, perhaps Walter Blanco will fill that void. When Walter Blanco learns he has cancer, he allies with José Miguel Rosas to cook and sell crystal meth. Familiar hijinks ensue.
What you’ll learn: You’ll learn some drug terms and medical terms. If you know the original series well enough, it’ll probably be quite easy for you to learn many words due to the fact that this is a shot-for-shot remake.
Watch “Metástasis” on Univisión.
Now that you’re familiar with these ten great dramas, all that’s left to do is select the drama series you find most captivating and start learning!
And One More Thing For Your Spanish Learning Arsenal…
If you’re ready to start watching Spanish dramas and more great authentic content, then you’ll love FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos like music videos, commercials, news, and inspiring talks and turns them into Spanish learning experiences.
In these videos, you’ll see your newly-acquired Spanish idioms in action. In the real world, you may not pick up on new vocabulary and idioms straightaway. FluentU is designed for you to become familiarized with everyday Spanish, by combining all the benefits of total immersion and native level conversations with easy-to-read subtitles.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos – topics like soccer, TV shows, business, movies, and even magical realism, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. Didn’t catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? Hover your mouse over the subtitles to instantly view definitions.
And FluentU isn’t just videos – it’s a complete language learning program. Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s Learn Mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on. You’ll be able to create vocab lists and track your progress as you advance through video after video.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.