Put the popcorn on.
Turn the cell phone off.
Place the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door.
Movie night just got a whole lot bigger and better.
It got Netflixed—Spanish style!
As language learners, learning to listen is a vital part of our informational intake and advancement. So what better way to hear a language at its best than to sit down and watch a movie?
Movies are a great way to learn and develop your Spanish learning skills. They allow us to escape from the classroom and textbooks. We can delve into the lives and tales of people from all over the world.
We can traverse borders and lands to witness how other people live, and also how they interact. We can go anywhere, see anything, hear conversations and listen to the words of languages we want to conquer. And the best thing is, we can watch from the comfort of our own home.
Movies are a fantastic way to engage in Spanish because you want to be engrossed in the story line of the movie and invested in the characters while you improve your Spanish.
By watching a movie—hearing their dialogue and seeing facial expressions—you can begin to understand the feelings and views of the person. Your interest is drawn to what is being said, how it’s being said, and what tones/accents are selected.
Using Netflix to study the sound of Spanish conversation is simple; you just have to press play.
How Can Netflix Improve Your Spanish Skills?
- Hear the correct pronunciation: Be it how the word is formed or stressed, we learn by hearing the word and mimicking the tone and accent of the people we are listening to. Movie dialogue will allow you to hear the natural application of conversational Spanish, its flow and its sounds in various scenarios and environments.
- Hear and understand the structure of Spanish sentences: The more you expose yourself to fluent dialogue, the more you increase your familiarity with how sentence arrangement should be.
- Allows you to pay attention to expressions and note local slang: Spanish is the official language of 21 countries; each of these countries has their own casual dialect and vocabulary. By accessing movies from these countries, you can hear accents, but more importantly, word use and street slang.
- Enlightens you to your language skills: You can deepen your Spanish learning to a level that makes you comfortable to socialize and speak with other people. When you don’t live in a Spanish-speaking country, it can be difficult to hear, speak or familiarize yourself with the language. By watching movies, you can begin to bridge the gap of access.
Powerful Strategies for Watching Netflix Movies in Spanish
- Spanish Subtitles: Add them to the movie you’re watching so you can read along and improve your Spanish reading skills. Spanish subtitles can provide a powerful learning boost for any movie.
In fact, if you want to get the most out of subtitled movie watching, check out FluentU. This immersive app provides authentic Spanish videos, like movie clips as well as music videos, inspiring talks and more, that are supercharged with interactive captions. Just click any word you don’t recognize and you’ll get an instant definition and native pronunciation.
FluentU videos are organized by genre and learning level. Plus, FluentU suggests new videos based on what you’ve already watched, for a truly personalized learning experience. It’s an entertaining but effective tool to use in between Spanish Netflix binges! Check out the free trial to start watching.
- Close your eyes and listen: Take a moment to turn away from the television screen so you can focus on the dialogue taking place. By losing the aid of visuals, are you able to understand what is being said, how it’s being said, and who is saying it? At the end of the scene, jot down what you think the characters were talking about, then rewind and compare your answer to the visual, subtitled movie scene.
- Watch a movie you know and love that’s dubbed in Spanish: If you’ve watched it many times you already know the story line, you know where it will lead, and you’ll probably know most of the lines in English, so listen to the Spanish dubbed version for a new experience!
- Read the book first: Many Spanish books have been adapted to movies. By reading the book first, you allow yourself time to focus on your reading and comprehension skills, and then when you watch the movie, it comes to life on the big screen and allows you to further develop your listening skills.
- Download the Spanish script: Read through it before you watch the movie, or print out a specific scene. Read along with that scene for the added benefit of hearing your pronunciation alongside the actual spoken words.
- Character Descriptions: Take a moment after the characters have been introduced to pause the movie and write about them. Jot down a short description that focuses on their appearance, their clothes, their environment and who they are in relation to the movie. By doing this, you can make use of words you already know while strengthening your connection to each of the roles that are being played. You can apply these description notes to any scene in the movie and alter the topic to something you want to focus on: movie plot, dialogue, appearance, culture, character history, environment.
Now that you’re ready to start watching, here are eight of the best Spanish films currently available for instant streaming on Netflix:
8 Best Spanish Films Currently Available on Netflix
1. “Amores perros” (Mexico)
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, this gritty movie weaves an interconnected story about the different lives of three Mexico City natives. Octavio lives with his brother, however difficulties arise when he falls in love with his sister-in-law. Wanting to run away together, but not having the money to do so, Octavio seizes an opportunity to win cash for their escape by placing his dog in a vicious dog fight.
Elsewhere, Daniel, a successful businessman, leaves his family for Valeria, a beautiful model. When Valeria loses a leg in a car accident, Daniel must become her caregiver, but complications arise when her little dog gets trapped under the floorboards of their apartment.
Meanwhile, El Chivo is an elderly homeless man who is trying to contact his daughter, whom he hasn’t seen in years. This dramatic movie will teach you about machismo, love and social class in Mexico, but it will also give you access to the different types of slang present on the streets of Mexico City.
2. “La Lengua de las mariposas” (Spain)
This historical coming-of-age drama set in 1936 tells the story of a young Galician boy who befriends his republican teacher just before the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. This movie is tragically beautiful as it takes us on a journey about the simplicity of life, the boundaries of freedom, and the fragility of innocence. It is a great movie to watch if you wish to gain further insight into Spain’s political history.
3. “Como agua para chocolate” (Mexico)
Based on the bestselling novel by Laura Esquival, this tale weaves a love story that spans decades and through traditions. Set among an old conventional Mexican family, Tita—the youngest daughter—falls in love with Pedro, but they are prohibited from marrying because Tita’s duty is as caretaker for her aging mother. Tita’s heartbreak painfully increases when her mother allows Tita’s older sister to marry Pedro instead.
This movie has all of the melodrama of a telenovela, but the graceful emotions of a beautiful romance. It will take you on a special journey into the expected roles of women during a different time in Mexico when traditions were enforced rather than expected. Read the book before watching the movie as an added Spanish learning bonus!
4. “Biutiful” (Spain)
Uxbal is a father who loves his children, a man who tries to treat everyone with dignity and respect, but he is also a drug dealer, and he dabbles in unlawful businesses that can have devastating consequences on other people.
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, and starring Javier Bardem, “Biutiful” takes a striking look at one man’s struggles through a specific time in his life as he attempts to reconcile with his children, his guilt, his sorrows and himself.
5. “Hecho en Mexico” (Mexico)
This visually and musically inspiring documentary takes a look at the influences, love and spirit of Mexican music on its culture. Through interviews with poets, actors, musicians and cultural leaders, this journey spans across the decades and lands of the country.
The music played and scenic beauty shown portray the diversity and richness of Mexico’s people.
6. “Una Noche” (Cuba)
This compelling drama set in Havana, Cuba tells the story of a teenager named Raul, who along with his best friend and twin sister, begin to plan, prepare and eventually embark on a perilous 90-mile journey to reach Miami on a homemade raft.
This film is rich in heart and Cuban culture, not to mention filled with authentic Cuban language expressions and locations.
7. “Eva” (Spain)
Thought-provoking and moving, this movie takes place in the year 2041 when humans and machines coincide. Alex, a brilliant and renowned software engineer, is attempting to design a child android. In his strive to base his creation’s mindset as realistically as possible, he returns to his hometown after a 10-year absence.
There, his niece Eva not only fascinates Alex, but also inspires the intelligence of his new conception. With great special effects and touching reflections on what it means to be human, this movie is a great way to spend your evening studying Spanish!
8. “Calle 54“
This is a great documentary to listen to, as it delves into the world of latin jazz in an up-close and intimate way, thereby allowing you to learn and listen to not only Spanish language, but the culture of latin jazz music too. Packed with studio footage, live performances and artist interviews, you are privy to the action of the Latin jazz music scene.
We listen to understand, we listen to engage, and we listen to take part. By using Netflix, you can further develop your Spanish in an entertaining way. Remember to enjoy the movies for what they are; a way to get away from the textbooks and relax.
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