learn-spanish-with-netflix

Learn Spanish With Netflix: Subtitles and Binge-Worthy Shows

Do you watch Netflix on a regular basis?

Sometimes feel guilty that you’re using up valuable time that could be focused on learning Spanish?

Well, you needn’t worry any longer. In this post we’ll be sharing exactly how you can combine your love of Netflix with your love of learning Spanish!

As a bunch of language lovers who speak more than ten languages, we’re pretty experienced in this area. We’ve done more than our fair share of learning languages with Netflix, so are quite the experts on Netflix shows!

Keep reading to find discover how to learn Spanish from Netflix, what Spanish shows you should be watching and why learning this way is so effective. 

Ready?

Contents

How to Learn With Netflix in 3 Steps

1. Choose Your Movie or TV Show

You’ll be happy to know that there’s a vast selection of films and TV shows on Netflix with Spanish subtitles. These options include both original Spanish film and TV content as well as content in English and other languages. This means that there’s a huge amount of options for you to choose from!

How to find Netflix movies with Spanish subtitles

There’s nothing worse than finding a great series or movie and hopping into bed with a warm cup of tea to learn a bit of Spanish vocab, only to find the series or film doesn’t have Spanish subtitles!

To avoid this, you can firstly use the Netflix search function to filter results by subtitles—this it saves a lot of headaches! You can then explore the list for a specific series you had in mind or click the “suggestions for you” filter and put your faith in the Netflix algorithm.

Another easy way is to scroll through an online list outside of Netflix. For example, this list from the website Finder is regularly updated and, unlike the Netflix search filter, it allows you to search by genre or specific keywords. 

2. Add Subtitles (and Audio)

Once you’ve chosen something to watch and clicked the “play” button, you can also make decisions regarding audio. Do you want to watch a movie with English audio and Spanish subtitles? Are you trying to watch your favorite British show with Spanish audio and English subtitles? Mix and match the subtitles and audio to help you achieve your learning goals!

How to turn on Spanish subtitles on Netflix

Simply hover over the icon that looks like a speech bubble, located on the bottom right-hand side of the black bar, then click on “Spanish.” You can also change the audio language from here.

Here’s an example (yes, you’ll be excited to know that the beloved “Lupin” comes with Spanish subtitles and audio!):

Then, you can expand the screen, hit play and let the learning (and entertainment) begin!

If you’re having issues with this, then no worries: The Netflix Help Center can help you troubleshoot subtitle-related woes.

3. Customize Your Subtitles

Believe it or not, it’s actually possible to customize your subtitles so they have your preferred color, font, size and background—pretty cool, huh? Simply navigate to the Netflix “subtitle appearance” page and make any changes you’d like.

Aside from giving the subtitles a personal flair, changing their appearance will allow you to make them more visible to you. If you’re struggling to read the Spanish words quickly as they run across the screen, you can make them pop by highlighting them in black, for instance. Play around with the settings to find what works best for you.

And that’s it! There’s nothing left to do except sit back with your favorite snacks and watch your Spanish-flavored favorites on Netflix. Enjoy!

Native Spanish Language Netflix Shows 

1. “Élite” (Elite)

To add to the rise in popularity of high school dramas, “Élite” follows a group of students in their final years of school. But this isn’t your average high school: the students of Las Encinas (The Oaks) are mostly affluent and unusually good-looking, and seem to have very bad luck. 

While not super realistic—I can’t imagine it’s very common to have such rich and attractive teenagers discover various dead bodies—the mystery-thriller series can be pretty addictive and binge-worthy. Among the drama there’s lots of romance, and a lot of sex too, so bear this in mind if you’re not a fan of that sort of thing!

You’ll be able to train your ear to the Spanish accent and vosotros conjugations, as well as pick up lots of great Spanish slang (¡pues claro, tío!). It’s worth keeping a notebook on hand to jot down any cool phrases you hear. 

2. “La Casa de las Flores” (The House of Flowers)

After her husband’s mistress exposes the family secrets, wealthy matriarch Virginia attempts to save face and maintain their perfect image.

This dark comedy begins with the discovery of a body at an engagement party—who happens to be the lover of the groom—but that’s just the tip of the drama iceberg. 

“La Casa de las Flores” will get you very familiar with Mexican Spanish pronunciation and vocabulary, as well as social inequality issues in Mexico. Because of this, it’s a great series for improving both your language and cultural knowledge. 

You also can find a snippet of this show on FluentU—where interactive subtitles make the videos much easier to understand and learn from. fluentu-spanish-lesson-the-house-of-flowers

While learning from authentic content should be an integral part of your study routine, it can be slow going finding appropriate videos and flicking between different dictionaries. The language learning program curates authentic Spanish videos—like movie trailers, commercials, news reports and inspiring talks—and makes learning from them seamless by adding extra tools.

These include dual-language, interactive subtitles (like we’ve seen above), a video dictionary where you can see different terms in context, and personalized quizzes where you can even practice your speaking skills. This can all be accessed via the website, or iOS and Android apps for learning on the go. 

So, instead of having you passively watching, FluentU turns these engaging videos into immersive language lessons which expose you to Spanish as it’s really spoken by natives. 

3. “Club de Cuervos” (Club of Crows)

After inheriting a soccer team from their late father, this Mexican comedy follows a brother and a sister as they clash over issues regarding their club. Naturally, a power struggle ensues from the very beginning due to their completely different personalities—and probably just the fact that they are siblings. 

With a few plot twists and laugh out loud moments, you’ll find it an easy-watching series. 

The language is relatively simple (it was actually first written in English and later translated to Spanish!) and don’t worry, you don’t need to know anything about soccer (or even particularly like it) to enjoy it. 

4. “Velvet”

We’re heading back to the 1950s with “Velvet”, to one of the major fashion houses of Madrid. This feel-good series teems with drama, delivering entanglements, love, jealousy, plots and counter-plots, while centering on the romance between the fashion house heir and one of the seamstresses.

Plus, if you’re a fan of this era then you’ll love the feel of this show: the attire, music and cars will have you feeling like you’re peeking back in time. With a large number of episodes, it’ll keep you occupied for a while!

5. “La Casa de Papel” (The House of Paper/Money Heist)

It wouldn’t be a list of Spanish Netflix shows for language learners without a mention of “La casa de papel.” This crime drama series, known in English as “Money Heist,” is about a group of, shall we say, “talented” people brought together by a criminal mastermind known as “The Professor.” Their plan? To pull off the ridiculously risky job of using the Royal Mint of Spain as their own personal money printer. 

This show is a fantastic choice for learning Spanish—the Spanish is contemporary with a nice little injection of slang and humor, and the huge following means you’ll be able to enjoy additional resources (think online blogs, social media accounts and YouTube breakdowns). Also, it’s a downright awesome, creative and super addictive series. 

You’ll also be hard-pressed to find a Spanish speaker who hasn’t watched the series, making it the perfect conversation starter or discussion topic! 

If you’d like to analyze the trailers a bit more, FluentU combines this part 5 trailer with learning aids (as seen below) to better understand the language used. fluentu-spanish-lesson-money-heist

6. “Monarca” (Monarch)

“Monarca” tells a story of a woman who returns to Mexico to compete for control of her family’s billion-dollar empire, after living away for 20 years. There is plenty of drama: murder, betrayal and deceit, but also storylines involving love and partnerships.

It supposedly gives you a glimpse at what life in Mexico can be like in terms of cultural issues—you’ll see how some of Mexican society views economic classes, sexuality and reputation, as well as see the prevalence of corruption. 

Being set in Mexico, “Monarca” will expose you to lots of Mexican Spanish, so keep your notebook handy!

7. “Jani Dueñas: Grandes Fracasos de Ayer y Hoy” (Great Failures of Yesterday and Today)

jani-duenas-netflix-image

Sometimes we just need a good laugh—this stand-up comedy show will have you laughing while learning some great Chilean Spanish at the same time!

In “Grandes Fracasos de Ayer y Hoy”, Jani Dueñas gives us her non-censored opinion on a range of topics—from aging to dieting to sex—which are experienced pretty much universally, and you might just find some uncomfortable truths in here! 

Even if stand-up comedy isn’t your thing, don’t miss this chance to learn some raw chileno (Chilean). It’s one of the most unique—and difficult—forms of Spanish, and you’ll hear plenty of Chilean Spanish gems sprinkled throughout the show, along with the very distinct Chilean accent. You might even catch yourself saying sí po after the show.  

8. “Sofía Niño de Rivera: Selección Natural” (Natural Selection)

sofia-nino-de-rivera-netflix-image

Another stand-up comedy for you, because laughter is good for the soul! 

In this show, you’ll be able to practice your Mexican Spanish with Sofía Niño de Rivera while she jokes about marriage, leopards and funerals, among other things. Her dark humor will have you cackling, and even if you’re not a fan, you can still take advantage of the opportunity to hone your Mexican slang. 

Arm yourself with paper and a pen and prepare to hear plenty of weys.

9. “Paquita Salas” 

Funny, awkward, life-affirming and ultimately uplifting, “Paquita Salas” is my favorite Spanish comedy series. The titular character was a huge talent agent in 1990s Spain, but an outdated style and the loss of her biggest client cause her career (and life) to come crashing down around her.

Watch Paquita desperately try to find new actors to represent, and have some laughs along the way. It’s also a terrific way to practice Spanish and learn a little bit more about Spanish culture (especially Spanish showbiz)!

The characters in the show have a lot of everyday conversations, including plenty of slang and a bit of naughty language. Sometimes I pause the series just to write down some of the incredibly creative (and rude) insults that are often thrown about. 

If you’re an intermediate-level learner watch with Spanish subtitles, and as a beginner I’d give it a go with English subtitles first—the speed can be a bit quick at times, especially when all the characters are together. 

Non-Native Netflix Shows

10. “Stranger Things” 

This edgy sci-fi series follows a group of pre-teen school friends as they battle supernatural forces invading their town and wreaking havoc on the very fabric of the universe. 

It’s a trippy ride with strobe-like visuals and a very 80s soundtrack, which gives it an authentic retro feel without being cheesy. 

I love it for Spanish learning because the dubbing is very professionally done and, since the lead characters are children, the vocabulary is often manageable for beginners. Plus, due to its popularity, there are heaps of opportunities to follow up the learning and consolidate the language with Spanish articles, discussion boards and blogs. 

The story behind the dubbing of the program is quite fascinating and lots of fun, as well. If you’ve watched the series in English already, it’s certainly worth giving it another go in Spanish to see how they subtitled some of the unique words that pop up in the show. 

11. “Peaky Blinders” 

Set in a post-WWI Birmingham, “Peaky Blinders” follows the rise of Thomas Shelby and his family as they navigate the underworld of business and crime. 

The highlights of this series are the fantastic Birmingham accents and incredible acting performances. Because of this, I’d recommend this show for a beginner who wants to dip their feet into the world of Spanish subtitles while still watching the series in the original English audio. 

However, you also have the option to pop on the Spanish dub if you’re after a double-dose of Spanish input. You will learn Spanish vocabulary with Netflix, by order of the Peaky Blinders!

12. “Narcos” 

If you want to learn Spanish with subtitles, “Narcos” may well your best starting place! The series follows the story of infamous drug smuggler and cartel leader Pablo Escobar as he builds an empire of wealth and influence. 

Although the series is predominantly in English, the Spanish characters also speak Colombian Spanish throughout the show. Plus, you can switch on Spanish audio and subtitles for the entire series for that extra input if you’re a more advanced learner. 

In fact, the Brazillian actor Wagner Moura, who played Pablo Escobar, actually learned Spanish for the role. If that doesn’t give you a little bit of learning inspiration, I don’t know what will! 

Heads up that the series contains heaps of Colombian slang and lots of naughty words. They are drug lords and gangsters, after all. 

Lastly, if you’ve seen “Narcos” before, you’ll be familiar with the hypnotizing theme song: “Yours” by Rodrigo Amarante. This song is part of the FluentU video library, meaning you’ve got a chance to learn (and understand) the lyrics before you watch another episode! fluentu-spanish-lesson-narcos-theme-song

13. “headspace Guide to Meditation” 

Relax, take a breath and let your mind settle into Spanish learning mode. 

I’m a big believer in building a meditation habit and have found the headspace app and Netflix series incredibly helpful. I was using headspace fairly regularly when I was getting started on my Spanish learning journey, then one day, I thought to myself, why not switch the audio and subtitles to Spanish? 

The speaking is super clear, the speed is manageable and I was practicing something that I love. Plus, the benefits of meditation, such as higher levels of concentration and focus on the present moment, tend to go hand in hand with language learning!

With this series, you’ll learn some basic descriptive language plus some more advanced vocabulary to talk about the different components of meditation practice. It’s certainly one to consider if you’re after something a bit more meaningful, or at least a break from the norm.

Plus, with the recently released “headspace Guide to Sleep” you can add a little bit of Spanish into your night schedule, as well! 

How Watching Netflix with Subtitles Can Boost Your Spanish

Improve Your Spanish Vocabulary

As we all know, movies and TV shows are filled with phrases and one-liners that are common in everyday conversation, as well (unless you happen to be watching a period drama like “Downton Abbey” or “Shakespeare in Love,” of course).

By simply throwing on some Spanish subtitles, you could be picking up on new phrases, as well as reviewing vocabulary you’ve already learned.

Take, for instance, the many gems we’ve caught in movies and TV shows that might just come in handy for real-life situations:

1. Showing your romantic side:

turn your netflix binges intospanish learning sessions with subtitles

“Te quiero. Lo supe apenas te conocí.”
(“I love you. I knew it the minute I met you”)
Movie: “Silver Linings Playbook”

“Y un beso?”
(“And a kiss?”)
Movie: “Can’t Buy Me Love”

Be careful not to go overboard on the rom-coms or you might end up scaring someone away!

2. Sharing an encouraging word or two:

turn your netflix binges intospanish learning sessions with subtitles

“Somos sobrevivientes.”
(“We are survivors.”)
Movie: “Lawless”

“Tómese su tiempo.”
(“Take your time.”)
Movie: “The King’s Speech”

3. Making light of a situation:

turn your netflix binges intospanish learning sessions with subtitles

“Preocúpate de como mantener tus cejas detrás de las rejas”
(“You need to worry about how you’re going to maintain your eyebrows behind bars.”)
TV Show: “Orange Is the New Black”

“Ojala pudiera convencerte de no volver a hacer esta cara.”
(“I wonder how I can talk you out of not making that face again.”)
TV Show: “Arrested Development”

Nail Your Spanish Pronunciation

You may find that there are certain words in Spanish that just don’t roll off the tongue very easily, or sound nothing like how a local would say them when they come out of your mouth.

However, like anything else, the best way to learn something is to just do it. In other words, through practice.

And so, when watching your movie or TV show on Netflix, have a go at saying words out loud as the subtitles run across the screen. (Of course, try not to disturb anyone else’s viewing in the process!)

By doing this, you’ll not only be drilling Spanish words into your head, but you’ll also be gaining confidence in actually saying them out loud. Who knows, after a few movies you might well be ready to take on the Spanish-speaking world and mingle with the locals, thanks to all your newfound phrases.

Learn Spanish Quicker

It’s been said that employing visual aids is often the best method for learning. After all, they say a picture is worth a thousand words! By adding a visual and auditory element to your learning, you’ll be reinforcing what you learn and making it more memorable, potentially speeding up the learning process.

Plus, you’ll be enjoying the process, which will make you want to study more often!

Improve Your Listening Skills

Watching Netflix shows with Spanish subtitles will help you hone your listening skills. You’ll always know exactly what you heard spoken since it’ll be written right there for you!

Study With Content You Already Know

The brilliant thing about Netflix is that it has many shows available in many languages. This means that you can use old favorites to learn a new language!

Check if any of your favorite Netflix hits have Spanish subtitles or audio. Try switching things up and watching in English with Spanish subtitles, or vice versa. Or, why not both!?

But, I must warn you, it’s easy to become reliant on English subtitles. So, try watching with Spanish subtitles whenever possible!

Have Fun With Your Learning

Who says you can’t have fun when learning Spanish? After all that reading, listening, writing (and rewriting no doubt), a bit of lighthearted entertainment might just be what you need to bring the joy of learning back again.

You could even make Netflix a treat after completing one of those more challenging Spanish learning tasks, such as learning a new irregular verb or getting through a particular tense.

Just think, a good movie and some popcorn could be waiting for you after a few hours of learning the past tense of ir or ver, or when you’ve finally mastered the preterite.

To help get you started, the FluentU Spanish YouTube channel has a few educational videos related to learning Spanish with shows. 

You’ll find heaps of educational content breakdowns, learning tips and all the marvelous ways you can learn Spanish from real-world content. The videos use specially chosen clips from movies and other content to highlight Spanish learning lessons and insights to help you speak like a native. 

If classic movies are more your thing, then you might find the the clip below more interesting. In addition, you’ll also learn how to practice translation of English films with Spanish dub and subtitles.

 

When it comes to learning Spanish with subtitles, it really is up to you and how you like it. Whether you want to start a new Spanish series with English subtitles or go total immersion with a Spanish series with a Spanish dub, the choice is yours!

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