Did you know we watch nearly four years’ worth of commercials in our lifetimes?
No, that’s not a typo.
Most of us don’t pay much attention to those commercials, do we? We watch mindlessly, mute them or just scroll through our phone until they’re done.
Are they entertaining? Sure, they can be. (Super Bowl, anyone?)
Are they a time-filler? For the networks, definitely.
But if you’re learning Spanish, did you know commercials can do much more than just take up time?
They can actually be a fun new asset to your Spanish learning program.
Let’s see how and why they help.
Then, let’s take a look at some examples of great Spanish TV commercials to learn the language and culture—so you can start getting more out of those wasted four years!
Why Are Spanish TV Commercials Useful for Language Learners?
While they’re usually designed to sell a product, for Spanish learners their worth is in the language learning potential they offer. The language is specifically written to be accessible to a large audience but will also often expose you to common idiomatic vocabulary. Since the commercials are created by and for native Spanish speakers, you’ll hear authentic accents and pronunciations.
Plus, the whole point of a commercial is to grab and keep your attention! That makes them a fun and useful learning tool.
And, let’s not forget this—they’re free! Free language learning? Count me in.
How to Add Commercials to Your Language Program
There are a couple of ways to incorporate Spanish commercials into your regular language study.
Streema offers live streaming provided by several Spanish TV stations from all areas of Spain.
Remember, you’re watching for language value. When there’s a break in the show’s action, don’t get up! It’s no longer the time to get some chips or take a potty break. Commercials mean it’s time for a mini-lesson, so stay put and learn!
Wondering what to do if you’re not a TV fan? No worries—I’ve got you covered.
- FluentU offers authentic Spanish videos, like commercials as well as movie trailers, music videos, inspiring talks and more—which have been transformed into language learning experiences.
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 like soccer, TV shows, business, movies and even magical realism, 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. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
The videos are organized by genre and learning level, so it’s easy to find something that works for you. You’ll find everything from a beginner-level vintage McDonald’s commercial to this funny, intermediate-level rap commercial for a tapas restaurant.
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 it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store for iOS and Android devices.
- YouTube is loaded with Spanish commercials, with content ranging from familiar products to risqué ads. Some have English subtitles. To check out what’s there, just type “Spanish commercials” in the search bar and you’ll have options galore.
- Spanish with Rojas is a website that features Spanish commercials. It’s not as content-heavy as FluentU or YouTube but there are some funny commercials on the site. It’s worth checking out.
Don’t Change That Channel: 9 Spanish TV Commercials That Sell the Language!
This is a sweet commercial that gives a glimpse at the joys of impending parenthood, not to mention the love it takes to go out in all kinds of weather to keep a loved one happy—and well fed! This is a great slice-of-life story that’s both heartwarming and excellent for language learners.
The first few phrases are in English but after those, the remainder is in Spanish. Note the smooth pronunciation of all the Spanish dialogue and the idioms used.
And don’t forget to smile at the twist at the end!
This is a great commercial because it provides comparison practice as well as use of descriptions.
It’s a short, sweet family story where the father is both lovable and wise! It’s short enough to watch a few times so feel free to press “repeat” and speak along with the dialogue for some pronunciation practice, too.
Visitors to South America will recognize the Bimbo bear and appreciate this vintage commercial. It’s a touching mother/daughter lunch tale with English subtitles.
The value of this one (aside from the cuteness!) is the cultural context. It gives us a chance to see a typical family interaction in Spanish and listen in on the action.
This one has English subtitles, but the action is so straightforward and the dog’s pronunciation is so clear that even beginning Spanish learners could understand this one without them.
Watch it the first time or two for the language-learning potential… and watch it a few more times for the dog. He’s adorable!
This commercial, another one for Bimbo bread, will have you humming the song after you watch. If you’ve ever wondered what a Spanish earworm sounds like, give this one a listen!
The super-simple and catchy song makes it a perfect bite of Spanish comprehension and pronunciation practice.
IKEA knows how to present a dramatic commercial! In the ad, parents read Christmas letters written by their children. All I can say is, bring the tissues. It’s beautiful and poignant.
And it’s a gift for Spanish language learners. The dialogue is authentic and most of it’s spoken slowly and with great emotion. It also comes with English subtitles, making it accessible for beginners.
A bonus? If you’ve ever wondered how to say “flying unicorn” in Spanish, this is the go-to spot to learn that!
This compilation of English-language commercials has Spanish subtitles. That makes it a great tool for early beginners to start building their Spanish vocabularies.
Why? Because you’ll draw associations between the words you’re reading and what you’re hearing. You’ll also visualize Spanish spellings and sentence structure without getting lost.
It’s all right there—except for the singing sheep. They’re not translated, but the rest makes up for that.
Check out the slang terms. Watch for the trickier punctuation marks. Write down any new Spanish words and their English equivalents.
And just enjoy the singing sheep. They’re pretty cool!
The lottery commercials from Spain are really special. They highlight a big event for many people and the commercials are almost as widely-anticipated as the lottery drawing itself.
This heartwarming commercial tells the story of a Christmas lottery drawing that’s less about winning money and more about friendship.
This commercial is subtitled, so both beginners and more advanced learners can get the full effect of the video.
There are a few characters so you’ll hear some variety in spoken Spanish within this four-minute tale.
Not sure what’s going on? Scroll to the description for an explanation of the Spanish lottery system, or check out The Local for some history and a more in-depth look at Spain’s famous Christmas lottery.
Speaking of which…
This is a rare commercial that can primarily help with your Spanish reading skills. You’ll see written words related to the main character’s work, calendar words and more.
Like the commercial above, it also does a great job of illustrating the cultural phenomenon of the Christmas lottery that many of us wouldn’t be aware of unless we participated.
The story is beautifully animated and is a definite heart-grabber. I haven’t met anyone who’s watched this and not wanted to see it again. I hope you enjoy it, too.
Let me warn you: Spanish commercials can become addicting. You’ll come for the learning and stay for the stories!
Watch ‘em for the great dialogue. Watch ‘em for the heartwarming plots. Even watch ‘em for the catchy Spanish songs.
Watch, listen and learn—and love every single minute of it. Spanish commercials? They’re not just for snack breaks anymore!
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