Remember being glued to the TV when you were a kid?
Like, watching for hours and just living the stress-free, I’m-a-kid life?
Getting lost in whatever sitcom or drama was on the screen until a loud voice (usually from the kitchen!) interrupted the fun?
“¡Esa tele derretirá tu cerebro!” (“That TV is gonna melt your brain!”)
In my house, that meant I had five—maybe ten, tops—minutes left with whatever show I was watching before Mami came flying into the room, shut off the set and sent me outside to play.
My mother was right about a lot of things but not altogether on point about TV. Lo siento, Mami, pero es la verdad. (I’m sorry, Mami, but it’s the truth.)
Television doesn’t have to be a time-suck—not if you give some thought to what you’re watching.
If you’re learning Spanish, you can tune in to regular Spanish-language television programming for a huge language boost. There are loads of programming options to enhance your learning routine!
And no worries if you don’t have a gigantic cable package or aren’t living in a Spanish-speaking country. We’ve got you covered!
There are lots of great resources that will allow you immediate access to live Spanish TV.
C’mon, let’s check some out!
But first, let’s look at what Spanish television can do for you.
Why Watching Regular Spanish Television Programming Is Great for Language Learners
Television exposes viewers to language—that’s glaringly obvious. But consider, additionally, how all the cultural references in television shows give learners valuable insights into Spanish-language customs and life.
Watching native speakers puts us on a fast-track to language acquisition—and it’s an excellent way to hear words and phrases pronounced in “real life” situations! Every scene provides great examples for modeling pronunciation.
Vocabulary on television typically includes idioms, clichés and area-specific expressions. It’s the perfect spot for picking up casual conversational bits and pieces.
Television programming is designed for broad appeal. That is, there’s enough variety to interest everyone. Think telenovelas (popular, short dramatic series), cooking shows, dramas and comedies, to name just a few types of popular TV.
Spanish TV Live Streaming: 3 Sources That Give You the Goods
To really make the most of the streaming television from the resources below, check out FluentU for interactive televisual-type language practice in small bites.
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.
TeleMadrid is a public television station located in, obviously, Madrid. They’re the go-to spot for programming about the capital city, including the local news and weather from there. They also have a good deal of political broadcasting, so if you’re looking for a source that will let you know about Spanish politics, this is it.
There’s more to this station than just news-related broadcasting, though. They feature some Western and crime show series as well as some talk shows.
What to watch on TeleMadrid:
- “De todo corazón” (With All My Heart). This chat-style show features hostess Sonia Ferrer, who’s sweet enough to make viewers feel as if they’re spending time with a friend. She delivers the latest news from international and national figures who she feels have real “heart.” She also provides coverage of parties and high-profile social events taking place in Madrid.
On one show she accompanied Spanish singer Merche to the CaixaForum to experience the Andy Warhol exhibit on display. They had a chance to discuss the singer’s new album, titled “De Otra Manera” (Otherwise).
Streema’s lineup of 113 TV stations from Spain alone is filled with dynamic content. Talk about covering all genres here: news, sports, weather and series programming are all available. If you’re interested in learning Spanish from Latin America, simply search for the country you want.
When you check the listings for availability, choose programs that appeal to you. Whatever you watch will immerse you in language and culture, so if you’re not a fan of talk shows but enjoy soccer, go for a sports channel. Every show will give some language learning benefit, so choose what you enjoy and go with it.
Don’t discount “ordinary” shows, either. The standard fare of weather and news broadcasts offer a wealth of Spanish language learning opportunities.
What to watch on Streema:
- Telecinco is a station offered by Streema that operates out of Madrid with newscasts, reality shows, dramas and a few comedy series.
One show to watch from Telecinco is “Aida,” a long-running comedy series. The final episode aired in 2014 but the show is so popular it’s still played on the network. The series centers on an ordinary family in a random neighborhood in Madrid, and is an excellent example of life in that famous city!
Sling calls itself “à la carte TV” because it offers its viewers the opportunity to choose specific channels for their channel bundle. The live TV service provides a customized programming experience and there are several different options for Spanish-language TV. The best part is that the per-month cost is minimal, even for some of the more extensive packages.
What to watch on Sling:
- One Sling channel to try is Estrella TV, a Spanish-language broadcast network headquartered in California.
Estrella TV streams many regular television programs, but one that’s especially entertaining is called “Noches con Platanito” (Nights with Platanito). This nightly talk and variety show isn’t exactly typical. The host, Sergio Verduzco, often wears a clown outfit instead of more conventional attire when he chats with his guests. Definitely something to check out!
- Mexicanal is, unsurprisingly, a network from Mexico. It’s a fantastic resource for Spanish language learners. They offer daily news, sports, entertainment and series programming. Some cable companies in the U.S. also offer this network as part of their programming lineup, so check to see if it’s something you already have access to.
“Estrellas del jaripeo” (Stars from Jaripeo) is a program on Mexicanal that gives the skinny on the dangerous profession of Mexican bullfighters. It shows competition preparation and the practice that makes a bullfighter ready to compete. The lives of these fearless men is showcased in detail. However, there’s also some airtime devoted to the native musicians in the area, so the beauty of the music softens the harsh realities of bullfighting a bit.
“Como en casa” (Like at Home) is a weekday morning show with a similar format to those that are shown during that same time slot in the U.S. It has informal discussions on a variety of topics, including household and beauty advice, cooking tips and some of the day’s trending issues. Additionally, they welcome some popular public figures to the set!
Mami was right about a lot of things, but her views on television having a brain-melting capacity wasn’t one of them.
I promise. I’ve been watching for a long time and my brain hasn’t melted yet.
Check out the variety of shows offered by these stations and add a few to your Spanish language program.
And in this case, it’s okay to binge-watch. Get as many Spanish language hours in as you can!
But do more than watch. Jot down new vocabulary. Answer questions if you’re watching game shows. Practice repeating dialogue presented by native speakers—that’s a great way to get some extra pronunciation exercises into your program.
Go for the entertainment. Stay for the next episode—and the learning.
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