How to Learn Spanish Watching Movies in the US
Watching movies is a great way to improve your Spanish level. You can comfortably put yourself in a situation where you hear the real use of the Spanish language while enjoying high-quality, entertaining stories. Everybody likes to learn Spanish watching movies!
But it can be hard sometimes to find good films in the US or other foreign countries. Also, you might need English subtitles (that’s ok!), but my advice is to try to use Spanish subtitles instead.
I chose 5 movies from Spain that I know are good and recent: between 2015 and 2016. Watching a movie shouldn’t be just a language learning assignment, but a delightful experience.
A Crash Course on Spanish Cinema
Spanish cinema is big on comedy. 3 of the 5 Spanish films of our list are a comedy. It looks like the greatest comedy genre is that of regional jokes that bring up the diversity of the Spanish regions. That’s what both “8 Apellidos” movies are about: depicting funny stereotypes of distinct Spanish communities, as the Basque or the Catalonian. They are two of the favorite movies ever for many Spaniards.
We also like mixing genres. What about a spy movie turned into comedy, and some family drama? There you have “Anacleto, Agente Secreto“.
But drama is getting bigger and better done, too. “Palmeras en la Nieve” is a great historic and dramatic story that was very well received by the public. And “El Desconocido” brings cops movies to the Spanish context and reality.
Unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t have any Pedro Almodovar‘s movies, like the famous “Volver” or “All about my mom“. He is, undoubtedly, the most important Spanish director of the modern age. His movies are a gift for the senses. I encourage you to watch any of them if you have the chance.
Other very good Spanish movies that you can’t find on Netflix are: “Pan’s Labyrinth“, “Mar Adentro“, “Biutiful“, or the older ones with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz.
What about Latin America?
There are plenty of good movies in other Spanish speaking countries too. But for some reason, not very many are on Netflix. However, you can still watch two iconic Mexican movies on Netflix: “Amores perros”, and “Y tu mamá también“. Both with Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, who was the first Latino in a Star Wars Movie, “Rogue One“.
What about TV shows?
Sure! We have those, too. Here’s a list of the best Spanish TV shows you can watch on Netflix.
The Top 5 Spanish Movies you can Watch on Netflix
1. Ocho Apellidos Vascos (A Spanish Affair) 2014
A “clash of cultures” between a guy from Sevilla, the girl he likes from the Basque Country, her long gone, very Basque kind of man dad, and a very motherly woman of the South. And how all of them sustain a masquerade to no to hurt each other feelings.
2. Ocho Apellidos Catalanes (A Spanish Affair 2) 2015
The continuation of the story. The Basque dad wants to prevent her daughter from marrying a Catalonian guy that he doesn’t like. And his master plan is to bring the guy from Sevilla back to their lives. Pretending is still central to the story, but now in a different context: the anti-Spanish Catalonia.
3. Palmeras en la Nieve (Palm Trees in the Snow) 2015
A beautiful romantic drama in beautiful set: the former Spanish Guinea, in an equatorial African island. The young Kilian goes back to his hometown to raise cocoa with a family of Spanish colonists. There, he discovers what the real life in the colony is.
4. Anacleto, Agente Secreto (Spy Time) 2015
A mix between action movie and comedy, Anacleto is a secret spy agent that has to protect his grown-up son from the villains. But, the surprise will be for the son, when he finds out his lived’s been a lie.
5. El Desconocido (Redemption) 2016
We don’t know who El Desconocido (the Unknown-one) is. That’s the plot of the movie: a bank director taking his kids to school is being extorted. A story of revenge and injustice in an action-packed format, with today’s Madrid as a background.
Why watching movies in Spanish
Sometimes, you get tired of just studying your vocabulary, your grammar, or even of having lessons with your teacher. Why not switching to some binge-watching on Netflix?
Watching movies in order to learn a language is a controversial topic. There’s research supporting both ideas: that it helps accelerate your learning, and that it does not.
My view on this is: it can’t hurt. And, secondly, mastering a language only happens after getting familiar with its culture, too.
So, even if you have to turn the English subtitles on for these, you will be able to take a glimpse into the culture of Spain and Latin America – right at your fingertips on Netflix USA!