Spanish TV Shows to Use in Spanish Class

Spanish TV Shows to Use in Spanish Class

Inside: Spanish TV shows: a list of series you can (hopefully!) use in class.  

 

If you’d mentioned movies or shows to me as a new teacher, I’d have assumed you meant how we teachers sometimes use them (hey, we’ve been there right?): that last day before winter break, when the stack of grading gets too high, or a weird testing day when half the class is gone. 

Since then, I’ve realized just how amazing Spanish TV shows in class can be. We can bring native speakers straight into our classrooms. We can travel to different places and cultures. I can get them hooked onto authentic resources they’ll remember for years.

When using Spanish shows in class, I vary my approaches depending on the circumstances.  Sometimes I incorporate a lot of extra activities, because when it comes to TV, it’s not just “listening practice.” As my classes get invested in the characters, and story, it’s a really great chance to have rich discussions and readings. If the show if not immediately comprehensible to them, it takes these extra activities to turn the show into meaningful input.

Sometimes, though, if I’m sure the language is accessible, I let them get absorbed and try not to pause too often. At the end of Spanish 2, one year, we were getting frazzled and sort’ve limping to the end. I enacted a Spanish-only rule, and told the class that every day, for the rest of the year, I would write “10” on the board. That meant 10 minutes of Extra, at the end of class. If I heard English, I erased a minute. If I slipped into English, I added a minute.

It was so much fun, and served two purposes: motivation, and input. Because, as we all know: if it ain’t compelling, they aren’t acquiring much. That’s why a good show is gold.

I used to use a lot of isolated listening “practice” clips that my students totally dreaded. Part of reason they dreaded those clips was that they had no relation, no meaning we cared about. But give them an interesting show, and they can’t get enough. Why? Because they care about the plot and the people. 

 

FREE SPANISH TV SHOWS

 

 See my Spanish movies and shows page for many more Spanish-language suggestions, and of course let me know if I missed one of your favorites. 

 

1. Mi Vida Loca

 

Designed for absolute beginners, BBC produced this free show to introduce basic language, the kind you would need to get around town while traveling. Set up as an interactive mystery show, my students really got into this one and didn’t mind that it’s a tiny bit outdated. This is a perfect end-of-the-year treat when students are getting restless, or to watch over the summer and keep up the language from Spanish 1. If you click on the link above, you can watch interactive lessons. If you don’t have flash, you can also use the episodes on YouTube. 

Level: Novice-Low and up
Episodes: 22

 

 

2. Extra

 

A loose spin-off of the sitcom Friends, Extra is fantastic for beginners, in the sense that it provides compelling, highly comprehensible input. My students loved it and by April it was the perfect little reward to watch at the end of class, a bit each day. 

However, I feel that it’s often awkward and borders on inappropriate, even for high school. I usually kept my clicker in hand and skipped awkward parts; you can preview and use your judgement. 

Level: Novice-High and up (with support)
Episodes: 10

 

 

3. Destinos

 

Destinos is a bit dated, but if you can get past that, it’s a great resource! Follow a lawyer around the world as she tries to solve a mystery and travels the world in search of answers. This is a great way to get immersed in Spanish in the context of a telenova, with culture thrown in too.

Level: Novice-High and up (with support). 
Episodes: 52

 

 

4 ¿Eres tú, María?

 

Created by Realidades for Spanish beginners, this is another (somewhat dated) mystery show. 

Level: Novice-Mid and up
Episodes: 10

 

 

5. La Catrina 

 

A 17-year-old Hispanic-American studies in Mexico for the summer.

Episodes: 14
Level: Novice-High and up (with support)

 

 

6. Violetta

 

Many teachers showed Disney’s Violetta– about a musically gifted teen who moves to Buenos Aires– when it was on Netflix, but it’s since been removed. Most of the DVDs on Amazon seem to be foreign (do you hear us, Disney/Amazon? We want to give you our money), but there are episodes available on Vimeo and YouTube (I have no idea how long these will be there). 

 

 

SPANISH TV SHOWS ON NETFLIX

 

All of these are authentic shows, and only truly “comprehensible” to Intermediate-Mid or High and up. However, many teachers have developed materials (readings, discussion, guides, etc) to make the material more accessible to their students. 

Most of those materials are not currently available to purchase or download, but 

 

1. El Internado (The Boarding School)

 

Students in an isolated boarding school become involved in mysterious events and dark secrets from the past, as friendships and loyalties are tested. (Sidenote: I haven’t watched the wholes series. It’s VERY popular among many amazing teachers, who choose to skip over some scenes. There is language, and if you put on English subtitles, the language gets translated more strongly than in the original Spanish. I didn’t feel comfortable using it in my own classroom, but you decide!)

Check the following resources if you plan to use the series:
Kara Jacobs
WilliamsonCI
Mis Clases Locas

 

2. El Tiempo Entre Costuras

 

El tiempo entre costuras is a mini-series based off the novel of the same name. Set during the Spanish Civil War, it follows a  Spanish seamstress who ends up in Morrocco after an ill-fated love affair, and eventually gets caught up between spies in Franco’s Spain.

This is one of my very favorite Spanish TV shows, and I’ve used it in class along with a study of the Spanish Civil War. The first few episodes have some scenes I skip, but it is generally a clean show and one I love using. 

 

 

3. Gran Hotel

 

Set at the turn of the century, a young man applies for a job at a hotel to investigate his sisters’ disappearance. Forbidden romance, intrigue, and danger follows as the truth comes to light. 

Here are resources from Mis Clases Locas for using the show. Though it has scenes I would skip, it’s one of the cleaner shows out there and so good. 

 

 

4. Soy Luna

 

An Argentine telenovela produced in partnership with Disney, this series is currently on Netflix. A teenage girls who loves to skate moves to Buenos Aires with her parents. I haven’t watched the entire show, but it looks appropriate for middle school and along the veins of Violetta. (If this isn’t available for you in the U.S., you still may be able to access it by adjusting the VPN on your device.) 

 

 

5. Rebelde

 

Six different teenagers– all interested in music– attend an exclusive private school together. Preview this one before using at school. 

 

 

5. Silvana sin Lana

 

A wealthy family’s life comes crashing down when the dad leaves and their fortune is lost. The mother must get a real job and the kids have to adjust to a “normal” life. I haven’t seen this one to the end, but the first episodes are pretty clean and funny. 

 

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Spanish TV Shows for Class

The Best Netflix Movies Set in Spain

The Best Netflix Movies Set in Spain

 Inside: The best Netflix Spain movies. 

 

Netflix, with its ever-expanding range of options, has a growing selection of made-in Spain movies and shows. I’ve got some great titles for you here, whether you’re a native speaker or looking to keep up your Spanish skills. See my Spanish movies and shows page for tons more suggestions for Spanish-language titles, and of course let me know if I missed one of your favorites. 

 Remember that Netflix regularly adds and pulls shows– just let me know if you catch something I should update!

 

NETFLIX SPAIN MOVIES

 

Ready? Let’s get started.

 

1. Contratiempo (Invisible Guest)

 

A wealthy businessman is accused of murder and seeks the help of a famous lawyer to mount a defense as the last hours of his trial wind down. His storytelling of those events takes us down a darkening path of twists and turns, and unexpected revelations. I multitasked quite a bit while preparing this blog post and watched movies, but this movie had my full attention, and me on the edge of my seat. If you like suspense, this is a must-watch with incredible acting.

Info: Mystery, Thriller | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2017

 

 

2. Perdiendo el Norte (Off Course)

 

A light-hearted comedy about two Spaniards who can’t find a job in Spain (despite being over-qualified on paper). Fed up with Spanish life, they move to Berlin in hopes of finding work, only to end up in a café. Life in Berlin comes with new romance, but also a host of cultural differences to navigate.

Info: Romantic Comedy | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2015

 

 

3. Fe de Etarras (Bomb Scared)

 

Four Basque terrorists are trying to plan an attack on Spain. They wait for orders from “above,” in a Spanish apartment, and have to deal with everyday life and neighbors while unsure of the future. A dark comedy that was surprisingly compelling and funny. 

Info:  Comedy  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles  |  2017

 

 

4. Spanish Affair (Ocho Apellidos)

 

“Cuando el sur y el norte chocan, el conflicto alcanza proporciones épicas.” Spanish culture collides when a Sevillian falls for a woman from Basque– even though he’s never before left his hometown. I didn’t love the chemistry between the main actors, but still enjoyable and cute. 

Info: Romance, Comedy |  Spanish Audio  |  2014

 

 

5. Spanish Affair 2 (Ocho Apellidos Catalanes)

 

The couple we met in the Spanish Affair (Rafa and Amaia) have broken up. Amaia is engaged to a Catalonian her father doesn’t like, so he enlists help from Rafa to win her back and break off the new engagement. I enjoyed this one more than the first and found it more convincing, especially the storylines between the supporting characters. If you like the Spanish Affair, definitely follow up with this one.

Info: Romance, Comedy |  Spanish Audio  |  2015

 

 

6. 100 Metros (100 Meters)

 

Based on a true story about a man with a young family who is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Determined to resist the disease as long as he can, he commits to training for an Ironman– with the help of his father-in-law, who has troubles of his own. I sobbed by the end; keep tissues nearby for this heart-wrenching and inspiring story.

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in English/Spanish |  2016

 

 

 

7. La reina de España (The Queen of Spain) 

 

It’s 1956, and an American film company is making a movie about Isabel and Ferdinand, at the request of Franco– and Macarena Granada, now a big name in Hollywood, returns to her native Spain after 20 years to star in it. I found it slow and forced overall, but there’s a deep undercurrent of complicated Spanish history and a cast of actors that many viewers will enjoy nonetheless. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio  |  2016

 

 

8. A Cambio de Nada (Nothing in Return)

 

A coming-of-age story about a troubled teenager figuring out life and getting into trouble with his best friend. Poignant at times, tough at others, A Cambio de Nada explores adolescence in the context of trouble at school, trouble at home, and finding friendship.

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles  |  2015

 

 

9. Ahora o Nunca (It’s Now or Never)

 

A couple who got together in a fairytale high school romance is getting married. The week of the wedding turns nightmare as everything goes wrong, quirky friends and family in tow. 

Info: Comedy |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in Spanish/English  |  2015

 

 

10. Nuestros Amantes (Our Lovers)

 

Different from the usual rom-com storyline, this romantic “dramady” follows a couple who meet in a coffeeshop and decide to maintain an out-the-box-friendship: no exchange of personal information, and no romance. Things go beautifully until their personal lives intersect with fantasy, and they must confront reality.

Info:  Romance, Comedy  |  Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles  |  2016

 

 

11. 7 Años (7 Years)

 

Four friends are in business together, and have committed tax fraud. If one of them volunteers to go to jail for seven years, the company came remain intact and the other friends can walk free. The question is which one? They hire a consultant to help decide who it should be. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in English/Spanish  |  2016

 

 

12. Palmeras en la Nieve (Palm Trees in the Snow)

 

A Spanish woman travels to Africa in hoping to unearth old family secrets, after finding a letter her dying father left behind. The story moves between her search and forbidden love in the time of colonialism. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in English/Spanish  |  2015

 

 

 

 

What other Netflix Spain movies do you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

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Netflix Spain movies

The Best Spanish Podcasts for All Levels & Learners

The Best Spanish Podcasts for All Levels & Learners

Inside: The best Spanish podcasts for learning at home.

 

Most people will tell you that the best way to keep up your Spanish is to use it. That’s certainly ideal, and conversation will improve your fluency in speaking. However, there’s nothing that will affect your proficiency like getting language into your head. 

For those of us who are non-native speakers, podcasts are a perfect solution for learning more. As a non-native teacher and parent of bilingual kids, speaking all day isn’t enough: I need good input too! While I love my Spanish shows on Netflix, the flexibility of podcasts can’t be beat: up your proficiency while commuting to work, folding laundry, or exercising. Win-win!

Here are awesome podcasts, whether you’re a beginner or looking to brush up on your skills. 

The Best Spanish Podcasts (for Free)

 

Personally, I get frustrated when I think I’ve found a great new resource and then realize it’s not free. I don’t mind paying for quality; I just like to know up front. So here are your totally podcasts in Spanish with totally free audio that stands on its own (even if transcripts or other perks are paid options). 

 

1. RadioAmbulante

Levels: Intermediate to Advanced. 

Produced by NPR, the stories in this podcast are compelling with top-quality production. Topics include currents events and cultural themes, with a special emphasis on Latin America, Spain, and the U.S. You can search episodes by theme and country. 

I recommend this podcast for learners who can converse comfortably in Spanish, but need to keep up their skills or are teaching advanced classes. 

Transcripts in Spanish and English are included.  

 

2. SpanishPodcast.net


Levels: Intermediate to Advanced. 

Going to the Listado de episidios is the easiest way to start navigating this extensive site. All of the episodes can be listened to on the site, and include a transcript. 

Although the site offers “Spanish 101 lessons”, they are really grammar lessons in Spanish and would be very difficult for beginners on their own. There are a ton of videos on YouTube as well.

The only cost for the site is if you want to purchase their audiobooks. 

 

3. Spanish Obsessed


Levels: Beginner to Advanced

Lisa and Rob co-host this podcast, which has dozens of well-produced episodes. Even the very first levels are conversation-based, and all episodes include transcripts. Rob is a learner and Lisa is native speaker (from Colombia, which tends to be an easier accent for beginners in my opinion). They have a nice pace and a relaxed way about chatting together.

Translations, exercises and downloads are for purchase, but once you sign up you get access to the podcasts.  

 

 

4. DuoLingo

Level: Intermediate 

I LOVE that DuoLingo decided to focus on stories for their new podcast. It’s a little different, in that it switches back and forth between Spanish and English. I am not sure what to think about that, but I appreciate the compelling nature of the Spanish, and that it’s not a translation back and forth. The speed and language are great for intermediate learners. 

Transcripts are included, too!

 

 

5. Español Automático


Levels: Intermediate to Advanced

Another excellent option from Spanish native speakers, this one features podcasts centered on themes or certain grammar structures. This is a good one for learners who speak and understand, but want to refine their skills or fine-tune weak spots. 

Here’s a link to see all the podcasts at a glance (easier than navigating from the home page). 

 

 

6. Notes in Spanish


Levels: Beginner to Advanced

A mix of Spanish and English, Notes in Spanish focuses functional language you hear “on the street.” This is not straight immersion-style, but rather teaches important, every day phrases at the beginning, with pauses so you can repeat the after the speakers. At the beginner level, there is more explanation than conversation. As you move up, it becomes more natural conversation.

You’ll find that Ben and Marina, the hosts, are very relaxed and assuring. Ben is a learner, and Marina is a native speaker.

You will want to listen to this podcast in order, as each episode refers to previous episodes. Once you get to the iTunes stores, it’s VERY easy to go from episode to episode, which I like, and the website is easy to navigate. 

7. Profedele

Levels: Intermediate to Advanced

This is another new Podcast, with 12 episodes so far. Each episode focused on a different topic. If you teach by unit, these are helpful as you can probably find something to align with what you’re studying. 

Each podcast comes with a transcript in Spanish, and can be streamed on YouTube or Cloudstream.

 

 

Partially Free Spanish Podcasts

 

It’s hard to find podcasts for true novices. Your best bet might be following a channel on YouTube like Dreaming Spanish, which you can slow down (when you click on the settings button in the lower right corner) and where you’ll still have some visuals. But here are my best suggestions for those who’ve learned some but are still getting started. 

 

1. News in Slow Spanish

Levels: Beginner to Advanced

(Though beginner levels are technically offered, they seem to be grammar modules primarily in English– keep that in mind.)

When they call this one “News in Slow Spanish,” they actually mean it: the speakers are clear, slow, and enunciated. I like the option of speakers from Spain or Latin America, and each episode has the transcript below. More difficult parts are bolded, and hovering over those phrases shows a translation.

With the basic, free access, you can still listen to current news clips. The transcripts, grammar, quizzes, and a few more features include higher subscription costs. 

 

2. Coffee Break Spanish

Levels: Beginner to Intermediate – Advanced

Coffee Break Spanish produces high-quality podcasts, beginning with lessons for novices and more conversational as the levels move up. The site is a little tricky to navigate, and it helps just to go to iTunes or the Android version, to access all the free podcasts in one place. 

 

 

 

3. Podcasts in Spanish

Levels: Intermediate – Advanced 

It was unclear on the site what the levels meant, but Level 1 already seemed to be intermediate. If you want worksheets and transcripts you have to pay, but all of the audio is free. There are a TON of audio files here. 

 

 

 

More Spanish Listening Resources

 

Here I’ve collected resources that aren’t podcasts, but still are helpful to know about!

 

1. Spanish Proficiency Exercises


Levels: Beginner to Advanced

Totally free, this is a very organized site with clips of native speakers addressing specific topics.  Each topics will have a variety of speakers with different accents, answering the same questions. 

Includes transcripts in both English and Spanish. 

 

 

2. Practica Español

Levels: Beginner to Advanced

Wow. This site is new to me, but it is incredible. It contains some Spanish lessons and a huge database of news articles. When you click on “Noticias,” you can choose levels A, B, or C to only see articles and audio that fit what level you need. This is one of the few sites I’ve seen that truly has novice-level reading and audio based on actual news topics, not just explanations or grammar.

Additionally, most articles have a real news clip in Spanish, with comprehension questions, and then related some grammar and vocabulary in context. Definitely bookmark this one!

 

3. Spanish Listening

Level: Beginner to Advanced

These video archives of native speakers are really easy to search: grammar, level, topic, or country. 

 

4. Curiosamente

Level: Advanced

Created by native speakers, for native speakers, this is a YouTube channel that explores fascinating questions like “Why is the sky blue?” and “Why do we have Deja Vú? 

 

 

Did I miss any of your favorite Spanish podcasts? Let me know in the comments!

 

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The Best Authentic Spanish Songs with Reflexive Verbs

The Best Authentic Spanish Songs with Reflexive Verbs

 Inside: Authentic Spanish songs with reflexive verbs: a classroom playlist.

 

I have collected lots of LONG Spanish music playlists… but sometimes teachers are looking for something specific. If you are looking for songs packed with reflexive verbs / pronouns, here’s your more targeted list!

(If you’re looking for more lists of Songs in Spanish by theme and category, I have a ton you can browse through or save for later.)

Let’s take a tour of our top picks!

 

Spanish Songs with Reflexive Verbs

 

Of course, always preview, and let me know if you have any suggestions or comments about the song here. 

 

1. ¿Con Quién Se Queda El Perro? – Jesse y Joy

 

Here’s a great song about a couple breaking up and having to decide who gets the dog. You’ll get good examples of pronouns, especially in the chorus. (The official video is great, but contains one scene at 0:20 you probably won’t want to show in class– if not, use the lyrics video below.)

 

 

2. Me Voy – Julieta Venegas 

 

Julieta Venegas has a nice clear accent, and I love her songs. The chorus is great for introducing reflexive verbs in the context of “yo.”

 

3. Y No Hago Más Na – El Gran Combo

 

So many reflexive pronouns in this classic Spanish song, and even ordered to explain the events of a day. 

If you want some more explicit highlights of the grammar:

 

 

4. Di Que No Te Vas – Morat

 

I really love Morat. This song is actually not full of reflexive pronouns– it’s mostly just “no te vas“– but that line gets repeated over and over again. If you teach object pronouns first, and then reflexives, you could compare and contrast with the lines that are full of object pronouns. If you teach reflexives, just focused on the chorus– they’ll never forget te vas!

If you teach through CI without much targeting, just enjoy. 

 

5. Te Mueves Tú, Se Mueven Todo

 

This song is super-fun, and the second video includes a lesson on how to to the dance (not G-rated– preview and see what you think). 

 

 

6. Cuando Me Enamoro – Enrique Iglesias y Juan Luis Guerra 

 

Juanes is another iconic Latin singer and Es por ti is one of his best love songs. I love this live version. 

 

 

7. Sin miedo a nada – Alex Ubago 

 

If you are looking for all sorts of pronouns together, this song provides lots of examples of both, to compare and contrast. Or just enjoy this Spanish classic!

 

 

8. Maquíllate – Mecano

 

If you like repetition, this one’s for you! A tongue-in-cheek song about make-up.

 

9. Somos novios – Andrea Bocelli y Christina Aguilera

 

Unlike most of the other songs listed here, this one focuses on “nos _____.” If you want a classic, use this one!

 

 

In researching this post, I came across more resources for reflexives. I’m just including them in a list here in case you need some more ideas!

 

What romantic song did I miss? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

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Spanish New Year’s Activities: A Collection for the Classroom

Spanish New Year’s Activities: A Collection for the Classroom

Inside: Spanish New Year’s activities, and links. 

 
Coming back to school after the winter break can be rough. Create a lesson or two around New Year’s traditions, and you can kick off the new semester with fun activities centered on Latino culture. 
 
As explored in my New Year’s in Spanish post, there are a ton of good-luck rituals in the Hispanic world. From wearing the right underwear to stuffing down 12 grapes a midnight, there’s a little bit of everything! And there’s plenty of interesting traditions to capture your students’ attention. 
 
Or consider a real-world task like making resolutions and/or wishes. There are plenty of #authres to make these sorts of activities even more meaningful. 
 
Below, I’ve gathered all kinds of resources, so there should be something for everyone. Enjoy!

Spanish New Year’s Activities

Lesson Ideas

 

  • Make New Year’s resolutions! Perhaps begin with a funny story about someone who has high hopes for the new year and sets intense goals, and then what actually happens Jan 1. OR go the inspirational route about someone who truly does turn over a new leaf (the Grinch, maybe). Then at the end of the story, students come up with their own resolutions. 

 

  • Prepare a list of famous characters/people/celebrities. Then, write up one or more resolutions for each person. Show the list of people to the class, and read the resolutions out loud, while the students try to guess whose it is.

 

 

 

  • Make 12 wishes for the New Year, and write each one in a grape. (Following the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight, and making a wish for each one eaten.) This is an output-heavy activity, so it might be best to brainstorm and give options for the students to choose from, or use for a more advanced class and then discuss.

 

  • For younger students, prepare “grapes” with a wish for the New Year written down. After talking about each wish, have the students pick just one wish for the next year. Then vote for favorites and do a graph to see what the most popular wish is!

 

  • Research superstitions to bring good luck on New Year’s, and compare them between countries/cultures.

 

  • Have students choose one word for the New Year, as explained here.

 

 

Free TpT Resources

 

 

  • Metas para el año nuevo from La Clase de Señora Dufault. Use this cute download if you are doing resolutions with younger students. 

 

  • Teach the song Vivir mi vida to prep for writing resolutions (lots of voy a… reps), with this free activity sheet. 

 

Infographs

 

costumbres latinas del año nuevo

 

Credit: Cinismoilustrado

 

Credit: TICs y formación

Credit: Hábitos

 

 

Songs

 

 

Videos

 

Costumbres para el año nuevo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Los reyes magos

 

 

 

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