Starting to learn Spanish but want more practice hearing and understanding the language? It can feel difficult learning a new language when you don’t have easy opportunities for daily immersion, but there are solutions. One easy way to help with your Spanish learning is to turn your movie time into Spanish practice! Here are our top movies to learn Spanish with — all picked by our team of amazing linguists.
1. Arrugas (2011)
Arrugas, or “Wrinkles” in English, is a Spanish animated film by Ignacio Ferreras that’s perfect for beginners (specifically, those at level A2 according to the CEFR). The film is originally based on an award-winning graphic novel by Paco Roca, and it follows the story of two elderly men (one who’s in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease) while they live in a nursing home. Because the main characters in the film are older, they speak slowly and clearly, which is perfect for those just starting to learn Spanish. Furthermore, the plot is easy to follow, and the vocabulary mostly revolves around food, hobbies and family.
2. El laberinto del fauno (2006)
You may already have heard of this dark fantasy film from its English title, Pan’s Labyrinth, as it won numerous awards and garnered significant acclaim for its director, Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water). While del Toro is Mexican, the setting for El laberinto del fauno takes place shortly after the bloody Spanish Civil War and it weaves many aspects of the oppressive Francoist regime into the mystical storyline. Watchers can pick up a lot of Spanish vocabulary about war, revolution and rebellion, as well as many fantasy terms. It’s also narrated from a young girl’s point of view, and seamlessly mixes historical details with a dark fairytale world. Knowing some of the historical background can make this movie easier to understand, but the story is still easy to follow for intermediate learners (those at a B1/B2 level).
3. La comunidad (2000)
La comunidad is a black comedy directed by Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia. If you like your movies a little off-kilter (maybe death, money, angry neighbors and humor wrapped together is your thing), then you’ll enjoy watching this film — and get the extra benefit of furthering your Spanish. It’s perfect for intermediate level learners, as you’ll learn vocabulary about communities and neighborhoods, as well as how to express opinions and hypotheses.
4. También la lluvia (2010)
Another award-winning film to help you learn Spanish is Iciar Bollaín’s También la lluvia (English title: Even the Rain). This movie takes place against the backdrop of the Cochabamba Water War in Bolivia in 2000, where tens of thousands of Bolivians protested against the privatization of the local water supply company. The plot itself deals with the filming of a movie in Cochabamba at the time of the protests and tells the (fictional) story of how the cast and crew end up involved in the movement. Naturally, having some knowledge of the crisis and the following protests can help learners better understand the film.
This pick has several benefits for learners because it features several different types of Spanish accents to help you adjust your ear, including Mexican, Spanish, and Bolivian. It also features significant vocabulary about film-making, so it’s the perfect assistant to help you talk about these films!
5. El secreto de sus ojos (2009)
If you prefer movies with an element of suspense, then Juan José Campanella’s El secreto de sus ojos (English title: The Secret in Their Eyes) will be perfect for your Spanish learning. This Argentinian thriller won Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards because it seamlessly weaves together a dramatic and unpredictable story across 25 years. Aside from it being an enthralling watch, this selection is perfect for intermediate learners because it will help you develop vocabulary about justice, crimes, and ideas about society.
6. Tesis (1996)
Finally, if you found the crimes featured in El secreto de sus ojos to be too tame, you might enjoy the thriller/horror flick Tesis (English title: Thesis). Directed by Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar, Tesis follows the story of a young university student as she writes her thesis about the effects of visual violence on society. In her journey to discover more about her thesis topic, she finds something sinister in her university’s library — and ends up getting involved in the mystery herself.
This film is well-suited for intermediate (Level B1) learners because it can help refresh and improve previously learned vocabulary about film and television. You’ll also have the chance to practice vocabulary about studies and university life.
Bonus (Short Films):
- El número — This short film is by Spanish director Marco Besas, and is perfect for those at an upper beginner level (A2). Having previous knowledge about vocabulary related to stationery can help you understand the details, but the story is easy enough to follow for newbies as well. Here you can learn vocabulary about life (including birth and death), how to express your feelings, and how to talk about your dreams.
- Diez minutos — If you’re more upper intermediate than a beginner, you’ll enjoy Alberto Ruiz Rojo’s short film. Here you can learn different expressions of anger, how to ask and give information, and other vocabulary about communication.