You’ve done all the things. You have the apps. You’ve enrolled in the courses. You’ve even travelled to Spanish speaking countries. You’re determined to master español, if it’s the last thing you do. 

But unless you’re regularly listening to natural spoken Spanish, like the kind in movies, you might fall short of your goal. 

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard this advice or considered watching movies in Spanish to improve your listening skills. Maybe you’ve even tried watching one on Netflix before, got a few minutes in and realized you couldn’t understand anything. Well… not as much as you’d like, anyway. And so you turned the movie off.

You are neither alone nor a lost cause. I know because the exact same thing used to happen to me! Since then, I’ve experimented with different strategies to watch movies in Spanish and found lots that work. 

Whether you’re new to watching movies in Spanish or have tried several times before, this article is for you. You’ll see that you can improve your Spanish by watching movies, and I’ll give you some tools to help you do just that. 

In this post, you’ll find a list of the 49 best movies in Spanish, and where to find them, so you can improve your listening skills from the sofa. Below the list of movies, you’ll also find the ultimate guide to watching your first movie in Spanish, including: 

  • How to choose the right Spanish movie for your level and tastes.
  • What to do if you don’t understand? Get tools and strategies that will help. 
  • To subtitle or not to subtitle? 
  • Study techniques to boost your vocabulary, speaking and pronunciation with films. 

We’ll get to the movies very soon, but first, why should you watch movies in Spanish? 

4 Great Reasons to watch Movies in Spanish

Have you ever met a Spanish learner who can read and write but struggles to understand conversations between natives? You might have had this same experience yourself! 

It’s normal to invest time and energy into things that cause the least amount of stress and discomfort, like reading, but this strategy doesn’t always serve you.

If you’re truly committed to speaking Spanish, you have to put a lot of work into your listening skills. Watching movies in Spanish can help you learn how native speakers talk and overcome the obstacles that get in the way of understanding at first, like fast speech, slang and different accents. 

Another way you can benefit from watching movies in Spanish is vocab, vocab, vocab! There is no better way to be exposed to so many Spanish words. Paired with the visuals, it becomes easier to pick up vocabulary in context, which will help you remember it more easily.

Perhaps most importantly, movies in Spanish immerse you in the Spanish speaking world. You can get to know cultures, environments, time periods, and learn more about the language, its variations and the people who speak it. All from your sofa!

Lastly, watching movies in Spanish is a lot more fun than sitting in a classroom: all you need to do is open Netflix, get comfy, bring a snack and press play. 

So you’re on board but you may be thinking, “Why are you emphasizing watching movies in Spanish? Does it really matter if I choose to binge watch a television series rather than diving into a movie?” If you’re more of a series person, they can work just as well, in fact, you can find a post on the best TV shows to learn Spanish here

But one of the things I like about movies in Spanish is that it takes way less time to watch a movie than it does to get through a television series. Which makes it easier to watch over and over and learn through repetition. 

If you’re into movies like I am, you’ll find lots of great Spanish language ones to choose from. Here’s a list of the 49 best movies in Spanish. Most are on Netflix, and there are a few bonus ones at the end that you can find in different places. 

32 Best Movies in Spanish on Netflix

1. El laberinto del fauno/ Pan’s Labyrinth

This classic follows the adventures of a young girl in Spain after the Spanish civil war. She comes across an abandoned labyrinth that leads to a magical realm. As she enters a mythical world that is just as disturbing as it is captivating, you can’t help but feel like you’re embarking on this journey with her. But this isn’t your typical fantasy movie and it’s definitely not suitable for young children. Where Alice in Wonderland brings childhood fantasies to life, Pan’s Labyrinth subverts them by treading the line between fantasy, horror, and reality. 

Genre: Fantasy, War

Region: Spain

2. 7 años/ 7 Years

This Netflix Original follows four business partners who haven’t exactly been playing by the book. Now the consequences of their financial misconduct has come back to bite them, leaving them to make the most difficult decision of their lives. They must decide which one of them is going to take the fall and serve seven years in prison. This exciting drama is full of betrayal, secrets being exposed, and lots of suspense.

Genre: Drama

Region: Spain

3. El hoyo/ The Platform

This film is Black Mirror meets The Hunger Games. Set in a vertical prison referred to as a “Vertical Self-Management System”, we see just how ruthless humans can become when it’s a matter of life or death. Or feasting versus starving, in this case. The inmates at this prison are forced to rotate among floors every 30 days which wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for one little issue: they’re fed via a platform that’s filled with food on the top floor, leaving those on the lower levels to eat the scraps of those above them. That’s if there are any left. Be prepared to sit on the edge of your seat (and occasionally cover your eyes) as you watch what happens when people are forced to fight over basic necessities.  

Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror

Region: Spain

4. Veronica

A young girl attempts to contact her father’s spirit with the help of an Ouija board. Unfortunately, she ends up summoning demons instead. 

Genre: Horror, Supernatural

Region: Spain 

5. Quién te cantará

When a nineties music icon loses her memory right before she is set to make her comeback, an obsessed fan has to help the beloved icon remember who she is. Which shouldn’t be a problem since she performs as the infamous singer every night at a karaoke bar. This movie brings the worlds of fandom and stardom together in a beautifully, yet slightly disturbing way.

Genre: Drama, Music

Region: Spain

6. Adú

Taking place in Africa, this film follows the lives of a child embarking on a journey towards freedom, a coast guard who isn’t quite sure about his role anymore, and an environmental activist with a rocky relationship with his daughter. Through unlikely circumstances, they all cross paths causing their lives to change forever. 

Genre: Drama

Region: Spain, Melilla (North Africa)

7. Y tú mamá también/ And Your Mother Too

What would a list of movies be if it didn’t include a coming-of-age story? This movie follows two seventeen year old boys whose summer plans involve going on the road trip of a lifetime. And to add a bit of spice to their adventure, they invite a beautiful older woman to partake in the festivities. Expect conflicts, epiphanies, and sexual tension.

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Region: Mexico

8. Despido procedente/ Dismissal

What’s worse than almost running someone over with your car? Giving them bad directions then proceeding to be stalked and harassed by them with no end in sight. This Argentinian comedy is full of shenanigans that will frustrate you and make you laugh out loud. 

Genre: Comedy

Region: Argentina, Spain

9. Yucatán

Manipulation is the name of the game in this Spanish comedy when a couple of con men attempt to secure millions of euros from the most unsuspecting victim- an elderly baker who also happens to be a lottery winner. This movie takes place on a cruise ship from Spain to Mexico but definitely isn’t your typical vacation story. Be prepared to laugh until your sides hurt as you see the lengths these men are willing to go to in order to fulfill their get rich quick scheme. 

Genre: Comedy

Region: Spain

10. El hijo/ The Son

This movie is what you get when you cross an erratic pregnant woman, a paranoid husband, and a ton of terrible decisions. A couple with a baby on the way begins to have marital problems when the wife completely shuns her husband throughout her pregnancy. To make things worse, she doesn’t allow him to see the baby even after it is born. So he decides to take matters into his own hands…

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Region: Argentina

11. Jefe

This movie follows a successful businessman who has to learn the hard way that there are consequences to treating people unkindly. Overnight, he is forced to evaluate his selfish behavior when he loses his family, his job and his money. But redemption might still be a possibility for him. That is… if he humbles himself and finds value in the advice of a lowly janitor. 

Genre: Comedy

Region: Spain, Portugal

12. Soltera codiciada/ How to Get Over a Breakup

There are many ways to get over a breakup- crying, partying, throwing yourself into work. But in this Peruvian comedy, a young copywriter decides to blog about her journey as a recently dumped single woman. What starts out as a therapeutic endeavor ends up bringing her more attention than she could have ever imagined. Can she find a balance between new attention and old flames?

Genre: Comedy

Region: Peru

13. Se busca papá/ Dad Wanted

When a preteen’s mother forbids her from participating in an upcoming BMX competition, she doesn’t despair. She just hires an actor to pretend to be her father. Is this a brilliant plan or a recipe for disaster?

Genre: Family-Friendly, Comedy

Region: Mexico

14. La tribu/ The Tribe

A successful business executive and the mother who gave him up for adoption come together in the most unlikely way in this heartwarming comedy. When Fidel Garcia Ruiz simultaneously destroys his reputation and his memory, his long-lost mother -and her street dancing crew- comes to the rescue. 

Genre: Comedy

Region: Spain

15. Roma

This movie tells the story of Cleo, an indigenous housekeeper who lives with and works for an upper-class family in the Colonia Roma barrio in Mexico City throughout the 1970s. This movie analyzes the tension between the Indigenous people in Mexico and Mexican society through the lens of racism, classism, and sexism. 

Genre: Drama

Region: Mexico

16. Alelí

Three siblings leading dysfunctional lives come together after the death of their father to address the pending sale of their childhood beach house. As they alternate between fighting over and mourning the beach house, childhood memories begin to surface and they are forced to confront deeply rooted resentments. But can the very thing that seems to be tearing them apart bring them closer together?

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Region: Uruguay

17. Durante la tormenta/ Mirage

When Vera Roy, a wife and mother, is able to go back in time and prevent the death of a boy who was killed 25 years ago, she realizes that no good deed goes unpunished. By saving a stranger’s life, she ends up altering reality so much that she is never married to her husband and has never given birth to her daughter. As she attempts to return to her original timeline, she discovers uncomfortable truths that cause her to rethink her life altogether. 

Genre: Sci-Fi, Suspense, Drama

Region: Spain

18. El hombre de las mil caras/ Smoke and Mirrors

Based on a true story, this movie follows a former secret agent who has been framed by the Spanish government and exiled. When he returns to his home country, he is hungry for revenge and smarter than ever. They’ll never know what hit them. 

Genre: Thriller, Drama

Region: Spain

19. Tarde para la ira/ The Fury of a Patient Man

This movie gives us a front row seat to how far a man is willing to go to avenge his murdered lover. And how long he is willing to wait for the perfect moment to strike. But when innocent people get caught in the crossfire, is a resolution possible for any of the parties involved?

Genre: Crime Thriller, Action

Region: Spain

20. Perdida

Years after her childhood friend goes missing in Patagonia, a policewoman decides to solve this mystery by investigating on her own. It doesn’t take long for her to discover that her own life is at risk, as well. 

Genre: Suspense, Thriller

Region: Argentina

21. Como caído del cielo/ As If Fallen From Heaven

Mexican actor and singer, Pedro Infante, is fortunate enough to get a second chance at life but it comes with strings attached. Stuck between going to heaven or hell, Pedro is given the opportunity to return to earth in order to earn his way through the pearly gates. This proves to be more challenging than he expects when the body he’s given belongs to an impersonator who shares both Pedro’s love of music and his womanizing ways. 

Genre: Musical, Comedy

Region: Mexico

22. No Estoy Loca/ I’m Not Crazy

Nothing can send a woman into a mental institution faster than being told that her husband and best friend are moving on with their lives- together and without her. When Carolina learns about the affair and her infertility on the same day, the grief seems too much to bear. However, her stint in a mental health clinic gives her the opportunity to do some much needed inner work. And she discovers that there’s more to her than she realized. 

Genre: Comedy

Region: Chile

23. Lo más sencillo es complicarlo todo/ The Simplest Thing is to Complicate Everything

What’s a 17 year old girl to do when the guy she’s had a crush on for years gets engaged? If you’re Renata Alejandro, you’re going to take the most nonsensical route to get the betrothed couple to split up. This movie is a light-hearted teen comedy that is sure to get laughs (and maybe a few eye rolls). 

Genre: Teen, Comedy

Region: Mexico

24. Amar

This movie follows a young couple navigating love and adulthood for the first time. As they struggle to find their footing in both arenas, their determination to succeed only strengthens. Until it doesn’t anymore. This relatable tale brings up feelings of nostalgia and empathy as early memories of young adulthood resurface. 

Genre: Romantic, Drama

Region: Spain

25. Solteras/ Ready to Mingle

After being dumped by the man she thought would be her husband, Ana decides to take control of her love life by joining a class that helps single women find a husband. This romcom follows her through a series of dates ranging from dismal to downright horrifying until she finds love where she least expects it. 

Genre: Comedy, Romantic

Region: Mexico

26. A pesar de todo/ Despite Everything

When four sisters leading completely separate lives attend their mother’s funeral, the last thing they expect to find out is that the man who raised them is not their father. If that’s not enough of a shock, they are told that in order to receive their inheritance, they must find their biological fathers. This would be easier if their mother didn’t leave it up to them to sort out whose father belongs to whom. Will this scavenger hunt bring them closer together or push them even further apart?

Genre: Comedy

Region: Spain

27. Feo pero sabroso

This Colombian comedy challenges the notion that love conquers all when an extremely unattractive and bizarre man gets engaged to the beautiful Laura. Their families oppose the union so much that they are willing to take extreme measures to stop the two from getting married. Even if it means kidnapping the priest who is meant to marry them. 

Genre: Comedy

Region: Colombia

28. Septiembre, un llanto en silencio/ September

After his wife is murdered in a terrorist attack, a father struggles to raise his deaf daughter by himself in wartorn Guatemala. But this proves to be challenging in more ways than he could have expected, especially in a country that doesn’t provide many resources or opportunities for people with disabilities. As his daughter navigates childhood and enters adulthood, she must learn to find her own power and leave the protective bubble he has created for her. 

Genre: Drama

Region: Guatemala

29. Retablo

When a fourteen year old boy who works with his father as an artisan stumbles across his father’s secret, their relationship is never the same. Taking place in the Peruvian Andes, this movie leaves no stone unturned as it examines the way toxic masculinity and homophobia can tear a family apart.

Genre: Drama

Region: Peru

30. Mujeres arriba

When Teresa discovers that her husband has been unfaithful, she embarks on a journey of sexual liberation and self-discovery with her two best friends. However, as she grows more comfortable putting her own happiness first, she captures the eye and heart of a talented writer. 

Genre: Romantic, Comedy

Region: Chile

31. Vivir dos veces/ Live Twice, Love Once

After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Emilio’s daughter and granddaughter come up with the brilliant idea to reunite him with his childhood love before it’s too late. As they embark on this journey, the three of them get a new chance at life and realize that it’s never too late to start over. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Region: Spain

32. Más allá de la luna/ Over the Moon

This follows the story of Fei Fei, a young girl who is mourning the passing of her mother. Her grief intensifies when her father decides to expand their family. To add to the betrayal, her relatives insist that the stories her mother told her about the moon goddess, Chang’e, are not true. In an act of defiance, Fei Fei sets out to go to the moon and prove that Chang’e does, in fact, exist. Instead, she leaves the moon with a deeper understanding of love, loss, and letting go. This movie might bring tears to your eyes but don’t worry, you’ll laugh just as much. Although this is technically an American movie, the version in Spanish is just as enjoyable. Just remember to choose the dubbed option.

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family-Friendly

Region: Created in US but features Spanish-Speaking actors such as Danna Paola

Bonus Movies in Spanish (Not on Netflix)

33. Coco (Disney+)

Coco is one of the few American movies that actually seems more authentic in Spanish. That’s because it takes place in a small village in Mexico and incorporates Mexican culture through the music, references, and imagery. This movie is about a young boy named Miguel who has an irresistible passion for music, which would be great if it weren’t for one little problem:his family has placed a ban on music that spans back several generations. Eager to get the heart of this ban and be allowed to sing to his heart’s desire, Miguel takes a journey to the Land of the Dead to find both his grandfather and favorite musician. 

Genre: Family-friendly, Animation, Music

Region: Mexico

34. La misma luna/ Under the Same Moon (Prime Video, to rent or with Starz)

A young boy risks his life when he runs away from his grandmother’s home and illegally crosses the Mexican-American border in hopes of reuniting with his mother who moved to Los Angeles and is trying to create a solid foundation for the two of them. When his mother hears that her son has gone missing, she embarks on her own journey to find him. This movie provides a further look into the immigration process and the lives of migrant workers, while reminding us that love has no limit. 

Genre: Drama

Region: Mexico

35. Voces inocentes/ Innocent Voices (YouTube, Available to buy DVD on Amazon and Ebay)

Shown through the perspective of a young boy named Chava, this movie shows the impact of the civil war that took place in El Salvador throughout the 1980s. This is a painful but insightful watch that brings attention to the ways that children are forced to participate in war and are also victims of military violence. Available on YouTube at the time the article was written. 

Genre: Drama, War

Region: El Salvador

36. Cocote (Prime Video)

Upon returning to his hometown for his father’s funeral, a devoted Christian who works as a gardener discovers that his father has been murdered by a powerful person in their community. But that’s not the only disturbing news that he receives- his family now wants him to go after the murderer and avenge his father’s death. The last thing he wants to do is harm another person but as the situation intensifies, he may not have many other options.

Genre: Drama

Region: Dominican Republic 

37. Qué León (Prime Video)

A young couple who happen to share the same last name have little else in common- least of all their social statuses. Jose Miguel is the son of a spare parts dealer while Nicole’s father is a successful businessman. Even though their fathers couldn’t be any more different, they are able to come together in their mission to split the lovebirds up. This young love story comes with more trials than Romeo and Juliet. Let’s just hope that no one gets hurt in the crossfire. 

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Region: Dominican Republic

38. La tierra y la sombra/ Land and Shade (Prime Video)

Nearly two decades after abandoning his family, a sugar cane farmer by the name of Alphonso makes the trek back home to visit his sick son. Back home, he is forced to face his wife while getting to know his daughter-in-law and grandson. Recognizing the error of his ways, Alphonso attempts to earn back his spot within the family and make up for lost time. 

Genre: Drama

Region: Colombia

39. José (Prime Video)

This movie follows 19-year-old Jose who is trying his best to navigate life in a country infamous for its violent history. Safety is especially difficult for him to find as a young gay man in a devoutly religious society and household. He seeks solace and connection through the world of online hookups but his life is turned upside down when he meets a Caribbean migrant named Luis. Faced with new risks and opportunities, Jose embarks on a painful yet insightful inner journey.

Genre: Drama

Region: Guatemala 

 40. Chico & Rita (YouTube and to buy on DVD on Amazon)

This movie explores romance through animation and jazz music reminiscent of the 1940s and 50s. A young pianist from Cuba and a beautiful jazz singer fall in love but being together comes with more challenges than either of them could have expected. Follow along and see how their passionate romance survives and evolves over the course of six decades. Available on YouTube at the time the article was written. 

    Genre: Drama, Romance, Animation

    Region: Cuba

 41. Yuli (Prime Video)

This movie chronicles the life of Carlos Acosta, a Black ballet dancer from Cuba and the first Black dancer in London’s Royal Ballet. As a child, he has dreams of being a football legend but his father has other plans for him. Mainly keeping him out of trouble. Although he is a talented dancer, the young boy despises ballet. After all, it doesn’t exactly make him the most popular kid on the playground. But with the right recognition, he sees his life transform as he is offered opportunities that expand beyond Havana and take him around the world. It’s exciting to see Acosta play himself as an adult in this painful yet heartwarming tale. 

Genre: Drama, Biography, Inspirational

Region: Cuba 

 42. Zona sur/ Southern Zone (Tubi TV, YouTube, and to buy on DVD on Amazon)

Living in a bubble isn’t all that bad for this wealthy Bolivian family who reside in the part of town referred to as Zona Sur. Besides their servants who are part of the Aymaran indigenous community in Bolivia, they have little to no interactions with people outside their circle. Tune into this movie to see what happens when the bubble bursts and the indigenous people begin to realize just how powerful they are. Available on YouTube at the time the article was written. 

    Genre: Drama 

    Region: Bolivia 

 43. Minuto final/ Final Minute (Prime Video)

After stumbling upon a homicide while he is off duty, police officer Leonardo decides to investigate the crime scene. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that something isn’t quite right about the scene, the motive and even the alleged assassin. When he bumps into his former boss, Leonardo discovers that this case is more personal than he is comfortable with.

Genre: Thriller 

Region: Ecuador

 44. From Core to Sun (Prime Video)

This documentary follows Millán Ludeña who is determined to set a new Guinness World Record. His goal? To connect the closest point to the center of the Earth with the closest point to the Sun. And he’ll do this by going approximately 3,500 km underground and running a half-marathon. That doesn’t sound too bad until you take into consideration that the temperature is 42 degrees celsius with 80% humidity. But that’s not all. After he completes the first half of his quest, he will run up to the peak of Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador. 

Genre: Documentary

Region: Ecuador 

 45. La casa del fin de los tiempos/ The House at the End of Time (Prime Video)

It’s the year 1981 and Dulce is living in a haunted house with her husband and two sons. After her family is mysteriously attacked, she is found guilty of murdering them and sentenced to 30 years in prison. After being released, she is sent back to the house that has caused her so much torment for decades. But this time, she is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Genre: Horror

Region: Venezuela

 46. Pelo malo/ Bad Hair (Prime Video)

Nine-year-old Junior is obsessed with straightening his curly hair. His mother is disturbed by this desire because she thinks that this is not a healthy obsession for a boy to have. Her fears transform into homophobia which causes the two of them to clash.

Genre: Drama

Region: Venezuela

 47. Viaje (Prime Video) 

Be prepared for your heart to melt as you follow the story of Luciana and Pedro. After meeting at a costume party, they become infatuated with one another. Their lovers’ high takes them on an adventure through the Costa Rican forest. The backdrop of the natural scenery deepens their connection while the black-and-white cinematography brings an old-school feel to the movie.

Genre: Romance

Region: Costa Rica

 48. La Yuma (Prime Video)

This movie is all about breaking conventions and not just because it was the first full-length film from Nicaragua in 20 years. Yuma is a teenage girl growing up in the slums who is determined to rise above her circumstances by becoming a professional boxer. No matter how hard life gets, she refuses to let her gender or economic class limit her. You’ll walk away from this movie feeling like anything is possible.

Genre: Drama, Action

Region: Nicaragua 

49. Chance (Prime Video)

Two housekeepers seize the opportunity to come into riches when they hold their employers hostage and demand a hefty ransom. 

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Region: Panama 

How to Watch your First Movie in Spanish: 7 rules 

Rule 1: Choose the right Spanish Language Movie 

Where to start? Does it matter which movie you choose? 

The most useful advice I can give you about choosing a movie in Spanish is to watch what you enjoy! If you love romantic comedies and despise action movies, it won’t benefit you to suffer through the latest spy movie. You need to watch something that will hold your attention. If you’re not able to stay awake throughout the film, you’ll struggle to find the motivation you need to understand what they’re saying in Spanish.

Now that you know what kind of film you’d like to watch, you need to make sure you’re watching a movie that is appropriate for your level. If you’re in your first year of learning Spanish, watching a movie full of medical jargon will probably be too intense for you. 

If you’re new to learning Spanish yet still want to indulge in Spanish-language media, I would suggest watching films that are geared towards young children. You still may struggle to understand most of what’s being said but they tend to talk slower, use less slang and incorporate songs to help with language development. 

Another suggestion is to watch your favorite movies dubbed in Spanish. Ideally, it should be a movie that you’ve watched hundreds of times before and know like the back of your hand. Your familiarity with the film will help you pick up on what’s being said and you won’t get frustrated because you already know what’s going on. 

For intermediate Spanish speakers, most movies will work for you. Even if you don’t understand everything, you should be able to pick out enough words to get a basic understanding of what’s going on. 

For more advanced Spanish speakers, I would suggest really challenging yourself. Perhaps you have no issue making it through most movies by now however, if you really want to expand your vocabulary, you can watch movies in a dialect that you’re not very comfortable with or watch movies that use jargon that’s completely foreign to you (such as legal or medical terminology). 

Spanish is an extremely diverse language. No two countries speak it the same way and some regions have differences in even the most basic things, like how to say “you”. If you’re attempting to learn a specific dialect (think European Spanish vs. Caribbean Spanish) or wish to interact with a certain nationality (such as Mexican people if you live in California), it helps to choose films from these regions. Not only will you become more familiar with the regional vocabulary, but if you watch enough of these movies, you’ll also come to understand the accents with ease. 

Rule 2: Be Patient (It’s a Gradual Process)

So you’ve chosen the movie you’re going to watch. You have your favorite snacks and your glass of wine. You’re ready to dive in. But there are a few things you need to know before you get started. If you go in expecting the experience to mimic watching a movie in English (or whatever your native tongue is), you are almost guaranteed to become frustrated. 

Remember, you spend all day every day listening to your native language – by the time you’re 18, that’s around 78840 hours! 

It’s only normal that listening to movies in Spanish is going to feel very challenging at first.  You’re going to need a different approach and a new mindset.

We live in a goal-oriented society. Everyone is obsessed with end results and even if you know how important it is to enjoy the process, you’ll probably find yourself staring at your Spanish learning GPS and asking yourself: am I in fluentville yet?

Don’t do it.

The beauty (and sometimes most frustrating part!) about learning a language is that it takes time. It requires you to come to terms with your shortcomings and to dedicate more energy to the process, rather than the end results. 

You’re a human embarking on one of the most beautiful experiences known to man. You are allowing yourself to go deep into language, to communicate, to understand and to be understood by people who come from a different background than you. Why would you want to rush that?

Rule 3: Take Advantage of Not Knowing

In Zen Buddhism, there is a concept referred to as Shoshin or “Beginner’s Mind”. As the Zen monk, Shunryu Suzuki, explains in “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”, “The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities”. 

See where I’m going?

Learning to do challenging things, like watching a movie in Spanish is one of the best opportunities you have to practice shoshin.

When you begin watching a movie in Spanish, you have to let go of all your negative mind chatter about what you already know, what you should know, and how the process should go. Go in with the intention to learn and don’t turn it into a self-criticism session. 

Trust the process and yourself. You will begin to understand more with time. 

Rule 4: Rewatch (And then Rewatch Some More)

A common mistake you might make when attempting to watch movies in Spanish is to only watch a movie one time before moving on to the next one. This method only prolongs and complicates the language learning process because there’s always too much new information to take in.

When you watch the same movie over and over, you’re building on what you already know: you can catch a little more each time and start to commit the words and phrases to memory.  

In order to effectively improve your Spanish when watching movies, you need to watch the movie so much that you become one with the movie. You must bleed the movie. Okay, not really, but you get the point!

This is why I emphasize choosing movies in Spanish that you enjoy or that cover topics that you’re interested in. It will be difficult to commit to rewatching a movie if you didn’t even want to sit through it the first time. 

Now you understand the importance of rewatching movies when learning Spanish, it’s time to learn how to properly watch and rewatch them. On the first watch, you should absolutely relax. Allow yourself to simply watch for context. You’ll pick up the specifics with time. 

Soon, we’ll talk about some techniques you can use to dig into the Spanish language more each time you watch the movie. But first…

To Subtitle or To Not Subtitle? That is the Question

If you’re comfortable enough, I say test the waters and attempt to watch the movie without subtitles. You may understand a lot more than you think. You don’t need to understand every word but you should be able to grasp the basic plot. 

If you find yourself completely lost or constantly pausing and rewinding, it is probably best for you to make use of subtitles. Avoid using subtitles in your native language. If you do need the assistance of subtitles to help you through a movie, make sure that they are in Spanish. 

A common mistake people make is focusing more on the subtitles than actually listening to and watching the movie. Since language is just as nonverbal as it is verbal, true mastery requires picking up on tone and body language. Class, race, gender, and age influence the way that language is spoken and interpreted. If you’re not paying close attention, you can miss out on important details and end up using words or phrases in the wrong context. 

When it comes to subtitles I prefer the training wheels approach. You start off with subtitles in Spanish (your training wheels). Next, you advance to watching movies without subtitles and attempting to understand the plot and most of what is happening. This is when you take the training wheels off and ride all wobbly as you get the hang of things. Finally, you graduate to watching the movie with no subtitles. This is when you get the hang of riding a bike. At this final stage, you can understand what’s being said even if your eyes aren’t pierced to the screen. You can pick up on jokes, sarcasm, and understand when language is being used formally versus informally.

It takes loads of practice to get to this point, but with enough repetition and patience, it’s possible! 

Rule 5: If you don’t understand, use this tool to help

Watching movies in Spanish can be challenging for a couple of reasons. 

  1. You don’t know the words.
  2. They speak too fast.

Luckily for you, there is a tool that will help you navigate both of these obstacles. If you walk away from this post with nothing else, you have to install a chrome extension called Language Learning with Netflix

It’s a game changer because it lets you engage with the subtitles. If you’re struggling to understand what a word means, you can click on it and instantly see the definition. If that’s not compelling enough, Language Learning with Netflix also gives you the option to press the back key and listen to a line over and over again until it finally clicks. If you don’t want to leave your interpretation to chance, you can check what you understood by reading a whole-line translation in your native language. 

Rule 6: Use fun study techniques

Even if you’re not at the stage where you understand enough to sit back and relax with movies in Spanish just yet, you can still use them to help you learn how Spanish speakers talk in natural conversations. 

For example, you can boost your vocabulary by writing down words and phrases that you want to remember and reviewing them periodically, or putting them in a flashcard app such as Anki. You don’t need to add every word to your vocab list but if it’s a central part of the plot or a word you can see yourself using on a regular basis, make sure to jot it down. 

And if you’re really serious about being able to hablar como un nativo, you actually have to practice speaking! Talking to other Spanish speakers can be intimidating but you can get just as much practice without ever getting out of bed. There are two ways that you can get more comfortable speaking español and improve your pronunciation with movies in Spanish.

  1. Pause and repeat. If you hear something that stands out to you, that is repeated throughout the movie, or that you feel you would need to know in real life, you can pause the movie and repeat the sentence until it’s second nature to you. You can use the rewind 10-second button or utilize the playback feature on the Language Learning with Netflix extension. The key is to practice your pronunciation and get comfortable saying the sentence so when you need to use it in real life, it rolls off your tongue!
  2. Have an actual conversation with the characters! This tip may seem a little wonky but I promise it works. Respond to what the characters are doing or saying but in Spanish. If the protagonist is asking for relationship advice, give it to them. If the food during the dinner scene makes your mouth water, let them know just how badly you want to try the dishes. Be as specific as possible. Not only does this strategy help you get more comfortable having conversations in Spanish, it pulls out the vocabulary that you already know. Not to mention, it’s so much fun. When else can you yell at someone for making a horrible decision in a cool accent and with no repercussions? 

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or struggling to understand what’s going on, try watching the movies in 10 to 15 minute segments. That way you have fewer scenes to focus on and you can spend more time rewinding and dissecting. 

Rule 7: Keep Practicing After the Movie

Your engagement with the film doesn’t have to end once the credits start rolling. Whether you’re still unsure about some parts of the plot or feel that you have a good grasp of the storyline, you can strengthen your Spanish language skills by getting involved in conversations about the movies online or in person. This will help you practice using some of the key words in the film and is an excellent way to consolidate what you learned.

One of the easiest and most exciting ways to engage with a film is through the communities that love them, hate them, and hate to love them. You can find forums on Reddit dedicated to specific movies, search hashtags on Twitter, read reviews online, or listen to people express their feelings about the movie on YouTube or podcasts. 

If these methods aren’t cutting it for you, you can also do it the old fashioned way. Talk to people in Spanish about these movies. If you know any native Spanish speakers, that’s a great place to start, if not you can find a tutor on a site like italki and chat to them about the movie in your lesson.  Alternatively, you can use apps such as HelloTalk and Tandem to find people who are willing to discuss the movie with you.  

Over to You 

Now that you have a better idea of how to ver una película en español, the next step is to simply get started. And please feel free to share your progress, additional movies in Spanish that you can’t get enough of, and useful tips in the comments below. 

You might like these too…

5 smart ways to learn a language by watching TV and films

The 14 best TV shows to learn Spanish on Netflix (and Amazon Prime)

Still can’t understand spoken Spanish? Learn how with Juan from Easy Spanish

Have you ever thought about learning Spanish by watching Spanish TV shows?

Instead of sitting in a classroom memorising irregular verbs, you could be learning Spanish by sitting on the couch in your pyjamas munching popcorn.

But if it was really that easy, wouldn’t everyone be speaking Spanish by now?

And come to think of it, wouldn’t you have already done it?

Watching Spanish TV shows is a fab way to learn, but there are some pitfalls to watch out for. And you need strategies to make sure that you learn as much Spanish as possible while you watch.

In this blog post, you’ll find recommendations for the 14 best Spanish TV shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime right now. But we won’t leave you hanging there!

You’ll also find advice on how to make the most out of these Spanish TV shows, including:

– How to choose the right series so you’ll get addicted to Spanish TV – and to learning Spanish!
– What to do when you don’t understand (a common problem that’s easy to solve when you know how)
– More than chilling: study activities to boost your learning with Spanish TV shows.

Here to help us out with the recommendations is my friend Fabricio, a polyglot who creates Spanish courses and is currently living in Barcelona.

Over to you Fabricio!

The best Spanish TV shows to learn Spanish

A lot of people still believe that you can only learn a language in the country where it is spoken. It can certainly help, but you have to ask yourself: “why is that?”.

The main advantage of being in another country is the immersion. Listening to people speak Spanish all the time helps your ears get used to the sounds, words and expressions of the language. Since you may not have the chance to live in a Spanish speaking country, you need to create this immersion environment right where you are, and that’s exactly how TV series can help.

Of course, you won’t be fluent after one episode of Las chicas del cable. Learning any language takes time and effort, and it helps to combine watching Spanish TV shows with your Spanish studies.

But by watching Spanish TV shows, you’ll be constantly improving your listening skills. And if you use the subtitles in Spanish, you’ll also improve your reading and pick up vocabulary more easily. It’ll even improve your speaking as you’ll get used to hearing common phrases over and over, and they’ll come to you more easily when you need them in conversation.

Best of all, you’ll be learning and having fun at the same time, genial!

How can I learn Spanish by watching TV shows?

At this point, you might be thinking: sounds great, but I’ve already tried listening to Spanish TV shows and I understood nada.

And even if you do understand bits and pieces, watching TV in a foreign language can feel overwhelming. Where should you start? How do you know if you’re learning?

Keep reading after our list of the best Spanish TV shows and you’ll find a step-by-step guide with advice on:

1. How to choose the right Spanish TV shows for your level.
2. Ayuda! What to do when you just don’t understand.
3. Activities to get the most out of learning with Spanish TV shows.

But first, let’s get to the best 14 Spanish TV shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime to help you learn Spanish.

The 14 best Spanish TV shows on Netflix and Amazon prime

Spanish TV show 1: La Casa de Papel

Let’s start with the big guys. “La Casa de Papel” was originally aired on a regular Spanish TV channel. Later, it was acquired, edited and re-aired by Netflix, only to become one of the most watched foreign language series of the whole service.

It tells the story of a group of robbers who broke into the Royal Mint of Spain, taking hostages as part of their plan to print and escape with more than 2 billion euros.

Netflix has all three seasons on their catalogue, and the fans are eagerly waiting for the fourth season.

Spanish TV show 2: Narcos

Another huge Netflix production, set and filmed in Colombia, it tells the story of Pablo Escobar, one of the most famous drug lords of all time, who became a billionaire through the production and distribution of cocaine. The series also focuses on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents who were sent to Colombia to fight the drug cartel. Several different Latin-American accents can be heard, since the actors come from different countries.

Spanish TV show 3: Las Chicas del Cable

A drama series set in 1928 in Madrid, “Las Chicas del Cable” tells the daily adventures of four young women who work for a modern telecommunications company.

Where: Netflix

Spanish TV show 4: Elite

This Spanish series tells the story of three working class friends who, after the collapse of their previous school, are given scholarships the most exclusive private school in Spain, where the elite send their kids to study.

But it’s not your typical high school drama – in the opening scene, the first character is covered in blood, and no one knows why. Watch the whole series to find out what happened.

Where: Netflix

Spanish TV show 5: El Chapo

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was one of the most powerful drug lords in the world. The series goes over his beginnings in 1985, when he was a low-level member of the Guadalajara Cartel, his rise to power as head of the Sinaloa Cartel, and his downfall. A good follow up if you’ve already finished “Narcos”.

Spanish TV show 6: Isabel

“Isabel” is a Spanish historical fiction television series, originally produced by and broadcast on a Spanish TV channel. The series is based upon the reign of Queen Isabella I of Castile, through her childhood, wedding, and arrival to the Crown, and even the beginning of Christopher Columbus’ journey to America.

Where: All three seasons are currently available on Amazon Prime (and you can watch a full episode here!)

Spanish TV show 7: Gran Hotel

The series, available on Netflix, was filmed at the Palacio de la Magdalena in Santander and takes place in 1906–1907 in Spain, during the reign of King Alfonso XIII. A working-class boy arrives at the luxurious Grand Hotel to visit his sister Cristina, who works there as a maid. He is told by a waiter that Cristina was fired for theft a month before, a story he does not believe. He is convinced something happened to her at the hotel and there was a cover-up. He takes a job there as a waiter to investigate his sister’s disappearance.

Spanish TV show 8: Vis a vis

Last but not least, “Vis a vis” was also originally aired on Spanish TV, and it tells the story of a young woman who goes to prison because of crimes she committed because of her boss, with whom she fell in love. If you like “Orange is the New Black” this may be a good follow up.

Where: Amazon Prime and Netflix.

5 of Katie’s favourite Spanish TV shows

Note from Katie: I’m currently learning Spanish and watching a lot of Spanish TV shows, so I thought I’d add a few of my favourites too!

Spanish TV show 9: Club de Cuervos

This Mexican comedy series tells the story of feuding siblings Chava and Isabel Iglesias after they inherit their late father’s football team.

I’m not a fan of football but I love this series – the characters and storylines are developed with a playful humour that has me giggling all the way through.

And with all the gueys, netas and pinches, it’s perfect for learning Mexican slang.

Where: Netflix

Spanish TV show 10: Paquita Salas

Another one of my favourite Spanish shows on Netflix is the comedy Paquita Salas. A washed-up agent to the stars, Paquita was big news in the 90s but is now struggling to keep her agency afloat.

The straight-faced humour reminds me a lot of The Office, and the actors are fantástico.

Spanish TV show 11: Made in Mexico

Ahem… I also happen to quite like watching reality TV, especially if it’s in a foreign language because it’s guilt free – I can be a couch potato and learn a language at the same time!

It’s also the best way I know to train yourself to understand native Spanish speakers, as the conversations are more natural compared to scripted Spanish TV shows.

Made in Mexico is about as glossy as they come, and very addictive.

Where: Netflix

Spanish TV show 12: High seas

Secrets, murders, fires…

In this glamorous Spanish series set in the 1940s, two sisters are stuck at sea and strange things start to happen.

Where: Netflix

Spanish TV show 13: House of flowers

What happens when you find the body of your fathers’ ex-lover at your parents’ anniversary party?

This gloriously over-dramatic series explores the secrets of a family-run flower shop. A bit like a telenovela, but with a really smart, dark humour.

Where: Netflix

Spanish TV show 14: 45 rpm

I just started watching this series yesterday and I’m already hooked. Set in Madrid, it follows music producer Guillermo Rojas as he tries to launch a sub-record label. Amongst a backdrop of rock music and booze, the series also deals with challenges of the changing times, like Rojas’ assistant’s struggle to be taken seriously as a woman in the workplace in 1960s Spain.

Where: Netflix

How to learn Spanish by watching TV shows

So now you’ve got some great Spanish TV shows to choose from. You can watch them as a beginner, but since they’re aimed at native speakers, you’ll probably enjoy them more if you’re already at an intermediate level or above as you’ll be able to understand more of what’s being said and pick up new words without too much effort.

That said, it is possible to enjoy Spanish TV at lower levels too, you just need a slightly different approach. In this section, you’ll learn how to improve your Spanish by watching Spanish TV shows at any level.

You’ll also learn:
– How to choose the right series to get you hooked on Spanish TV shows (and consequently learning Spanish!)
– Study strategies to make sure you’re learning lots of Spanish while you watch.

Which series should I choose?

The most important thing is to choose a show you really like. It’s pointless choosing a drama/thriller like “The Walking Dead” if you don’t like this genre. You’ll get bored and drop it in no time.

Try to think about the kind of series you get hooked on in your native language and look for something similar.

– Into gangster films? Narcos might be your thing.
– Reality TV junkie? Go for Made in Mexico.
– Fan of Orange is the new black? Vis a vis could hit the spot.

How can I choose the right show for my level?

Some shows might not be the best option depending on your level. Giving a popular show in English as an example, I was a huge fan of “Game of Thrones”, but when it comes to using it as a study tool, it’s a pretty complicated series, especially for beginners. Being an epic story, some “older” vocabulary is often used: words like “jester” and “dagger”, which are practically useless at this stage; and the fact that each episode lasts about 1 hour makes it difficult to follow.

The best way to find out whether a Spanish TV show is suitable is by putting yourself to the test! Choose a show and play an episode with the Spanish subtitles on. Yes, both audio and subtitles in Spanish! Watch the episode for a few minutes.

If… could follow the Spanish TV show

Great! From now on you will only watch this and other series with the Spanish subtitles on, listening and reading at the same time. This will help you memorize and see the usage of words you already know and, especially, it will help you understand what’s being said by getting your ears used to these sounds while you read the words. If you find words or phrases you don’t know, you can pause the episode and write them down or add them into a flashcard app such as Anki. Over time this will become more and more natural and, when you feel comfortable enough, you may even abandon the Spanish subtitles.

…it was too hard to follow

No hay problema! If you found it very difficult to follow the series with the subtitles in Spanish, you still have some options. In the next section, we’ll look at activities that you can try when you don’t understand.

Ayuda! What if I don’t understand the Spanish TV show?

1. Try the Language Learning with Netflix app

If you struggle to keep up either because:

– There are too many words you don’t know
– They speak too fast

…there’s an amazing Chrome extension that will help. It’s called Language Learning with Netflix and has interactive subtitles that you can click on to get the definition in your native language. It also pauses automatically after every line to help you keep up. If you only do one thing after reading this blog post, give it a try – it could transform your Spanish!

Language learning with netflix
Language Learning with Netflix makes it a lot easier to watch TV in Spanish because there are interactive subtitles. Just click on a word you don’t know and the definition will pop up!

2. Use the Spanish TV show as as a study resource

If the series is too hard to follow when you watch it like a TV show, no hay problema!

As long as you have subtitles (most of the Netflix series do), there are plenty of study techniques you can use with the TV show to keep learning Spanish. Read this post for a list of ideas:

5 smart ways to learn a language by watching TV and films

OK, so you may not get to kick back and relax with this one, but it’s still a lot more fun than sitting in a classroom memorising lists of words for stationary.

2. Start with a learner series

One of the reasons Spanish TV series can be tricky to follow is that they’re designed for native speakers – that’s people who’ve spent their whole lives (at least 105120 hours for an 18 year old) listening to Spanish. No wonder they’re tricky for learners!

If Spanish TV shows aimed at native speakers go straight over your head, try a series aimed at learners.

Spanish Extra is a great place to start.

3. Watch the Spanish TV show with subtitles in English

Another option is to try using subtitles in your native language, just to get your ears more used to the new sounds.

One of the dangers with this technique is that you focus too much on reading the subtitles in your language, and you don’t benefit much from the Spanish audio.

One thing you can do to get around this is to pay as much attention to the audio as you can. You’ll notice that many words and expressions are repeated quite often by the actors.

When this happens and you don’t know them, write them down in your study notebook or add them into a flashcards app such as Anki. If you can’t identify the words by ear, write down what’s written in the English subtitles and use a dictionary to translate it or just google it. Alternatively, you can flip to the Spanish subtitles to see the expression written down.

In the meantime, keep studying Spanish, learning more vocabulary and over time you’ll notice that you understand more of the sentences without even reading the subtitles anymore. At this point, take the test above again to check if you can already move onto the Spanish subtitles phase.

More than chilling: activities to boost your learning with Spanish TV shows

Sometimes, when you’re watching Spanish TV shows, it feels mágico. You’re sitting there in your sweatpants eating ice-cream and learning Spanish at the same time. It’s a win.

But then a niggling doubt creeps in… is this enough? Shouldn’t I be doing more to learn Spanish? While watching Spanish TV can do a lot for your listening and speaking, there are more focused activities you can do to accelerate your learning.

The best bit – they still involve watching TV!

Check out the post below for some handy study strategies you can use to learn Spanish by watching Spanish TV shows.

how to learn a language by watching tv and films
Read this article for 5 smart ways to learn Spanish by watching films and TV.

Over to you

While we were writing this post, we asked the joy of languages community for their recommendations, and we got even more suggestions for the best Spanish TV shows. Click on the links below (comments box for Facebook) to see what people said.

Have you tried watching Spanish TV shows to learn Spanish before? Did you find it useful? Have you got any other good ones to add to the list?

You might like these too…

5 Smart ways to learn a language by watching films and TV.
Become fluent in Spanish in 1 year without leaving the house: A step-by-step guide.
Improve your listening in a foreign language, the ultimate guide.
Still can’t understand spoken Spanish? Learn how with Juan from Easy Spanish.

Having a conversation in Spanish can feel scary at first.

There are so many things that could go wrong!

  1. You forget a word or some grammar mid-sentence.
  2. You don’t understand what they said to you.
  3. They reply in English!
  4. You’re not sure what to say.

When you start speaking Spanish, these little communication breakdowns are a normal part of the learning process.

But if you’re smart, you can turn these seemingly tricky moments into opportunities to learn more, by using a few strategic Spanish phrases. 

In this post, you’ll learn 13 Spanish phrases to help you:

  • Keep the conversation going in Spanish, even if you forget a word or don’t understand.
  • Learn more Spanish words.
  • Stop people from replying in English.
  • Strike up a conversation with native Spanish speakers.

You’ll also pick up tips on where to find Spanish speakers to practise with.

Smart Spanish Phrases Help you Keep the Conversation Going

Imagine this.

You walk into a panadería (bakery) and see a tasty pastry, but you’re not sure what it’s called. You have two options. You can:

  1. Point and say: “one of those please”.
  2. Point and say: “Cómo se dice eso en español? (how do you say that in Spanish?)

The first phrase will keep you stuck in touristville.

Option 2 will help you strike up a conversation with a Spanish speaker and learn a new Spanish word at the same time.  Most Spanish speakers will welcome this kind of curiosity – once you start a conversation like this, you’ll probably end up chatting for a little longer, giving you a friendly way to keep practising your Spanish.

The more you use Spanish phrases like this, the longer you can keep the conversation going. And the longer you can keep the conversation going, the better you’ll get at speaking Spanish.

That’s why I’ve teamed up with Juan from Easy Spanish (a fab YouTube channel for Spanish learners) to bring you 13 essential Spanish phrases.

In the next section, you’ll find a video tutorial with 6 Spanish phrases to help you get unstuck and communicate better in Spanish.

Then, you’ll find 7 basic Spanish phrases for everyday conversations. For this part, Juan went out onto the streets of Mexico and posed simple questions to passers-by. In this video, you’ll hear Spanish small talk questions being used in a natural way and learn to understand the replies you might get from native speakers.

Of course, you’ll also need Spanish speakers to practise with – the last section will help you find them.

To make sure you remember the 13 Spanish phrases, you’ll also find a PDF cheatsheet that you can print off and take with you.

6 Spanish phrases to keep the conversation going

Learn these phrases by heart so you can drop them into the conversation when you need them. Get the PDF here: 13 Essential Spanish Phrases PDF.

Spanish Phrase 1: ¿Cómo se dice… en español? 

How do you say… in Spanish? (Literally: How does one say … in Spanish)

To be used when you’re speaking Spanish, but you get stuck because you don’t know – or forget – a word.

In the video, Juan used the example of “tree” (¿Cómo se dice “tree” en español?) – you can just replace “tree” with any word you need to know.

You can also point and say: ¿Cómo se dice eso en español? (how do you say that in Spanish?)

Spanish Phrase 2: ¿Qué significa eso?

What does that mean? 

To be used when you hear or see a word you don’t understand. It’s especially useful in restaurants – just point to the word on the menu and ask the waiter!

When you ask this question in Spanish, you’ll be more likely to get an answer in Spanish, which will help you keep the conversation going. But even if they use English to give you the definition, it’s still a good way to show your conversation partner that you’re making an effort to speak Spanish. This makes it easier to go back to Spanish once you get unstuck.

Spanish Phrase 3: Lo siento, no entendí

Sorry, I didn’t understand. 

A word of warning: try not to use this phrase in isolation because Spanish people may interpret it as a cry for help and switch back to English. Be sure you follow it up with another Spanish phrase, like:

¿Puedes repetirlo, por favor? Can you repeat please?

¿Puedes hablar más lento, por favor? Can you speak slower please?

When you use these phrases, the person you’re talking will know exactly how to help you, so they’ll be less likely to jump in and use English.

You can also say: “Disculpa, no entiendo” – sorry, I don’t understand. In situations where the formal version would be more appropriate (such as a hotel reception) say “Disculpe, no entiendo.”

Spanish Phrase 4: ¿Puedes repetirlo, por favor?

Can you repeat, please? (Literally: can you repeat it, please?)

When you just need to hear the phrase again. In formal situations, you can ask: “Podría repetirlo, por favor?” Could you repeat please?

If they repeat and you’re still having trouble understanding, try to identify the problem and ask another question:

  • Speaking too fast? Ask: “¿Puedes hablar más lento, por favor?” – Can you speak slower, please?
  • A word you don’t recognise? Ask: ¿Qué significa eso? – What does that mean?

Spanish Phrase 5: ¿Puedes hablar más lento, por favor?

Can you speak slower, please? 

For those times when the Spanish speaker is going at 100mph and you’re struggling to keep up!

A more formal version of this phrase is: ¿Podría hablar más despacio, por favor? – Could you speak more slowly please?

Spanish Phrase 6: ¿Podemos hablar en español, por favor?

Can we speak in Spanish, please?

This phrase is perfect for those frustrating moments when you manage to say something in Spanish, but they reply in English!

If the person seems friendly (and not too busy), simply explain that you’re learning and ask if they would speak Spanish with you. With this phrase, you’ll find that many people are happy to chat to you for a little while in Spanish.

A more formal version of this phrase is: ¿Podríamos hablar en español, por favor? – Could we speak in Spanish please?

7 Basic Spanish Phrases for Everyday Conversations

Now you’ve learnt a few key phrases to help you communicate, time for some Spanish phrases to get the conversations started! In this video, Juan went out onto the streets of Mexico and asked some simple small talk questions.

To make the most out of Juan’s video for learning Spanish, check out this post: 5 smart ways to learn a language by watching TV and films.

In the meantime, let’s look at some of the phrases Juan used to start everyday conversations in Spanish. You can download a PDF with these phrases here: 13 Essential Spanish Phrases PDF.

Spanish Phrase 7: Hola ¿cómo estás?

Hello, how are you? 

Spanish Phrase 8: ¿Cuál es tu nombre?

What’s your name?

Alternatively, you can ask: “¿Cómo te llamas?” – What are you called? 

Spanish Phrase 9: Mucho gusto

Pleased to meet you

You can also say: “Encantado” or “Un placer”

Spanish Phrase 10: ¿Qué hiciste hoy?

What did you do today?

Alternatively, if you want to ask someone what they’re going to do in the future, you can say: “¿Qué vas a hacer?”.

Spanish Phrase 11: ¿Qué me recomiendas…?

What do you recommend….

Great for getting recommendations from the locals for places to eat and visit etc. You can ask: ¿Qué me recomiendas comer por aquí? What do you recommend to eat around here?

If you’re speaking to a group (2 or more people) say: “¿Qué me recomiendan…?” 

Spanish Phrase 12: ¿Qué se te antoja hacer…?

What do you feel like doing?

Spanish Phrase 13: Hasta luego

See you later! Other Spanish phrases you can use when you’re leaving include: “Ten una linda noche” – have a nice night and “Cuídate” – take care. 

13 Spanish Phrases to ace your first conversation

Let’s quickly review our 13 Spanish phrases.

  1. ¿Cómo se dice… en español? How do you say … in Spanish?
  2. ¿Qué significa eso? What does that mean?
  3. Lo siento, no entendí. Sorry, I didn’t understand.
  4. ¿Puedes repetirlo, por favor? Can you repeat please?
  5. ¿Puedes hablar más lento, por favor? Can you speak slower, please?
  6. ¿Podemos hablar en español, por favor? Can we speak in Spanish, please?
  7. Hola ¿cómo estás? Hello, how are you?
  8. ¿Cuál es tu nombre? What’s your name?
  9. Mucho gusto. Pleased to meet you
  10. ¿Qué hiciste hoy? What did you do today?
  11. ¿Qué me recomiendas…? What do you recommend…?
  12. ¿Qué se te antoja hacer…? What do you feel like doing?
  13. Hasta luego. See you later.

Next, it’s time to practise using them!

Where can I find Spanish people to talk to?

If you’re one of those people who feels confident enough to walk up to Spanish speakers and start talking, ¡muy bien!

But this approach doesn’t work for lots of people.

It can be tricky to speak Spanish with people you meet randomly (in shops, restaurants or on the train) because these people are just going about their day – they’re not there to help you learn Spanish. This puts unnecessary pressure on you to be able to have a normal conversation.

A great (non scary) way to practise speaking Spanish is to set up a “learning agreement” with Spanish speakers. These are situations where the Spanish speaker knows you’re learning and has agreed to help you. This could be:

  1. A language exchange partner: Find a Spanish person who’s learning your native language – they can help you practice speaking Spanish while you help them speak your native language.
  2. A conversation tutor: Meet a native Spanish speaker (online or in person) for conversation practice and pay them in exchange for their time.

These options take the pressure off because you’re giving the Spanish speaker something in return for their time so you don’t need to feel embarrassed if the conversation is a bit stilted (totally normal at first!)

Also, they know you’re learning, so they’re expecting you to speak slowly and make mistakes. You can even take some tools with you to make the conversation easier, such as a notebook, a dictionary app on your phone and this Spanish phrases cheatsheet.

Related Post: The simplest way to get over your fear of speaking a foreign language

So where can you find some lovely Spanish speakers to chat with?


The best place to find native Spanish speakers online is italki. Here, you can book 1-to-1 conversation lessons with lovely native speaker tutors – called community tutors. They are usually pretty good value (often less than $10 an hour).

If you fancy giving it a go, here’s a $10 voucher to use after you book your first lesson here:

Click here to find a tutor on italki and get $10 off

If you find it hard to practice Spanish because you’re busy, this is a great option – you can squeeze a lesson in whenever you have a spare 30 minutes, from wherever you are (all you need is an Internet connection).

Alternatively, if lessons are too expensive for you at the moment, you can also use italki to set up an online language exchange with a Spanish speaker.

Face to Face

If you’d prefer to connect with Spanish speakers face to face, you can set up an in-person language exchange, at a café or pub near you. Here are a couple of tools that will help you find Spanish speakers in your area.

Conversation Exchange

One word of advice – when doing language exchanges, be sure to divide the time equally (e.g. 30 minutes in each language) and be strict about sticking to it so that you both get a fair chance to practice. Remember to ask:

Podemos hablar en español, por favor? (Can we speak in Spanish please?)

If you’re planning on travelling to a country where Spanish is spoken, you can use these tools to meet the locals. By setting up language exchanges in the places you visit, you’ll get to practise speaking Spanish with natives who can show you their favourite spots – a Spanish teacher and local tour guide rolled into one!

What about you?

Can you add any other handy Spanish phrases to the list? Let us know in the comments!

You might like these too…

What’s the difference between a Spanish learner and a native speaker?

There are obvious things, like pronunciation and grammar.

But there’s another difference that people hardly ever talk about. Little words that Spanish speakers use all the time, but that you won’t find in a typical Spanish lesson or textbook.

The good news is, they’re quick to learn and instantly help you sound more native.

In this post, you’ll learn what Spanish filler words are and how they can help you speak Spanish better.

We’ll cover:

  • 19 little words that will help you sound more Spanish when you talk.
  • The difference between “eh” and “ah” in Spanish (it’s bigger than you might think!)
  • A video tutorial on how to use Spanish filler words like a native.
  • A Spanish conversation with realistic examples.
  • Bonus: A mini lesson on how to pronounce b + v in Spanish!

What are Spanish Filler Words?

Filler words are little words and noises like “uhm”, “so”, “well”, “sort of”, “I mean”, “right” and “you know”. They’re called filler words because we use them to fill in the gaps while we’re thinking about what to say next.

Every language has their own set of filler words. A few examples in Spanish are:

  • Bueno
  • Pues
  • Eh
  • Ah
  • Oye

Spanish speakers use them all the time in natural and spontaneous conversations.

Why Should I use Spanish Filler Words?

If you want to sound more native when you speak Spanish, filler words are a great place to start. They’re handy for two reasons:

They buy you thinking time

When you speak Spanish, you might feel nervous about having long pauses while you think about what you want to say next. But even native Spanish speakers hesitate sometimes and when they do, they use filler words.

If you can use the same words that native speakers use when they pause, this will help you stay in “Spanish” mode while you organise your thoughts. You’ll come across as a little more fluent, even while you’re hesitating!

They make you sound (and feel) more Spanish

Filler words don’t change the meaning of a sentence – the sentence would still make sense without them – but they make a big difference to how your speech sounds. Imagine I ask you this question:

¿Quieres ir a la biblioteca?  Do you want to go to the library?

Without filler words, you could answer like this:


With filler words, you could say something like:

Pues… ahora mismo, no… Hmm, not right now, no.

Sprinkling in some Spanish filler words is a bit like adding condiments – they’re not the main ingredients, but they add a lot of Spanish flavour. When you use them, you’ll feel more Spanish and your speech will sound more natural to Spanish ears.

That said, not all Spanish filler words are the same. There are different filler words for different situations, so it’s important to learn how to use them correctly.

To help you drop them into the conversation smoothly, Nacho from Nacho time Spanish is here to teach you some Spanish filler words and how to use them in real life. Below the tutorial video, you’ll also find:

Take it away Nacho!

Spanish Filler Words: Video Tutorial

Get the PDF with all the examples here: Spanish Filler Words (PDF)

1) “Pues” – To answer questions you weren’t expecting

—¿Qué quieres que haga para desayunar?
—Pues… podrías hacer tostadas con aguacate.

“What do you want me to make for breakfast?”
“Hmm… you could do avocado on toast”

2) “Pues” — To signal a direct response to what was previously said

—Me estoy muriendo de frío.
—Pues haberte traído un jersey

“I’m freezing my ass off”
“You should have brought a sweater, then”

3) “Bueno” y “Vale” — To agree without a lot of enthusiasm

—Tu habitación está hecha un asco. Ve ahora mismo a limpiarla.
—Bueno, pero me parece que tampoco es para tanto.

“Your room is a mess. Go clean it right now”
“Okay, but I don’t think it’s that bad”

4) “Oye” y “Mira” — To request someone’s attention (or to indicate a non-neutral statement)

—¿A qué hora vamos al cine?
—Oye, se me olvidó decírtelo, pero ya he quedado con Roberto.

“When are we going to the movies?”
“Listen, I forgot to tell you, but I’ve already made plans with Roberto”

5) “Venga” y “Vamos” — To encourage someone to take action

—¿Has visto mis zapatos? No los encuentro.
—¿Pero todavía no estás listo? ¡Venga, que no llegamos!

“Have you seen my shoes?” I can’t find them.
“You’re not ready yet? Come on, otherwise we’re not going to make it!

6) “Es que” — To give excuses and explanations

—¿No me dijiste que ibas a lavar los platos?
—Es que me he puesto a mirar cosas en Instagram y al final no me ha dado tiempo.

“Didn’t you say you were going to do the dishes?
“Well, the thing is… I start going through my Instagram and I ended up running out of time.

Spanish Filler Words: Example Conversation (advanced)

The best way to learn Spanish vocabulary is to hear it being used. In this video, Nacho and I will switch over to Spanish so you can see these Spanish filler words in action (+ a few bonus ones).


Get a PDF with the full transcript here: Spanish Filler Words (PDF)

Nacho.—¿A que no sabes con quién me encontré ayer por la calle?
Katie.—Pues, no sé. Sorpréndeme.

Nacho.—¡Con Alberto! Mi antiguo jefe. Resulta que dentro de poco es su cumpleaños y me ha dicho que estamos invitados a la fiesta que está organizando en su casa.

Katie.—Ah, pues dile que muchas gracias, pero no creo que vaya. Habré hablado con él dos veces en mi vida y en esa fiesta no creo que conozca a nadie.

Nacho.—Bueno, ¿y eso qué más da? Me conoces a mí. Y con él, ya hablarás el viernes. Así que no le vayas a hacer un feo ahora. Encima que te invita…

Katie.—Oye, a ti esto de darle la vuelta a la tortilla se te da muy bien, ¿sabes? Deberías de trabajar de comercial. Ganarías una pasta.

Nacho.—¡Venga, mujer! Que no es para tanto. ¿Tenías otro plan para este viernes?

Katie.—Es que no sé si me apetece pasarme el viernes en una fiesta de un tío que no conozco de nada.

Nacho.—Mira, vamos a hacer una cosa. El viernes por la tarde te vienes a mi casa, nos preparo algo para cenar, nos tomamos un par de cubatas y luego vamos a la fiesta de Alberto. Estamos allí una horita y si nos aburrimos, nos vamos. ¿Eh? ¿Qué te parece?

Katie.—Bueno, vale. De acuerdo. Pero nada de pizzas congeladas como la última vez. O cocinas algo de verdad o no pienso poner un pie en tu casa.

Nacho.—O sea, que si no me lo curro, me quedo sin fiesta.


Nacho.—Venga. Pues, ¡trato hecho! A ver qué tal me sale. 😅

Today’s Spanish Filler Words

So you can keep them all together, here’s a handy list of all the Spanish filler words Nacho and I talked about in the videos.

  1. Ah! (To express surprise, like the English “oh!”)
  2. Pues (Hmmm)
  3. Eh (Well)
  4. Bueno (OK, without enthusiasm)
  5. Vale (OK, without enthusiasm)
  6. Oye (Listen)
  7. Mira (Look)
  8. Venga (Come on)
  9. Vamos (Come on)
  10. Es que (The thing is)
  11. A que no (You’ll never guess)
  12. Resulta que (It turns out that)
  13. Ya (something that hasn’t happened yet, but will in future)
  14. Así que (so)
  15. Encima que (on top of that)
  16. Esto de (this stuff about)
  17. Sabes (You know)
  18. O sea (In other words)
  19. A ver (let’s see/we’ll see)


So there you have it, a few easy-to-remember words that will instantly help you sound more Spanish when you speak. Have you tried using Spanish filler words before? Do you know any others that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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Listening to native Spanish speakers is a humbling experience.

They blurt their words out so fast, sometimes it’s impossible to keep up. And it can be discouraging – after all that studying, shouldn’t you be able to understand spoken Spanish better by now?

Why you’re still struggling to understand spoken Spanish

If you find listening to native Spanish speakers overwhelming, it could be because you’re used to the “learner friendly” version of Spanish in textbooks and apps: slow and clear with simple grammar and vocabulary.

These tools are great because they make it easy to get started – like learning to ride a bike with training wheels.

But Spanish speakers don’t talk like that in real life. They mush their words together, mix up grammar structures and use words you won’t find in your Spanish course.

If you want to understand natural spoken Spanish, at some point you need to take off the training wheels and practice listening to real conversations.


With the right tools, it’s simple.

Train yourself to understand spoken Spanish with Juan from Easy Spanish

A brilliant tool for learning to understand natural spoken Spanish is the Easy Spanish YouTube channel.

In his videos, Mexican producer Juan and friends take to the streets and ask questions like “what was the happiest moment of your life?”, “what’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done” and “how do you flirt in Spanish?”.

The conversations are fun, spontaneous and 100% authentic Spanish.

Importantly, Juan adds dual subtitles so you can check what you heard against a word-for-word Spanish transcription, and consult the English ones if you get stuck.

It’s my absolute favourite resource and I’ve recommended it in practically every post I’ve ever written about learning Spanish (see below for a step-by-step guide on how I used Easy Spanish to train my listening skills).

That’s why I’m excited to bring you today’s interview with Juan from Easy Spanish. In line with Juan’s mission of giving you inside access to authentic language and culture, our chat will transport you to a little plaza in Mexico, where you can see Mexican life unfold in the background with builders, policemen, and friends laughing together.

You’ll learn:

  • Why learning Spanish with classes, books and apps is not enough.
  • How to train yourself to understand real spoken Spanish, without leaving the house.
  • A special technique Juan has used to learn 3 languages.
  • Some naughty Mexican slang (caution: don’t use these words with your friends’ parents!)

For extra listening practice, the interview’s almost entirely in Spanish – if you need a little help figuring out what we’re saying, turn on the English subs.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Once you’ve had the chance to watch, check below for details about Juan’s exciting new project, and how you can help him get it going.

Help Easy Spanish go to Spain!

Easy Spanish is an independent project – to keep it going, Juan relies on donations from Spanish learners like you.

His next mission is to record episodes in Spain so he can keep giving you inside access to language and culture from all over the Spanish speaking world.

At the moment, he’s collecting for a trip to Spain via crowdfunding. Can you help?

There are some brilliant bonuses, including:

  • Access to a private WhatsApp group, where you can practice your Spanish and follow Juan’s adventures in Spain.
  • PDF exercises to help you practice what you learn in the videos
  • A private chat with Juan in Spanish about his experiences.

He’s close to his target (but not there yet) so a donation from you could make all the difference!

Click here to help Juan take Easy Spanish to Spain

If you can’t donate, you can still help him by sharing the link to his crowdfunding page. Gracias!

How I trained myself to understand spoken Spanish with Easy Spanish

Here’s how I’ve been using Easy Spanish to improve my listening skills:

  1. Watch an Easy Spanish video without subtitles (cover them up with a piece of paper, or better get access to videos without subtitles by supporting Juan on his Patreon page)
  2. Listen again, but this time press pause (space button) after the sentences you didn’t understand. Use the back arrow on your keyboard to skip back 5 seconds. Do this several times until:
    1. You understand the sentence or…
    2. if, after listening to the word/phrase several times you still don’t understand, look at the Spanish subtitles.
  3. Compare the subtitles to the audio: Which parts didn’t you understand? Why?
  4. If there are words you didn’t know, look them up in a dictionary and write them down to review later.
  5. If you recognise the words, why didn’t you understand them? Do they sound different to how you expected? Pay attention to how sounds change in fast speech.
  6. If you need to, check against the English subtitles to make sure you understood everything.
  7. Continue until you’ve finished the dialogue, then repeat the process with a new video.

By working in this way, you’ll train yourself to understand spoken Spanish and pick up lots of words and phrases that will help you sound more natural when you speak.

Related posts

The 11 best tools for learning Spanish: from beginner to advanced

Become fluent in Spanish in 1 year without leaving the house: A step-by-step guide

My mission to become fluent in Spanish: How baby steps lead to really big results

The lazy person’s guide to learning Spanish

How to type Spanish accents (+ those other fiddly symbols: ¿ ¡)

¿How do you type that upside-down question mark thingy?

If you’re learning Spanish and you’re planning to write or take notes on a computer, at some point you’ll probably ask yourself this question. You’ll also need to type the other Spanish accents and characters like:

á, é, í, ó, ú, ü, ñ, ¡

But they can seem a bit fiddly. Are they really that important?

Well, Spanish speakers will probably know what you mean without them. But it looks sloppy – a bit like forgetting capital letters, commas and question marks in English:

if i type like this in english you know what im saying but theres something not quite right

The quick and easy guide to typing Spanish accents

If you want to wow people with your slick Spanish, you’ll need to get those accents and characters right.

Luckily, it’s easy when you know how!

Read on to learn how to type Spanish accents and characters on:

  • A Mac
  • A PC
  • Your smartphone

How to type Spanish accents on a Mac

How to type accents on Spanish vowels

With newer Mac operating systems, typing accents above vowels is simple: just press and hold the letter you want to accent. Next, a menu pops up with all the possible accents. Select the accent you need or press the corresponding number.

To type á, é, í, ó, ú and ü on a mac, just press and hold the vowel you want to accent.

How to type ñ

For ñ, use this keyboard combination:

  • Press and hold the alt key (sometimes known as option)
  • Whilst still holding alt/option, press n
  • Wait for the ˜ symbol to appear (highlighted in yellow)
  • Now let go of both keys and press n again.

To type Spanish characters like ñ, ¡ and ¿, you’ll need to use a keyboard combination with the alt key (sometimes known as option).

How to type ¿

For the upside down question mark use this combination:

  • Press and hold alt/option + shift
  • Whilst holding alt/option + shift, press ?

How to type ¡

The keyboard combination for the ¡ symbol may change depending on which computer you’re using (for mine, it’s alt/option + ?).

Here’s a simple way to find it on your keyboard:

  • Press and hold the alt/option key
  • Whilst still holding alt/option, play around pressing a few keys
  • You’ll see a few random symbols come up, like ∆º¬øæ… Keep going until you find ¡

How to type Spanish accents on an old-school Mac

If you want to type á, é, í, ó and ú, but you don’t see a pop-up menu when you press and hold the vowel, you can type the accents with a simple keyboard combination.

The specific key will depend on the keyboard you have, but you can find it easily by using the following method:

  • Press and hold alt/option
  • Whilst holding alt/option, play around by pressing a few keys until you find this symbol: ´ (highlighted in yellow). On my keyboard, it’s the number 8.
  • Now let go of both keys and type the letter you want to accent.

How to type Spanish accents on windows

If you have the U.S. international keyboard installed, you can type Spanish accents on Windows by simply typing an apostrophe followed by the vowel you want to accent.

á = ‘ + a

é = ‘ + e

í = ‘ + i

ó = ‘ + o

ú = ‘ + u

Here are the keyboard combos for the other accents/characters:

ü = ” + u

n = ˜+ n

¡ = alt + !

¿ = alt + ?

You can install this keyboard by searching language settings > options > add a keyboard > United-States International. Once you’ve installed it, you’ll see a language bar has appeared next to the clock in the start bar. If it’s not already selected, click on the language and select ENG INTL.

How to type Spanish accents on different keyboards

If you have a different keyboard, you can type accents and characters by holding down the alt key and typing a 3-digit number.

Important: for this to work, use the number pad on the right side of your keyboard, not the ones in a row across the top of the letters. If you don’t have one of those pads, you’ll find a solution below.

Here are the codes (character appears when you release the alt button)
á = Alt + 0225
é = Alt + 0233
í = Alt + 0237
ó = Alt + 0243
ú = Alt + 0250

ü = Alt + 0252
ñ = Alt + 0241

¿ = Alt + 0191
¡ = Alt + 0161

It’s probably a good idea to put a little cheat sheet next to your desk for a while to help you remember the codes!

How to type Spanish accents on a keyboard with no number pad

If your keyboard doesn’t have a number pad to the right-hand side, you might be able to change the keys at the top right (e.g: 7,8,9,U,I,O,J,K,L,M) into a number pad. If you have this option, you should see the corresponding numbers under each letter.

To activate this number pad, you’ll need to use the Num Lock key (sometimes known as Num LK or Num). The exact steps to activate the number pad will depend on your keyboard/computer set up, but here are some of the most common:

  • Press the Num Lock button
  • Shift + Num Lock
  • Num Lock + Fn
  • Num Lock + Alt

Once you’ve found your number pad, you can get the Spanish accents and characters by typing the Alt+ number combinations above.

How to type Spanish accents with the character map

Another way to find Spanish accents and symbols in Windows is by using the character map.

  • Go to the start button and search for character map.
  • Scroll down to find the letter/character you want.
  • Copy and paste it into your document.

You can use the character map to type Spanish accents and characters on Windows.

Searching for the letters and symbols can get a little cumbersome, so if you’re going to use a character map to type Spanish accents, you could create a new document with all the Spanish accents and characters so you have them to hand.

How to type Spanish accents on Microsoft office

If you’re using Microsoft Office, you can add accents to vowels by pressing and holding the following keys together:

  • Ctrl
  • vowel you want to accent

For example, to put an accent over the letter a, press: Ctrl + ‘ + a =  á


Bonus: How to type Spanish accents and characters on your phone

What about if you want to chat in Spanish on your smartphone?

With most smartphones, typing accents on keyboards is simple: just hold down the letter you’d like to accent, and a menu will pop up.

To type Spanish accents and characters on your smartphone, just press and hold the letters or symbols and a menu will pop up.

To turn question marks and exclamation points upside down, hold these buttons down and you’ll see a menu with the inverted versions.

Related posts:

The lazy person’s guide to learning Spanish

The 11 best tools for learning Spanish (from beginner to advanced)

Become fluent in Spanish in 1 year without leaving the house: a step-by-step guide

Over to you!

Do you know how to type Spanish symbols on your keyboard now? Write a Spanish sentence below, using some Spanish accents and characters!

I love travelling.

I love jumping on a plane, hopping out the other side and being surrounded by different people, sights, smells and of course, languages.

I even love that awkward feeling of trying to use the lingo with the locals and being met with a confused stare or nervous laugh, because I know it’s the start of something great: if I persevere, I’ll be fluent one day.

Despite this, I’ve done most of my language learning missions without spending long periods of time abroad. Living in a new country sounds exciting, but it’s not very practical. I’ve got all kinds of good stuff going on here that I don’t want to leave behind, like a relationship, job and friends.

I love travelling in Spain but I’m can’t move there. So I’ve found a way to become fluent in Spanish from home instead.

Maybe you’re in a similar situation. You want to learn Spanish, but for work or family or whatever reason, you can’t move to Spain or Latin America to do it.

If this sounds like you, I have good news: you don’t need to go abroad to become fluent in Spanish. You can do it from the comfort of your own home, in your fluffy socks.

I did something similar back in July, when I decided to become fluent in French from my living room. Now, I’m planning on doing the same thing for Spanish. In this article, I’ll share my step-by-step plan that you can use to become fluent in Spanish without leaving the house.

But first…

Why you don’t need to go to the country to learn a language

It seems like every time people start talking about foreign languages, someone tells the story about how the only way to learn a language is to go to the country. Sometimes they’ll give examples of a friend or a family member who went abroad and picked up the language easily because they needed it to survive.

But the idea that there’s something magical about being in the country that makes language learning effortless is simply not true.

For a start, it’s easy to live in a foreign country without learning the language. Immigrants do it all the time (especially the ones from Western societies who are sometimes referred to as expats).

Secondly, if you don’t have a decent command of the language before you get there, you’ll struggle to make friends in the language you’re learning. And if you’re an English speaker, unless you’re going somewhere remote where no one else speaks English, you may have to battle to find opportunities to speak the language, because everyone will want to practice their English with you.

The reason some people have more success with languages while living in the country is due to a change in approach, rather than anything special about being in the country. I experienced this firsthand when I moved to Italy. Living in the country changed the way I learnt Italian in two important ways:

  • I stopped focusing on trying to memorise grammar rules and vocabulary and started using the language to communicate with human beings.
  • I spent lots of time practicing speaking.

I learnt Italian faster in Italy because I spent less time studying grammar rules and more time chatting to Italians. But you don’t need to be in the country to do that.

The good news is, you don’t need to be in the country to do these things. These are situations you can easily recreate at home: I know because I’ve done it with the other languages I’ve learnt. In the next section, I’ll show you how you can apply these ideas to become fluent in Spanish from home.


Become fluent in Spanish without leaving the house: A step-by-step guide

Step 1: Define your goal

If your goal is to become fluent in Spanish, you’ll need to decide what that means first. This can be tricky because the word “fluent” is a bit vague. To some people, you’re fluent as soon as you can have a basic conversation. For others, you shouldn’t say you’re fluent until you sound like a native speaker. For me, fluency means being able to function more or less as a native speaker would in everyday situations. This means:

  • I understand most things I hear (except strong accents, local slang, or specialist vocabulary).
  • I can talk quickly and native listeners understand me without straining.
  • I rarely have to search for words (unless it’s specialist vocabulary or a momentary slip).
  • I probably still make mistakes and have a slight foreign accent, but they don’t impede communication.

If you’re the type of person who needs a bit of pressure to get motivated, you could consider setting yourself the goal of passing an exam. The DELE Spanish exam at B2 level would fit in with the definition of fluency described above.

Step 2: Give yourself a deadline

Your deadline will depend on how much time you can put aside to study each day. If you’re starting from scratch, you could reach this level of fluency in 1 year by studying for 2 – 3 hours per day. If you’re already at an intermediate level, you could get there in about 6 months.

If this sounds intense, don’t worry – this doesn’t mean hours of “school-like” studying from grammar books. The better you get at Spanish, the more you’ll be able to fill this time with stuff you really enjoy doing, like chatting to Spanish speakers, reading books/magazines/newspapers or watching TV and films.

Learning a language doesn’t have to be boring or stressful. To find out how to enjoy the process, you might find these posts useful:

How to learn a language at home (even if you’re really lazy).
The 11 easiest languages (and how to make any language easy).

Also, remember that by the end of the year, you’ll be fluent in Spanish. It’ll take time and effort, but it’ll be so worth it.

Once you’ve got your deadline, break it up into mini goals. This is important because a year feels very far away, which makes it easy to find excuses to keep putting off learning Spanish. Here’s an example of 3 mini goals you could set yourself over the course of the year.

  • After 3 months: I can have conversations about simple things.
  • After 6 months: I can talk comfortably about familiar topics.
  • After 12 months: I can speak fluent Spanish (in line with the definition in step 1)

What if you don’t have that much time to dedicate to learning Spanish each day?

No worries! There’s no rush – just decide on the amount of time you can dedicate to learning Spanish and adjust your deadlines accordingly.

Alternatively, you could aim for a slightly lower target (B1 CEFR level) – still a great level where you can chat quite comfortably in everyday situations.

Keep in mind that these figures are guidelines: everyone’s different and how long it takes could depend on several factors, such as your experience with languages, whether you are able to stay positive and the amount of speaking practice you do during this time. Don’t worry if it takes you a little longer than anticipated: keep going and you’ll get there!

Step 3: Get into a routine

To become fluent in Spanish, decide which actions you’ll need to take each day, then ACTUALLY DO THEM. Forgive me for shouting, but this is the most important bit of the whole guide.

You’ll need to think about:

  • How long you’ll study each day.
  • When and where you’ll do it.
  • What you’ll do in that time.

A typical day might look something like this:

  • Listen to Coffee Break Spanish as you eat your breakfast.
  • Review vocabulary using a flashcard app on your phone whilst stuck in traffic or waiting for the train.
  • Listen to an audiobook for Spanish learners during your commute.
  • After work, you could do a lesson with an online Spanish tutor, study a chapter from a textbook or if you’re feeling tired, chill out in front of some YouTube videos like Spanish Extra or Easy Spanish.
  • If you feel like going out, you could meet a native Spanish speaker in your area and set up a language exchange at the pub (more on this later).

We all have different timetables and tastes, and what works for one person may not work for another. I like to get up an hour early and squeeze my study time in before work because I tend to get distracted later and may not get around to studying. However, some people feel more focused in the evening. Take some time to experiment until you find a language learning routine that works for you.

One thing I recommend to pretty much everyone however, is to get yourself some headphones and listen to podcasts like Coffee Break Spanish and Notes in Spanish as you go about your day: on your commute, walking to work, running in the park, washing the dishes, cleaning the shower etc. It’s amazing how much extra Spanish you can squeeze in by doing this, and it doesn’t take any time out of your day.

Also, remember that you don’t need to start everything at once. Routines that are established slowly are usually the most steadfast. Work towards your ideal routine little by little: for example, if you plan to study Spanish for an hour before work, you could start with 5 minutes, then increase your study time for one minute per day until you’re up to 60.

Importantly, once you’ve sorted out your routine, focus all of your energy on that and forget about everything else.


If you focus on steps 1 and 2 (setting a goal and deadline) but forget about the things you need to do each day to actually get there, you’ll never become fluent in Spanish. This is the way people normally try to achieve things and the reason lots of people never reach their language learning goals.

Alternatively, if you skip the first two steps and just focus on doing your Spanish routine every day, you’ll become fluent in Spanish sooner or later anyway.

Having a goal and a deadline is handy because it gives you something to aim for. But the real secret to becoming fluent in Spanish is getting into a good routine. If you only follow one step from this guide, make it this one.

Step 4: Find your tools

If you’re going to be spending a couple of hours a day learning Spanish, you’ll need to find some fun and useful things to do during that time. Experiment with different resources like textbooks, podcasts and YouTube channels for Spanish learners until you find things you like that help you make progress.

Not sure where to find tools for learning Spanish? These articles might help.

The 11 best tools for learning Spanish from beginner to advanced
The lazy person’s guide to learning Spanish
32 Fun ways to learn a language (that actually work)

Step 5: Measure your progress

Learning a language is like watching a plant grow. From day to day, the changes are almost imperceptible. But if you can step back and look at it after a few months, you’ll see that it’s grown loads.

Language learning happens so gradually that it can feel like you’re not making progress, which is demotivating. One way to resolve this is to record yourself speaking every now and then so you can look back and notice how far you’ve come. This will show you that your hard work is paying off and give you extra motivation to keep going.

To see what I mean, check out what happened when I recorded my progress in German over 3 months. Day to day, I felt like I was getting nowhere, but when I compared day 1 with day 90, I was quite pleased with how much I’d learnt.

Step 6: Find your people

One reason learning a language in the country seems easier than learning in the classroom is that it transforms a boring school subject into a way to communicate with other human beings. Instead of studying to pass a test, you’re learning Spanish so you can chat to your mate Carlos about a girl he met last weekend.

The more you can see Spanish as means of connecting with people, the more motivated you’ll be and the faster you’ll learn. But how can you do this without living in the country?

You can take advantage of this newfangled technology called the “Internet”, which allows you to connect with Spanish speaking people on the other side of the planet, from the comfort of your living room. This tool, which has revolutionalised language learning, is your most important ally in your quest to become fluent in your Spanish without putting pants on.

I use fab website called italki, where you can find loads of native Spanish tutors waiting to talk to you on Skype for a very reasonable price. Just this week I’ve had lovely chats with María from Venezuela and Carlos from Mexico for less than $10 an hour. If you fancy giving it a go, click on any of the italki links on this page – you’ll to get a free $10 dollar voucher after your first lesson.

For tips on where to start, check out this tutorial italki: How to learn a language with an online tutor

Alternatively you prefer a completely free option, you can also use italki to set up a language exchange with Spanish speakers who want to learn your language: this way you can talk for half the time in your native language and the other half in Spanish (just make sure you’re strict about the 50/50 rule right from the beginning, so your partner doesn’t hijack your Spanish speaking time!)

Alternatively, if you’d rather make real flesh and blood friends, you can use the internet to find Spanish speaking people in your area. Conversation exchange is a great website for this.

If the idea of speaking Spanish makes you feel nervous, you might find this article useful:

What’s stopping you from speaking a foreign language (and how to fix it)

Step 7: Talk as much as possible

Grammar exercises and language learning apps might make you feel like you’re doing something useful, but the best (and most enjoyable) way to learn how to speak a language is by talking to people. The more you practice speaking, the more fluent you’ll be. Simple as that.

Whether you pay tutors for online conversation lessons, or set up language exchanges, make it your priority to find people you enjoy spending time with and practice speaking Spanish with them as much as possible. Once you do this, becoming fluent in Spanish is just a matter of time.

My plan to become fluent in Spanish

Next, I’ll explain how I’m going to apply these ideas to help me become fluent in Spanish from my living room.

Set a goal + deadline

I’m already at an intermediate level in Spanish, so I’m going to give myself 6 months to become fluent.

Get into a routine

I’m aiming to learn Spanish for 2 hours a day over the next 6 months. As I’ve just finished my French mission, I already have a routine that sets 2 hours aside for language learning, so I just need to switch the language from French to Spanish. However, if I was building a routine from scratch, I’d start very small, say 5 minutes per day, and increase the time gradually using the technique I discussed in step 3.

Here’s a list of things I’m planning to do integrate into my Spanish learning routine:

  • Watch Spanish CNN while I eat breakfast and drink coffee.
  • Write a daily diary in Spanish.
  • Do at least 3 conversation lessons per week with my Spanish tutors on Skype (via italki).
  • Learn 200 words per month (about 6 per day) on my Flashcard app. To find out how I use flashcards to learn vocabulary, check out this post on how to remember words in a foreign language.
  • Listen to Spanish podcasts while I’m going about my day.
  • Integrate Spanish into my downtime. 2 hours a day is a lot, and if it felt like work all the time I’d never manage to keep it up. For this reason, I’m going to include lots of fun activities I can do in my downtime, like audiobooks, Spanish-language TV series on Netflix, TedTalks in Spanish, dancing around the house like a crazy lady and singing along to Cypress Hill in Spanish…

What about you?

Are you learning (or planning to learn) Spanish from home? Leave a comment and let me know: What’s your goal and deadline? Do you have a Spanish learning routine to help you get there?