If you’re a fan of foreign movies, it’s quite easy to learn a new language while also enjoying original cinematic experiences from around the world. One such example comes from Spain, where a plethora of directors managed to capture the European spirit and enable the English-speaking audience to be immersed.
Let’s take a look at how watching foreign movies can help you learn a new language by discussing the best examples of Spanish cinema. You should check these movies out even if you are not interested in learning Spanish right now, as they are masterpieces in and of themselves.
- Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
“El laberinto del fauno”, or Pan’s Labyrinth in the west, is a 2006 dark fantasy movie written and directed by the world-famous Guillermo del Toro. The movie takes place during the Second World War and follows a young girl’s journey through a mystical labyrinth.
It combines magical realism with the horrors of war to deliver a gut-wrenching narrative about coming of age and escapism. What makes Pan’s Labyrinth a great choice for Spanish language learners is its reliance on fable-style storytelling. People familiar with the works of Brothers Grimm will find plenty of parallels here and be able to easily draw new Spanish words and phrases.
- Living is Easy with Eyes Closed (2013)
“Vivir es facil con los ojos cerrados”, or Living is Easy with Eyes Closed is a Spanish comedy film directed by David Trueba. It stars Javier Camara and represents a story of an English teacher going on a road trip in hopes of meeting John Lennon.
This is a more lighthearted entry on the list of Spanish movies, and it is a great representation of “slice of life” Spanish cinema. This makes it the perfect learning tool for Spanish language students. The movie’s plot revolves around long discussions among three distinct characters, making it a unique and worthwhile film in its own right.
- Roma (2018)
While not strictly a “Spanish” movie, Roma was shot in Mexico and features a stellar cast of actors whose performance is directed by Alfonso Cuaron. Roma follows the life of a middle-class housekeeper and essentially represents a growing-up story in Colonial Roma as experienced by Cuaron.
It is a realistic, stripped-down version of life in Mexico during the 70s without embellishment or romanticism. This can be an amazing entry for language learners given the casual vocabulary and informal speech characters use throughout the film. Using online translation agencies while watching Roma translate parts of the dialogue and your notes can be very useful as a learning mechanism.
- The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
“El secreto de sus ojos” is a crime drama written and directed by Juan Jose Campanella. It follows a pair of judiciary workers solving a crime, with flashforwards to 25 years later. The double narrative, while not original in itself, the double narrative serves the purpose of thickening the plot and second-guessing the viewer akin to Gone Girl.
It is a well-crafted mystery that both fans of the genre and Spanish language learners will love to watch. The movie garnered a plethora of awards on release, even making it to the BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century list.
- Volver (2006)
“Volver” or “to go back” is a 2006 Spanish film starring Penelope Cruz and is directed by Pedro Almodóvar. The story of Volver takes place in Madrid and is centered on Cruz’s character protecting her daughter from the outside world. In addition, she has to deal with the fact that her mother’s ghost is haunting her, creating an interesting plot scenario.
The movie successfully combines drama and comedy, and with good performances from its ensemble cast, Volver will surely entertain you. This is another movie whose dialogue provides a great backdrop for language learners to hear everyday Spanish vocabulary.
- Perfect Strangers (2017)
“Perfectos desconocidos”, or Perfect Strangers is the most interesting entry on our list. The film was remade in several different languages, with the Spanish version coming to theaters in 2017. Directed by Alex de la Iglesia, this is a mystery thriller with a group of friends gathering for a dinner party.
What follows is a guessing game and a sort of “who-dun-it” akin to Knives Out. What makes it perfect for learning Spanish is the fact that each person at the dinner party is unique in lingo and personality. You can hear different accents, vocabularies, and approaches to Spanish, resulting in a great representation of how you can use the language yourself.
While these are some of the best Spanish movies you could watch to learn Spanish, many other movies and shows can help. Netflix offers a variety of foreign movies, and you can also find plenty of Spanish movies on other streaming services depending on where you live. If you’re set on learning Spanish, the more movies you watch, the faster you will learn how to use the language properly for your benefit.
Bio: Michael Carr is a content writer, digital marketer, and movie aficionado with years of experience writing about the film industry. Michael loves to write articles, news reports and to cover trends not only in film but also in marketing and sales as its adjacent industries. He tends to spend his free time catching up on the latest movies as well as honing his writing skills.