Learning Spanish as an adult then, has been a practice in humility.
Interaction with real people is the best way to learn a language. My high school French was sufficient for reading, but never for IRL (In Real Life). I rarely interacted with French speakers and I was shy to practice speaking aloud.
Learning Spanish as an adult then, has been a practice in humility. But thanks to the IRL people involved—my husband’s Mexican family, our church friends from a wide swath of Latin America—I’ve benefited from better motivation and forced practice.
If it were only up to me, I’d soak up Spanish via streaming television. I’ve learned that it’s not sufficient for mastery, but it’ll do when I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted by IRL. Netflix, thanks for improving my ear . . . that is, oreja. Or oido. (So confusing. I’m not fluent, but at least I can appreciate a telenovela.)
My first exposure to award-winning Mexican and Spanish films I found a little too fuerte (I’m looking at you,Y Tu Mama Tambien!). . . but the the five favorites listed below are all a lot of fun to watch.
A young man joins the staff of an elegant hotel under a false name in order to find his missing sister who had worked there as a maid. His mission becomes more complicated when he falls for the hotel owner's daughter.
Someone recommended Grand Hotel to me as a Spanish version of Downtown Abbey. It does feature interesting upstairs/downstairs plot lines, but with a greater degree of intrigue and a few more murders.
Disclaimer: I loved Season One, but haven't finished the entire thing. In true telenovela style, the plot twists just keep on coming. What I'm saying is that this show may never end.
The Time In Between
Based on Maria Dueñas' excellent best-selling novel about a seamstress in Spain and Morocco during the Spanish Civil War, this mini-series seems to remain mostly true to the book, and features beautiful visuals.
Club de Cuervos
Kudos to Netflix for creating this dramedy about a family that owns a Mexican soccer club. It features two actors from my favorite Mexican movie Nosotros Los Nobles (not on Netflix, sorry)—the dashing Ianis Guerrero, and Luis Gerardo Méndez, who is hilarious as the team's new president intent on proving himself.
Instructions Not Included
Eugenio Derbez’ sleeper hit showcases the relationship between a reluctant father and his young daughter. Sweet and unexpectedly tender.
Robin Hood (yes, that Robin Hood)
The 1973 Disney Robin Hood is one of my kids' favorite movies—largely because it's one of my favorites and one of the first movies I played for them.
Dubbed-over movies can be notoriously bad. But with animation, it was dubbed from the beginning and so switching to Spanish doesn't seem jarring or out of sync. Try switching the language of your animated shows if you'd like to tick up your (and your kids') Spanish input.
Visit this page to learn how to turn on subtitles in Netflix according to which device you’re using.
What are your favorite Netflix picks in Spanish?
About the author
Josie works at home and from home---wrangling two daughters and a baby son, and writing on parenthood, faith, and culture. She appreciates the hard work it takes to raise a multicultural family, and has a passable knowledge of spanglish. Originally from Memphis, Josie remained on the east coast after studying English and religious studies at the University of Virginia. She met her husband Israel on Capitol Hill in DC, and their dream is to open a Southern-Mexican fusion restaurant one day (but only if her suegra is available to cook).