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Netflixing Your Way to Fluency with Spanish Movies

Watching movies is a fantastic way to supplement your language learning and improve your listening. Lucky for Spanish learners, Netflix keeps churning out films en español.

Watching movies in Spanish will present a different challenge depending on your level of Spanish listening comprehension, but don’t let imperfect language skills turn you away. Here are some pointers for turning passive couch potatoing into active language learning:

  • Use subtitles as you need to, but use them right. Subtitles should be tools for helping you focus on the language you’re hearing, not a substitute for listening. You shouldn’t feel guilty switching on the Spanish subtitles if you need to, but do your best to avoid relying on captions in your first language.
  • Create an environment conducive to listening and paying attention. Listening to a foreign language is hard. Before you switch on your flick, make sure you’re in a quiet room without much background noise. Even better, plug in some headphones.
  • Take an intermission to check for understanding. Movies are long, and even marathon runners stop for water breaks when they need to. Plan for a pause somewhere in the middle so you can look up difficult words and phrases or double check the movie synopsis to make sure you’re following. Whenever you’re feeling lost, pause and rewind are your friends.

And with those tips in mind, here are some movies to add to your list for your next Spanish practice session on Netflix:

7 Años

The first Netflix original movie in Spanish, 7 Años is the story of four friends who together found a company and together must deal with the fallout of mismanagement and tax fraud. To salvage their dreams and friendships, one must take the fall for the other four before the clock runs out.


This black-and-white arthouse drama centers on the Mexican student protests of 1999 and has been one of the most highly acclaimed Mexican films in recent years. The entire film is laced with jokes that emerge from the comedic relationship between brothers, and the more linguistically savvy watcher may notice running themes of race and social hierarchy present even in the film’s title.

Y Tu Mamá También

Another Mexican film, this might be one of the most famous Latin American blockbusters among international audiences. Y Tu Mamá También is a classic coming-of-age tale that takes place over the course of a road trip, complete with a historical layer that contextualizes the story within a tumultuous period in Mexican political and social history.


This Chilean drama provides a poignant local look at one of the defining moments of the 20th century in Latin America: the coup d’état that ousted President Salvador Allende and installed the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Part war movie, part historical drama, it’s an action-packed film with a plot that’s all the more grandiose for being based on a true story.

Sin Nombre

Sin Nombre may be fiction, but this drama is based on what might be the most dramatic human crisis taking place in the Americas. The film follows the journey of two young Hondurans attempting to escape the conflict and gang violence that envelops much of northern Central America, and the film’s title, meaning “nameless”, conveys how migrants like the film’s main characters are systematically dehumanized and slip through the cracks of global society.

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