How to Learn Spanish by Watching TV an Hour a Day

How to Learn Spanish by Watching TV an Hour a Day

What could be better than sitting down to relax and watch TV? Well, if you choose the right programs, it could be learning Spanish while you are watching TV.

Watching television is a time to unwind and enjoy the chaos of someone else's life for an hour or two. You get to leave your worries at the door for a while and see how others deal with their issues while you sit and laugh at the follies or root for the good guys (or bad guys) to win.

Did you know that you can learn Spanish this way? Yep, you really can. By watching TV an hour a day and choosing Spanish programming for your enjoyment, you can learn Spanish.

Through watching TV, you will learn body language, understand contextual clues, find the meaning to words without direct translations, and all in the comfort of your home or wherever you find yourself with an hour or two to kill or just a few minutes at a time.

Let's discuss the best way to learn Spanish at home, and yes, we mean by watching TV an hour a day.

Ceramic Cup with TV

What to Watch For Learning Spanish

When you are learning Spanish, there is nothing better than watching Spanish novelas to pull you in and keep you coming back for more. From evil plotting to scheming gold-diggers, you will find it all in novelas.

With programs like Teresa and La Reina Del Sur, you are sure to find something that will pique your interest and leave you wanting more of your favorite characters. Whether your taste is tales of rags to riches or you prefer bad guys who come out on top, you will not be disappointed in the options available.

When choosing what to watch, you have many choices. A popular novela that will give you a diverse presentation on the Spanish language is Teresa. This novela first aired in the United States in 2010 and can be seen in its entirety on platforms like and Netflix. The novela is the story of Teresa, who was born into poverty in Mexico and her ambition driven goal of riches. The title song is "Esa hembra es Mala," which translates to mean, this woman is bad, tells a lot about Teresa's character.

Utilizing this particular novela for your Spanish language studies will give you an in-depth look at the differences in the way the language is spoken from one region to another as well as one social class to another. Viewers get to see into the daily lives of the very wealthy as well as very poor. It also provides a variety of social settings to learn including school interactions, weddings, workplace conversations, and conversations between friends. This one show will give a school book of Spanish knowledge that is enjoyable to learn.

If gold-diggers and drama are not your scenes, there are many options for news, sports, reality television, and cartoons available in Spanish as well. CNN has an entirely Spanish channel for catching up on the daily news while learning your new language. Desafio, which is available on or your local Univision station, is another excellent show for those who are more interested in reality television and sports activities. This show is an athletics challenge that takes two teams and puts them through rigorous trials. The weekly winners get special items like phone calls from home or video messages from family, while the losing team is left to sleep outdoors and often without the luxuries one may be accustomed to having. When learning Spanish, it is not about what you watch but what will keep you watching. So look for something that will keep your attention for the long haul.

If movies are your thing, you are in luck here too. Spanish language movies are available that are just as interesting, if not more, as their novela counterparts. Films, like the award-winning Roma, are available on Netflix to watch in Spanish with English subtitles. This story of betrayal and overcoming the challenges of life in an uncertain world will draw you in while teaching you a new language. These types of movies allow you to follow along with the action and story and learn while you are at it through subtitles and spoken language. Many of the most popular movies are available with Spanish subtitles, or in versions that have been translated into Spanish. Subtitles will allow you to learn both the spoken and written versions of the Spanish language. They also help to understand some of the words that are spoken at a faster pace as is customary in most Spanish speaking countries.

Can't find your favorite movie in Spanish? Don't worry about it; there are many new ones available to catch your attention. You might just find that you have a new favorite when all is said and done.


Understanding How Novelas Help You Learn Spanish

Now, you might be wondering how watching TV in a language you do not yet understand will help you learn. This is a legitimate concern, however, one that can quickly be ruled moot. The key to learning from novelas is to watch them from the beginning and follow them through to the end.

Much like reading a book, novelas lay a path; the characters will follow on their adventures, or in many cases, misadventures. When you start watching novelas from the opening scene, you will gain an understanding of the way each character speaks and how their body language emphasizes the meaning of their words. This understanding gives you an advantage when trying to learn Spanish yourself.

These contextual meanings are just as important as the actual words themselves and will help you harness your new-found understanding of the Spanish language.

You will also be able to learn and begin to understand the differences in the dialects of Spanish speaking areas; allowing you to grasp the significance of those words that are spoken primarily in Northern parts of Mexico, or those sayings that are specific to particular regions of Spain.

Once you have picked up on a few of the contextual meanings and learned to apply them to the words in Spanish, practice will allow you to learn even more words the next time you watch.

two people holding laptops

The Best Way to Learn Spanish Meanings Through Actions

When learning a new language, the words are often easier to understand when you see them in action. Watching television in Spanish allows you to not only hear the words and the proper pronunciation but also to see the actions that correspond with the words.

Having actions to show the meaning of Spanish words is especially important for those words that have no literal translation into English. When there is no literal translation, it is hard to grasp the concept of what the word means. Watching the word in action alleviates this issue.

This action includes facial expressions, emphasis added to change the overall meaning of the word, and specific indicators that are only expressed by true Spanish speakers. Utilizing this method will give you an hour of fun and relaxation that allows you to expand your language skills with little effort at all.

Spanish an hour a day bedroom

Make Learning Spanish Enjoyable

Learning new things tends to be intimidating, often causing people to quit before they reach the end. Watching novelas or movies in the comfort of your own home takes the intimidation out of the process, allowing for a higher level of success in learning.

There are many ways to make learning while watching TV, fun and enjoyable, one of which is the show itself. Invite your friends or partner to learn with you. Choose a few phrases from the episode you are watching and write them down. When you are through watching, challenge your friends to see who has learned the most or break the phrase down into words and make as many new phrases as possible. The winner will be the person with the most Spanish phrases.

Another fun activity is to challenge yourself to learn two or three new words every time you watch. As you become familiar with the language, you can increase the number of words. Try to beat your own best record and enjoy the personal challenge.

When a person is enjoying something, they tend to retain more of the information involved in the activity, consciously as well as subconsciously. Finding programs that you enjoy will keep you watching and learning at the same time.

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Learn Spanish by Watching on Multiple Devices

With everyone always on the go, it can be hard to find the time to schedule Spanish lessons or even to take the time to watch TV. The good news is that many of the Spanish television shows are available online for easy viewing wherever you are and on almost any device through several different platforms.

So, how does this work when you have a busy schedule? The answer is simple; you break the time down to fit in the free time you have. If you only have fifteen minutes, that is enough time to catch a scene or two on your mobile phone. Then you can pick up where you left off on your next break.

With Spanish television channels like Univision, Telemundo, and Estrella TV, available online and also easily connected to almost any device, learning wherever you are, fits your schedule.

Many Spanish movies and novelas are available on platforms like Netflix and HULU, as well, for those shows you want to spend the day watching. These platforms provide easy access to your favorite novelas while you are on the go.

Spanish coffee cup

Pulling Together Your Spanish Learning Plan

Learning Spanish in an hour a day does not mean you have to tie yourself to the television for this time. Learn when your schedule permits in small allotments of time. Utilize your ever-handy mobile phone to watch on your lunch break or to pass the time on the subway ride home.

Enhance your learning with Spanish language learning tools available on the Speechling platform that will test your knowledge and sharpen your comprehension. With games, videos, and other ideas available for learning Spanish, you could be speaking like a native in no time.

Now that you know how entertaining and enjoyable it can be to learn Spanish by watching an hour of TV a day, the only thing left to do is find your new favorite show, pop some popcorn, and start learning.