A lot has changed since we published our last post. Due to social distancing guidelines, many of us find ourselves sheltering in place in order to help flatten the curve. As a result, most businesses have closed bringing the world to a sudden halt. So what can you to learn or improve your Spanish during these times? The following is a list of a couple fun ways in which you can improve your Spanish from the comfort and safety of your home.
Listening to music in Spanish is a fun and relaxing way to improve your listening skills. You can listen to popular artists like Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Romeo Santos, and many more! Spotify and Apple Music have an entire section dedicated to different genres of Latinx music. Explore them and you are bound to find new artists to sing and dance to.
Aside from enjoying the music, what can you do to actively learn Spanish? We suggest translating a song. Translating songs from Spanish to English can help you practice your comprehensions skills. It also exposes you to new vocabulary. The following are some songs to translate:
Songs for Beginners:
- “Living La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin
- “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony
- “Eres” by Café Tacuba
- “Historia de Taxi” by Ricardo Arjona
- “Todos me miran” by Gloria Trevi
- “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias
- “Manos al aire” by Nelly Furtado
- “La Bicicleta” by Carlos Vives ft. Shakira
Songs for Advanced Beginners:
- “Tu principe” by Daddy Yankee
- “Me voy” by Julieta Venegas
- “Bonito” by Jarabe de Palo
- “Vivir sin aire” by Maná
- “La camisa negra” by Juanes
- “Me gustas tú” by Manu Chao
- “Como te extraño” by Café Tacuba
- “Me pregunto” by Belanova
In order to make the most out of this translation exercise make sure to try to use your knowledge of Spanish as much as possible before consulting google. You can go ahead and try this with other songs that you discover or that you have been listening to a while. It’s always fun to do this activity because the translation offers a new perspective on your favorite songs.
Movies and TV
Watching movies and television series are another great way to have fun while learning Spanish. We recommend you start by watching a show or movie that you have originally watched in English with Spanish dubbing. If your favorite show is not available with Spanish audio you can always watch shows originally written in Spanish. Fortunately, a lot of online streaming services have been adding great content in Spanish over the years. We guarantee you that you will find another binge worthy show to watch after having finished The Tiger King.
Spanish Language Shows:
Spanish language shows are great because they teach you about cultural differences and regional dialects of Latin American from the comfort of your home. If you are a beginner we suggest watching the show with English subtitles. If you are an advanced beginner we encourage you to challenge yourself and watch the show with Spanish subtitles (and eventually ease your way into watching the movie without subtitles!). The following is a list of some movies and shows originally written and produced in Spanish provided by Netflix:
- Soltera Codiciada (Mexico)
- Instructions Not Included (Mexico)
- Club de Cuervos (Mexico)
- La Casa de Flores (Mexico)
- Roma (Mexico)
- La Casa de Papel (Spain)
- Elité (Spain)
- La Chicas de Cable (Spain)
- Sin Senos No Hay Paraíso (Colombia)
- The Platform (Spain)
- Like Water for Chocolate (Mexico/USA)
- Y Tu Mamá También (Mexico)
- Pizza, Beer, Smokes (Argentina)
American Shows with Spanish Dubbing:
As mentioned before, watching content that you are familiar with in Spanish is highly beneficial. This process helps you identify words based on your memory and helps you connect the words in English and Spanish. The following are a few suggestions and links to movies and shows with Spanish dubbing:
- “The Two Popes” Available on Netflix
- “Jane the Virgin” Available on Netflix
- “Breaking Bad” Available on Netflix
- “Arrested Development” Available on Netflix
- “Inception” Available on Netflix
- “La Bamba” Available on Netflix
- The “Indiana Jones” movies available on Netflix have options for Spanish dubbing as well
- Complete Episodes of “Friends” in Spanish
- Parts of “Seinfeld” in Spanish
- “I Dream of Jeannie”
- “Back to the Future” I, II, & III
For those of you that like a challenge, you can further improve your skills by reading short stories written in Spanish. Click here to access a free online library where you can read the works of world renowned Latin American authors such as Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina), Juan Rulfo (Mexico), and Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia) amongst others.
Reading short stories are a good way to see real applications of harder concepts, such as the subjunctive mood, through literature. Additionally, it is a great way to escape from our screens during these times when we are forced to conduct our whole life from our computers.
“La noche que volvimos a ser gente” by José Luis González
José Luis González (1926-1996) writes about the 1977 Blackout in New York City from the point of view of a recent arrival from Puerto Rico. The protagonist of the story is racing to get home through the darkness in order make it in time for his child’s birth. Gonzalez’s uses the perspective of the main character to highlight the peculiarities of the city life at a moment when it is forced to sit still.
“Leyenda del tesoro del lugar florido” by Miguel Ángel Asturias
This story is taken from the anthology “Leyendas de Guatemala” written by Guatemalan author Miguel Ángel Asturias (1899-1974). This short story uses many fantastic elements along with colorful imagery to celebrate the way of life of indigenous Guatemalan communities pre-colonization.
Podcasts in Spanish are a great way to learn more Spanish and to immerse yourself in the language. For beginners, podcasts are a perfect way to familiarize yourself with the sounds and cadence of spoken Spanish. We suggest that you play it in the background while you’re doing other tasks at home. For more advanced Spanish learners, podcasts are a great way to test your comprehension skills while keeping up to date with important issues in Latin America.
Popular Podcasts in Spanish:
- Radio Ambulante – This podcast was created by NPR. It covers a wide range of topics in Latin America in Spanish.
- Españolistos – This podcasts details the journey of a couple’s journey to learning Spanish with one half being a native Spanish speaker and the other half is learning Spanish.
- Nómadas – This podcast is broadcasted by the national Spanish radio. Each episode discusses travel throughout the world in Spanish
- News in Slow Spanish – This podcast is designed for Spanish learners and as the title suggests it provides news.
- TED en Español – This podcast airs TED Talks in Spanish in partnership with Univision
- Carne Cruda – This podcasts provides talks about current events and other social issues happening in Spain.
- Azul Chiclamino – This Mexican podcast discusses an array of topics that affects us as humans everyday.
- Dementes – This podcast seeks to educate people on things not taught in our society, such as the importance of empathy and how to use it to your advantage.
- CNN en Español – This podcast provides news in Spanish through CNN.
- Duolingo Spanish Podcasts – Like “News in Slow Spanish” this podcast is also designed with Spanish learners in mind to improve their listening skills.
Maybe you would like to take it slow but still learn a bit more about Latin American culture. If that is the case, then we invite you to channel your inner artist and visit Chicago’s National Museum of Mexican Art online. You can color in Alebrijes (Mexican mythical creatures) or learn how to make Papel Picado. You can also take a look at the following sites for virtual tours of museums throughout Latin America and Spain:
- El Museo Nacional de Antropología – National Museums of Anthropology in Mexico
- El Museo Nacional del Prado – The National Prado Museum in Spain
- Visitas Virtuales del Ministro de Cultura de Perú – Virtual tours provided by The Ministry of Culture of Peru
- Museo Nacional de Arte – The National Art Museum of Mexico
- Graffitimundo – An organization in Buenos Aires, Argentina that supports Graffiti Art through the city.
- Museo Casa del Alabado – This museum showcases pre-hispanic artifacts of Ecuador
- Museu Afro Brasil – This museum is dedicated to showcasing Afro-Brazilian history and culture.
Take Spanish Lessons Online!
Luckily, LALC remains open online! Our commitment to teaching Spanish through conversation and creating personal connections is now more important than ever. Our classes provide an opportunity to virtually break from social distancing and foster a sense of community and solidarity through these unusual times.
We do so through our group classes and hosting online BYOB events with native speakers from all over Latin America. Our classes also incorporate music, movies, television and art in order to help you immerse yourself in Latin American culture. Contact us today to learn more about our program.
One last thing…
We hope you found these tips helpful not only for Spanish learning but to also cope with the current situation. We acknowledge that collectively we find ourselves navigating through a time of hardship and uncertainty. Because of this our team at LALC would like send love and good wishes, not only to our community here in Chicago, but to everyone across the globe. Stay safe and take care.