Thursday, 21 April 2011

Using TV and Films

Image: digitalart /
Watching films and TV can be a great way to learn and practice your Spanish. Once you reach a level where you can follow a Spanish film without subtitles it is very satisfying (although obviously some films are easier than others). However if you just throw yourself in at the deep end and try to watch a Spanish television channel or film it can get very frustrating very quickly if you do not understand enough to get the gist of what is going on.

Fortunately, modern technology gives you more options to help you out - namely a selection of languages for both audio and for subtitles. For me, the easiest way to watch the television and still learn some Spanish is to watch English programmes or films with the subtitles in Spanish. Many Spanish language channels and lots of DVDs offer this option and it is an almost effortless way to expand your vocabulary. Just read along in Spanish and work out how the English phrases are translated. It is great if you want to learn a few more colloquial phrases as well, although bear in mind that the translations are probably equivalents rather than literal.

If you want to challenge yourself more, I find watching Spanish programmes with Spanish subtitles very useful, as it helps me with any words that my ears miss. I find it is sometimes different to separate the words when people speak quickly, so subtitles can really help.

You may have noticed that I didn't suggest watching a programme in Spanish with the subtitles in English. This is because this method never worked well for me. Perhaps because I am more of a visual than an aural type of learner I find it really hard to concentrate on the Spanish audio if I can see the English translation in front of me. That is not to say that you shouldn't try it - we all learn differently after all, and what works for me is not what works for everybody. The great thing is that with a few presses on a remote control you can try all the combinations and see what works for you.

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