https://www.duolingo.com/profile/drunkawe

Spanish TV series: a quick guide

Watching TV in Spanish is a good way to improve your Spanish, specially if you have reached level 10 or above on Duolingo. I am Spanish myself, and I hope a quick guide of Spanish TV will be of interest to you.

There are three main TV stations in Spain: RTVE (public TV), Mediaset Spain and Atresmedia (both private). Each station has several channels, the main being:

  • TVE1 (RTVE).
  • Antena 3 (Atresmedia).
  • Cuatro (Mediaset Spain).
  • Telecinco (Mediaset Spain).
  • La Sexta (Atresmedia).

You can watch most of the TV series and shows aired in Spain online. My suggestions would be:

  • Cuéntame cómo pasó (aka Cuéntame): life and adventures of a Spanish middle-class family in the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. A good approach to the recent History of Spain that has been on air for 15 years now, so everybody in Spain knows the Alcantara family. You have almost 300 chapters available! You can start here: http://www.rtve.es/television/cuentame/temporada-1/ (If you watch it on your computer / TV, there is a transcript of every line of music / dialogue on the right of your screen).

  • El Ministerio del Tiempo (aka MdT or #MdT): my favourite and probably the best way to learn History if Spain while having fun. "The series follows the exploits of a patrol of the fictional Ministry of Time, which deals with incidents caused by time travel" (Wikipedia). The official site offers loads of extra contents (including an app and a podcast), so you can immerse in the daily life of the Ministry and the main characters. You can start watching El Ministerio del Tiempo here: http://www.rtve.es/television/ministerio-del-tiempo/capitulos-completos/temporada-1/capitulo-1/ (again, full transcript in real time on the right of your screen).

  • Isabel: another series with the History of Spain as a background. A 3-season, 39 chapters long biopic of Queen Isabel I of Castile. Only for true fans of the time (XVth and XVIth centuries). You can start here: http://www.rtve.es/television/isabel-la-catolica/primer-capitulo/

[EDIT: I was wrong when I assumed that the series by RTVE were publicly available, but I see in the comments that there are geographic restrictions... Try each link to confirm whether the series of your choice is available in your country. Some of them are also available in YouTube and in other sources]

  • El tiempo entre costuras: a great series about a young seamstress back in 1934, two years before Spanish Civil War. Given her brilliance -and her beauty- she will soon become an undercover agent... And that's all I can tell you! Ideal if you love mistery, the series was a big success in Spain. You can start watching it here: http://www.atresplayer.com/television/series/el-tiempo-entre-costuras-extendida/temporada-1/capitulo-1-captulo_2015072000273.html

  • Qué vida más triste (aka QVMT): the life and miracles of Borja, a crane operator you will learn to love. The series started as a videoblog, and became such a hit that La Sexta bought its rights. Short chapters and good dialogue that covers every daily life situation. A good idea to learn everyday Spanish if you are moving to Spain. You can start here for the TV show: http://www.atresplayer.com/television/series/vida-triste/temporada-2/Qué%20vida%20más%20triste-C1_2012012500335.html The original videoblog is available on YouTube, where you can search for QVMT + temporada (season in Spanish).

  • Los Serrano: a classic in Spain, the Serrano is the second most popular fictional Spanish family, following the Alcantara. The series was aired between 2003 and 2008, so there are no smartphones and there is almost no reference to the Internet. Apart from that, watching the series is the best way of immersing in Spanish life without actually visiting Spain. The first chapter is waiting for you here: http://www.mitele.es/series-online/los-serrano/temporada-1/capitulo-1/ (Spoiler: the finale was much more unpopular in Spain than Lost's... You have been warned!!).

  • El Príncipe: one of the most successful Spanish series, it tells the "love between a Christian policeman from the Spanish mainland and the young Muslim sister of a drug trafficker. Most of the stories are set in the troubled El Príncipe Alfonso neighbourhood of Ceuta, near the border with Morocco." (Wikipedia). You can start watching El Príncipe here: http://www.mitele.es/series-online/el-principe/temporada-1/capitulo-1/

[UPDATE 06/2017] Netflix co-produces the third season of El Ministerio del Tiempo, so I guess the series will be available for their subscribers all over the world. Plus, @haleahyumi confirms that El tiempo entre costuras is also available on Netflix, its English title is The time between.

May 16, 2016

25 Comments

Sorted by top post

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Martmeister

For those of us living in the UK, the Spanish series "vis a vis" is being shown on terrestrial tv from tomorrow, Channel 4, 10pm. It will be in Spanish with English subtitles and they are using the title "Locked Up".

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/locked-up

May 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/janey89

YES! Thank you so much!

May 18, 2016

[deactivated user]

    Thank you for this resource! It's great to have ways to practice listening skills. The links worked for me: USA resident. Have a lingot.

    May 16, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/drunkawe

    I'm glad to hear that they're useful! Thanks for the lingot!

    May 18, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maxiella

    Thank you

    May 17, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/drunkawe

    You're welcome!

    May 18, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jeannette909164

    Also I don't think it was mentioned on this thread, but Extr@ on YouTube is a series and they have closed captioning on it. They speak slow enough for you to hear each of the words. :) watched part of an episode today and I was completely lost lol.

    May 17, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kopfkaese

    Thanks for that! It's really helpful. I would also be interested in TV shows from Latin America. Do you know some good ones with weblinks?

    January 26, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Quicklearner14

    Gave you a lingot cause this was a very helpful post, links worked great for me. any suggestions for Spanish books to read as a beginner?

    May 17, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jeannette909164

    I went to the library and grab some bilingual children's books. It helps a good amount since they tend to repeat phrases or words to help you learn the vocab. :)

    May 17, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/drunkawe

    Thank you for the lingot!

    I might write a similar post about books in a few days, I've seen that many people are looking for references. A couple of authors that come to my mind are David Fernández Sifres and Laura Gallego. They are both best-sellers in Spain, and some of their books are youth fiction classics.

    May 17, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Quicklearner14

    Thank you, I will check them out!

    May 20, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Margolf

    both El tiempo entre las costuras and Isabel (full series) are available to watch online on dramafever for free - you have to put up with the advertisements, but it was worth it to me!

    May 17, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/elReyCarlo

    Is there a cost for El tiempo entre costuras? Im only level 11 and although I think I was able to understand the activation terms, I would like to be sure. Gracias.

    March 26, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/drunkawe

    There should be no cost for it, though that will depend on your country of residence and the station of your choice, I guess.

    May 14, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Youda1981

    I was looking for some spanish tv series as learning resources and found these. Thank you.

    April 10, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nimrod386674

    ¡Muchas Gracias mi amigo!

    April 12, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/madda945962

    Thank you! This is what I was looking for!

    April 22, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/haleahyumi

    El tiempo entre costuras is on Netflix in the US as "The Time Between." You can watch it with English, Spanish, or no subtitles

    June 9, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/drunkawe

    Thank you for sharing the information! I guess it will be available on Netflix in many other countries.

    June 12, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Frank3USA

    Thanks for this awesome guide! I can't wait to start watching Spanish TV!

    August 10, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David78Z1

    The main problem with watching Spanish TV shows is that there are lots of words you just won't know. Here's a tool that's built specifically for learning Spanish with Spanish TV Shows and Spanish Subtitles, its called Lingopie. https://Lingopie.com/learnspanish. The best part is that whenever you're not sure about a word, you just click on that word in the subs and you just get an instant translation of that word. Also you can slow down the video to about 80% and increase your listening comprehension and then slowly increase it to 100% over the season. You can't do this on Netflix or most of the other VOD players because they are not built for language learning.

    Everything is saved so you can review all the words and phrases you learned with the built-in flashcards.

    "Lingopie - Learn Spanish With Spanish TV Shows"

    April 15, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLD72zzoZN

    The first one told me that this video is not available in my country.

    May 16, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/drunkawe

    I didn't expect that! I am sorry, I will have to edit the post. I hope youtube works better, though you will have to search for each chapter individually: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0wpnsKInF0

    Where are you from? Is there any chance that the series is aired in your country by RTVE's International TV channel or by any associate TV channel? That's the only reason that comes to my mind for the show not being available online to a country in particular.

    May 16, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bianca996500

    <<La Rosa de Guadalupe>> is a great series on Netflix! (In America is it, I am not sure about other majority-English-speaking countries.)

    March 23, 2017
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