Aid to learning: telenovelas

6 years ago


If you live in the U.S. and have access to a Spanish-language channel (Univision, Telefutura, Telemundo), I strongly recommend watching the novelas as you are learning Spanish. Most of them are not very good*, but all three networks use CC so you can see the words as well as hear them. (Do NOT switch to the English CC.)

Televisa, which produces most of the novelas on Univision and Telefutura uses a neutral Spanish (that many of us think of as Televisa Spanish) which makes it the easiest Spanish to understand.

If you are very serious about learning Spanish, I also encourage you to immerse yourself as much as possible into Spanish-language TV. The more you hear, the more you watch, the faster you will learn.

(*the worst novelas are often the best for learning Spanish because the dialogue tends to be repetitive and the storylines are simple.)

6 years ago

Destinos is in the style of a telenovela but it's a beginner's Spanish course. It is very repetitive and ennunciated and a little slow at the beginning, but once the storyline picks up, it's actually pretty good:

6 years ago

Gumbee: Destinos is superb. I've tried several TV-based systems (incl. French in Action) and it is far and away the best. As a telenovela, it is actually better than a lot of the real productions! I know I was anxious to discover the truth. I can't recommend it highly enough as a starting point for anybody who wants to learn Spanish.

It used to be on at least one of my PBS stations almost all the time, but disappeared (along with all the other language programs) a couple years ago. An absolute shame.

6 years ago

@RemySecor - I was the same - I couldn't stop watching it because I wanted to know what would happen between Arturo & Raquel. : )

Now you can watch all 50 episodes on line and the best part is you can turn the closed captioning on,and replay any of the parts you miss. Another great feature is you get to be exposed to many different accents.

6 years ago

If you have Netflix there are TONS of telenovelas. Also most have both English and Spanish subtitles. I am currently watching "Rebelde" which is basically "Skins"+"Gossip Girl"+Mexico City+early 2000s fashion spun into one completely ridiculous teen drama.

3 years ago
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I have been watching telenovelas on the Telemundo website, where they offer CC in Spanish. This is far superior to watching them on live TV because you can pause them to look up a word and, of course, watch them on your own schedule. The plots are intricate and engrossing, and you also learn quite a lot about Latin American culture. I particularly recommend "La Reina del Sur." I have tried watching without the closed captions, but I can't do that yet because there are some characters whose speech is harder to understand. It's totally fun!

1 year ago

Hello guys, my name is Adán Ayala, I am a Spanish Teacher from Mexico. I have a lot of experience using media and TV shows (much better than soap operas) as a form of immersion. They can be extremely productive as long as you know how to work and get the most out of them. I realized that my students after finishing their methods and programs in our school developed only some writing and limited speaking skills, and that is very far from being fluent. Most of them didn´t have many opportunities to practice or someone with whom to practice. Part of the problem was their lack of vocabulary, a small understanding of slang and idioms and very little training on their listening comprehension. I must say that the real challenge for me as a teacher was to find good content with subtitles and transcriptions to work and help the students analyze in a controlled class setting. But in the last years, some big networks and streaming services have invested more in Latin American and Spanish productions which is awesome, and it gives us great material to learn. Their topics and contents are closer to the global culture and interests than the traditional so-called "telenovelas". Please send me a message if anyone of you is interested in conversational classes using this method or you can contact me at or visit my website on

7 months ago
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