Do you have access to Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube?
I would reckon so if you are reading this article. We all have such a vast amount of excellent free or low cost resources at our disposal in this digital world that we now live in.
Unlike 10 years ago we now have access to radio stations, newspapers, and even television shows produced in different countries and languages. So, let’s harvest this incredible opportunity and use it to learn Spanish!
It is time to start watching a TV series that will help improve your vocabulary, pronunciation, and learn new expressions!
Chances are you are already using shows to relax and wind down at night or to keep you entertained on the weekends. Why not make a small habit change and start watching Spanish speaking shows?
Heck, if you want, you can even watch the same American shows but with Spanish dubbed audio or Spanish subtitles.
Personally, I did this with the show “Friends” and learned a lot form it. The opportunities are endless!
Below you will find the 7 best TV shows to learn Spanish so that you can improve your listening and comprehension while relaxing from the comfort of your sofa.
Finally, we finish with 5 tips to make your learning effective.
Best Spanish Television Shows
Keep in mind the first 2 shows on our list are TV shows specifically geared towards the Spanish language learner. The intent of these first two series was strictly to teach the language to others.
The following 5 shows are regular Spanish created TV Shows. These are the five best Spanish produced TV shows that we found or know of.
We did our best to have a wide variety of options with different dialects so that you can choose which one best suits what you are looking for.
2 Best Shows for Beginners and Lower Intermediates
Destinos is a 52 episode Spanish series that was created with the sole purpose of teaching Spanish while focusing on words and phrases during everyday life.
The story is about a lawyer, Raquel Rodríguez, who travels to Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and Puerto Rico in search of the secrets of a dying man. While following along the plotline, you can learn about the dialect and accent of each of these 4 countries.
The series itself is very well done and geared towards a high beginner or lower intermediate Spanish learner.
Personally, I liked this series and watched it for a little while, but also found it a little too basic for what I was looking for. It started teaching the Spanish number system so I fast-forwarded a little bit.
The storyline itself is quite interesting and has some really good dialogue and a great plotline as the main character travels to different Latin American countries.
- Get the Simple PDF Comparison Chart for the Top 11 Spanish TV Shows and the Top 11 Movies in Spanish with the button below.
Another potential downside is the series is a little bit dated at this point as I would estimate it was created 20+ years ago.
So why do we recommend it?
The plot is excellent and the series is well done for those at an earlier intermediate level. If you are looking for an educational experience, this might just be the perfect series for you!
In my opinion, this is far and away the best Spanish TV show for beginners. Check it out below at this link: https://learner.org/series/destinos.
This series was also created specifically to teach Spanish. It is very similar to the super popular American TV series "Friends."
The story is about a guy named Sam, an English native, who went to live in Barcelona to learn Spanish. There he lives in an apartment with two girls.
They are always correcting each other’s mistakes and laughing. It has a bit of comedy and also repeats many phrases from everyday life.
Another advantage is that they speak very slowly, so it is very easy to understand.
I checked this series out and liked it quite a bit. It is probably most geared towards the intermediate learner and like Destinos, it was created for the sole purpose of teaching the Spanish language to non-natives.
It is a recently created series, probably within the past 5-10 years. Extra is very well edited and shot almost exactly like the American series “Friends.”
The speaking is slow enough for a high basic to intermediate learner to understand fairly well. For those at a more advanced level, you are most likely better off just watching the Spanish dubbed audio version of Friends with Spanish subtitles. That’s what I did.
However, if you are not currently at an advanced level, dubbed Spanish shows can be hard to understand and maybe even hard to find on the internet.
At 13 episodes, a little over 20 minutes long, Extra gives you time to get to know the characters and develops the plotline well throughout the one season.
Are there any drawbacks?
A quick perusing of the comments section and you will see some viewers calling this show “cringey,” so beware.
It does feel like they just completely copied the show Friends concepts and changed it to a Spanish version spoken slowly. But maybe that’s not really a bad thing as the American version was a big-time success.
Lastly, if you are at a more advanced level this show probably isn’t for you and I would recommend watching one of the five regular Spanish shows outlined below this.
However, if you want an interesting series written with slow, clearly spoken Spanish than look no further than Extra.
5 Best Spanish TV Shows
The following list is the top 5 Spanish created TV shows. Naturally, these were produced with the Spanish audience in mind. They were not specifically created for Spanish language learners like the 2 others listed above.
If you a higher intermediate or even advanced language learner, I recommend you check out at least one of five from the list below.
You are sure to find one you like. If not, download our comparison chart extended list with the button below.
Want simple Comparison Charts of the Top 11 Spanish TV Shows and the Top 11 Movies in Spanish?
This is a Spanish series about the life of the Queen Isabella of Spain who reigned in a time where it was expected that women were only mothers and wives.
This story shows demonstrates how she had to fight for her throne and all the challenges that she had to confront into maintaining the Spanish empire. To date, this show has put out three solid seasons of work.
I started watching this show to improve my Spanish, but quickly found that I was hooked on the drama and wasn’t learning much Spanish. 🙂
At the time, the subtitles were only in English and the dialogue of the show is spoken in 15th century Spanish. This made it difficult to understand. My focus on what was going on and the English subtitles probably limited my learning.
That being said, I really, really enjoyed the storyline and I loved the drama and action. The acting is fantastic by everyone involved. Queen Isabel is truly a compelling figure and it interweaves fantastic theater and keeps you wondering what is going to happen next at the end of each episode.
The themes of love and corruption that gets intertwined amongst the main characters and their competing forces make this a spectacularly interesting show.
For those at an advanced Spanish language level, this might be the perfect show for you.
Beginners and lower intermediates would probably be better looking elsewhere.
Keep in mind if you don’t understand fast spoken Spanish from Spain than this might not be good series for you if your purpose is to learn the language.
That being said, every little bit helps. And if you just want to watch an interesting show in Spanish while learning about Queen Isabella I than look no further than this show.
The show was first released in September of 2012 so it is still very current.
There are three full seasons to get your binge watching put on overdrive. Episodes are about an hour long. You can find Isabel on Netflix and Hulu Plus.
Short Trailer of Isabel
2) El Tiempo Entre Costuras (The Time in Between)
This show tells the story of Sira Quiroga, a young seamstress who leaves Madrid before the start of the Spanish Civil War. She starts a workshop in the haute couture district as a result of her difficult situation.
This is superbly edited Spanish drama that was created with a large production budget. The show premiered in October 2013 and averages over 5 million views per episode.
The time period for this show is in the early 1930’s. It truly does an excellent job of displaying key human elements such as love, war, and betrayal amongst political uncertainty.
Are there any drawbacks?
- Want the simple Comparison Chart of the Top 11 Spanish TV Shows and the Top 11 Movies in Spanish? Click the button below.
Well, for one, just like the series Isabel, you might find this fast spoken Spanish from Spain difficult to understand. Fact of the matter is, if you are looking to learn Latin American Spanish I would probably go with a different series.
However, at just 11 episodes long, we know you will quickly get embroiled in this fantastic Spanish drama.
It is available on Netflix and Hulu Plus so check it out today if it strikes your fancy.
Short Trailer of El Tiempo Entre Costuras
3) Escobar, El Patrón Del Mal (Escobar, Boss of Evil)
This is a Colombian series that portrays the adventurous and eccentric life of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel.
The series is very well done and will keep you thoroughly engaged throughout the 70+ episodes. I had to limit the days I would watch the show each week due to how much I enjoyed it. I definitely fell victim to intense binge watching from time to time.
The best part is that the actors are Colombian so this show is ideal if you want to learn the dialect and accent of a Colombian speaker. Some of the common complaints you hear about Narcos is that it isn’t the most factual and not all that authentic.
Case in point, Narcos main actor, Pablo, is played by a Brazilian named Wagner Maura.
Although Narcos is a fantastic series for the casual observer, for those wanting to learn more about Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel with a deeper plotline, I would recommend going with Escobar, El Patrón Del Mal.
It found it to be perfect to follow along the Spanish subtitles that accompany the Spanish speaking.
Also, it doesn’t have all the nudity like many HBO series have and which Narcos also features. However, if your opposed to watching lots of violence, killings, and corruption, this is not the show for you.
Personally, I loved seeing the inner workings of the Medellin Cartel and found Pablo to be a brilliant manipulator and businessman.
Like many infamous men in history, it is awfully sad that he didn’t use his talents for good and for building up Colombia instead of tearing it down.
It is recommended for learners at a high Intermediate or Advanced level. Check it out on Netflix or Hulu Plus. Warning, I cannot guarantee you won’t be hooked after a few episodes.
Short Trailer of Escobar, El Patrón Del Mal
4) Gran Hotel (Grand Hotel)
This is an interesting story of a young man named Julio who goes to the "Gran Hotel" to look for his sister who worked there.
He realized that she had disappeared and of course in the meantime uncovers many mysterious secrets from this spectacular Hotel.
The series is about all that Julio does to try and discover what happened to his sister. It has romance and plenty of drama to it. The plot takes place in the beginning of the 20th century and the show first aired in October of 2011.
Want simple Comparison Charts of the Top 11 Spanish TV Shows and the Top 11 Movies in Spanish?
Although I have not watched this show and don’t have much personally to add to it, I have heard very good things about it.
Gran Hotel is yet another Spanish drama with excellent filmography and is currently at 3 seasons long with 39 episodes worth of content to get you reeled in.
It is a high budget production and spoken with the Spanish dialect so keep that in mind in the case that you want to focus on Latin American Spanish.
If you want a superb series with plenty of intrigue and drama, I recommend you look no further than this show.
It is available on Netflix and Hulu Plus.
Short Trailer of Gran Hotel
5) Mi Corazón Es Tuyo (My Heart Is Yours)
This is a Mexican telenovela featuring Anna Leal who lives two different lives. During the day she is a nanny and during the evening she is an exotic dancer.
Don’t worry this show doesn’t get too racy and does keep it PG-13 in case you’re wondering.
Like any telenovela, this show features plenty of drama and an abundant amount of love interests.
It currently has 176 episodes around 40+ minutes so it is certainly not for the faint of heart if you are hoping to watch them all.
If you like telenovelas and want to improve your Spanish with a Mexican dialect, we recommend you check this series out for a few episodes to see if it is something you want to continue.
You can find it on Hulu.
Short Trailer of Mi Corazón Es Tuyo
5 Simple Tips for Watching Spanish Shows
Want to make sure you are actually improving your vocabulary and comprehension?
Before you pick out a TV show from the above list please keep in mind these 5 tips to learn efficiently.
1) Use Spanish Audio and Subtitles in Spanish
This is crucial. If you really want to improve your Spanish while watching TV Shows you need to listen to them in Spanish and follow along with Spanish subtitles.
If you use English subtitles there is a good chance you will be focused on the English words and it will hinder your learning. You might even subconsciously zone out the speaking like I did.
2) Eliminate the Distractions Around You
This goes without saying. If you can’t hear the show well, you probably won’t understand it all that much. You need to be in the zone and able to focus on what’s being said.
If you aren’t focusing on the audio and subtitles and checking Facebook at the same time, than chances are you won’t get much learning out of it.
3) Pause and Rewind the Shows
Unless you are watching the show with someone else, why not have a remote on hand?
If there is something important that you don’t want to miss or a phrase that you want to hear spoken again, why not hit the rewind button?
Pause it if you want to look up a common word that keeps getting spoken. I know I did this plenty of times while watching Spanish TV shows and I believe I learned quite a bit from it.
This doesn’t mean I stopped every moment when I didn’t understand a word (that would be pointless), but if something keeps showing up repeatedly, look it up.
Normally, I would have the Netflix show open in one tab and Spanishdict.com open in the other tab for a quick translate.
4) Watch Live TV in Spanish Like Sports or News Programs
This tip is not recommended to just any Spanish learner.
Obviously, you need to be in a higher fluency level for this to be worthwhile.
If you are not at least a High Intermediate student, you might be watching CNN in Spanish with a blank stare on your face.
If you are already planning on watching the news or a sporting event, why not try it out in Spanish? Most major sporting events are broadcast in Spanish from what I found.
Hey, it might even make that soccer game more interesting to watch.
5) Don't Be a Perfectionist
It is completely okay if you don't understand all the words being said at any given point in time.
It would be silly to think you can just jump into a second language with a limited amount of exposure and expect to understand everything from the get go.
Keep your expectations in check and don’t get frustrated if you do not understand as much as you thought you could.
Personally, I didn’t understand everything being said in Escobar, El Patron del Mal.
However, that didn’t stop me from understanding most of it and I always understood the context of what was going on. Chances are you can understand the gist of each episode without understanding every word spoken.
So take it easy on yourself!
What’s the Best Spanish TV Show for Learning Spanish?
In this article, we have laid out the 2 best Spanish shows for learning Spanish at a more beginner and intermediate level. This will provide you with an educational experience.
However, if you want to push yourself and are at a higher intermediate to advanced level, than we recommend checking out one of the 5 regular Spanish TV series.
Personally, I loved the Escobar series and was hooked in a couple episodes. But that show is certainly not for everyone!
That’s why we created a simple comparison guide in an easy to read PDF to help you sort through the best Spanish TV shows easily by plot, type, and difficulty. This will help you narrow down the right series for you.
Just click the download button below for the free PDFs after entering in your name and email.
Without a doubt, watching Spanish shows is one of the best ways to learn actual spoken Spanish from native speakers. I find TV shows to be an excellent method as most people generally enjoy watching them. I know I certainly do.
If you are to ever get to advanced fluency you will need a serious WHY statement for your learning and at the same time at least partly enjoy the process.
I cannot think of any other better way to enjoy the process than to watch Spanish TV shows in the time that you would have already used to watch TV anyways. The only difference is now you are making your TV watching educational and fun.
Just make sure you don’t forget why you are watching them, to learn!