TV is a great way to boost your language learning. What is particularly special with telenovas is that you get so invested in this tight community of characters, quickly picking up their accents and patterns of speech. This is a great way to get to grips with Spanish! So where should you start, since there are so many beautiful telenovas out there to watch? We’re here to help! Here are some of our favourite telenovas that will help you learn Spanish.
El Barón follows the life of Ignacio “Nacho” Montero, who befriended Pablo Escobar and helped change the face of drug trafficking back in the 70s. This series recreates the costumes, language, and outlook of the times, and is both the typical dramatic adventure you would expect from a good telenova as well as telling a story from our modern history.
El Barón will have you on the edge of your seat cheering on the protagonist — even if he is a criminal! Here is a clip to give you a taste; we apologise if you’re hooked from the very first second! Watch with subtitles to get you started since some of the conversations are a little fast. El Barón is a great way to get some Spanish practice in — and a history lesson as well!
Learning Spanish? Check out our free placement test to see how your level measures up!
La Reina del Sur
No telenova list would be complete without mentioning La Reina del Sur. This was the most expensive telenova ever produced by Telemundo, and is based on a novel of the same name by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Our protagonist is Teresa Mendoza, a young Mexican woman who becomes the most powerful drug trafficker in southern Spain. This acclaimed series has attracted nominations for Novela Of The Year and Best Actress for Kate del Castillo.
La Reina del Sur attracted such attention that it earned itself a second series that is airing this year! This is definitely one to watch with subtitles because the story is compelling enough to have you sucked in immediately. You will probably forget you started watching to study! Here is a clip to entice you in; enjoy!
Betty In NY
Okay so that’s quite enough about criminal activity; let’s move on to something empowering and fun! Betty In NY tells the story of Betty as she heads to New York City hoping to pursue her dreams. She overcomes prejudice, rejection, and bullying over the way she dresses, never once losing sight of her self belief. Betty is the hero in the midst of all kinds of unnecessary drama going on around her, staying true to herself no matter what judgment she faces.
You will be smiling, laughing, and cheering Betty on from the very first scene. Here is a clip from the pilot episode. The plot is easy to follow, there are no complicated twists or turns that will jar you out of the story. Whether you are a beginner watching with English subtitles or an advanced Spanish student just looking for something to watch, Betty In NY is a great show for you.
Not seen anything on our list that doesn’t look like the kind of telenova you were expecting? Well, Eva Luna is here to put that right! Eva starts work as a maid for the Arismendi family after the death of her father, needing the money to take care of her sister. Eva gets to know the Arismendi family and in the process begins to develop feelings for the boyfriend of Victoria Arismendi. Chaos of all kinds ensues!
Eva Luna might be your guilty pleasure watch, something you get into without ever meaning to and then can’t look away. Here is a clip so you know what we mean. Expect a beautiful soundtrack, dramatic speeches, and a wardrobe you will probably be envious of! These characters are easy to fall in love with despite their deeds, and that will make Spanish practice easier for getting to know them all so well. Pop on the subtitles, get your ear in, and get ready to not want to stop watching!
Telenovas truly are a fun and effective way of practicing Spanish. Be aware that some will use Latin Spanish and other European Spanish, and in the case of La Reina del Sur you might even get a taste of both! Whatever telenova you decide to start for your Spanish practice, happy watching!