Movies and television are excellent sources of authentic language for children and teens learning Spanish. Young people all over the world acquire huge amounts of English through American film and television, and kids in the United States can take advantage of media the same way. Although the language in movies is much too difficult for Spanish language learners to use without support, with subtitles they can enjoy films as they hear the rhythm and pace of natural Spanish. It is important for children to hear as much native-speaker Spanish as possible. With repeated exposure they can acquire vocabulary used in specific contexts and process the rate of speech of natural interactions in Spanish.
Movies also provide young people with a window into another culture. The details of setting, character and plot all involve representing a place and its people. Many language learners get their first glimpses of the richness of the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries through film.
Being comfortable watching films with subtitles is a valuable quality for young people. Again, the rest of the world watches international film without hesitation and has access to a much broader array of movies. If your family has not watched films with subtitles, be sure to sit far enough away to be able to see the whole screen and the subtitles at once. Also, be willing to pause or rewind if necessary. Reading subtitles comes very quickly to children and opens the door to a world of authentic Spanish language material.
Parents need to decide what is appropriate for their family to watch. These are a few films to consider as you choose Spanish-language films to watch with your children.
La misma luna / English title- Under the same moon – This film tells the story of Carlos, a young boy living in Mexico with his grandmother. When his grandmother dies, he crosses the border to find his mother who is working in the United States. This is a heartwarming film of love, family and courage. PG13 (Mexico)
Casi casi – The story of a high school student who decides to run for Student Council to impress a popular girl. He soon learns, however, that she is running against him. PG (Puerto Rico)
Cinco amigas – A fun film about five girls who form a band. It is a little silly, but very entertaining. Not rated, but there is no objectionable material. (Argentina)
Valentín – This award-winning film is about an eight-year-old living with his grandmother in Buenos Aires, after having been abandoned by his mother. The story follows him as he attempts to deal with his father and his father’s new girlfriend, and learns more about his mother and his family’s past. PG-13 (Argentina)
Historias mínimas /English title – Intimate Stories This wonderful film follows three different people on their travels from a small town to the city of San Julian. This charming movie won numerous awards at international film festivals. Not rated, but there is no objectionable material. (Argentina)
Mi abuelo, mi papá y yo – This heart-warming, family film is about three generations of men and their relationships with women. Not rated, but there is no objectionable content. (Colombia)