Watching Movies Helped Me Learn Spanish (Part 2)

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Jamal Jackson - Guest Writer

Jamal Jackson – Guest Writer

This is the second part of the article written by our guest writer Jamal Jackson entitled "Watching Movies Helped Me Learn Spanish (Part 1)"

Hi, Jamal here again. In the first part of my article I told you how watching movies actually helped me understand real Spanish and talk the way real people do. In this second part I will tell you exactly what I did to achieve this. I am not a teacher or language expert, so I don't know if all of these steps will work for everyone.  But I cannot see why they wouldn't. Just make sure you enjoy the process, get a good dictionary and get ready for tons of hard work.



In first place, the movie a couple of times with the subtitles in English. Yes, it's fine to read the subtitles in English at the beginning, just don't' try to memorize them. Enjoy the movie. It will let you get a feel of what's going on. Do not try to memorize the subtitles. Just watch the movie enough times so you know the plot and you can get a feel of what's going on in the film.



After you've watched the movie for a couple of times, select a short segment. It could be a whole scene, 2 minutes, 5 minutes or even 15 minutes. Shorter scenes / periods of time will let you work more intensively, which is what we need. Watch that part again with the subtitles for comfort, but try to follow the target language, only looking down to the subtitles from time to time whenever you get lost. Don't be afraid to look at them if you don't know what they are saying.



Once you can easily follow the movie barely reading any English subtitles, switch to Spanish subtitles. Watch the same part over and over again, this time with the Spanish subtitles. Write down any word that is new to you. If you don't know its meaning, look it up in the dictionary. What definition or translation is appropriate in the context of the movie? Once you find it, switch back to English subtitles and check the way it was translated there. Was it a literal translation, i.e. word by word, or a concept translation i.e. the idea is translated, even if word by word the meaning may be different? This is a great opportunity to learn useful words and especially phrases in context.



Take a break, STEP 3 could be intense but it's really enjoyable if you do it for short periods of time, 10 or 15 minutes at a time, that's why working with shorter segments is preferred. You can watch them several times. Much easier than 15-minute blocks in which watching 2 or 3 times plus any activity would take you no less than an hour.  Taking regular breaks helps you keep a clear mind and gain more focus each time.



Select any of the previous parts you worked on, disable the subtitles and transcribe word by word every single word the actors are saying. This is brutally hard but terrific to improve your conversational conversation. Don't be afraid to play the same few words over and over again if you can't get what they say. That's normal. Just do it and enjoy it.



Make a glossary with the main phrases you see and want to remember. Every segment may have dozens or even hundreds of words. But it's hard to remember them all. Less is more. Just select between 5 to 10 per segment and try to use them in your own conversations whenever you can.  When it comes to language, it's either use or lose it!

And that's it! If you do this systematically you should start to see dramatic results in 2 weeks or less, and if you do this for over 2 years like I've done, your comprehension and speaking skills will be at their sharpest as you've never experienced before.

And if you are at an intermediate level or higher and would like to try these steps, I'll leave one of my favorite movies of all times:

VOLVER AL FUTURO (Back to the future) 


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  1. Elisa

    You have touched some good points

  2. Eddie

    Thanks  for another great article.   

  3. Ron

    You make thgins so clear. Thanks for taking the time!

  4. Denise

    Thanks  for another informative post. 


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