Films are an excellent tool for second-language learning. Gone are the days in which learning a new language consisted of merely sitting passively at the classroom while listening to the never-ending monologues of the teacher. With the new educational methods and the arrival of the communicative approach, students were prompted to speak in the classroom and to use different and efficient tools for second language learning.
Since the invention of the cinematograph by the Lumière brothers at the end of the XIX century the number of films created is infinite. The potential of films when learning a second language is been explored and debated and is undoubtedly a wonderful tool for learning new grammatical structures, improving our listening skills and expanding our vocabulary lists.
If you are into the cinema and you are learning Spanish, watch these five films in Spanish and have a good time while learning!
Warning: Films not suitable for children
1. Los Santos Inocentes (The Holy Innocents) – 1984
A Spanish film directed by Mario Camus and based on the novel of the same name by the Spanish writer Miguel Delibes. The film conveys the inequality and oppression of upper classes to lower social classes in Spain during the 1960s. Paco and Régula and their three children are a family of farmers who obey and endure uncomplainingly the despotism and humiliations by their landlord.
2. El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes) – 2009
Argentinian crime and drama film directed by Juan José Campanella and based on the novel La pregunta de sus ojos (The Question in Their Eyes). The film depicts the story of a retired legal counselor who writes a novel in the hopes of turning the page on two events occurred 25 years before: an unresolved homicide case and a buried love story between him and his superior.
3. Amores perros – 2003
Mexican crime and drama film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and written by Guillermo Arriaga. Amores perros is a film constructed as a triptych: three parallel stories with no apparent connection with each other collide due to a car accident in Mexico City. The three stories feature an enigmatic hitman, a model and a teenager who gets involved in dogfighting. There is one element present in three stories: dogs.
4. Volver – 2006
A Spanish drama film directed by Pedro Almódovar, one of the most internationally known Spanish film directors. The film conveys the story of Raimunda (played by Penelópe Cruz), a woman living in Madrid and married to an unemployed worker with whom she has a teenage daughter. Raimunda and her sister miss her deceased mother, who died in a fire. But one day, the mother comes back to visit her and her sister.
5. El abrazo de la serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent) – 2015
Drama film internationally co-produced (Colombia, Venezuela, and Argentina) and directed by Ciro Guerra. The film is inspired by the travel diaries of Theodor Koch-Grunberg and Richard Evans Schultes and pays tribute to the disappeared Amazonian cultures. The film won the Art Cinema Award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated as Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards.
The film revolves around Karamakate, a shaman from the Amazonia and the last survivor of his tribe. Karamakate travels with two scientists in 1909 and 1940 to look for yakruna, a sacred Amazonian plant.