A great way to learn Spanish is to simply watch Spanish movies. For those who don’t get the chance to spend time in a Spanish-speaking country, the key is to surround yourself as much as possible with those who speak Spanish. Remember – it’s all about repetition! This is where movies come in. With subtitles, you accomplish two things: 1) you are training your brain to comprehend Spanish sounds and pronunciation, especially how fast a native speaker might speak; and 2) by reading the subtitles, you connect the meaning of what is said with what you just heard in Spanish.
I recommend watching 2 spanish movies per week. It definitely makes for a nice break from the books, and if you choose a great movie, it’s entertaining!
There are a bunch of great movies in Spanish. I like The Motorcycle Diaries, Y Tu Mama También, Nine Queens, and there are a ton more out there!
A neat trick that I recommend in really improving your listening comprehension is watching one chapter in a DVD of a movie three times. Each chapter should be about 10-15 mintues, so you’re only going to spend about 30-45 minutes on this learning Spanish comprehension drill. Here’s what you do:
1) The first time you watch the chapter, turn on the subtitles and just follow them, understand what they are saying. Your goal is to end the chapter knowing exactly what is going on and understaing what the characters said to each other in Spanish.
2) Now watch the chapter again. This time, even though you are going to leave the subtitles on, you’re going to pay more attention to listening to what is being said in Spanish, and you’re going to try and guess what they are saying. Only if you feel you need to, look at the subtitles, but don’t rely on them like you did the first time.
3) Watch this same chapter one last time again – but this time, turn off the subtitles. You are going to listen to the dialogues 100% without any reliance on subtitles. By now you should already know the scenes and what is being communicated.
Basically what this drill does is train your brain to new sounds, but also connect these sounds and words with meaning. Do this 2-3 times per week and I guarantee your Spanish listening comprehension will develop quickly.
You can also try reversing the process. Watch the chapter without subtitles the first time, the second time with subtitles, but still just listening, and the last time, reading the subtitles.
Remember, the key learning Spanish or any language is not just being able to communicate what you want to say, but understand what others are saying!