Does watching telenovelas help to improve Spanish? YES!

Since July, when I started to lead the Diskuto Spanish Corner, it’s been the most amazing experience. Learning new things about Latin American dishes, dancing Cuban salsa and learning how to dance ranchera like they do in Mexico are just some of the cultural bonuses.

¡Así se baila ranchera!

Many Diskutenõs have been asking me how and where I learned Spanish. Well in France, high school students can choose between Spanish and German as their second language. Most students take Spanish, thinking that is a Latin language similar to French. In this way my secondary school classmates convinced me to choose Spanish:

“You know Khady, Spanish is so easy to learn you just have to put ‘a’ or ‘o’ to the end of the word and it will sound like Spanish.”

Uhh!! It’s not really the case.

1 example which contradicts what people usually think about Spanish:

Spanish and French similarity

Guitare in French and Guitarra in Spanish

Spanish and French non similarity Diskuto Spanish Corner

Voiture in French and coche in Spanish (el castellaño) but not voituro

With time you become aware that learning languages is a complex process (though I agree French and Spanish are similar languages due to their Latin roots).

Rubí is considered one of the top telenovelas of all time.

Rubí is considered one of the top telenovelas of all time.

After travelling to Spain and Mexico, I decided to keep practicing Spanish. One way to do that was to become a tutor and practice with my friends via Skype. However, the most effective way to keep myself immersed was by watching telenovelas. In 2004, telenovelas suddenly became popular in France with the premiere of the show Rubí. It was an eye-opener! From then on I couldn’t miss my new favorite series. After class I was rushing home like Usain Bolt to watch my novela. I stayed awake until 5am (due to different time zones). Sometimes I skipped classes! I know, I’m not a good example to follow.

A high point in my life was 2008 when I travelled to Mexico, where all my favorite telenovelas were filmed. Every night at 6pm my host family and I would watch Las tontas no van al cielo (Dumb Girls Don’t Go to Heaven), obsessed by the drama.

When I returned home to Paris, I begged my father to buy cable channels including Telemundo International, Televisa and Univision so I would never miss my favorite soap operas.

Three weeks ago two Diskuteñas recommended that I watch Escaleras al Cielo,a Korean soap opera dubbed into Spanish. What can I say? It may be very long but it’s one of the most entertaining dramas I’ve ever seen!

By now you have noticed that I’m a huge fan of telenovelas, even though not all of them are good ☹. Do I recommend you watch novelas to improve your Spanish listening skills ? ¡Claro que sí! Don’t know what to start with? Leave me a reply!

PS: If a casting director is reading this, I’m ready to play a role in your next novela. If I can’t act in one feel free to contact me—I have a lot of ideas!


Khady arrived to Toronto from Paris. She lived in several countries such as China, Mexico, Senegal and Spain. Because of her many travels, she speaks fluently four languages: French, Spanish, Wolof and English. She is brushing up her Mandarin in Toronto. When she’s not learning different languages, she likes to cook and play the acoustic guitar.

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