Want to strengthen language-learning by watching movies or TV? Yes, it is certainly possible.
Exposure to foreign languages in the form of cinema or television can be a powerful tool to support your language training with Diplomatic Language Services. TV and films can benefit language learners in multiple ways. Viewers are able to see a foreign culture in-action – native speakers talking with native speakers. It also showcases real (or semi-real, if the show is scripted) conversational dialogue and body language during the actor’s interactions. Further, all of this audio is then supported with visual cues, which helps to reinforce comprehension of a scenario or conversation. Finally, watching TV or movies enables you to be engaged but not actively participating or doing any speaking yourself.
With everyone learning from home, online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu are readily available for language learners to utilize. Moreover, you can do this all from the comfort and safety of your home. Additionally, Language Learning with Netflix is an extension that can be installed for free to your Google Chrome browser. After installing, you will have access to useful features including subtitles shown in two languages, the ability to listen to subtitles one at a time and change their playback speed, and a pop-up dictionary (the extension also suggests what words they think are most important for you to learn). So, technically, anything you watch on Netflix can be turned into a language-learning opportunity!
It’s understandable if you’re at a loss for where to begin. Foreign films and series are certainly plentiful on streaming services! So, to give you a place to start, we pooled recommendations for films and shows from the language experts at DLS and are happy to bring you some of their favorites. We hope you enjoy them too!
3% – Brazilian Portuguese
Thrilling, science-fiction Brazilian drama series set in a distant dystopian future where citizens have to compete to escape poverty and make it to utopia. Rating: TV-MA (not recommended for family viewing).
Atelier – Japanese
Workplace-based, coming-of-age Japanese series, following the story of a working woman and her tough (but respected) boss in a Tokyo lingerie company. Rating: TV-PG.
Babylon Berlin – German
Neo-noir German series set in 1920’s Berlin during a time of significant social, economic, and political changes. Rating: TV-MA (not recommended for family viewing).
Celia – Spanish
Spanish telenovela series following the story and international career of renowned Cuban singer, Celia Cruz. Rating: TV-14 (may not be suitable for young children).
Crash Landing on You – Korean
South Korean drama and comedy series following a South Korean heiress after a paragliding accident leaves her stranded in North Korea with an army officer. Rating: TV-14 (may not be suitable for young children).
Fauda – Hebrew & Arabic
Action-packed Israeli series depicting both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the tumultuous events that follow an Israeli agent who comes out of retirement. (The title of this series directly translates to ‘chaos’ in Arabic.) Rating: TV-MA (not recommended for family viewing).
Gomorrah – Italian
Italian crime drama series centered around the Camorra mafia in Naples and the power struggles within the mafia family. Rating: TV-MA (not recommended for family viewing).
Grand Hotel – Spanish
Spanish drama series following a man who gets a job at a lavish hotel as a waiter so that he can secretly investigate and reveal the truth about his sister’s mysterious disappearance. Rating: TV-14 (may not be suitable for young children).
La Casa De Flores (The House of Flowers) – Spanish
Modern Mexican telenovela series combining comedy and drama, following a wealthy family and the unraveling of their secrets. Rating: TV-MA (not recommended for family viewing).
La Frontera Verde (The Green Frontier) – Spanish
Thrilling series set in Colombia following Bogotá-based detective into the jungle to investigate the murders of four women. Rating: TV-MA (not recommended for family viewing).
La Casa De Papel (Money Heist) – Spanish
Popular Spanish crime drama series depicting a criminal mastermind’s execution of the biggest heist in Spanish history including thieves, hostages, and locking themselves in the Royal Mint of Spain. Rating: TV-MA (not recommended for family viewing).
La Vita è Bella (Life Is Beautiful) – Italian
Classic Italian comedy-drama film set in 1930’s Italy about a Jewish-Italian father trying to shelter his son from the horrors they experience after being taken to a Jewish concentration camp under the occupation of Italy by German forces. Rating: PG-13.
Luna Nera – Italian
Romantic fantasy series set in 17th-century Italy centered around a group of witches and their witchcraft. Rating: TV-MA (not recommended for family viewing).
Misaeng – Korean
Workplace Korean-drama series following a group of young co-workers at a large trading company. Rating: TV-MA (not recommended for family viewing).
El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth) – Spanish
Dark Spanish film depicting a young girl’s adventures in an eerie fantasy world where a faun tells her she is the princess of the underworld. Rating: R (not recommended for family viewing).
Parasite – Korean
Thrilling South Korean film depicting a poor family conning their way into the lives of a wealthy family before things take a dark turn when the possibility of their exposure is threatened. Rating: R (not recommended for family viewing).
Roma – Spanish
Emotional film following a domestic worker’s journey within the social and political turmoil of 1970’s Mexico. Rating: R (not recommended for family viewing).
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat – Dubbed in Spanish, French, Italian, German
Originally in English, this cooking show can be dubbed in a variety of languages and follows the world travels of a chef and food writer exploring the four basic keys to cooking. Rating: TV-PG.
Shtisel – Hebrew & Yiddish
Israeli drama series about a Haredi Jewish family living in an ultra-orthodox area of Jerusalem. Rating: TV-14 (may not be suitable for young children).
Tune In For Love – Korean
Heartfelt Korean-drama film about two people who meet while sharing stories via a radio program and follows their journey in love and unlucky timing. Rating: TV-MA (not recommended for family viewing).
When Heroes Fly – Hebrew
Suspenseful Israeli series centered around four Israeli military veterans reuniting years after a falling out to search for someone in Colombia who they thought were dead. Rating: TV-MA (not recommended for family viewing).
Zwartboek (Black Book) – Dutch/German
Dutch/German WWII film set in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands centered around a Jewish singer who goes undercover to infiltrate the Gestapo headquarters for the Dutch resistance. Rating: R (not recommended for family viewing).
Have you seen any of these foreign films or shows? If so, how did you like them? Do you have others to add? Let us know by leaving a comment or messaging us on social media!