What do Disney movies and Arrested Development have in common?

Newsflash: I’m going overseas and only know English.


I had a bit of a panic attack back after I purchased my ticket. I don’t have the money for language classes, and furthermore, between  grad school, fulltime teaching and a weekend job, I don’t have time to add anything to my schedule

Here’s how I ended up teaching myself Spanish without actually sacrificing any of my time- Netflix.

That’s right. Netflix. My cell phone. Google. And Walt Disney.

Research shows that the best way to learn a language is through immersion. Why on Earth would I pay thousands of dollars and waste my time doing extra homework when I have everything I need on my television. Most Disney movies are available in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. Additionally, Arrested Development is one of my favortie sitcoms and it is also available in Spanish.

Instead of watching television in English, I watch it in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. I began by copying all the new verbs down and googling how to cunjugate the tenses. Then, I practiced saying the words and cunjugated the new verbs. I try to watch TV this way for about an hour every night.

Then, I watched an episode, wrote all the words I didn’t know and googled them. Then, I watched the episode later without the subtitles and wrote down the words after I heard them. I wrote down the English equivalent.

Currently, I am working on identifying the words quicker without subtitles. I have a notebook where I write down all the words I can identify in English, and quiz myself on new words. I am currently learning prepositions and trying to string together grammatically correct sentences.

I also listen to the Spanish radio station in the car. This is great because I get to familiarize myself with Latino artists and am forced to interpret dates and numbers without the subtitles.

The only flaw is speaking. Speaking requires the brain to synthesize thoughts quickly. To rectify this, I have been asking my bilingual students at the school I work at to help me. I also downloaded Duolingo- an app that is free and helps with language acquisition. So I also do that for twenty minutes a day.

When June rolls around, I plan to teach myself Portugeuse. By the time I arrive in Europe, I will be all set. 🙂


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