I live in Krakow, Poland. This is not exactly the place you might expect someone to be watching Spanish soap operas, but believe it or not sometimes I watch them.
Why I watch Spanish soap operas
I am a teacher and my lessons are in the morning and in the evening. I call this the bar bell schedule. This means in the afternoon if I am not working on my flashcard program, I sometimes have time to take it easy and do the most unproductive lazy thing you could dream of while the rest of the world is working away. That is, I watch TV. I am on the sofa vegging out to not just watching any programs, but Spanish soap operas mind you.
Before you cast judgement, read my rationalization.
Actually, it is not as bad as it sounds, I am usually having my main meal of the day at this time, and I need to unwind a little and have it watching a little of the tube. I do this because, I am trying to improve my Polish, as I live in Poland.
Therefore I choose a type of program that is not too difficult and yet interesting. That type of program just happens t be Spanish soap operas. They translate these Spanish programs to Polish on Television. Because of this, I can get plenty of normal dialogues, vocabulary and phrases while watching something fun.
I learn a lot of key useful phrases that I can pull out anytime I need them. These phrases are not something you would get in a text book, but real life colloquial phrases rich in emotion. Yes these programs are full of emotion, passion, romance and slang or at least idioms. I know this is a little stereo typical but this is the way they are.
I asked one of my Spanish friends if this is the way life really was in the Spanish world, that is romance and drama. He smiled and said, ‘yes, for all the Latins’.
I also have satellite and can watch them in Spanish, which is one of my target languages of course but not as high priority as Polish.
Why Latino Soap operas are the guiding light
Since I live in a cold dark northern country one of my dreams is to vacation in the exotic tropical Spanish world of Latin America or at least Spain. I took a vacation to Greece this fall and I loved it. Northern populations dream of tropic vacations, and I think tropical populations dreams of, well I do not know since they are already in vacation land. Watching Hispanic soap operas allows me to teleport to this world for a short vacation everyday. They are a guiding light during the winter months.
Best Hispanic soap programs from Spain, South America and Mexico
There are classic shows and Telenovelas, which are more in depth with a limited run. These I guess you would call prime time mini series.
It is interesting to note in these series get criticism because stereotypical ethnic Spanish looking people are cast in roles of the lower class, while upper class is played by whites. I do not know why they do that.
One I like is ‘Betty la fea’ , I think you can guess this is ‘Ugly Betty’. It is interesting to note that Ugly Betty in the American version is played by a Mexican character. The Polish Ugly Betty is really lame as they picked a beautiful girl and tried to make her really attractive then just put glasses on her.
Another good Spanish television show for learning languages is ‘Chiquititas’. I think this is called ‘Little Angels’. There is also, ‘Fuego en la Sangre’ and Atrevete a Soñar, This was based on a children’s story. There are too many to list. Further, the titles are different in English Spanish and Polish.
I love the Spanish literature of Borges and Gabrial Garcia Marquez’s. Some of the more intelligent shows combine some elements of this surrealistic magical sense found in these writers works. In fact, Borges who I have been reading since high school writes in the form of novelas. I think this is where the word telenovela comes from, that is the Spanish diminutive for short novel.
I usually just flip the stations and see what is on. However, if you have a telanovelro or Spanish language Soap Opera that is interesting that you are watching or worth recommending that you know of, please leave comment. I would appreciate hearing more perspectives on these potentially linguistically educational shows.