In this video get ready for some drama, secretos, gritos y llantos (drama, secrets, yelling and crying). Así es, mis amigos (that is right, my friends), we will be learning about Telenovelas and how you can improve your Spanish while watching them.
I will also give you my top 5 picks of Mexican telenovelas that you can watch right after this video to get your Spanish to the next level!
1. The origin of telenovelas
First, we will go back in history very briefly to understand the origin of telenovelas and how they became an icon in Latin America.
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Now, how were telenovelas born and what does the telenovela concept actually mean?
La palabra telenovela proviene de la fusión de dos palabras (The word telenovela comes from the fusion of two words):
- Televisión (Television)
- Novela (Novel) —from the literary genre
Las telenovelas tienen su origen en Cuba (telenovelas have their origin in Cuba). They actually didn’t start as telenovelas, but as radionovelas. Another word comprising the words radio and novela. They were used as entertainment for the workers at cigar factories, and given their success, radionovelas evolved into telenovelas.
Many of their creators started moving to México, Estados Unidos, Venezuela, and created their own content there. Specifically in Mexico, they were influenced by Mexican culture of el cine, el teatro y la cultura popular mexicana (theater, cinema and popular Mexican culture), which resulted in creating the type of telenovelas mexicanas we watch nowadays, and that today are a recognized TV genre from Mexico all over the world.
2. Identifying chunks in Telenovelas
If you are a huge fan of telenovelas like Jane the Virgin, then you can use this hobby to improve your Spanish, and if you haven’t read my article about “3 tips to learn Spanish through Movies and TV Shows”, feel free to have a look so you can implement those tips for telenovelas as well. Actually, I have met a lot of people that have learned Spanish because of telenovelas.
Our free Spanish chunking training talks about how you can identify chunks, that is, fixed word combinations native Spanish speakers use in conversations and that you should learn by heart to ALSO sound natural in a conversation in Spanish… like our telenovela actors.
So, right now I will give you algunos ejemplos de chunks (some examples of chunks), using telenovela scenes. This way you will learn to speak Spanish just by watching fun Mexican telenovelas!
Examples of chunks
- Nunca te voy a dejar que seas feliz con ella. ¡NUNCA! ¿Me oyes? ¡NUNCA! (I will never let you be happy with her! NEVER! Do you hear me? NEVER!)
Wow! Did I mention that telenovelas are dramatic? Well, my friends, esto es solo el comienzo (this is just the beginning). So, did you find the “chunks”?
Let’s review them together:
- Nunca te voy a dejar (I am never going to leave you)
- ¿Me oyes? (Do you hear me?)
- Que seas feliz (Be happy)
Now, let’s do go over another example. This time be ready and pay attention!
Soy tu Dueña (2010)
- ¡No quiero escucharte! ¡No! ¡No quiero! ¡No quiero escucharte! (I don’t want to listen to you! No! I don’t want to! I don’t want to listen to you!)
What about now?
The chunks in this example are:
- Quiero escucharte (I want to hear you)
- No quiero (I don’t want to)
Why am I pointing out these phrases in particular? In a real-life conversation, these phrases —or chunks, as we call them— work really well in making you sound natural when speaking Spanish. And if you learn them by heart as a whole, you don’t even have to think about grammar or verb conjugations!
Just like in the following real-life example (a conversation over the phone):
A: ¿Bueno? (Hello?)
B: ¡Hola! ¿Me oyes? (Hi! Do you hear me?)
A: Sí, te escucho perfecto. ¿Qué pasó? (Yes, perfectly! What’s up?)
B: ¿Quieres algo del super? (Do you want anything from the supermarket?)
A: No, no quiero nada, pero gracias. Bye. (No, nothing. Thank you! Bye!)
You see, telenovela vocabulary doesn’t have to be dramatic always!
3. Five Telenovelas to watch to learn Spanish
As you can see, even though telenovelas are super dramáticas (super dramatic), they can help you to improve your vocabulary and knowledge of chunks that you can use right away to speak with native Spanish speakers. So, ¿en tu país ven telenovelas? (do people watch telenovelas in your country?) Let me know in the comments below!
As I promised towards the beginning, let’s get to my top 5 picks of telenovelas for you to learn Spanish. You should watch them for two reasons: mejorar tu español (improve your Spanish) and to engage con una buena historia (with a good story).
The first three are super easy and Thalia is la protagonista (the main character) in them, so you must watch Las 3 Marías (the three Marias)
- María, la del Barrio
- María Mercedes
These three are good ones to watch, and I don’t think you need to know anymore. What about you watch them and then we can talk about them? ¿Qué te parece? (What do you think?)
These telenovelas are not new, but they are pure gold. It seems that Thalia actually found herself a “prince” in real-life.
- La Usurpadora
Una joven humilde se deja manipular por su hermana gemela para que la reemplace y ella se pueda ir con otro hombre. (A humble young woman lets her twin sister manipulate her to be replaced by her so she can run away with another man.)
- La madrastra
María found the dead body and the murder weapon, so she becomes la principal sospechosa (the main suspect) y es condenada a prisión (and is sentenced to prison).
Veinte años más tarde, María está libre y quiere encontrar al verdadero culpable. (Twenty years later, Maria is free and wants to find the real culprit.)
There are a lot of telenovelas to watch; however, why don’t you share which telenovela you like the most? I have shared my Mexican favorites, but maybe you have another one from Colombia or Venezuela. In any case, share it with us in the comments below!