Tag Archives: Spanish language

The joys of Spanish television.

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Whenever I go on holiday, childish instincts take over when I enter the hotel.  I run in to see the room, the view, choose a bed and without fail – get acquainted with the TV.  And most times, I am disappointed by the TV channels that are full of dubbed films, dramatic shows and token English-speaking channels – usually BBC News/CNN and MTV.  But, the best bit about a holiday, is that there are so many other things to day, you hardly use the TV anyway.

So imagine having these limited TV viewing choices every day for a year.  As a student, I was never too bothered by a lack of TV, especially in my first year at uni when I didn’t have a TV at all.  Why?  Because of that little thing called the Internet – whatever you want to watch at the click of a few keys.  However, when you have limited dial-up Internet connection in Spain, you find that the TV is all that you have…  So I ended up watching it and discovered a whole new world!

In Spain, my TV has the equivalent of English freeview, so a selection of random channels, of which I flick through a handful.

The two biggest networks, which for me are the equivalent of BBC and ITV, are la Sexta and La1.  I have two Le Sexta channels which give me a range of documentaries, sports and La Sexta 3, which is a channel that plays films ALL DAY.  Not bad, not bad at all.

However, you may sometimes tune into horrors such the ‘Bratz’ movie and other equally shocking “films”.  If learning Spanish, you can always watch these films dubbed in the language to practice.  Although it does sound a bit odd!  At the very least use should the subtitles.  When learning a language, you can forget everything your parents ever told you about TV being bad – it’s a brilliant way to immerse yourself in the language and pick up a few key words.

La1 is my go-to channel for a good ole Spanish telenovela (Spanish soap).  If you ever watched ‘Ugly Betty’, you might remember Betty’s father, Ignacio, who always used to watch these Spanish soaps, which were dramatic and sometimes badly filmed.

Well, my first exploration into the world of ‘telenovelas’ took me to Palos Verdes in Mexico, watching a soap about two people who had lost their partners for different reasons, but years later were learning to love again (Amar de Nuevo).  Sounds like your typical romcom, right?  Now throw in, the male protagonist – Roman’s deceased wife’s twin sister, Rosilda who is obsessed with him and does some crazy things to try to be with him, including faking an illness and faking the paternity of her child.  The programme has ended and I doubt anyone reading this was following it, so I won’t hesitate at leaking a spoiler.  Rosilda throws herself in front of a bullet and dies to save Roman.  And who shoots this bullet you ask?  Maximo, who is so rich and corrupt that he owns the whole town but was in love with Veronica who is learning to love again with Roman!  But Veronica marries Maximo to take revenge on him because it was he who sent the order to kill her first husband.  And who killed Veronica’s first husband?  Only Bulmaro, who killed Veronica’s husband under the orders of Maximo – his employer AND brother, despite being Veronica’s cousin!  Confused?!  Well, that’s only touching the surface of the storylines.  Though unsurprisingly, Roman and Veronica married (Roman’s brother – Leandro is a priest who married the couple, who has also been in love with Veronica his whole life) and a number of other couples also paired off in the show and everyone lived HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

Luckily for you, I found an English trailer for it :)… enjoy!

And my colleagues used to laugh at me for watching it – it’s addictive.  And I always kept telling them – good for my Spanish!

Other channels include Clan – the kids channel.  Not going to lie, I was a frequent watcher when they played Penguins of Madagascar and Spongebob Square Pants.  Unfortunately, the selection of shows has now lost my interest.  Though I’m not sure even a toddler could manage about 3 hours of Peppa Pig – in Spanish or English!

Divinity is the channel for women.  Grey’s Anatomy, Sex & the City, Desperate Housewives, Style by Jury, Home Heist, Life Unexpected – basically the best and the worst of American TV.  Full of guilty pleasures and the channel to watch for daytime TV when you’re ill – Trust me, I know.

For some good Spanish TV, I would recommend a guilty pleasure telenovela to get stuck into, despite the usually over-the-top opening credits.  Once you get into them, there’s no getting out and you’ll be addicted.  I once missed one episode and the show had jumped 9 months into the future – I guess that’s one way to not have to think of 9 months worth of storylines!  A popular documentary that is good to watch is variations of ‘Españoles en el Mundo’, which basically shows the lives of Spaniards around the world and how they have adapted to different countries.  Quite a gem for a cultural insight into other countries and good for some Spanish practice.

Of course, I can’t talk about Spanish TV without mentioning TV adverts.  It seems that whenever I switch on my TV, the Spaniards are always switched on!  Adverts full of singing and dancing – be that an advert for the dentist to insurance, you will be entertained.  There is also a significant lack of watershed here.  Two examples – during Halloween, horror movies would be advertised all day, with very graphic scenes.  And secondly, Spain thoroughly embraces the saying that sex sells, and they will show adverts to this effect all day… and the most explicit is used to sell cooker cleaner… cooker cleaner!

So there’s my insight into Spanish TV and a survival guide should you find yourself in the situation of watching only Spanish TV.  But remember, if you can’t find something you want to watch, you can always amuse yourself by watching films dubbed into Spanish.  I didn’t think it could get any odder than Jackie Chan dubbed into Spanish, until I flicked onto the Spanish-dubbed Mahatma Gandhi movie!

To end, here are a few ‘useful’ things that TV can teach you:

Vocab from Spongebob Square Pants = Bob Esponja 

Sponge = esponja, crab = cangrejo, sand = arena, pineapple = piña, under

You may laugh, but it means I can now ask the very important question of:

Que vive en piña debajo del mar? – who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

From telenovelas:

“No te metas en mi vida!” – Don’t get involved in my life!

“Te amo con todo mi alma” – I love you will my soul

“Largate!” – get out!

I think it’s now evident how dramatic the soap was!

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All things Spanish.

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Every country has its own traditions, its own customs and its own habits.  It’s only natural that when you spend time in a country you notice them.  When living in a country, they become even more apparent as you try to adjust to them.  Here are a few things that I’ve noticed about Estepona, Spain.

Siestas:

When you think of Spain, siestas are something that comes to mind.  The siesta falls between 2pm and 5pm – generally considered the hottest time of the day.  Although, it does seems hot ALL the time here in Estepona!  Lunch falls within the siesta.  As I have already mentioned in other posts, lunch at 2pm is something rather difficult to adjust to when a 12pm/1pm lunch in the UK is the norm.

I might add here that contrary to popular belief, I DO NOT get a siesta.  If I’m honest, I get more of a siesta at uni, even if this does mean having a nap in the library :P.  However, siestas do mean that a LOT of shops, banks etc. are not open.  Which leads me to my next point…

Opening times:

Opening times take a lot of getting used to, and until you do, they may seem completely random.  With a massive break in the middle of the day, most places are open early morning and/or late into the night.  On Sundays you will find that most things are closed other than the big supermarkets.

August is the holiday season in Spain.  As you’ll find in England, many people will take their summer holiday at this time of the year, as in Spain.  However, you may also find here that some shops will close for the whole month or people will be out of the office for ages!

Hello:

Standard greeting in the UK to answer the phone: Hello?  Can I help? etc.

In Spain, ‘dígame’ is widely used.  Grammatically, this is an imperative – so some may consider it a bit abrupt.  I had to think about it the first time I heard it.  However this greeting, used for answering phone calls to working on the fish counter at Mercadona, is used everywhere.  Literally meaning ‘tell me,’ this custom, which does seem to make things more efficient, is a common understood greeting in Spain and something I’m getting used to.  Eventually, I’m sure I’ll be answering my phone ‘dígame’ instead of ‘hola’.

Good morning? :

A quick guide to polite greetings, but more importantly, WHEN to use them –

Good morning = Buenos días (from early morning until about 2/3pm)
Good afternoon = Buenas tardes (3pm- around 9/10pm)
Good evening = Buenas noches (onwards)

Andalucía accent:

The accents and slang of the UK will widely differ from formal, ‘proper’ English taught in foreign schools.  Similarly, the Andalucía accent, from what I’ve heard, is a much more relaxed version of the ‘school-taught’ Spanish with shortened words and strong accents (e.g. you can’t tell the difference between a ‘b’ and a ‘v’ in speech).   This is what I’m trying to adapt to.  That and the speed of naturally spoken Spanish!

Roads and traffic lights:

Generally, a little confusing.  Not as strict or structured as the UK but certainly not the challenge faced in countries like India.  Though they do like to use their horns here, a lot.

The view.

Here are just a few observations about Spain that I’m adapting to – things to bear in mind if you are in Spain.

Though generally, what a brilliant lifestyle here!  I’m sitting in my flat, my windows well open.  They look out onto the streets of the ‘old town’ in Estepona, which has been buzzing all day, full of tourists and locals.  Especially at this time, the siesta, when the smell of food is wafting in.  Lovely!

Another point, people look much younger than they are here.  Whether it’s the climate, the way of life or the siestas, they’re certainly doing something right here in Spain.  As my high school Spanish teacher used to say, and a phrase he very much liked to use (shout out to Mr.Gough)

“Que vida más buena que tenemos” – what a good life we have!