Can you really learn Spanish from Narcos?


So, if you haven’t been living under a rock the past few days you will have heard that the second season depicting the life and times of the most prolific drug lord of all time, Pablo Escobar, has just hit Netflix and it is an absolute cracker! I am talking, of course, about Narcos.

However, I am not here to give you a step by step review of the series as I don’t want to bore you. Highlight for me though; SeƱor Escobar casually burning $2 million to keep his daughter warm. If that isn’t the picture of a upstanding family man I don’t know what is. I am however going to assess whether I actually learned any Spanish from my 10 hour Netflix binge.

Firstly, I think we should give some much deserved credit to Wagna Moura who plays Pablo Escobar. The Brazilian actor did not even know how to speak Spanish before taking this role. Spending 6 months in Medellin learning to speak just for this role! Just shows, with the right motivation you can do it.

It is safe to say that I have mainly learned various bad words from the Medellin Cartel and spent the majority of my Sunday walking around saying “Malparido hijo de puta – a Pablo Escobar se le respecta” – now, despite making me feel like a badass, has watching and listening to this made me improve my Spanish? I would argue that yes it has. How can watching 10 hours of television that is mainly in Spanish not help you learn. I don’t care that it may not be the most PC of programs and that you may not be learning the textbook Spanish that you get from the classroom. However, this is genuine, authentic content, you are listening to natives speaking in their native tongue and they aren’t pretending to “order a coffee at a bar” or “ask their friends about homework”, as riveting as that may be.

Only by listening to natives speaking the language you are learning are you going to pick anything up. The accent, the mannerisms and the culture – why are you learning a language otherwise?

So, if you want a little motivation to get that Spanish homework done or you feel like you haven’t spoken or listened to Spanish in a while, give Narcos a try. You may be surprised by how much you pick up. Just make sure you don’t go around saying “malparido” no matter how much fun it is to say!

Here is the trailer for the new season:


And here is an interview with Wagna aka El Patron:

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