List of Websites Where You Can Watch Spanish Videos with Spanish Subtitles or Transcripts Online for Free
This is the Holy Grail for Spanish-learners: videos (movies, TV shows, whatever) in Spanish and with Spanish (not English) subtitles, or an exact transcript in Spanish of what was said (the two are basically the same). Why are Spanish subtitles so important? Because, as someone learning Spanish, you can’t understand everything they’re saying and if you can’t understand what they said, and you don’t have it written down in front of you, then you can’t look it up to learn it–English subtitles might give you a clue as to what was said, but Spanish subtitles would be best since they’re a word-for-word transcription.
You need to know the specific words that were said, you need to know what was said word-for-word, not just what was meant, so you can look it up. I get that. I discovered that myself a long time ago, and it’s why I’ve always recommended movies to people over TV shows or just about anything else, because you can get Spanish-language movies on DVD with Spanish subtitles–they’re not that rare, after going through hundreds of Spanish-language movies on DVD on Amazon I found that about one in every ten had Spanish subtitles (a great example is Pan’s Labyrinth, I love that movie).
But what about online? What about free? That would be the best possible combination in the world, wouldn’t it? Spanish-language videos with Spanish subtitles (or transcripts), online, and for free? Well, it’s taken a while, I’ve been collecting these and scraping them together for over a year, but I’ve finally got a respectable-sized list for you guys. Just like my List of Best Free Sites to Watch Spanish-Language TV Online, I will be constantly updating and adding to this list, so bookmark it and check back in on it occasionally.
Subtitles vs. Transcripts
There’s no difference, don’t worry about it, that’s why I haven’t distinguished between the two in the list below and the ones with transcripts instead of subtitles are mixed in with the ones with subtitles. A transcript is just a word-for-word copy of precisely what was said in the language that it was said in, so if you think about it subtitles are just a transcript that’s been embedded into the video for you and synced up so that you see the line as it’s being said, that’s all. They’re functionally the same for our purposes here.
Alright, here we go!
TV Shows and Telenovelas
1. TeleMundo has just started putting Spanish and English subtitles on some of their shows and videos that are available to watch for free via their website and on YouTube! Hallelujah! Here’s their YouTube channel: Telemundo en YouTube. Currently, as best I can tell, just their telenovelas have subtitles on YouTube, and right now they’re mislabeled: the English subtitles are labeled as the Spanish ones and vice-versa, so to get the Spanish subtitles you have to select the English ones. Thanks to Jennie for being the first to alert me to their YouTube channel.
If you want to use their website, the way you get to them is to simply choose a video and then, once it starts playing, click on the “CC” button on the bottom right and then select either “Español” (Spanish) or “English”. I’m not sure how many of their videos they’ve done this for, it appears that all the recent episodes of all of their telenovelas have them (the older episodes don’t appear to), and some of their other shows as well (but not all, they haven’t done it for any of the sporting events). The way you get to the videos is to just hover your mouse arrow over “Videos” in the blue toolbar at the top, then select a show or type of show from the drop-down menu that appears. You can also go to the videos section and browse around there. Credit for the original find of the videos on their website goes to a reader who e-mailed me about it: thanks, Darcy!
2. Univision – Univision has now joined the party! Yay! They are now putting all of their telenovelas online, for free, and with both Spanish and English subtitles. And they’re full episodes, too! The only catch I saw was that some of them require you to have an account (no clue if that costs money) and to log in to view them, though that’s not the case with most of them. Also it does just appear to be the telenovelas right now that have subtitles, not the rest of their shows (regrettably–I’m waiting for the day that Spanish-language news videos and other TV shows are available online with Spanish subtitles).
3. Destinos – Yes, Destinos! How many of you remember this from your highschool Spanish classes? Haha! This is such a fantastic series and just absolutely perfect for beginning to intermediate Spanish learners (which is precisely who it was designed for, what a coincidence). What’s really cool is that the wonderful people who made it and own the copyright have decided to make it available online for free for everyone to watch, and they’ve finally gotten around to not only completely redesigning their website (it really used to be crap) but also adding Spanish subtitles.
What is it? Well, I really recommend you just read the Wikipedia article on it, but in short: Destinos is a TV show consisting of a series of 52 episodes, each about half an hour long, that was specifically designed by Professor Bill Van Patten who was, at the time, Professor of Spanish and Second Language Acquisition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to help teach Spanish to beginning and intermediate learners. The Spanish used in the series is very clearly spoken at a rate of speed that I would classify as being at the low end of normal for native speakers (that is, it’s slow, but not abnormally slow), which makes it very easy to understand even for beginning learners (and with the addition of the subtitles, nobody should have a problem quickly and easily determining what was said). The story and acting are pretty good (regarding special effects and such: it was 1992 and this was a low-budget educational film, cut them some slack, eh? haha), and I really like that the whole story is spread across 4 different Spanish-speaking countries (they did this intentionally so you would be exposed to a variety of dialects and accents, very clever and an excellent educational technique in my opinion): Spain, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
To watch the entire series online just go to the Destinos homepage, select which series of episodes you’re on from the bottom, then select the specific episode once you’re on that series’ page. To turn on the Spanish subtitles, wait until the video loads (I’ve found this can take a bit, like 10-30 seconds or so) and then just click “CC” in the bottom right hand corner of the video window.
4. Viki – I was just recently introduced to this site, fantastic resource, and it’s precisely what everyone’s been looking for and bugging me for, for years now: full episodes of Spanish-language TV shows (especially telenovelas) with Spanish subtitles, watchable online, and for free.
The way you go about finding Spanish-language TV shows with Spanish subtitles on that site is to go here (in case that link stops working: hover over the “Most Popular” drop-down menu at the top left, then select “TV shows”) and then use the menus at the top to sort by language and country–select “Spanish” for your language and then start selecting Spanish-speaking countries to see what comes up (the following countries have at least one show under them: Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, and Spain).
Edit: I have noticed some people have been having trouble getting the Spanish subtitles to come up, here’s how you do it: Choose an episode to watch, the video will start and English subtitles will likely be the default. Hover your mouse over the video and in the bottom right hand corner of the screen you should see a little button that says “EN”, that’s the language the subtitles are in and “EN” stands for English–click it. You should now be presented with a menu allowing you to choose the language you want the subtitles in.
Now then, please note: not all episodes of these various Spanish-language TV shows have had the Spanish subtitles done for them yet, please remember that the subtitles are done by the community (i.e. people like you who join and voluntarily do subtitles in languages you speak) and that this is entirely free, so you can’t really complain. Examples include Betty la Fea which, from what I understand,
only has full Spanish subtitles for the first 13 or so episodes (Edit, November 9, 2012: This is incorrect now, I checked and most recent episodes have Spanish subtitles, so far more than 13, so there’s really no way to tell which episode has Spanish subtitles or not other than to start it up and check, though I do know the first dozen or so episodes have them and most of the recent ones have them, no clue about the rest), but that’s still awesome and as a beginner it will easily take you several weeks if not months to get through all 13 of those episodes, presuming you’re learning all the Spanish you don’t understand along the way, and that’s just one show. Make sure you look through the various episodes and find which ones have Spanish subtitles and which ones don’t. Also be aware that English subtitles are almost always available as well, so you can use those as a translation to help you understand what’s being said.
Edit #3: A lot of the older Betty la Fea episodes have been deleted from YouTube and consequently are unavailable on Viki (the newer ones are still there and still work, though, but they may not have Spanish subtitles yet, you’ll just have to look and see), and that coupled with the fact that Telemundo has made a lot of their shows available on YouTube with both Spanish and English subtitles–full episodes available in up to 720p–means Viki is no longer my number one most recommended source on this list, though it’s certainly still a good one.
5. BBC’s Mi Vida Loca – This is a fantastic little show put together by the BBC specifically intended for the sole purpose of teaching Spanish to complete beginners. It’s filled with drama and action, it’s very interesting and entertaining, you learn a lot about Spanish culture, and it is absolutely not boring. Also, they’ve got numerous tools and activities to help you learn Spanish in addition to offering Spanish and English subtitles for the whole thing (you can have both turned on at the same time! note the screenshots I took below), such as an interactive (human) phrasebook that pops in here and there to teach you important vocabulary and grammar rules that you’re about to see used, as well as quizzes and exercises you can do. This is really a wonderful resource, especially if you’re a beginner, I can’t recommend it enough.
English and Spanish subtitles:
6. Extr@ (this is a YouTube channel that has all 13 episodes with subtitles in Spanish, English, and Russian) – This is a TV show specifically designed for Spanish learners, the actors speak slowly and clearly and use vocabulary that’s not too advanced. I’d say it’s intended for beginner and intermediate adult learners, probably high school and college level, so it’s perfect for most of you. A summary of the plot, from Wikipedia:
“Sam, with only a very basic grasp of the featured language, comes to stay with his penpal, Lola. Sam’s efforts to get to grips with the language provide the central dynamic for the series’ language learning content. The series is particularly suitable for adolescents and young adults who can relate to the contextual setting and implied meanings in the screenplay.”
I originally found out about this thanks to a reader, Robin, posting a link in the comments below to another YouTube channel that has all the episodes (albeit without subtitles) and then my friend and fellow language blogger, Jennie of ielanguages.com (who has recently started learning Spanish), decided to be awesome and popped in with the transcripts and another YouTube channel that had the videos with subtitles, which is the one I first linked to above. Here are the transcripts and more (look to the menu on the left for them as well links to the same for other episodes in that series):
1. Until recently the only movie I knew of that’s freely available online and with Spanish subtitles is this old Western someone sent to me called Por Mis Pistolas (remember to click the “CC” button at the bottom of the video and select “Spanish (transcribed)” to turn on the subtitles).
2. I just searched through the movie section on Viki, checking every single Spanish-speaking country, and managed to come up with precisely one movie that they’ve done Spanish subtitles for so far, a Venezuelan film called: La Voz Del Corazon (The Voice of the Heart). I really hope some other movies get added on there, but right now there’s just this one.
Sooo…that’s two…which is better than one! Haha. Ok, if anyone has any others, please either e-mail me the link or post them in the comments, I’ll edit this post and add them and give you credit!
Children’s Stories and Cartoons
1. BookBox – Fantastic little site, though they’ve only got 13 videos right now. What they do is make an animated video based on a children’s story into a video and then read that story out loud during the video. All videos have complete subtitles and are available in numerous languages. Just look directly underneath the bottom right side of the video on the front page and you’ll see a menu where you can select whatever language you want. When you select Spanish the horizontal menu below should change and say “View 13 Stories in Spanish”, then just select whichever story you’d like to listen to. You can also get directly to these by going to their YouTube channel, and if you’d like the Spanish ones you can just go to their playlist of them here.
1. EuroNews – Fantastic site, they provide videos in one of several available languages and then there are transcripts directly below each video. My link goes to the Spanish version of the site, the main homepage is here where you can select from various languages using the menu at the very top left of the page, the default is English.
2. United Nations Multimedia Page for Spanish – Here you can find videos and radio broadcasts in Spanish, all of which have transcripts with them, plus the videos have subtitles in Spanish, just click the little “CC” button at the bottom of the video. Their YouTube channel is here, they have about four pages worth of videos. Not bad, not the most riveting stuff in the world, but it works and you’ll learn about some things going on in the world.
Educational Videos (lectures and documentaries)
1. Spanish-language TED Videos (44 pages of them) – First contribution by a reader, and only a day after I first posted this–awesome. Thank you, Dally. TED, as many of you know, records and publishes free educational lectures and talks online. The talks are in many different languages, their search function allows you to search by language, and most of their videos have subtitles, however…I did a little investigating before posting this and found that some videos had English subtitles, some videos had good Spanish subtitles (such as this one), some videos had crappy Spanish subtitles, and some videos had no subtitles at all. So, you’ve been warned, you’re going to have to do some sifting.
Random Video Collections
Here is where there’s more sheer quantity than anything else. Three of the sites I’ve found so far do something very similar: they just take random videos from wherever (usually YouTube) and then the users do subtitles for them for free. Fantastic sites, they’re adding new videos all the time, and, of course, the biggest benefit is that they’re completely free. The other two sites are run by educational institutes. You will, with all of them however, have to sift through them and pick out what you want to watch (I, for one, am really not that picky since the primary purpose is for me to learn Spanish, so as long as it’s at least mildly interesting, I’m happy).
1. Amara aka UniversalSubtitles.org – Wow. I just found this one the other day, they currently list 2,396 videos in Spanish with Spanish subtitles (note that you can search and sort by language of the speakers and subtitle language using the search bar on the videos homepage, just pull the menu down and select your languages). Again, these are just videos that people have found on YouTube and decided to do the subtitles for. Note that you can sign up for an account and help subtitle videos of any language you speak.
2. Edustation.me’s Video Section – You’ll need to sign up for a free account to use this one, I believe. Once you’ve done that, look at the menu at the top right and select the language that you’re learning where it says “Idioma para aprender”, then go to the homepage and click “Peliculas” on the bottom left hand side of the screen (between “Artículos” and “Fotos”). They have a ton of videos there with subtitles, but again these are just YouTube videos that Spanish-speaking users have selected and elected to write up some subtitles for, the community does all the work (again, just like with Amara you, too, can sign up and help out by doing some subtitles in whatever languages you speak).
3. Rhinospike Spanish Transcriptions – Again, these are just a bunch of random videos and audio files that the users have decided to do transcripts for. There appear to be about 70 transcriptions total.
4. Catálogo de voces hispánicas by the Cervantes Institute – This is really cool in my opinion, this is a collection of videos of native speakers from all over the Spanish-speaking world speaking their dialect of Spanish, so you can hear and compare how people speak in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Guadalajara, Mexico; Bogotá, Colombia; and Barcelona, Spain; etc. Each video sample includes a transcript, a list of linguistic characteristics of this particular type of Spanish, and some information about the location.
5. Spanish Proficiency Exercises from the University of Texas at Austin – As best I can tell this is part of their Spanish program. They have a lot of these videos, all of which have transcripts. From the website: “A complete index of video interviews and podcasts, as well as related grammar, vocabulary, and phrases contained in this site is listed below. A topical grammar index and podcast help are also available.” Each video not only has a transcript, but it also has an accompanying explanation of all the grammar and vocabulary used as well as an associated podcast of it. This is essentially an entire Spanish course based on videos of native speakers speaking…which is actually pretty good, to be honest, and it’s free–you can’t argue with free.
6. YouTube Subtitler – Subtitles in Spanish – This is one sent to me by a language exchange partner in Colombia–thanks, Diana! It’s the same thing as the first few, a community of people who subtitle YouTube videos for free in their spare time, basically just helping each other out by subtitling videos in their native language so that people who speak other languages will do the same for videos in their native language. They have 20 videos per page and 500 pages of Spanish videos as of right now, so that means that they currently have right around 10,000 Spanish-language videos with Spanish subtitles. This is probably one of the largest, if not the largest, of these sorts of sites that I’ve found yet.
A Quick Note Before We End: If you’re interested in learning Spanish, read this
Edit (September 11th, 2012): I’ve got two posts that I’ve put up that I’m recommending everyone interested in learning Spanish go read if they haven’t already (if you have, ignore this, sorry): How to avoid wasting months learning Spanish the wrong way (basically this is my “how to get started right in learning Spanish” post for complete beginners) and The Telenovela Method where I cover how to use popular media like movies, music, and books to learn Spanish. Additionally you can check out the front page for a more complete list of my best and most popular posts.
Ok, that’s all I’ve got for now. Please, if you know of any others, leave them in the comments and I’ll add them and give you credit, or if you notice that a link no longer works, please say so in the comments and I’ll fix it straight away. Any comments left are e-mailed to me and I’ll see them very shortly, believe me I read all of them and respond to most of them. I really hope this has proven useful to you, don’t hesitate to contact me via my contact form or the comments section to let me know what you think or if you have any questions.
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