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Monday, June 1, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Foreign-language shows, films on Netflix can boost vocabulary

“Money Heist” (Netflix)
“Money Heist” (Netflix)

With more time at home than ever, new hobbies and habits are popping up all over. One of those hobbies, for this journalist at least, is language learning. Whether you use Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta Stone or any other app-based language learning program, it’s always exciting to find new ways of testing your vocab memory.

Luckily, if you’re looking for a challenge, the Netflix library features a large number of foreign-language TV shows and films. Many of them automatically switch to English audio when available, but if you set the audio back to the show of your choice’s original language and turn on English subtitles, you’ve got yourself a fun study tool. Warning: None of the shows listed below are family-friendly.

‘Money Heist’

This Spanish series has been on Netflix’s Top 10 list for weeks. A mysterious “professor” (Álvaro Morte) offers noted fugitive Silene Oliveira, aka “Tokyo” (Úrsula Corberó), the chance to help him pull off an absurdly lucrative and dangerous double heist. If all goes according to plan, the professor’s enigmatic band of nothing-left-to-losers could walk away with 2.4 billion euros. If you have already finished “Money Heist,” there are plenty of other Spanish series like “Cable Girls” and English series with intermittent use of Spanish like “Jane the Virgin” to keep you occupied. You’ll still hear plenty of Spanish spoken in this show, but it is primarily written in English.


This multicultural anthology series follows detectives in France, Germany, U.K. and Spain as they solve cases in interrogation rooms. Suspects are put through the wringer as these skilled questioners catch them out one by one. There are 12 episodes in total – three for each country filmed in their respective local languages.

‘Babylon Berlin’

Set in Germany between the first and second world wars, “Babylon Berlin” follows detective Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch) and Charlotte Ritter (Liv Lisa Fries), a witty nightclub girl who stumbles into helping him as they uncover a string of crimes leading to the theft of a train full of stolen gold headed for a group of radicals.

‘Call My Agent!’

Andrea, Mathias, Gabriel and Arlette, a group of French talent agents, struggle to keep their volatile clients happy and working while personal and professional catastrophes lurk around every corner. Watch the first episode; the trailer does not do it justice.

‘The Rain’

Danish siblings Simone and Rasmus are forced underground by the same deadly virus-carrying rains that killed their parents. Years later, as emergency rations and oxygen scrubbers start to fail inside their bunker, the two must brave the outside world and the survivors who remain above.

‘Suburra: Blood on Rome’

A multipart prequel to the 2015 Italian film “Suburra,” “Suburra: Blood on Rome” follows rival gangs as they vie for territory in the seedy underworld of Rome. Loosely based on the events of the Mafia Capitale investigation, the series deals with the dangerous conflict between proliferators of organized crime, politicians and even church authorities.

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