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 Maya Middlemiss

“I know who you are!” (Sé quién Eres)

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“I know who you are!” You’re someone too lazy to learn Spanish properly. But if I were less lazy, I wouldn’t have had to wait months to watch the second half of Sé Quién Eres, when it finally appeared on iPlayer a few weeks ago.

I know who you are

I know who you are

I am still unclear whether it was meant to be two series at all, when it ended in the summer with not so much as a cliff-hanger as dangling by a terrifying series of threads, completely unresolved – and there were suddenly no more episodes available on the Beeb. Arghh!

No spoilers coming from me here, because if you haven’t watched it then I really encourage you to do so. A tense thriller set in Barcelona, it’s full of twists and turns through ever shifting alliances and loyalties, and multiple viewpoints. Tightly plotted, with complex characters and some excellent acting, it also offers fascinating insights into the Spanish legal system (assuming it’s accurate). There are some powerful female protagonists of varying lifestages, and great supporting characters who bring depth to the storyline, against the breadth of the locations and tight camera work., I highly recommend it. We still have one episode to go, which is an epic 100-minuter we’re saving for the weekend.

I can’t imagine how long it airs on a Spanish network, with their famously endless ad breaks. But for various complicated reasons we don’t have Spanish broadcast TV presently – and from a language-learning point of view that’s clearly a drawback. Part of the reason kids acquire languages so rapidly and easily (apart from their fresh young sponge-like brains) is the way they get wholly immersed, through education and play, in a way that adults rarely experience, and watching Spanish TV is one way to recreate this. Radio is good too of course, but without the visual cues which reinforce learning and understanding.

Watching “Sé Quién Eres” on UK telly with subtitles is not quite the same thing, but it’s still helpful. It’s a way to test what you do understand, including the extent to which you get irritated when the words on the screen get slightly out of sync with the dialogue being delivered. You get to hear some slang in context, and also reasonably clear and received-pronunciation Spanish, as opposed to local conversation.

Another interesting thing for me was learning about swearing and cursing. As I have teenage daughters I ‘know’ all the words in Spanish, and also that many are used far more casually and liberally than their English equivalents – but I can hardly ask my kids to demonstrate appropriate usage in everyday domestic and business conversations. Many unexpected benefits!

So I am determined to try to make watching Spanish films and TV a regular part of my language-learning skillset. There are a great range of titles on Netflix, and I am determined to revisit some old favourites from Almodovar and del Toro.

I know they won’t make me fluent all by themselves, but when you are as lazy a student as I am, it all helps.

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