Inside: Hispanic Heritage Movies. Resources for teaching the movies in Spanish class, in particular for Latinx Heritage Month. Appropriate films in Spanish to use in school.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and honor the rich and diverse culture of the Spanish-speaking community. From September 15 to October 15, people across the United States honor the contributions and accomplishments of Hispanic individuals. I know as a Spanish teacher you are teaching about Latinx people all year, but this can be an extra special focus at the start of the school year. One of my favorite ways to specifically celebrate Hispanic culture in Spanish class is through film.
If you are a long-time Mis Clases Locas reader, you know I love sharing culture-rich movies for Spanish class. In particular, I enjoy posting about appropriate films that can be used in all levels of Spanish class like 15 Appropriate Movies for Spanish class & Spanish Class Documentaries. I know it can be a lot to wade through long lists, so in this post, I will just keep it to 6 movies to watch during Hispanic Heritage Month in Spanish class.
If you can not show a full-length film, check out the Top 7 Short Spanish Movies on Disney+. There are more ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month in this blog post. Plus if you prefer to celebrate with music, check out my Hispanic Heritage Month Music Bracket.
6 movies to watch during Hispanic Heritage Month in Spanish class
A Million Miles Away (2023)
The newest film on this list, A Million Miles Away is a perfect film for Hispanic Heritage Month in Spanish class. This biopic follows the real story of the first migrant farm worker to become an astronaut, Mexican-American José Hernández. It is an Amazon Prime Video film. A Million Miles Away is rated PG, but due to some scary moments and social drinking, I would use it in middle school on up. It is an appropriate, feel-good film that also tackles discrimination, assimilation, and the Mexican-American experience.
- A Million Miles Away blog post with lots of authentic resources about José Hernández
- A Million Miles Away Movie Guide Questions in my shop
- The same A Million Miles Away guide on TPT.
- Watch A Million Miles Away with Amazon Prime*
I decided this list needed at least one animated movie to be able to fit all age groups, so Vivo it is. Since Hispanic Heritage Month specifically celebrates Spanish speakers in the US, a film set in both South Florida and Cuba with a Latinx cast is perfect. The film Vivo has a positive Afro-Latinx representation, which also makes it great for Black History Month. Vivo has great music, including songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Gloria Estefan. Plus, the songs even change to Spanish if you change the Netflix audio! It is rumored to be based on the life of that fabulous Celia Cruz. Vivo is PG and animated, so it would work well for elementary all the way to high school.
Additionally, Selena is the oldest movie on this list, but one of my personal favorites. I owned this movie on DVD far before I was even a Spanish teacher. You can still get the DVD for a deal or rent it for free from your public library. It is based on the real-life story of the late musical artist Selena Quintanilla Perez. Selena is an absolutely perfect fit for Hispanic Heritage Month in Spanish class with themes of the Mexican-American experience. Plus, Selena could have many ties to a family or music unit. The movie Selena is PG, but due to her outfits and romantic elements, I would use it in middle school and older.
- Selena in Spanish Class blog post
- Selena guide on MCL
- guide on TPT
- Watch Selena with Amazon Prime or Buy DVD
The documentary Ballplayer or Pelotero is set in the Dominican Republic & follows the story of 2 teen prospects for the MLB. It has tons of Afro-Latinx representation & pairs well with the book Felipe Alou. I personally used the movie Pelotero for years, and my high school students (especially sports fans) loved it. It is a nice real-people option that appeals to the hard-to-please boys. Pelotero is not rated, but I would say it is PG, with a couple of swear words. While the documentary is not specifically filmed in the US, many of the real people in the movie are Spanish-speaking from the US. It is also the shortest option on the list, only 1 hour & 17 minutes.
Dora y la ciudad perdida (2019)
Next is a lesser-known movie for Spanish class Hispanic Heritage Month. The newer live-action movie Dora and the Lost City of Gold or Dora y la ciudad perdida is a family-friendly adventure. It goes great for students who were fans of classic Dora. The live-action Dora movie is set both in the US, as well as Peru. Besides working for Latinx Heritage Month, you could tie into the movie’s themes of family, the environment, and indigenous cultures in South America. Dora y la ciudad perdida would work in upper elementary on up.
Set in both the US and Mexico, Chupa is a live-action, family-friendly take on the legendary Chupacabras. Chupa is a Netflix original film that despite its questionable choice of a name, is a super cute and appropriate movie. (My own 7&9 year old boys enjoyed the film). A boy goes to stay with ex-luchador Grandpa and his cousins in Mexico and meets a new friend. Chupa has a positive representation of Mexico and being Mexican-American, great for Hispanic Heritage Month. You could also, pair Chupa with a lucha libre or legends unit. A great film for spooky season and beyond.
- Chupa in Spanish Class blog post
- Chupa movie guide in my website store
- Chupa movie questions on TPT.
Hispanic Heritage Movies – What audio, subtitles & guide should I use?
For the films that I have the DVDs, they have options for both English and Spanish audio, as well as English and Spanish subtitles. Be careful that many rented digital versions just have English. Always double-check audio and subtitle availability before purchasing films online.
Here is how I typically used the movies above in my Spanish classes. Please do whatever works best for you and your students to meet them where they are at.
- Upper-level Spanish – Spanish audio with Spanish subtitles. Spanish version of the guide.
- (pre-teaching and pausing to discuss and check for comprehension)
- Spanish 2 – Spanish audio. English version of the guide to check for comprehension.
- (English subtitles if with a sub or very early in the year, Spanish subtitles if watching with me pre-teaching and pausing to discuss)
- Spanish 1 – Spanish audio with English subtitles. English version of the guide.
- Exploratory – English audio with English subtitles. English version of the guide.
- (Using as a tool to discuss culture and Latinx Heritage Month in Spanish).
Hispanic Heritage Movie Alternatives
If for some reason you need an alternative to the film above, here are some ideas.
- Tierra Incógnita – a spooky show for October Halloween – shorter each about 30-40 minutes
- Spanish Spanish Speaking Countries – 22 short videos if you need something shorter
- Spanish Class Documentaries – plus a freebie
- 15 Appropriate movies for Spanish class – all my top appropriate suggestions
- Editable Movie Guide Bundle for Spanish Class Culture Authentic Listening
- My Movie Guide Bundle on TPT
More Hispanic Heritage Resources for Spanish Class
To expand this movie into a deeper exploration of Día de los Muertos, check out the resources below.
- Hispanic Heritage Month in Spanish class
- Hispanic Heritage Month Music Bracket
- Hispanic Heritage Month Spanish Music Bracket #8 NEW for 2023
- NEW Spanish Culture martes del mapa 23 all Spanish Speaking Countries
- If you want to also teach about Día de Muertos, grab the Coco freebie below
These are just a few of my favorite movies for Spanish class to celebrate Hispanic culture during Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond Do you have any other recommendations? Share them with us in the comments below!
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