Spain’s Antena 3’s El Internado: La Laguna Negra will no longer be available on Netflix as of August 1, 2018. The show, which ran from 2007 to 2010, has played a prominent role in many CI classrooms in the past several years.
We’re left with two options: a.) discontinue using El Internado or, b.) purchase the DVD set and continue using the show as before. In my opinion, the show is too captivating and we have put in too many hours creating great supplemental resources to stop using it.
Why This Might Not Be So Bad
Netflix’s decision to pull the show is a two-edged sword. It’s unfortunate any time that such a compelling resource becomes unavailable to a motivated student who wants extra input outside of class.
I’ve always been ambivalent about students watching ahead. For the majority of those who watch ahead, it’s beneficial since they can focus more on the language because they’re not expending mental bandwidth processing what’s happening on the screen.
With that being said, I have experienced several problems when kids realize that the show is on Netflix. First, some students who watch ahead get bored when we watch it in class, especially when I really slow down to explain scenes that feature a lot of incomprehensible language that is critical to the plot. Second, some kids just aren’t good about not spoiling things. Paula’s eyes lighting up at the end of Episode 3 as she stares at her bedroom ceiling just wouldn’t be the same if you knew it was coming, now would it? Finally, some students unfortunately pay less attention to it than they would otherwise because they know they can catch up on what they missed anytime they want to at home.
I’m not going to lie, I like being in control of pacing the show and being the “gatekeeper.” I traditionally showed it for part of class on Fridays provided we got everything done from earlier in the week. El Internado was a “carrot” that would be there for them on Friday if they had a good week (which they almost always did).
Why You Should Buy the DVD Set
Even though its first episode hit Spanish TV over a decade ago, it will be awhile until El Internado starts to feel dated (the characters’ flip phones might be the first domino to fall…) While the complete series DVD set runs around $195, you need to keep in mind just how much content (7 seasons of episodes that are 70+ minutes each) you’re getting for that price. If you used the show for 45 minutes once a week (including viewing time and discussion), how much was your cumulative saved planning time worth by the end of the semester? This isn’t even including the increased student buy-in that you are going to kindle from the first day you watch it.
There are subtitles on the official DVD box set, however they are only in Spanish, whereas you could change them to English on Netflix. This shouldn’t affect how you would use the show in class since we want to keep the input in the target language 90% or higher of the time.
Talk to your administrators about having the school purchase the DVD set now before school starts. Authentic boxed sets of older overseas shows like this tend to be produced in very limited runs. I predict that it will be sold out a few months into school as everyone realizes that it’s no longer on Netflix. Be an ant, not a grasshopper!
Don’t waste your time with the bootlegged boxed sets on eBay. While I’m no fan of how Antena 3 has treated educators in the U.S. who created resources for El Internado (and consequently put Antena 3 on the map in the Spanish teaching community here), as professionals we don’t want to support piracy. Non-original DVDs also tend to be poorly edited, feature lower resolutions, and lack subtitles.
What You Need to Know About DVD Regions
DVD region codes allow copyright holders to control international distribution of their content. For example, a film studio doesn’t want consumers in Japan to be able to watch a DVD from the United States of a movie that is still in Japanese theaters and vice versa. The U.S., U.S. Territories, and Canada use Region 1. Europe, along with several other countries and zones, uses Region 2, and so on.
Fortunately there are now region-free DVD players available that ignore region coding and will play all DVDs. This LG region-free DVD player upscales non-HD content and ships free with Amazon Prime.
Back when I was in Mérida, México for my undergraduate study abroad program, I remember calling the Blockbuster movie store on the phone (now there’s a sentence that will make you feel old!) to ask them about the region codes on their DVDs. I ended up switching the region on my laptop’s DVD drive to Region 4 for the duration of my stay. This is an option if you don’t want to buy a separate player, but beware that most optical drives on PCs and Macs will only allow you to switch regions five times before it permanently stays on your most recent region setting.
While you’re here, make sure that you join the “Teaching El Internado” Facebook page that Travis Murray (another Buckeye State Spanish teacher) and I started. It’s a fun place to talk about the show, ask questions about how to use it in class, and share resources. We just added our 500th member this week.
What are you going to do for your classes this fall in light of Netflix’s decision? Leave a comment down below!
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