Locked Up (Vis a Vis): Learn Spanish with Netflix Series

Are you a fan of foreign language shows on Netflix? If so, you may have come across "Locked Up," also known as "Vis a Vis." This popular Spanish drama series offers a gripping storyline set in a women's prison, providing viewers with an immersive experience while also presenting an opportunity to learn Spanish slang and colloquial expressions. In this article, we will explore some of the key scenes from "Locked Up" and break down the Spanish phrases used, helping you upgrade your Spanish skills to another level. Also, we'll provide you with a list of the most used keywords to catapult your Spanish skills to another level.

Table of Contents

  1. How to learn Spanish with Netflix Shows
  2. 4 reasons why you should watch Locked Up
  3. Exploring Spanish slang with Locked up
  4. Emphasizing Context and Appropriate Usage
  5. Conclusion

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How to Learn Spanish with Netflix shows:

If you're looking to learn Spanish with Netflix, focusing on beginner and intermediate levels can be a great starting point. While watching the series Vis a Vis, it's a good idea to create flashcards for interesting words you encounter. This show offers plenty of conversational Spanish, presenting countless opportunities to expand your vocabulary. By incorporating these words into your daily usage, you'll be able to sound more authentic when speaking Spanish.

To further enhance your language learning, consider finding a language exchange partner in real life or online with whom you can discuss the show and practice speaking Spanish. Engaging in conversations with individuals from Spanish-speaking countries will significantly improve your conversational skills. Regular practice with native speakers will allow you to develop an authentic accent and become familiar with Spanish words commonly used by native speakers from Spain or Latin America.

Another useful method is to engage with online episode reviews written in Spanish. By reading these reviews, you can deepen your understanding of the show while simultaneously gaining high-quality and relevant reading practice. To practice your writing skills, you might even consider writing your own reviews or plot summaries. This activity will not only improve your ability to express yourself in writing but also reinforce your comprehension of the show.

By combining these strategies—creating flashcards, engaging in language exchanges, and interacting with Spanish-language reviews—you can maximize your learning experience while enjoying the captivating series Vis a Vis (Locked Up).

With the Lingopie's Netflix extension, you can enable subtitles in Spanish to follow along with the dialogue more closely, reinforcing your comprehension skills. Lingopie, on the other hand, offers a vast library of Spanish TV shows and movies with dual subtitles, allowing you to read and listen to the content simultaneously. This immersion in authentic Spanish slang and colloquial expressions will greatly enrich your understanding of the language and help you communicate more naturally.

4 reasons why should you watch Locked up

The gritty and compelling world of the hit Netflix series "Vis a Vis" (known as "Locked Up" in English) captivates viewers with its intense storytelling and complex characters. One aspect that adds an extra layer of authenticity to the show is the distinct slang and curse words used by the characters. This blog post dives into the characteristics of the slang and profanity employed in "Vis a Vis," shedding light on how they contribute to the show's raw and immersive atmosphere. So here is why you should watch Locked Up if you are in search of Spanish series for language learning purposes:

  1. Vernacular Realism: "Vis a Vis" prides itself on presenting a realistic depiction of life in a Spanish prison, and the show's use of slang is a testament to its commitment to authenticity. The characters' vocabulary reflects the language spoken by inmates in Spanish correctional facilities. This vernacular realism not only enhances the credibility of the storyline but also helps transport viewers into the harsh and unforgiving world behind bars.
  2. Cultural Significance: The series delves into the cultural fabric of Spanish society, and the use of slang and curse words provides a glimpse into the subcultures and social dynamics within the prison walls. The language used by the characters reflects their backgrounds, affiliations, and unique identities. Whether it's the street slang of the younger inmates or the seasoned expressions of the long-term prisoners, the language paints a vivid picture of the diverse personalities and experiences found in the show.
  3. Emotional Intensity: Prisons are high-stress environments, and the language used by the characters mirrors the raw emotions and intense situations they face. Profanity is utilized to convey frustration, anger, and desperation, highlighting the characters' struggle to survive in a hostile environment. These expletives serve as linguistic outlets for the characters, enabling them to vent their frustrations and assert their power in a world where control is often elusive.
  4. Character Development: The slang and curse words in "Vis a Vis" not only shape the overall atmosphere but also contribute to the development of individual characters. The specific expressions they use and the way they employ them provide insights into their personalities, relationships, and motivations. The unique language choices help distinguish one character from another, adding depth and complexity to their portrayal and allowing viewers to forge a connection with them on a deeper level.

The employment of slang and curse words in "Vis a Vis" serves multiple purposes beyond simple shock value. By incorporating authentic prison jargon, the series achieves a heightened level of realism and cultural significance. Language becomes a powerful tool to convey emotions, build characters, and immerse viewers into the harsh world of incarceration. So, as you watch "Vis a Vis," pay attention to the linguistic tapestry woven by the characters, for it adds an extra layer of authenticity to this gripping and unforgettable series.


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Exploring Spanish Slang with Locked Up

In the first episode of "Locked Up," we are introduced to a scene where prisoners from Cruz Del Sur are being interviewed by a documentary crew. These interviews aim to showcase the daily lives of the inmates and provide insights into the realities of life in a women's prison. During these interviews, we witness prisoners sharing their stories and perspectives.

Let's delve into some of the phrases used in this scene that will introduce you to Spanish slang and colloquial expressions. For example, one woman uses a rude and imperative phrase, "¡Habla ya!" which translates to "Stop talking!" or "Stop making noise!" The addition of the word "coño" at the end emphasizes frustration, similar to the English word "damn" or "damn it."

Another prisoner shares a story about finding her cousin engaging in inappropriate behavior with her daughter. The phrase "liándola" in this context refers to flirting or engaging in sexual activity in a vulgar or inappropriate manner. A colloquial translation could be "I started hitting him" or "I beat him up."

Unveiling Spanish Expressions and Spanish prison vocabulary

Continuing with the scene breakdown, another prisoner tells her story, using the phrase "Nos pillaron," which translates to "We got caught" or "We got busted." The verb "pillar" means "to catch" or "to get," and it is conjugated in the first person plural present tense, "pillamos."

Additionally, we encounter the word "lio" again, which can mean a mess or chaos. Here, "lio de cojones" implies a chaotic or troublesome situation. The term "flipar" is an informal expression meaning "to be amazed" or "to be blown away." Altogether, the phrase "¡Flipas con lo que pasó!" can be translated as "You wouldn't believe what happened!"

Lastly, we come across the term "cacheo", derived from the verb "cachear," which means "to frisk" or "to search." It refers to a police search where officers physically search a person for illegal items. For instance, "Me cachean siempre en la aduana" translates to "They always frisk me at Customs."

Here's a vocabulary list of interesting words used in the Netflix series "Locked Up" (original title: "Vis a Vis"):

  1. Presa - In Spanish, "presa" means prisoner or inmate. It's a term commonly used in the series.
  2. Carcelera - Another Spanish term, "carcelera" refers to a woman who has spent a long time in prison or has a deep knowledge of prison life.
  3. Zulo - A "zulo" is a hidden or underground cell used to detain or hide someone.
  4. Celda - Meaning cell, "celda" is frequently mentioned in the series to refer to the small living quarters of the prisoners.
  5. Galera - In prison slang, "galera" is used to describe the collective group of inmates or the prison community.
  6. Chivatazo - Derived from the verb "chivar," which means to inform or snitch, "chivatazo" refers to a tip-off or an act of informing on someone.
  7. Jefa - The Spanish term for boss or leader, "jefa" is often used to refer to the top-ranking inmate in a prison block.
  8. Pintas - "Pintas" are tattoos, particularly those made by inmates in prison using makeshift tools.
  9. Mangar - In prison lingo, "mangar" means to steal or rob, often used to describe thefts committed within the prison.
  10. Enchufe - Derived from the verb "enchufar," which means to plug in or connect, "enchufe" is used to describe a favor or special treatment granted to an inmate by someone in a position of power.
  11. Mula - The term "mula" means a drug mule, someone who transports drugs internally or on their person.
  12. Capi - An abbreviation of the word "capitán," which means captain, "capi" is used to refer to a higher-ranking prison officer.
  13. Vis a Vis - The original title of the series, "Vis a Vis" is a Spanish term that translates to "face to face" and is often used to refer to a private meeting between an inmate and a visitor.
  14. Triki - In prison jargon, "triki" is slang for drugs or narcotics.
  15. Maco - A term used to describe someone who is tough or strong, often used to refer to an intimidating inmate.

Note: "Locked Up" is a Spanish television series, so many of the words are Spanish terms or prison slang used in Spain.

Emphasizing Context and Appropriate Usage

While slang words can add personality to your speech, it is crucial to use them appropriately and consider the context. Learning the meanings of these words within the specific scenes helps you understand their usage better and facilitates memorization.

Lingopie, an excellent language learning platform, allows you to learn Spanish by watching TV shows and movies in the language. By turning your favorite Netflix shows into language learning lessons, you can enjoy binge-watching while improving your language skills. With clickable subtitles for instant translations, vocabulary lists, flashcards, quizzes, and adjustable playback speeds, Lingopie offers a comprehensive learning experience.


In conclusion, "Locked Up" (Vis a Vis) presents a fantastic opportunity to not only enjoy a gripping drama series but also to enhance your Spanish language skills by exploring slang and colloquial expressions. By dissecting key scenes and phrases from the show, you can expand your vocabulary and improve your understanding of informal Spanish.

It's important to remember that while slang can be fun and add personality to your communication, it should be used appropriately and in the right context. Understanding the meanings of these words within the scenes of "Locked Up" will help you use them more effectively and remember them better.

We'd like to finish up with an iconic line from the show:

"Si nosotras caemos, nos levantamos. Si nosotras nos equivocamos, aprendemos. Si nosotras lloramos, sonreímos. Si nosotras nos callamos, gritamos. Si nosotras dudamos, confiamos. Si nosotras nos vamos, volvemos. Si nosotras morimos, vivimos." (Macarena Ferreiro)

Translation: "If we fall, we get up. If we make mistakes, we learn. If we cry, we smile. If we stay silent, we shout. If we doubt, we trust. If we leave, we come back. If we die, we live."

Platforms like Lingopie provide a unique way to learn Spanish by incorporating TV shows and movies into language lessons. With features such as clickable subtitles, vocabulary lists, and interactive learning tools, you can turn your Netflix binge-watching sessions into valuable language learning opportunities.

So, if you're looking to take your Spanish skills to the next level while enjoying captivating storytelling, why not dive into "Locked Up" (Vis a Vis) and explore the world of Spanish slang and colloquial expressions? With dedication and practice, you'll soon be speaking like a native and unlocking a whole new level of language proficiency.

Remember, ¡Hasta la vista! See you next time as you embark on this exciting journey to master Spanish with the help of Lingopie and the immersive world of "Locked Up." ¡Adiós!

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