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  • Writer's pictureA. Gulvin Translation

Learn English by Watching TV

Updated: May 29, 2018

The most important thing about watching a TV show or a movie to learn a language is that you don't do it passively. That is, you need to interact with the show in order to get some benefit (to your language skills) from it!

I recommend using a TV show and not movies to get going, since hearing the same characters over and over again means your brain can get used to how people speak and then focus on the language itself rather than continually trying to get used to new people and voices.

Tip 1: Start SIMPLE

The best thing to start with if your language ability isn't too hot, is children's TV. When I was learning Chinese, I watched 'The Smurfs' in Chinese. The great thing about kids' shows is that they use simple but interesting language so you can really learn lots of useful everyday phrases. There is also usually lots of repetition - perfect for learning new words!

Tip 2: Subtitles

If you're struggling, and the show offers the capability, try having the subtitles on in English underneath for the first few episodes while you get to know the characters and general situation.

Watch out though, because sometimes the subtitles don't match the exact words the characters are saying. This can be a benefit as it offers you another way of saying the same thing, but it can also be a bit confusing!

If you're really struggling, try turning on the subtitles in your own language. Be careful not to tune out though! You must keep on listening to the English speech too!

Tip 3: Entertainment

I recommend you choosing the same genre or type of show that you'd normally watch in your own language. If you find it interesting, you're much more likely to perseverewhen the going gets tough.

Tip 4: Take Notes

Take notes of anything you don't understand or haven't heard before so you can look it up in a dictionary later on. The great thing about TV shows is they often use the same phrases again and again, so once you know the meaning it will be reinforced every time you watch the show. It's also a good idea to take notes of phrases or words you did understand, but that you'd like to start using yourself. This helps to increase your active language.

Happy watching!

What's your favourite English-speaking TV Show? Why do you like it so much? Do you prefer comedy or drama? Leave your comments below!

Handy Resource: Yabla Player

If you enjoy watching videos, try YABLA. Yabla English is an online video magazine for language learners who wish to improve their English skills. Authentic English videos include television programs, music videos, interviews, documentaries, and travel. Yabla English offers captions in multiple languages, pitch-correct slow play, integrated dictionaries and listening exercises.

BEFORE YOU GO... check out the English bytes from today's post:

  • passively: to do something without fully interacting with it/actively engaging with it e.g. I thought I was learning passively by listening to the teacher but if I had taken notes I would have remembered a lot more for the exam.

  • match: resembles or corresponds to something else e.g. I can't find any matching socks!

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