Fun and Effective Way To Use TV Shows For Language Learning
By Geralde Vincent-Bancroft
Learning a new language through entertainment is an enjoyable and effective way to develop language skills. Watching TV shows in a foreign language is a great way to immerse yourself in and become more comfortable with it.
However, this approach comes with its own challenges. Here are some best practices to follow when incorporating TV into the language learning process.
Selection of TV shows for language learning
Start by selecting TV shows that align with your language level. For beginners, it’s important to choose programs which include casual dialogue in daily situations, such as comedies often called “sitcoms”.
Similarly, for intermediate learners, documentaries on familiar topics like animals, foods or travel can be good choices.
Advanced learners can consider more specialised or complex types of programs like news or politics-related series to gain insights on current events or debates in the specific culture.
It is also essential to use subtitles as an aid to learning, but not to rely solely on them. For instance, viewers might start with subtitles in their native language then slowly phase them out. They can then use subtitles in the target language, when their understanding and comprehension becomes more secure.
This gradual approach will help learners get familiar with the accents, vocabulary and pace of words spoken in the target language, while still allowing them to remain engaged by understanding the plot and character interactions.
Here are some strategies and tips for actively learning from TV shows:
- Choose a show that aligns with your interests and educational goals. This will help you stay engaged with the content and make the learning experience more fulfilling.
- Engage fully with the show by taking notes, asking questions and discussing the content with others. This will help you retain information and encourage critical thinking.
- Analyse the show’s themes, characters, and settings. This will allow you to develop a deeper understanding of the show and the culture it represents.
- Use online resources to supplement your learning. Many shows have companion websites or fan communities that provide additional background information and perspectives on the show.
- Practise active listening and note-taking while watching the show. This helps you zero in on significant details and new vocabulary and expressions that you can quickly recall later to enhance understanding and develop better retention.
- Watch with subtitles, which allow you to see and hear the language more clearly. This way, you will be able to pick up on nuances in accent and pronunciation, colloquial language, and such common expressions.
- Once again, choose shows that align with your proficiency level. Beginners may want to start with shows appropriate for children.
Advanced learners may opt for political, legal thrillers or news programs to gain exposure to expert jargon, language usage in professional contexts, and expert opinions.
Some TV shows that provide both compelling educational content and entertaining viewing include National Geographic documentaries, Cosmos and Planet Earth for science and nature fans, The Tudors and The Crown for British history fans, and The Handmaid’s Tale and The Westworld that explore the complexities of modern-day society. Also Money Heist for Spanish and My Brilliant Friend for Italian.
By following these tips, TV shows can be a valuable resource and tool for active learning, offering insightful learning beyond the traditional classroom setting.
Setting achievable goals
Further tips to make the most out of this approach include setting achievable goals such as a certain amount of practice every day, ideally in chunks of 20-30 minutes.
Language learning apps can also add value to watching TV by providing extra language learning features and resources like flashcards, vocab lists and captions in addition to the educational content related to the TV show.
Actively learn while watching by taking notes on new vocabulary, phrases, topics or cultural references, then practise reproducing them through conversations, writing exercises or personal flashcards outside of the TV context.
By following these steps and tips, language learners can incorporate TV watching into their language study routine, making learning a new language an enjoyable and entertaining experience.
Use Apps To complement TV Shows
The growing market for mobile apps has presented new opportunities for those seeking to enhance their TV-watching experience. Here, we take a closer look at some of the standout apps that can help take your TV-watching experience to the next level.
- Quizlet– is a simple learning tools that let you study anything. Start learning vocabulary and phrases with flashcards, games and expert-written solutions.
- Duolingo – This is an excellent app for individuals looking to learn a new language. With Duolingo, you can learn at your own pace by completing interactive lessons, quizzes, and puzzles.
- Skillshare – This app is designed for those who want to learn more about various skills, crafts, or hobbies. The platform offers a range of expert-led classes on such topics.
- TV Time – This app helps you keep track of your favourite TV shows and where you left off each episode. It has a social feature that enables you to discuss your favourite shows with other viewers.
- Yidio – An app that helps you find shows and movies that are available to stream across multiple platforms. Users can also create watchlists and set up notifications for new releases.
These apps can be used in conjunction with TV-watching activities to create a more immersive learning experience.
Here are some examples of how they might achieve this:
- Use Quizlet to test your knowledge of your new acquired vocabulary.
- Use Duolingo to learn the language spoken in a specific show before watching. This way you pick up on and understand nuances and differences in accent better.
- Use Skillshare to learn skills that are relevant to the subject matter of the show, such as cooking or interior decoration skills to complement a cooking show, or history classes to support a historical period drama series.
- Use TV Time to keep track of the shows you’re watching, learn about upcoming series and see how others reacted to specific episodes.
- Use Yidio to find related shows or related content that provide additional information or seasonal specials on a particular topic or subject that piques your interest.
With many more learning apps being developed at the moment, it’s exciting to imagine what the future holds for TV-watching learning experiences.
Watching TV shows can be an excellent way for language learners to improve their language skills. By immersing themselves in the language, learners can better understand the nuances of pronunciation, vocabulary, and sentence structure.
TV shows provide a unique opportunity to hear the language spoken naturally, allowing learners to practise their listening skills in a fun and engaging way
. Additionally, TV shows can help learners develop cultural understanding and knowledge, providing valuable context that goes beyond just language learning.
By utilising apps and other tools, learners can enhance their TV-watching experience and deepen their language immersion further.
Therefore, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, watching TV shows can be a highly effective way to improve your language skills, while still being entertained.