Shayan Carlson is freelance blogger and marketing enthusiast who loves to write about education, lifestyle and travel the world. He’s currently writing for this blog.
There is a general concept that watching television in a foreign language helps you develop a basic knowledge of the language in question. And that’s completely true. In a lot of countries, cinemas and tv channels are showing films and programs in original language with subtitles instead of dubbing them. There are a lot of studies that show how different age groups improve their English skills by simply watching TV. Of course, this scientific fact will come as a pleasure to many English and American TV show fans who are trying to improve their spoken English.
Watching sitcoms, in particular, is a fun, quick, and relatively easy way to master your English skills. Especially, if you enjoy the show anyway. Understanding the struggles, humor, emotions and hardships of the people playing their roles is the key to digesting and catching the basic learning curves of language.
In 21st century, the best way to learn English is online. The best advice I can give you is to get a Netflix account if you still don’t have one. This list includes some of the top-notch shows that can cheer you up and boost your English skills in the process.
Friends was a television sitcom aired from 1994 to 2004. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, this show is an undeniable sitcom classic. Each new episode is easy to understand because it reflects the struggles of people in their mid and late 20s. The characters are struggling with their jobs and relationships – and most adult viewers can easily relate to that. Even though some of the pop-culture jokes of the period can be a bit incomprehensive these days, and the characters’ cell phones and laptops will look like artifacts, the spoken English is still relevant and easy to comprehend.
Dallas was an American prime time soap opera (on air between 1978 and 1991), starring Barbara Bel Geddes, Jim Davis, Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, Larry Hagman, Steve Kanaly and others. The show is not remembered today like it was in 1991 but people in other countries, especially in the former Soviet republics, learned basic English skills from that show. It had a huge impact upon global television, too.
How I Met Your Mother is an American sitcom that aired from 2005 till 2014. It was the spiritual successor to Friends in every single way. The new generation of people outside of English-speaking nations had been mesmerized by the life of the actors: Neil Patrick Harris, Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan and Coby Smulders. The story was captivating and fun to watch, even though the plot features some sad moments, too. China, North Korea, and the Filipinas love the show so much that people still wear T-shirts with How I Met Your Mother Characters.
Game of Thrones is an American fantasy drama that started off in 2011 and will end in 2018. Starring lots of British and American actors, the show (as well as Martin’s books) is popular all over the globe. Despite its medieval setting, the show is perfect for learning spoken (sometimes, even vulgar) English. Another perk of mastering English as you watch the Game of Thrones is growing accustomed to the different English accents – and yes, there are plenty.
House of Cards is an American political drama, starring Kevin Spacey. It’s a web TV show, so anyone with Internet connection can watch it. That theme is power; every culture, nation, and ethnicity understand the concept of power and how people are willing to do anything for it.
Now, if you’re a beginner, this show will be a little challenging since it has a lot of political terminology, but you can always rely on subtitles. You should watch House of Cards not only to learn English, but also just to experience its aesthetics and cinematography.
In conclusion, the act of watching television on any device has the potential to improve the viewer’s’ understanding of the English language. The first thing people develop is the passive vocabulary, which means that a person can understand the language but is not capable of communicating the same words or phrases. If the learner persists, his/her passive vocabulary can become active – that is, the person will be able to reproduce the words and phrases freely, without extra thought or effort. And that is the ultimate goal of any English learner!
From the editor: I’d like to add a recent favorite of mine, Stranger Things, to the amazing list of suggestions already given by Shayan! It’s a sci-fi thriller which means it has a few complicated words here and there, but in general, it’s great material for learning, and it also provides a glimpse into a genre of TV and literature that is very well loved in the US.
Is there any other TV show you’d like to recommend to English learners? Or shows in other languages? Leave your thoughts in the comments!