It’s easy to learn English just by being a couch potato! One of the positive side effects of learning English is that much of the world’s greatest TV shows are made in English. Most English television series are made well, with great acting and amazing special effects.
Chances are high that you are already watching American or British-made media, so why not change your hobby into a learning opportunity? TV makes for an easy experience of learning English. It can be funny, romantic, interesting, dramatic, or even scary.
Television shows might be better for you to learn English than movies because TV shows are much shorter than feature-length films. The average show lasts between 30 minutes to an hour, so it can be a fast English lesson for you!
Television shows are a great way to listen to natural English being spoken in everyday situations. You will hear new vocabulary and slang that doesn’t come in any of your ESL textbooks.
Depending on how adventurous you are, you can expose yourself to different English accents. Many shows have British or American accents, but they also have different regional accents as well. The more you listen, the better you will be at understanding all English speakers from around the globe.
5 Easy Ways to Learn English from TV
1. Make it a Social Event
It’s easy to learn English if you turn solo watching into a group activity. Watch something with friends who are either learning English or who already know English.
Talk about what you are watching before, during, or after the show. However, to make your learning more complete, try to focus your speaking on the grammar you need to use.
Consider these ideas to help you focus your conversations.
- Use the future tense verbs to predict upcoming events in the episode.
- Use the past tense to review what happened in the last episode.
- Use modals to give advice and to share what you think the characters must do in order to be successful.
- Use conversational English phrases such as, In my opinion… or I think that… to share your opinion.
- Use conversational phrases like, What do you think? or What’s your take? to ask for the opinion of others.
- Use the imperative to declare what you think the characters should do.
- Use the present continuous to discuss the action that is happening right now.
- Use common English conversational phrases such as, Oh man! or That’s cool! to react to things you see on the TV.
- Use the present simple to point out the habits and repeated behavior of characters.
- Use the past tense to talk about what happened in the episode.
- Use the future tense to predict what will happen next.
- Use modals to discuss what the characters should do or what they should have done differently.
- Use use to/used to to talk about how the characters have changed since the show started.
- Use causatives to talk about what the clever characters got others to do.
Don’t have anyone close to you to watch TV with? No problem! Use Skype to call up a buddy who wants to talk about your favorite television show. You can either watch the show together or talk online after you view the newest episode.
2. Meet Other Fans Online
Learn English easily by joining a forum. Many popular TV shows have forums or online fan clubs. Usually you can find these fan sites on the network’s main website where the show runs.
Find a website where other fans participate in discussions about the show and join in. Consider this a free way to practice your English reading and writing! Be ready to see a lot of language that’s new to you. These forums are written informally and by people from all over the world.
Here, you can learn new phrases and words that will help you speak like a native. However, be careful. Yes, you can learn English from these forums, but you shouldn’t believe that everything on there is correct.
You will not be the only ESL writer on those forums. That means other writers might make mistakes or use a phrase incorrectly. If you see something that makes you curious, write it down and ask your teacher about it.
3. Become the Actors
Use short scenes in a great TV show to practice your English speaking and listening. Take a scene you love and act it out. Try to speak at the same pace as the actors. Try to sound like them as well. See how naturally you can speak like the native English speakers on the television.
4. Read While you Watch
Subtitles are an amazingly easy way to learn English while watching TV.
Mix up the combinations so that you are listening in English and reading subtitles in your native language.
The next time you watch, flip it around. Listen in your native language and read in English. Eventually, you can work your way up to an English/English combination and really watch your language learning soar!
5. Take Notes
Keep your English notebook nearby when you watch TV. Each time you hear a word, joke, or phrase that confuses you; write it down. Likewise, you can write down things you understand but you want to learn more about.
Use your notes to study English so that you can speak more naturally. Think of your TV notes as a fun and personal lesson for language that you can use with native speakers.
No one said that learning English is easy. In fact, studying English can be quite difficult at times. Make it easier to learn English by using creative TV shows you love. All you have to do is sit back on your cozy sofa and watch away as the English drifts over you!
Be sure to involve yourself in the watching experience. Talk about the show and share your thoughts about the show with other fans. This is basically what you’re already doing, but doing all of these things in English can really help your language skills improve.