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6 Ways to Learn English by Watching TV

Learning English is definitely not an easy thing to do. Instead of hitting those language textbooks, try out a more enjoyable alternative and turn on the TV to improve your English skills.

Turn those subtitles on — in both English and your native language

Look for English-language TV series or films with two sets of subtitles - in both your native language and in English. That way, when you’re hearing the movie characters or subjects speak, you’ll have the written subtitles to help you connect speaking to writing, and the translation into your language. Be sure to pause and write down any new sentences in a separate notebook and look back to them later on.

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Watch series that are fun or educational

Learning English is much easier and enjoyable when you learning about a new or interesting topic in the English language instead of learning about the English language itself. Find some programs with good subtitles on any video streaming service or online TV, like Tubi, Retrovision or Free Movies Cinema. If you enjoy sitcoms, then be sure to check out classic shows like Modern Family, Seinfeld, or Friends. If you enjoy cooking, then be sure to check out the Great British Baking Show. If you are at a more advanced level, then be sure to check out any BBC or National Geographic documentary on a topic of interest.

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Watch the news

Following the news on news outlets like BBC or PBS will not only allow you to practice your English, but also keep up with current events and latest news all around the world. Leave the news on and listen passively. You may not understand much at first, but the more you listen, the more you will be able to recognize new words.

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Turn on the TV before going to sleep or taking a nap

After a long day of work, you might not have time to watch any TV until late at night. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. According to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, scheduling your studying around naps improves your ability to learn. While you’re sleeping, your brain processes the information you learned earlier and helps you remember new phrases and ideas from movies or TV shows better. Just make sure not to stay up too late!

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Write down new words

Be sure to get yourself a notebook to record new words, phrases, or expressions in English. After watching the show, you can look back to this notebook and memorize these words or expressions. You can also record pronunciations of words that you hear. In English, many phrases sound different when spoken instead of written (for example, “what do you want” may sound like “whaddaya want” out loud).

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Discuss it

Watching shows at the same time as friends can help you improve your English. After watching an episode or movie, you can all discuss new expressions, changes in the plot, or information that you gathered. Discussing the TV shows or movies you watch can help you greatly improve your conversational skills while learning new ideas or new cultures.

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Yuri Nesen is a student at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C. studying Global Business, Diplomatic Studies, and Arabic. He enjoys watching animated movies, running and exploring new places, and he is a complete dessert fanatic. 


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