Can you improve your English by watching movies and TV shows? Yes, you can! In today’s English Learning Tips, let’s take a look at how to use English movies and TV shows to boost your listening skills and start to sound more like a native speaker.
Movies and TV can help English learners improve various skills, including listening comprehension, vocabulary building and even conversational skills.
When you watch a movie or TV show,
- you get to choose from a wide range of engaging materials according to your areas of interest;
- you learn from how words and expressions are used in context — real-life scenarios;
- visual elements and storylines provide clues to help you understand new words and phrases;
- you subconsciously pick up the native accent that will later help make you sound like a native speaker. Remember, how you talk is what you hear!
How to use movies or TV to effectively improve your English?
- Grab a pen, some paper, a notebook or open up an MS Word document on your computer;
- Have a dictionary handy. Learn how to choose a dictionary;
- Watch a scene without subtitles, pause, try to write down or type out what you’ve heard in English;
- If it’s an easy scene, instead of writing it down, you can try to repeat what you’ve heard verbally, as close to the original words as you can;
- Turn on the English subtitles, and check if you missed anything. If there are new words or expressions, now is the time to look them up in your dictionary;
- Write down new words or expressions in your notebook and memorize them;
- Wait for a couple of days and watch the scene again. This time, without subtitles. Check if you understand everything, including the new words or expressions;
- Set aside a couple of times a week to repeat these 7 steps.
* If you watch movies or shows produced in your native language, you can also turn on the English subtitles and learn new English words and expressions that appear in the subs.
What are the best movies or TV shows for improving English?
- Movies or TV shows that are produced in English (not dubbed) that contain everyday conversations and common words, as opposed to jargon;
- Movies or TV shows set in modern times. Older ones might have outdated language;
- Your interest is the best motivation! Choose something that you like to watch;
- When it comes to TV, sitcoms (situational comedies) are the best for beginners. Each episode is usually 20 to 25 minutes maximum, so it is easier to stay focused without feeling frustrated;
- As for movies, we recommend romcoms (romantic comedies) for beginners. Everyday conversations are useful for you to learn common words and expressions.
Here are a few comedies to learn English with. Feel free to follow your interests and come up with your own list!
- Friends (1994 – 2004), an all-time classic!
- How I Met Your Mother (2005 – 2014), a modern version of Friends
- The Office (2005 – 2013), a mockumentary sitcom. Mocumentaries are not for everyone, but if you are into this style, also check out Parks and Recreation (2009 – 2015) and Borderline (2016 – present)
- The Simpsons (1989 – present): not exactly a sitcom, but more of an animated series. For similar productions, also check out Disenchantment (August 17, 2018 – present) from the same creator or Family Guy (1999 – present)
- Canadian Sketch comedies: Baroness von Sketch (2016 – present), This Hour Has 22 Minutes (1993 – present).
Where to watch these shows and movies?
- Your TV! The Canadian sketch comedies we recommended come with your cable service.
- YouTube. Some older shows are mostly free to watch on YouTude, e.g. Friends and The Simpsons. If you can’t find all the episodes, at least some episodes are available. You can also rent or purchase some shows for small fees.
- Netflix Canada. Plans range from $9.99 to $16.99 per month. A lot of shows and movies are available for you to choose from, e.g. full episodes of Friends, How I Met Your Mother, The Office, Borderline, etc.
- Amazon Prime You need to be a prime member to have access to Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service. Full episodes of Parks and Recreation are on Amazon Prime Video.
Word of the Day:
Mocumentary: a type of movie or television program that shows fictional events but looks like a documentary. Mocumentaries are usually comedies.