Everyone enjoys watching TV, but is it a good idea to use TV to improve your English skills? 

There is a lot of debate about this topic and there are good and bad points to consider. In this podcast I will tell you what I think and I will also share some tips, tricks and recommendations that might help you out!

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Can I Learn English with TV Shows?

Listening is a great way to improve your listening skills and your English in general because it will help you naturally pick up new language and grammar in context. It is a very important skill to develop and listening to podcasts is a great way to do that.

That’s one of the main reasons I started this podcast. I want to give English learners a chance to listen to a podcast that is designed for them and that is interesting and fun. No one wants to listen to a podcast about grammar, right?

In this episode, I talk about using TV shows to improve your English.

The simple answer…

Yes, you can.

The real question…

Should you learn English with TV shows? This question is not so simple.

I think it is a good idea, as long as it is only a part of your English studies. It can’t be the only thing that you do. 

Why is it a good idea?

There are a few reasons I recommend it to my students.

TV is a good way to make your studies more interesting. Between reading a textbook and watching TV, I know which one I would rather do.

You are more likely to do it if you actually enjoy it, so why not? There are 1000s of shows out there so there is bound to be something you enjoy that will help you improve your English. 

With the increase in popularity of online streaming services, it has never been easier to find and watch new TV shows whenever you like!

It will also help you make connections with native speakers as you will be able to talk about TV shows you have in common.

What about subtitles?

Now, this depends…

Never use subtitles in your native language. You won’t listen and you will just read instead. It defeats the object of watching TV to improve your English.

However, when it comes to using English subtitles, the answer is a little less clear. I usually recommend not using subtitles. It is better to try and catch everything with just your ears because there are no subtitles in a real conversation.

If that means that you can’t understand what is happening in the TV show, maybe you can try watching the show once with subtitles and then watch it again without subtitles. 

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Common mistakes…

It is not as simple as pressing the play button…

It is very easy to get overwhelmed when using TV shows to try and improve your English.

The biggest mistakes I see are:

  • Choosing a show that you are not interested in.
  • Choosing a show which is too difficult for you.
  • Worrying too much about understanding every single word.

Tips for Using TV shows

Here is how you can make the most of this kind of studying!

  • Slow down the video
  • Watch it multiple times. It gets easier every time
  • Don’t worry about understanding everything as long as you can follow the story
  • Don’t stop to look up words you don’t know (unless it keeps coming up)

What shows do you recommend?

That depends…

Everyone is different and has different tastes. You should try and find something you are actually interested in.

However, here are some good ones:

  • The classics (friends, modern family, Big Bang Theory)
  • Drama (Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Suits)
  • US Comedies (The Simpsons, Brooklyn 99, Parks and Recreations)
  • British Shows: (Sherlock, Peaky Blinders, Dr Who, Downton Abbey)
  • British Comedies (IT Crowd, The Inbetweeners, Peep show)
  • Quiz Shows (QI, Taskmaster, 8 out of 10 cats)
  • Shows I like (Bottom, South Park, Futurama)

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