We often talk about how important it is to watch movies without subtitles to really maximize your oral comprehension and vocabulary. But as I say in my article The Best Movies to Watch to Improve Your Spanish, we have designed a method using TV shows for learning English. American researchers have concluded that watching movies with subtitles helps comprehension (except for ultra beginners). Personally, I alternate between movies and TV series without subtitles, but I think that series have two distinct advantages:
· TV series are ideal for learning step-by-step: we start with subtitles in your language, which are eventually replaced after a few seasons by subtitles in English. Eventually, you watch the show with no subtitles. With series, you can take the time to get used to characters’ voices and accents. The situations often involve repetition, and little by little, your understanding improves.
· Series are engaging and often create a “dependence effect”: If you choose a good series that fits your taste, it’ll be hard to stop watching! You’ll be exposed to hours upon hours of a language without even noticing how much you’re learning.
Like I do for movies without subtitles, I will periodically publish lists of shows to watch to improve oral comprehension. Below is a list of series in English that I particularly enjoy. They are all educational in a certain respect, too:
· The vocabulary is from everyday conversations. It’s more useful to learn common vocabulary, obviously, as opposed to more specialized jargon.
I had formed a bad impression of sitcoms. I never really had followed one. The automated laughter and poor quality of some can be a turn off. But a few years ago, I forced myself to watch the first 5 episodes of Friends. Since then, I’ve really learned to appreciate sitcoms, to the point of not being able to turn them off sometimes. And I can tell you that my English has considerably improved. Now, I truly believe in the power of TV shows for learning English or any other language.
[United – States – 1994/2004- 10 seasons – Sitcom/Comedy] Few people don’t know Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey and Phoebe, the famous cast of Friends. The story follows the lives of a group of New Yorkers in their 30s. With 10 unbelievable seasons, the show is full of wit and laughter. It’s perfect for a relaxed evening. You quickly get attached to the 6 people, and I will admit that I felt rather sad when I watched the last episode of the last season.
This show is ideal to start with because the English is not hard to understand. They use vocabulary that you would use in real-life situations. I had started with subtitles and then stopped using them with the last season. I really owe a large part of my English comprehension skills to Friends. You can easily find used copies for pretty cheap online.
[United-States – 2005/2013 6 seasons – Sitcom/Comedy] A sitcom that resembles Friends in many ways, this show is a more modern version and has known tremendous success. It follows a group of friends In New York (like Friends) but it’s more frank about relationships, drinking, etc. The actors bring to life their characters who constantly find themselves involved in some situation. Even though I loved Friends, I think this sitcom is a close second.
Like Friends, the English is not too difficult (although there is a lot of slang). You get plenty of practical vocabulary relevant to socializing. Other sitcoms: There are loads of different sitcoms for every taste. If you don’t like shows like Friends, take a look at this list. I also suggest The Simpsons, The Office, and Modern Family.