The process of learning a foreign language is often associated with long hours of memorizing hundreds of words and grammar rules. There is, however, a bunch of methods to make learning a lot more pleasant. Find out how to improve your English through TV and other forms of entertainment!
Watching English TV programs with original sound is a popular way to improve your English skills. Not only does it help you to learn the vocabulary in a natural and easy way, but it’s also fun. So, the next time someone tells you to stop watching so much TV, you can just answer that it’s not simply watching TV, it’s you trying to improve your English. How awesome is that?
DOES IT REALLY WORK?
Having fun and learning at the same time sounds almost too good to be true – but it is true. I have friends who have never learned English in classes but they can communicate in the language. How did they do that? Simply by watching English cartoons and movies with the original sound. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not trying to convince you to drop your English classes and watch TV all day long. My point is that if someone was able to learn to communicate in English thanks to TV programs, just think how good you will become if you combine watching English TV with other learning methods.
If you watch English programs, you learn words and expressions that are used in everyday life. It’s an opportunity to listen to natural vocabulary, slang and other words that you might not get introduced to in the class. Besides, language is a thing that is constantly changing, so the more contact with it you have, the better you speak. Oh, and have I mentioned that learning through watching English programs is fun?
MORE THAN JUST VOCABULARY
As I sociologist, I always pay attention to social aspects of various things. Movies and TV programs are a perfect example. By watching them, you also get to know different cultures – they show how people live, they reflect what is popular at the moment, etc. They might include wordplay and other jokes, which makes you understand the language better. And I don’t mean just words – you start to understand the broader context. For me, a milestone of my English education was the moment when I realized I could actually joke in English. For me, it was the best proof of my language skills. Wordplay is one of my favorite forms of joking and I find being able to understand it in more than one language very rewarding.
I personally also think that often original jokes are much better than translated ones. Have you ever started to laugh when watching an English movie with subtitles in the cinema and then you realized that you were one of few people doing it? It happens to me all the time. I blame the subtitles, they’re just not as funny as the original version.
NOT ONLY MOVIES AND TV PROGRAMS
Another good way to learn English is by listening to English music and translating the lyrics. My biggest motivation to start learning English was the willingness to understand my favorite band, The Offspring. It might sound silly (hey, I was just a kid), but it worked out. Do you remember one of their biggest hits?
You have no idea how proud of myself I was when I watched an interview and I understood what my idols said. It didn’t matter that out of a 10-minute interview I got only 2 or 3 sentences, I was happy that I managed to catch the meaning of single words. I learned a lot of words thanks to my favorite songs, simply because it was so easy to recall them – all I needed to do was think about the lyrics.
Lyrics might work similarly to the movies in terms of references to important or popular events, jokes, and fashionable things. But the most important thing overall is that you can associate more complicated words with certain lyrics and memorize them in an easier way. And you’ll have another excuse to listen to your favorite songs, let’s not forget about that.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST… READING
Although some might argue if reading can be qualified as entertainment, I strongly believe that it can. Reading is an important skill that every English teaching program will try to enhance. During English classes, you’ll get a chance to read many subjects, but probably not all of them will be to your liking. So when you practice on your own, choose articles about things that are interesting to you. Read about animals, music, popular culture, sport, science – whatever you enjoy. At first, it might seem complicated as you will have to translate some words while reading, but the more you read in English, the easier it will get. I promise!
Some time ago I set the goal for myself to read one short English article a day. At the beginning it took me a while to finish it – I had to look up the words I didn’t understand, then reread the text to make sure I got everything. As I continued to do so, it started to become easier and easier. Nowadays I often choose to read articles in English rather than in Polish. It was difficult at first, but eventually, it became as natural as reading in my native language. See? That’s doable!
A TASK FOR YOU
Alright, you know now how to improve your English through TV and other forms of entertainment. Or at least you know the theory. Now it’s time for you to practice. How? Watch an episode of your favorite TV show in original English every day for the next 7 days. It might be the same episode or a different one – the choice is up to you. Did it help? What did you learn? Tell me in the comments.
Use this time to also practice the listening skills mentioned here.