Watching tv series and films in English is an excellent way to improve your English.
These tips will help you to benefit more from the experience.
There’s also a little suprise quizz!
Tips on learning English from tv series and films
How to Improve your English with TV series and films
As we all know, it is much easier today to improve your language skills by watching the TV series and films that you love in the language that you are learning.
When I was young we had to wait patiently to watch one episode per week, which would be broadcast to the nation at the same time every week.
Nowadays, you can use the internet to watch on your laptop, TV or smartphone. You can do this at home, when travelling to work or anywhere you want.
Make the most of this opportunity!
But I want to ask you a question.
What TV programmes were the most popular ever in your country?
In the UK, there is a list of the 10 programmes that were watched by the most people. Some of them are quite old.
In fact, the record for the event that was watched by the most people ever was in 1966 when England won the football World Cup against Germany. The second most popular is still the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997.
In the top ten there are only 2 events which are not related to sport or the royal family.
My question is what were the other 2 events?
Choose from these 5 options:
1. Prime Minister Boris Johnson making a statement about coronavirus in March 2020: “Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”
2. The coverage of the Appollo 13 mission to the moon in 1970: “Houston, we have a problem.”
3. The coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Centre on 9/11 2001
4. A documentary about the American pop star Michael Jackson: “Billie Jean is not my girl.”
5. The results of the 2016 Brexit referendum: “Let’s take back control.”
It’s a difficult one. I don’t know. We will see at the end of this podcast which of 2 of these 5 feature in the top 10 of UK TV moments.
Let’s concentrate now on a few tips you can use to make sure you really improve your English when you are watching those series and films that you like.
I’m going to divide this part into three main areas: subtitles, having a notebook nearby and re-watching.
You can watch films and series either to improve your listening skills or to improve your vocabulary and grammar. The first point is obvious. Always have the subtitles and the audio in English. Whether you have the subtitles on or off depends on your objective.
If you want to learn new words and see how grammar is used, leave the English subtitles on. Films always contain a lot of dialogue with rich and unusual vocabulary. When you see a new word, pause the film, go back a few seconds and play the dialogue again.
When you read the dialogue, try and work out the meaning from the context.
If you can’t, then use your smartphone to translate it. Don’t do this too often. Otherwise, the people you are watching with will complain. “We’re watching a film. Were not at school.”
But, if you can learn 5 new expression every episode you watch, think how much your language will improve over one year. Sometimes you will notice a grammar structure used in an interesting way. Do the same thing. Go back, read it carefully and analyse how the grammar is used.
If you want to improve your listening, then watch the film without subtitles. When the subtitles are on we process the information through reading, so our listening will not improve. The only way to improve listening is by turning off the subtitles.
I know. It’s scary. At first you will be depressed. They are speaking so fast. I don’t understand anything. I’ll never be good at English.
But relax! It’s just like learning to swim. If you don’t jump in, you will never learn. Your brain needs time to adjust. After 5 minutes, you will see that you can understand more.
I am not an elephant. I do not remember everything, and I suspect that you can’t either.
Help your memory by keeping a little notebook beside you when you are watching TV.
Just write down the new words you have learned. You don’t need to do any more than that.
The next day you can go back to the notebook and test yourself.
Every now and again, when we watch a new series or film, we think. “Oh, no. I’ve been studying for so long, and I still don’t understand everything.”
Then we get sad. In this case, make yourself happy. Go back to a series you watched one or two years ago and re-watch an episode. “Remember when we watched this? The last time I couldn’t understand anything. Now I understand much more.”
We all need encouragement from time to time, and this is the best way to do it.
Watching a film you have already seen in your own language is also a great idea. You already know the story and the characters, so you can concentrate on the dialogue and still be able to understand what’s happening.
3 tips: subtitles, a notebook and re-watching. Keep it simple and remember my advice.
Ooh, now we have to go back to the question at the beginning of the podcast.
Remember? The top 10 most watched events on British TV are all about sports or the royal family except for two. So, which of theses 5 are the most popular events?
– Prime Minister Boris Johnson talking about coronavirus
– the coverage of the Appollo 13 mission to the moon
– the World Trade Centre attacks on 9/11
– a documentary about Michael Jackson
– the results of the 2016 Brexit referendum
Well, the answer is ……. Prime Minister Boris Johnson talking about coronavirus and the coverage of the Apollo 13 mission to the moon in 1970.
Congratulations if you guessed the two correct answers. Goodbye!