How to Learn a Language Simply by Watching TV
Gone are the days when the only way to learn a new language was through repeating verb conjugations by rote and getting to grips with the peculiarities of different verb tenses.
Now, there are many innovative ways to effectively learn another language, and the most enjoyable and entertaining way to do so is simply by watching TV!
Sounds too good to be true? Read on for how it works and why this method is such a good way to gain proficiency in your target language.
Yes! More and more people are using this technique to learn a new language. The idea is to regularly (ideally, every day) watch subtitled TV shows and films in the language you want to become fluent in.
Viewing subtitled TV in the new language allows you to immerse yourself in the language, thereby picking up plenty of vocab and phrases; plus, you’ll get to encounter a range of regional dialects, not to mention some fun slang and curse words! This method also gives you the opportunity to hear lots of ‘everyday’ dialogue, too, as well as helping you to become confident with the accent and pronunciation.
Watching subtitled TV from the country in which the target language is spoken is a great way to find out more about the local culture, customs, traditions, history, and politics. And the cherry on top? Staying motivated isn’t going to be an issue when you’re learning by watching a binge-worthy box set or an edge-of-your-seat film!
Getting started learning a language with TV is easy! Have a look on Netflix, or another streaming service, for box sets and films from the country where the language is spoken that have English subtitles, and pick the title that appeals to you most. Alternatively, you may want to consider signing up for a dedicated language learning platform, which will provide you with a vast and ever-changing library of movies and TV shows to choose from. These platforms typically categorize titles so that you can easily see those that are suitable for beginner, intermediate, or advanced learners and feature additional tools to support your learning.
To begin, simply settle back, put on your chosen pick, and relax. It may be a good idea not to attempt to follow the subtitles at first, but to simply get a feel for the sound of the new language; don’t worry about trying to follow the dialogue or action taking place on-screen. After ten minutes or so, or whenever you feel ready, start watching with the help of the subtitles.
You may find it helpful to view with a notebook and pen to hand so that you can jot down the details of any words or phrases that you think may be particularly useful, that you like the sound of, or that you want to double-check the meaning of, later.
Build viewing subtitled TV into your daily routine to see the best results and to gain proficiency quickly. Research into immersive learning techniques, such as watching TV, has found that incorporating this method effectively into your life can mean you may be speaking and listening to the language confidently within as little as six months.
There are certain strategies you could employ that will accelerate your learning. For example, as you watch, listen out for words that crop up frequently, and try to hone in on these whenever you hear them. This will help you to start making sense of the huge influx of new language washing over you and will likely be the words and phrases that you get to grips with first. As you start recognizing more words and phrases, make a note of these, too.
To help you become confident with pronunciation, try pausing a scene after a character has said a line and then repeating it a few times, trying to imitate the sound of the words. You could do this at regular points throughout the show or film, and then see if you can remember these phrases at the end. This may take time to get the hang of, but keep trying – you’ll get there!
Another great tactic is to jot down a few scenes of a show or film as you watch and then, at the end of your initial viewing, replay these scenes; try watching them again without the subtitles turned on, and see if you can follow some of what’s going on. Don’t worry if you can’t get more than the gist of a conversation; it’s all part of the journey! Next, try watching with the subtitles turned on once more to fully understand that scene. Here you can check out the best german TV shows and movies to learn german.
It may suit you to sometimes watch with a friend who is also learning the new language; talking about what you’ve viewed and having a go at repeating some of the words or phrases you’ve learned together can be a fun way to consolidate your learning.
If you’re keen to make viewing subtitled TV a part of wider immersive practice to learn the new language, then there are plenty of other easy ways to incorporate this method into your daily routine.
Start by thinking about all the ways that you could create an immersive learning environment in your home – and beyond! For example, you could change the language settings on your non-essential voice-activated tech and relabel the cans and cartons in your kitchen cupboards with their equivalent in the target language.
When you’re next about to hit the grocery store, write out your shopping list in the new language, and browse the top news stories on websites from the country in which the language is spoken on a daily basis. Listen to music in the new language, and tune into a radio station from that country while you’re in the car. There are endless ways in which to incorporate listening to, speaking, reading, and writing the target language into virtually all aspects of your life.
The benefits of learning a new language are vast; as well as boosting your career prospects and up-leveling your travel experiences, learning a new language has been proven to be excellent for brain health, promoting better memory, concentration, and decision-making skills as well as heightening both logical and creative thinking capacities.
Plus, once you’ve learned one new language, most people find it a relatively easy undertaking to become fluent in another – so picking up a new language by watching TV could be just the start of your learning adventure!