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October 2016

Streaming Television Shows for Learning a New Language

How to learn a new language by watching TV

Reading foreign text is a great way to learn a new language, but it generally teaches more formal language than what people actually speak during their day to day lives. If you want to learn colloquialisms and mannerisms, watching television series is an optimal choice. Television shows often replicate everyday life, telling stories of people much like us in more harrowing or comedic circumstances. This means that television dialogue is often closer to how we generally speak than dialogue in books.

Unlike films, television series are long and continuous. Because they are episodic, they benefit the student who studies every day. Television series are much shorter, meaning you can watch an entire episode in each daily sitting, perfect for studying. It’s also much easier to store a television episode on your smartphone than an entire film, as they are much smaller in size.

But it's often difficult to find foreign series in a different country. If you can't find them for sale online or in the video shop, you're out of luck. What is a student to do? The next best option is to watch dubbed films. For example, many American series are dubbed in multiple languages. Finding such series can provide you with the resources you need. Services like Netflix offer streaming in multiple languages with various subtitle options at your disposal. This lets you customize your television learning experience while enjoying some thrilling shows. Other sources include Amazon Prime, Apple and other third-party streaming sites.

Choosing the right show to watch

The ideal choice is a series that draws you in, one that you'll want to watch on a continuous basis. This is where television series prove more optimal than films, as films are more finite, requiring you to more quickly seek out another afterwards. Television series can run on for multiple seasons, meaning you’ll have more fresh material to enjoy.

Another option to consider is children's shows. Animated series, like anime exported from Japan, are often dubbed in most markets, meaning they're more readily available. And because children's shows are simpler, they serve as a better starting point for beginner and intermediate learners. This is also true for young adult television shows.

Some tips for students watching series

While watching television shows in a foreign language, experiment by watching them with the subtitles on and then off. While subtitles are invaluable for understanding words you might not have known before, they also serve as a crutch, leading you to read before testing the limits of your true comprehension. It may even be a nice test to watch an episode without watching the screen. Can you still understand what they’re talking about?

Another helpful tip is to keep a pen and some paper handy to quickly jot down words you don’t recognize, as it can be difficult to look up words while the show is running. When the episode is over, look up the unknown words. If you have time, rewatching the episode can prove immensely helpful, but for busy people, it is understandably difficult. Just keep noting and looking up the words you don’t know; you’ll most likely hear them again in the show soon.

Do you watch television shows to learn a foreign language? What are your tips? Let us know with a comment on Facebook and be sure to follow us with a “like” for more articles on language learning tips!

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