Is it wishful thinking or is it genuinely effective? Bilingual and multilingual enthusiasts across the globe have been asking, “Can you really learn a language through watching TV?”
Well, here’s the answer: You definitely can and it definitely works. In fact, watching TV shows in whichever language you’re trying to learn can drastically improve your listening, speaking and reading skills in one of the easiest ways possible. This article will explain why, how and where you can go to achieve the language level that you’ve been hoping for.
Watching TV shows or movies in your desired language has many benefits, whether you’re learning a language from the outset or looking to improve your pronunciation and vocabulary for a language that you already know. Learning a language by watching TV is best achieved when you have first built a basic understanding of the language and already know a good chunk of vocabulary and grammar rules. Then you can begin to develop your knowledge and comprehension in this unique and modern way.
If you’re just starting out, then children’s TV shows are a great way to open a gateway to the language, although it's a tool best used alongside more conventional ways of learning to begin with!
When you watch a TV show or a movie, you can hear what a language really sounds like outside of the classroom or outside of language-teaching apps. In generic language-learning environments, everything is slowed down or pronounced very clearly for your benefit, but in real life situations, people won’t always do this for you. That’s why it’s important to become acquainted with the natural flow, accents, and speed of talking that occurs in native speaking.
In film and TV, the majority of actors are native, fluent speakers, exhibiting the correct intonation, sounds and pace that you can expect from real people and real circumstances.
It’s not just how they talk, but also what they say; the content of the dialogue in TV shows and movies is significant because you can learn new words, expressions and colloquial language spoken the right way in the correct contexts. Modern telenovelas and shows keep you up to date with slang, informal or classic ways of speaking that aren’t academic, supplying you with vocabulary and phrases that aren’t included in school textbooks or easily found on other sites.
An important thing about integrating into a different country or finding new friends who speak the language you love, is having a deeper understanding of their culture. This can differ depending on the region in which the language is spoken. For example, if you’re learning Spanish, there are completely different cultures from one country to the next: Spain is different to Argentina and Argentina is different to Mexico.
Learn about the different Spanish dialects here Words from each place can have a different pronunciation, meaning and appropriate context, as well as community values and experiences. Before visiting the country itself, there is no better way to immerse yourself in its culture than through watching TV shows and movies that were specifically made for the local people and native speakers.
Here’s a list of key techniques that can help you watch TV with a purpose:
If you’re only just beginning to learn a language, then children’s TV shows are a great place to start. You can slowly build up your focus to kids movies, then sit-coms, then actions/thrillers, before eventually being able to understand the plots, narratives and dialogue in complex dramas and genres that utilise dark humour or black comedy. These are the most difficult to grasp because of the elaborate word-play or deep connotations of certain words.
When you hear a phrase that you haven’t heard before, you can press pause on the show and repeat out loud what you’ve heard. Plus, if you write it down, you’re way more likely to remember it whilst training your brain to focus better.
On the days that you can’t really be bothered with active learning and you just want to zone out, watching content in a different language can still be productive because you are subconsciously consuming the flow and sound of each word. This means that the next time you learn a new word that was in the show, you will automatically recognise it even if you think that you’re hearing it for the first time; it will already be familiar to your mind.
But where can you achieve all of this? Well, I want to recommend an awesome site called Lingopie which can help you do all of this and more!
Described by fans as the ‘Netflix of language learning,’ Lingopie is a streaming platform available on your web browser and has a downloadable app for Android and iOS. They offer thousands of episodes in 9 popular languages, as well as providing educational tools throughout the site and even the option to book private lessons with verified teachers.
With Lingopie, you can choose whichever shows you want to, depending on your level of understanding or which topics you’re most interested in. For every language, there are children’s shows, cartoons, popular TV soaps, feature-length movies, podcasts and other consumable content.
The reason why Lingopie is so much better than streaming anywhere else is because theyoffer interactive subtitles which gives you the option to click any word that is unfamiliar to you, to instantly translate it and hear it again. Once you click the word, Lingopie ‘collects’ it on a ‘flashcard’ which you can then access in the ‘review’ section of each episode. You also have the ability to ‘loop’ a sentence so that you can hear it over and over again, or even view the whole script of the show.
In addition to this, Lingopie gives you access to dual-subtitles, an innovative feature which provides you with both languages displayed on the bottom of the screen at the same time. This makes translating and understanding the context and new words quicker and easier.
Lingopie offers a 7 day free trial period, and a 50% off summer sale available now, so that you can begin learning cultural nuances today! Watching TV and movies to expand your knowledge of your favourite languages has helped thousands of people already, and Lingopie ensures that it will continue to do so with its super easy, usable and affordable platform.
By Billy-May Brooks, Lingopie