How to Learn a Language by Watching TV

Language learning has evolved tremendously over the years. In fact, there are increasingly more studies available that show how our brains absorb language skills passively while being exposed to media content. This includes watching TV, watching movies or watching any type of video resource.

What once seemed like a quasi-impossible and tremendously heroic feat, has now become much more accessible. Language learners all over the world can reach their linguistic goals by watching content in their chosen target language.

This method allows language students to learn in an engaging and fun way. By watching series, soap operas or movies, you'll have the immersive experience of listening firsthand to actors speaking in their native language. This allows you to take solid steps towards becoming fluent in that language.

In this post, we'll give you the tips and techniques you need to utilize TV to improve your language skills, all while having fun! Lingopie is the perfect tool to learn a language with TV.

Can you improve your language skills while watching TV?

Yes, you can absolutely learn foreign languages by watching TV.

Become fluent naturally by watching and listening to native speakers on TV. Sign up for your free trial of Lingopie today.

As we've mentioned, when using TV to learn a new language, you are presented with the opportunity to come into contact with what a language actually sounds like when spoken by native speakers in context. This will, consequently, help you to speak more naturally.

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TV can be a great resource for learning a new language and pick up on new vocabulary and expressions. It also helps you to improve your listening, pronunciation and speaking skills. In fact, there are many different ways to learn from TV.

To start, let's dive into the rationale for using series and movies to learn a language.

Why is watching TV effective for language learning?

Whether you use this incredible tool for passive learning only or you turn your binge-watching sessions into an active educational experience, you'll undoubtedly benefit from consuming content in a foreign language.

One of the reasons why this method is so effective, is that you get to be intentional about what you're learning.

By deciding which shows and movies to watch, you can choose to focus on the specific vocabulary niches and words that are most useful to you.

By choosing the material mindfully, you can learn which vocabulary you need, without having to go through endless lists of words that do not benefit you. Moreover, you'll be jumping into practice straightaway, avoiding an excessive focus on theory.

Depending on the topics of the shows you choose, you can also see how the language is used in different contexts.

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You'll learn about culture and pick up on the customs of the countries that speak the language you're learning, which plays a big part in knowing how to navigate the world in that language.

As we're sure you know, watching movies and shows is highly entertaining. What you may not know, however, is that this is one of the main reasons why learning a language by watching TV is so effective. How so?

Well, if you're highly entertained while learning, you won't have to deal with the biggest challenge that students face in language learning... Lack of motivation.

Can you learn a language by watching TV with subtitles?

Yes, you can definitely watch TV in a different language with subtitles as a way to learn that language!

In this domain, you have two options. You can either watch the foreign TV show or movie of your choice with subtitles in your own language or in the original language. Both methods will be useful to pick up new words and the option you go for will mostly depend on your level.

As native English speakers, by watching foreign language TV series with English subtitles, language learners are able to work on getting a general sense for what the language sounds like, particularly in terms of phonetics.

You'll also avoid going into panic mode when you don't understand the words that are being said, because you'll have the written text to help you follow the story.

Once you are comfortable with your level of understanding and are ready to progress to the next level, you can choose to display subtitles in the native language of the show.

By doing this, you'll see the written form of a word and match it to how the word sounds. So, you'll also be working on your reading and writing skills, besides your listening skills and pronunciation.

At this point, you can pause the video to look up words or grammar rules that you don't understand. Read our blog post giving you an overview over the best Lingopie language learning features.

Can you learn a language by watching TV without subtitles?

Once again, the answer is yes!

In fact, watching TV in your target language without subtitles is recommended if you're working specifically on hearing real life language and it is appropriate for more advanced learners.

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By doing so, you'll focus on cultivating your listening skills, fluency and pronunciation. You'll also be able to pay more attention to body language and expressions, since you won't be reading the text at the same time that you're listening to the dialogue.

Nonetheless, this will be possible only once language learners have reached a certain level of fluency.

Techniques for language learning through watching TV

As we mentioned earlier, if you want to make the most of this incredible tool as a language learner, there are certain strategies that will help you along the way.

Here are some quick tips for how to make the most of your learning experience with TV content...

Choose which watch shows to watch appropriately

You can use different parameters to choose which TV show to watch. In fact, we'll be diving deeper into this topic later on in this post.

Whichever method you end up deciding to use, by choosing effectively, you'll be given the chance to listen to dialogue in context, with either your level, needs or interests in mind. This will help you to be more efficient with your learning.

Pick movies and shows that are aligned with your level on your language journey in order to make the most of your learning experience.

Focus on specific words and phrases

Direct your attention to certain words that come up very often, rather than focusing too much of your attention on a single word that you may not know but that probably won't be too relevant either.

You don't need to understand all the words you come across in order to start speaking. Choosing to focus on how certain words sound will also help you to apply what you're learning to different types of conversations and environments.

Some phrases will come up very often! If they do, be sure to take note of them so you can incorporate them into your own speech.

Divide the episode or film into parts

To make the most out of each show, you may want to divide episodes into different segments, rather than just going through them all in one go. Don't be afraid to stop and start or rewind.

This will allow you to zoom in on specific scenarios and dialogues that you either find interesting or that may contain valuable material for you.

Another way to achieve this is to watch the same episode more than once. For example, you might watch it once with subtitles in your native language and then again with subtitles in the original language.

Basically, you'll be listening to same words, but after having gained a better understanding of what they mean, which will help you memorize and absorb vocabulary and grammar structures.

Stop and repeat what you hear

One of the benefits of hearing your target language spoken by native speakers is that you'll get great input that will assist you when practicing your pronunciation.

That's why if you stop and repeat the words as you go, you'll learn how to pronounce them correctly.

Stopping to repeat what you hear will also help your brain to assimilate phrases, making it more likely that you'll be able to reproduce them in conversations later.

In fact, Lingopie has incredible built-in features that allow you to pause and repeat certain words and expressions and then receive instant feedback on your pronunciation!

Write down what you hear and practice speaking

Have a notebook and pen or pencil with you during your movie sessions. If any new words or expressions appear, don't forget to write them down!

It's been shown in numerous studies that when you write down a word, you are activating a part of your brain that is linked to memory.

This means that writing words down is a great way to actually memorize new vocabulary in a foreign language! By doing this, you'll also create a record of new vocabulary that you can come back to to practice later on.

Plan your sessions

Even though learning a language through media content is perhaps the most fun way to learn, don't miss out on getting as much as you can out of it!

If you plan your sessions, you'll make the most out of this incredible tool. Engage in this journey actively.

Some of our suggestions on topic are: try to schedule your sessions in just as you would a lesson, decide how much time you'll be dedicating to watching content a week, plan out which topics you'll be studying and decide which shows to watch based on that!

Happy bingeing!

Practice your conversational skills

Don't just leave it at that! Try out your newly gained speaking skills by finding a practice partner to speak with or a language tutor for conversational classes.

One of the most important aspects of language learning is practice. You need to gain the confidence to start speaking to people. So, don't underestimate the need for quality practice with other people.

Lingopie actually provides you with the option to book lessons with language tutors. In addition, we give you access to community forums where you can connect with other learners.

So, the platform is a great place to find likeminded language learners, and teachers, with whom to practice and develop your speaking skills.

Where to start: Pick your TV shows

To make sure we help you get organized, we've outlined a few different ways to go about choosing which shows to watch.

By genre

Kids' TV & films


Kids films are a great place to start if you are a beginner. The reason for this is that they usually have more simple language that is easier to pick up.

If you have kids, you can also use this time to connect more with them. If not, you can simply connect with your own inner child!

Comedy

Comedy series and movies tend to have vocabulary that is easier to learn for beginners or intermediate learners. Moreover, they abound in physical gestures, which can also aid understanding.

Sign up for a free trial today and start learning French with clickable subtitles.

This will be especially true for Latin languages. For example, if you're learning Spanish or Italian, noticing body language will be really helpful, since a native speaker would usually accompany their words with certain gestures.

If you're into dark humor, this genre will fall into a different category, since it may tend to be wittier and, therefore, more challenging. When this is the case, the vocabulary is less straightforward.

Action

Action movies and series tend to be more appropriate for intermediate or advanced learners.

Their pace is usually faster and their plots more complex. This will usually require a higher level of comprehension for a learner to be able to follow the story in a light and easy manner.

By length

Short films

If you're a beginner, choosing short films may help you with learner's fatigue. When you're starting to learn a language, it may be difficult to concentrate for large stretches of time.

Hence, sticking to shorter content may be appropriate if you're training your ability to stay focused in another language.

Series

Series will help gage how long you expose yourself to your target language, depending on the length of episodes.

Since they have several episodes, you also have the opportunity to go deeper into a certain story or to get to know a set of characters better.

For instance, the Spanish series Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) is very plot based and fast paced, which will be more appropriate for more advanced learners. We have created a free Netflix guide to support your studies with La Casa de Papel.

Feature films

We would recommend that you watch feature films once you're at least an intermediate learner. Feature films can go up to two hours, which does require a high level of concentration.

That being said, if you're a cinema enthusiast, do give some a try!

By platform

Netflix

Netflix has a huge variety of audiovisual content available in multiple languages.

For example, if you're looking to learn how to speak French, Drôle is an incredible comedy series you can watch. You'll be listening to native speaker French in a raw and comedic environment.

We've written an article to outline the best French TV shows on Netflix. Check it out if you're learning French at the moment!

YouTube

YouTube has the advantage of having shorter or longer content that may be easier to watch at first. It also has an enormously large selection of content on all kinds of topics, genres etc.

If you want to find out more about how to learn a language with YouTube, check out our article on this topic!

Lingopie

Lingopie is an incredible choice for language learners who want to learn a foreign language by watching TV.

This innovative platform is an all-around language learning platform, focusing specifically on immersive and engaging features that support you throughout your learning process.

You can choose from video and film content of all lengths, themes and genres in Spanish, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese and Korean.

Besides having access to varied content, you'll get features that include dual-subtitles, whereby you'll have both the subtitles in English and in the original language at the same time, built-in transcripts on the side as you're watching, and even quizzes to practice new vocabulary.

Ready to go: start watching TV in your target language

In this article, we have shown you how you can use foreign language TV to learn a new language! We outlined both why it's an effective, yet fun method and offered you tips to optimize your learning. Please check out our article dedicated to learning Spanish with video!

Not only that, but we've also given you valuable information on how to choose which TV series to watch and what platforms you can use to find the best resource material to help you reach your goal efficiently.

Well, learning languages has now become your new favorite pass time! By watching movies and television series in your target language, you'll expand your vocabulary in an organic way. Who wouldn't want that?

Binge-watch some incredible movies and before you know it, you'll have started speaking and understanding the language of your choice.

Get ready to learn a language the exciting way! Sign up for a free trial with Lingopie and gain access to a wide range of content in an array of languages.

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