To celebrate the 60th anniversary of International House, EFL experts have shared their favourite TV shows for learners of English.
I like television shows that are funny and which also kind of show what is like to be slightly an outsider in a different culture, and there’s a television show from the 1980’s I think which is called Third Rock from the Sun with John Lizco and is about aliens who arrive in an American town, and they look like Americans but just don’t understand a lot of what is going on and is very funny, this kind of cultural problems they have. So I think as a learner that could be kind of amusing, it’s not difficult.
I think the best, one really good, good idea for students who want to learn English in their own free time is to look at situation comedies or sit-coms. From the old classic like Friends to a newer version like for example Thirty Rock situation comedies, are really useful because they are cultural, they give some cultural ideas about, you know, the US or wherever the situation comedy is based, they are also current, contemporary and they are very good because they are quite evident, so it’s not so difficult, anybody with a level, for example, intermediate level upwards can understand the situation without having to understand all the words, plus they are good fun.
The thing that I would like to talk about is a TV series called The Office which I opened for myself very recently. This is a British comedy written and directed and played actually by Ricky Gervais, who is a very popular comedian at the moment, very controversial figure, but I’m not a native speaker, but for advanced learners I would highly recommend this because they are using the real language, lots of slang, lots of phrasal verbs, whatever it is very, very useful from the learners’ perspective.
Myself as a language learner in French I find watching the news the best thing for acquiring language. First of all, you probably watch the news in your own language, you know what’s going on, you can have known the information beforehand, maybe you have even watched the news in your own language and then to go and watch in English, for example on the BBC or any English language news channel, so you know, CNN if you want American English, it doesn’t matter, you can have known what they are talking about so the images in this case are helping you understand, they are not too distracting, you’ve got little snippets of information in the little subtitles that they use every now and again, and you can also watch it again of course if you go online. You can watch the news several times. So for me it’s the news. Every day.
If there’s a TV show you love and like, watch it. In the 1990’s or noughties there Friends was a huge show that people from all over the world watched in English, and why did they watch it and why did they learn English? Because they liked it, they got the jokes, and it was funny. People still watch a TV comedy series from the 1970’s or 80’s called Fawlty Towers because it’s still funny, even though it’s very old-fashioned and it’s easy to understand. It’s very difficult to say whatever is something that you want to watch, then you watch it and try to work out what I means, and if you can’t really understand what it means, go on the internet and find discussions what it is all about, and then watch it again, and then watch it again, and then watch it again.