Practicing English and developing listening skills can get boring after a while. A friend of mine speaks amazing English and everyone asked her what her secret was: Watching boatloads of American television!
Why is this the case? Simply put, by watching TV shows you’re training your ears to tune into different accents and intonation, thus increasing your listening skills. You can also practice your favorite monologue! If it’s a very popular show, you might have watched it in your own language as well.
Firstly, pick a series which has a variety of accents so this helps your understanding better in the long run. Secondly, try to watch without subtitles and see how much you understand. Bear in mind that certain shows might not have the same slang if it’s an older show (like say Friends). While this may be a challenging feat to accomplish, over time your ear will be accustomed to new accents and ways of speaking thus taking your listening skills to a new level!
It bears no introduction, most of the world has watched Friends at this point. What makes this a really popular choice is a lot of the humor is universal and the actors speak quite clearly so it makes it a great starter to increase your listening skills. While the show is getting older, it is still quite amusing and you can easily binge-watch a few episodes. It’s also readily available on most platforms.
The show follows six friends in their twenties trying to navigate life and adulthood. As they grow older, the only constant in their lives is their everlasting friendship. Every character is unique and has their own set of quirks.
There’s Monica, an aspiring chef who is extremely organized and competitive but has a heart of gold, Rachel who aspires to be a fashion editor yet tries to shed her spoiled background, Ross who is very nerdy and deeply in love with Rachel and recovering from a divorce, Fun-loving Joey an actor who is goofy but deeply loyal and finally sarcastic Chandler whose humor hides deep insecurities.
The reason why this show worked is the amazing chemistry between the cast. It’s a show that doesn’t require that much commitment, so you can skip episodes and still follow along with the plot.
High School Musical
This highly amusing movie is great for teens and the music is catchy which will help not only listening skills but your conversational abilities as well. Set in an American high school, the jock falls in love with the nerdy girl and participates in a play despite everyone thinking it’s a bad idea because it goes against the “status quo”.
A tv show with a heart, this show is easy to understand and uses music to try and convey their message. A group of misfits gather together to find common ground through song. The first two seasons are beautiful and it’s really fun to see modern days songs be placed in acapella form. Music has been shown as a great tool to practice both listening skills and pronunciation. You can sing along to the music while you practice your English!
Shows and movies from DC & Marvel
What better way to practice English and be thoroughly entertained? DC, just like Marvel, has a plethora of works in a variety of formats, but they shine in their CW shows. Let’s take a look at some of their best-known tv-shows
Arrow is an action-packed TV show that stars Oliver Queen, a millionaire playboy who becomes a superhero after being lost at sea for years. By day, he is a simple man who is trying to reconnect with the world he left unannounced, but by night he dons his alter ego, The Green Arrow, and fights to correct the wrongs of his family and restores the city to its former glory.
The show follows the adventures of Barry Allen, a slightly nerdy willowy guy, who gains superspeed after being struck by lightning and ultimately becomes the fastest human in the world. Follow Barry and his friends from Star Labs and CCPD as he begins his journey of heroism and protects the citizens of Central City.
Supergirl follows the adventures of Kara Zor-el, who is sent to earth to escape her home planet of Krypton that is about to explode and protect her cousin, Kal-El aka Superman. However, her pod gets stuck in a Phantom Zone for 24 years, so when she finally arrives, Superman is already an adult. The show focuses mainly on her life as an adult, where she learns to embrace her powers, assume her role as a protector and fights to protect National City from domestic and extraterrestrial threats.
You can also watch older shows like Smallville which follows Superman when he was much younger.
For films, the Marvel Universe reigns supreme. The cinematography, unique characters with intriguing backstories and action scenes have garnered a huge following over the past 20 years. While X-Men holds a special place in our hearts, The Avengers Series is the new reigning champ as we see the ultimate cross-over of our beloved superheroes who unite to save the Earth from extra-terrestrial threats. Though the characters may be super, they are also relatable in that they illustrate characters who have to deal with everyday problems when they aren’t wearing the mask. Superhero movies also provide excellent examples of argumentative & persuasive speech, vocabulary, colloquialisms, and expressions/idioms. While they can be fast-paced at times, over time you can gain a repertoire of witty rejoinders for future use.
Gilmore Girls is a beautiful coming of age story with a young mother and her incredibly beautiful and intelligent daughter. While the show is now more than 10 years old, a lot of it can still stand the test of time. You might find the running dialogue confusing as they talk quite fast but see it as a great listening challenge! The actual storylines are quite easy to follow and you can enjoy a couple of seasons at a time.
Stranger things is a sci-fi tv show set in the eighties which follow the adventures of a couple of kids who go searching for their missing friend. They find that “strange things” have been happening in the town that they can altogether explain. Just as their friend goes missing a mysterious girl shows up. What makes her unique is she has special powers, which ultimately will help them to fight the mysterious beast that has been taking all the children around town.
While it is scary, the visual effects are stunning and the acting is a lot of fun. Definitely recommended for those who want to see an adventure as well as practice English! The action-packed adventure is easier to follow and you can watch all episodes at once on Netflix.
If you want to try your hand at British English try some really great British shows! Not only is Sherlock entertaining but the plot is incredible. Set in modern-day England, this is a modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, where he solves crimes and mysteries!
This is definitely will be a challenge to understand all the English but it’s a great way to develop vocabulary and listening skills!
The IT Crowd
This fabulously funny tv show is about three people working in tech and the interesting shenanigans they get into! It’s highly funny and the jokes are pretty easily understood. It’s also only 30 minutes long and doesn’t require a huge commitment to watch all episodes.
Miranda is another British comedy filled with slapstick and follows the adventures of a clumsy yet loveable girl who owns a joke shop. It’s a great way to learn new lingo from England and she speaks quite clearly so it’s easier to understand.
We all know and love our favorite wizard but how about watching it in English? Sometimes it’s very helpful to navigate stories we are very familiar with to understand pronunciation! You can also try to find some good Audible books to help with this too!
This is just a small snippet of shows available for you and most are readily available on Netflix! Try watching your favorite shows on Netflix without the subtitles and see how much you understand! Practicing English doesn’t have to be boring, you can be entertained and find great content and also be learning your new language!