Can watching TV in English really help me?

When it’s finally time to wind down after a long day at the office, you probably want nothing else than to sit yourself down on your couch with a [cup of tea / glass of wine / your drink of choice] and RELAX!

Now, I understand that watching your favourite TV show or movie in a foreign language probably doesn’t qualify as ‘’relaxing’’. After all, you’ll be concentrating very hard, either to hear what’s being said or to read the subtitles!

And yet, if there is one super effective and enjoyable (sort of) way to learn English in a very authentic, natural way, it’s by watching TV. Let me give you a few examples of how it can benefit you…

The language is authentic

TV shows and movies provide perfect examples of natural, authentic conversations between native speakers, which are hard to find in any textbook. This makes them a perfect model for particularly pronunciation and intonation, but also informal expressions, idioms and other not-so-common vocabulary.

The visuals help understanding

Even if you don’t understand all that’s being said in the movie or TV show, you can usually get the gist of the story because of the visual context, i.e. just by watching what the actors are doing. Apart from making it easier to follow the story line, the visuals also provide extra information such as facial expressions, gestures and other body language, which supports the verbal message.

Endless variety!

Since there are countless movies and TV shows out there, anyone can find something they enjoy. Of course, watching something you’re genuinely interested is much more motivating than doing exercises from textbooks!

OK, I’m convinced….now where do I go from here?

I know it can be hard to find movies in the original language here in Germany – after all, most of what you see on TV has been dubbed. However, there are plenty of websites that provide movies with subtitles (Amazon Prime and YouTube for example, or otherwise check out this link for help:

A very good alternative would be to use a website designed specifically for English learning, such as English Central ( You may not find your favourite show here, but the learner guidance it provides is wonderful.

Finally, a few tips for watching TV or movies in English…

  • Don’t be afraid to use subtitles – you will still pick up a lot of English even if you’re reading the translation! Using subtitles is better than watching without and not understanding anything!
  • Pick a show you already know – this makes it easier to follow the story.
  • Don’t watch too much at once – even 10 minutes of English TV make a difference!
  • Keep a vocabulary notebook and write down words you hear often – clearly these are useful words to know!

Hopefully this motivates you to grab some popcorn, find a great TV show or movie and…give it a try! ?

Of course, if you feel you need more tips, advice, lessons or any other form of assistance with learning English, the team at English2Go are here to help! 🙂