How Watching Television Can Improve Your English

A basic-level understanding of English will only get you so far. To get by in the country and interact with others, you’ll need to develop an understanding that expands past your ESL classroom education. You may be surprised to know that one of the best ways to do this is by watching television. 

Watching American television can provide you with a unique opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the language and garner a better understanding that will help you comfortably communicate with other English speakers.  

Let’s look at some of the benefits and tips for helping you effectively watch television to improve your English.

The benefits of television 

Understanding the slang

Slang isn’t something you’re going to learn in class. It’s a part of a culture that only comes by immersing yourself in the experience and taking a deeper dive into the language. 

For example: in America, the slang word for a dollar is a buck. This isn’t something you’d know if you heard it used in a sentence. However, it is something you could pick up on if you watched the interaction on television. 

As you watch more English-speaking television, listen for words and phrases you’ve never heard before. If you feel confused by the use of language, don’t be afraid to do some research online!

Understand the different accents

English-English and American-English are very similar, but they are also slightly different. Some of these inconsistencies can also be confusing. That’s because the people in America use different words and have accents that differ from English-English.

If you’re learning how to speak English-English but want to travel to America: then watching American television can help you improve your American English. While watching a show, listen for words you haven’t heard before and write them down: so you learn more later and add them to your vocabulary. 

Learn the correct pronunciation 

Watching a TV show can be a great way to hear the correct pronunciation for yourself. Actors’ and actresses’ voices are typically easier to understand, clear, and concise: making them a great resource for you to utilize and listen to. 

Keep in mind: you’ll want to make sure you know if the television show is American-English or English-English since the pronunciation will be different for both of these.

Grow a deeper understanding of words

The words you learn in an ESL class might not be used by English speakers the same way you think. Americans tend to use words in a way that might be confusing for someone who’s just learning the language. 

For example, you may hear more abbreviations or feel like some sentences are missing words or are shorter than what you learned in class. Since this isn’t necessarily proper English, it might be hard to understand when interacting with native English speakers. Watching more television can help you experience this firsthand to help you grow a deeper understanding.

How to effectively watch television to sharpen your English skills

Find a show you enjoy

You’ll want to find a show you truly enjoy to help you understand the English language. If you continue watching, you’ll be able to connect the dots, get used to the way the actors and actresses speak, and articulate each word. If you’re able to keep up with the storyline, you’re on the right track!

Read the subtitles 

Make sure you add the subtitles to the show you pick. This can help you connect the written language with the speaking language. By doing this, you’ll make connections you can use in your real life.

Watch the same show more than once

After watching an episode once, watch it again to see if you can pick up on more of the language the second time around. What did you notice the second time that you didn’t notice the first? What was different? Were you able to understand more? You’ll be surprised how you’ll learn so much more every time you watch the episode.

How we can help

At Access to Language Studies, we provide ESL students challenges and opportunities to take their linguistic, academic, and cultural knowledge of the English language to the next level. Whether you want to join us virtually or join us for a dynamic in-person learning experience at St. John’s University in New York, we’re here to help!

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