Learning a new language can be very difficult, especially when you don’t have time to dedicate to language skills every single day. Whether you are studying for a foreign language exam or you move to a new country and find yourself in a world you can’t understand, watching foreign movies and TV programmes can actually improve your vocabulary and understanding.
A proven example is people from the Netherlands, who speak Dutch. The majority of western movies are not dubbed in Dutch, so they have no choice but to watch and listen with English subtitles. The Dutch are known around the world for speaking extremely good English, often without an accent to prove that it is a second language. Consuming media in English from a young age could be a factor in this language learning success. Countries with a larger audience such as France and Germany do have dubbed TV shows and films, which could be why integrating English is a little harder if you speak French or German.
Watching local TV shows and programmes can fast-track your foreign language skills in a new country.
Pick up local phrases and slang
No matter how hard you study, it is impossible to learn colloquialisms and idioms from a textbook. If you hear certain words in public conversations that you’re not familiar with, the chances are these are slang words. Although informal language, if you want to have conversations with locals at school, work or in the neighbourhood, then it’s a good idea to learn the local slang. Watching local media and TV shows can help introduce you to these phrases.
For example, people learning English can tune into popular soaps such as EastEnders or Coronation Street. These will demonstrate different types of idioms and expressions as they are set in different cities – Manchester and London. Child refugees have reported that watching these programmes with the subtitles on can help them know what people are talking about in school.
Often the hardest part of learning a language is listening and picking up the words in a foreign language – especially when everyone seems to be talking so fast. Reading and writing skills can be at a high level, but keeping up with conversations can be difficult. Watching and listening to the conversations on TV and radio can help develop this essential skill. Watch with the foreign subtitles on first, and then try and turn them off so you are no longer relying on your reading skills.
While watching TV is no substitute for professional tuition, it can certainly improve your foreign language skills. Moving to a foreign country can be daunting when you don’t speak the language fluently, but local media can help.