Using television to learn languages

I always say that one of the best ways to learn a language is to watch movies or television in the target language.

The main reason is the following:

It is natural!

One of the biggest flaws of the books made for learning languages is that the language is usually more formal and “arranged ” that the language of quotidian. Even books of slangs and swearwords are not very useful, because these words are out of context. Moreover, at least in Brazil, some curses can be addressed to someone in a positive context. Such subtlety of language will only be learned in context, i.e.: living in a country where they speak the language or seeing it happen through movies and television in general.

In addition to slangs, natural language is also full of colloquialisms and idioms which are often laid out of printed books. One of the good exceptions in this case is the Assimil course.
But, even a great course like Assimil containing audio presents a fairly common problem: the question of rhythm and intonation. Most books with audio as Assimil or TeachYourself has dialogues interpreted by actors. This is great because the dialogues are clear and well pronounced. The accent is often considered the standard or the more common, for example, the French course has a Parisian accent and the Spanish has an accent from the region of Castile or Madrid. These aspects are great, but at the same time can hinder the understanding of a real dialogue, since:

Speed of speech in real life is much more rapid than in audio courses.
• The sound is clean; there is no interference from other noises. In the middle of the street, on the subway, bus, at the mall, in the restaurant there are horns, cars, people talking in the background, various noises that make it difficult to understand.
• The variations of accents are huge. For example, someone who studies “Brazilian Portuguese”, will likely be presented to the Portuguese spoken in São Paulo or Rio. But, Brazil is a country full of diversity and a foreigner who dreams knowing Amazon or Bahia will have difficulty understanding someone talking with different accent, at least initially.
• It is very boring to listen to a course when you are always hearing the same voices, making different characters or the same characters, not to mention that you get used to the pronunciation of certain voice.
• Dialogues on TV and are more natural and are always within a context.
Body language gives tips as well as facial expressions to understand what is happening, even without understanding a word of a language, looking people you will know if the person is happy, sad, angry, fearful, disgusted or angry, making it possible to recognize the general situation of some scene without understanding a word.
• Watching TV or a movie is a relaxed way to expose yourself to the language.
• You can get exposed to different kinds of vocabularies, depending on the type of program you see: newspapers, documentaries, soap operas, movies, cartoons, educational, cooking or sports TV shows.

How to make use of TV and movies

Find subtitled videos

Find subtitled videos

• If available put the subtitles in the original language.
• Pay attention to lip movements.
Take notes of idioms and phrases that contain unfamiliar words.
• Extract audio and put on your mp3 player.
• Choose something that interesting and level appropriate. There is no use trying to watch a documentary of philosophy if you do not have an advanced level in the language and understand the subject. Or watch a football match if you do not like it. Are you still at the beginner level? Watch cartoons, fun and easy.
• If you liked what you saw, watch other times. The repetition will help retain new vocabulary.
• Relax and enjoy yourself.

Small “precautions”

Bad words you learned from watching TV and movies should be used carefully. The colloquial language television may also be inappropriate for certain formal situations such as job interviews or conversations with older people.

From Brazilian YouTube channel Porta dos Fundos

From Brazilian YouTube channel Porta dos Fundos

• Historical films depicting samurais, historical royalty figures, religious TV shows and animes often contain unusual and/or outdated words for everyday situations. Therefore, it is advisable to use the vocabularies you learned from TV shows or movies of this type sparingly.

About Nathalia

Polyglot Nerd creator, love foreign cultures and learning languages. Speak: English, Portuguese and Spanish. Learning: French
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