How To Learn A Language By Watching TV

An unconventional guide to the educational benefits of Netflix.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

For the longest time, I believed that it was impossible to learn languages with technology.

Right? We all hated reading textbooks & sitting exams during high school, so we never even considered loving the process of learning another language.

My dream was to become fluent in multiple languages so I could someday travel the world. But due to having horrific experiences in school, I had the common misconception that language learning is an incredibly dull process.

I was wrong.

Instead of reading textbooks, I decided that a better strategy would be to watch various TV shows on Netflix to make the process of learning Spanish more enjoyable.

Although it took a long time to reach conversational fluency, the practice of regularly watching Latin Netflix shows enabled me to become immersed in the Spanish language.

So below are some techniques that will help you to understand another language while watching TV.

Each one of these insights helped me to improve my pronunciation, increase my listening ability, and genuinely enjoy the process of learning different languages. I hope they do the same for you, too.

Watch Cartoons.

When most people begin learning a new language, they tend to watch shows with complicated vocabulary. But unfortunately, this practice will be difficult to sustain if you don’t already know the basics of your chosen language.

I’ve discovered that a better solution is watching cartoons as they cater to a younger audience, so they’ll have a relatively basic vocabulary that won’t be difficult to comprehend.

This method is incredible as it allows me to become accustomed to hearing Spanish conversation and is an excellent starting point for watching shows with more complicated vocabulary.

So if you want to start learning immediately, watching cartoons may help you to grasp the fundamentals of understanding a foreign language in an entertaining format.

Split Movies Into Segments.

When learning a new language, it’s tempting to put on a movie (with subtitles), and simultaneously scroll through social media while it plays in the background.

But if you genuinely want to understand the conversations in the movie, studying each scene is a great way to ensure that you don’t miss anything.

One technique that I’ve found to be useful is splitting the movie into multiple segments so I can pay attention to every word & phrase during a conversation.

This method has allowed me to become quickly accustomed to the fast-paced tempo of a Spanish conversation while maintaining a strong understanding of how to pronounce each word with incredible accuracy.

Splitting movies into segments won’t enable you to understand conversations overnight. But when done consistently, it will certainly allow you to become more comfortable listening to the Spanish language outside of a classroom setting.

Write Down Frequent Phrases.

Although there are hundreds of thousands of words in the Spanish language, only 750 words are used within an everyday conversation.

So if you’re able to learn common vocabulary from a movie, you’ll quickly find yourself understanding a lot of what the characters are saying.

If you’re wondering how writing down frequently used phrases will help you learn a new language, here’s what I learned from implementing the technique myself:

  • I was able to improve my listening ability as I could understand commonly spoken phrases without having to check the subtitles.
  • My pronunciation of Spanish phrases improved as I was continually hearing common words being spoken while watching Netflix.
  • As I wrote down the most frequently used words, I was able to translate the written version in my head faster as I was seeing them each day.

I’ve discovered that watching foreign movies is best utilized as a supplement to your primary method of learning a language.

So instead of watching pointless movies during the evening, replacing that time with language learning (such as watching a Latin TV show) is a great way to significantly improve your level of fluency.

I write for people who want to live a happier life in the modern world. Let’s chat:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store