Watching TV shows, nowadays, has become a common way of relaxing after a long working day. And you know what? TV shows are also a great way to learn English. The English you can learn from TV shows is the real-life English which is actually used daily in any English speaking country. Plus, watching TV shows is a fun and easy habit to build. The only problem is that there are too much to choose from. Therefore, check out the list of 8 great TV shows to learn English. Carefully read the level, theme and genre to pick one or two that interest you and enjoy a new way of learning English!
Theme: Friendship in London life
Bridget and Annie are two young women who share a flat in London. They have a neighbor Nick, who fancies himself, and Bridget. Bridget doesn’t return his affection, but Annie her flatmate does. Their landlady has very strict guidelines for the tenants and she regularly checks up on them. Into the mix comes Hector, a naive outsider from Argentina. He only knows a little about English and the fun begins.
extr@ is a language-learning sitcom broadcast in many countries with 30 hilarious, twenty-minute sitcom episodes. The adventures of the four main characters are interesting and funny with lively and colloquial English dialogue. All the characters speak English naturally, but clearly with constant repetition and strong use of visual prompts that help learners without detracting from the sitcom format. The extr@ series is a delighted TV show to learn English for anyone, especially young adults.
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
Theme: Young people, family, friendship
Zack and Cody are troublesome twins who live in a fictional Tipton Hotel (parody of the Hilton hotel) in Boston. Other main characters of the series include the ditzy heiress of the Tipton hotel, London, the down-to-earth candy counter girl, Maddie, the strict and serious manager, Mr. Moseby, and the boys’ single mother who is also the Hotel’s lounge singer, Carey. The twins often get themselves into trouble and come up with witty ideas to get out of it.
The show is fun to watch and is great for English learning since it uses an easy to understand language. It can also help with learning real American English.
Level: Lower intermediate
Theme: American family life
This is a mockumentary family sitcom that follows three related families who represent 21st-century American family life. This show is about the lives of Jay Pritchett, his hot, young Colombian wife, their son and his stepson, as well as his two adult children and their spouses and kids. The show highlights the value of accepting differences since it explores gay marriage, interracial marriage, adoption, sibling rivalry and romantic relationship between people of different cultures and generations.
Since the cast is from diverse backgrounds and ages, you can hear and learn different ways of speaking. For example, you will probably learn English with the Colombian accent, dialogues in the gay community or teenager slang.
Home and away
Theme: Adult issues, lives and loves
Genre: Soap opera/Drama
This is the second longest – ongoing drama series in Australia. Home and away follows the lives and loves of the residents in Summer Bay, a fictional seaside town of New South Wales, Australia. The show features adult issues such as teen pregnancy, rape, drug, alcohol addiction and drug overdose. The show also features many natural disasters such as cyclone, storm, flood, landslide, earthquake…
You will learn some key Aussie slangs (used by Australian natives or inhabitants) and more about the Australian culture. The show also covers multiple topics from adult issues to natural disasters. Hence, you can learn a wide range of vocabulary from this drama series.
The walking dead
Theme: Fiction, humanity
The sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma and discovers that the world is overrun by zombies, referred as “walkers” in this series. The walkers chase toward living humans and other creatures to eat them. Rick reunites with his family and becomes the leader of a group which he forms with other survivors from Atlanta, Georgia region. They attempt to protect themselves not only against attacks by walkers but by other groups of survivors willing to assure their longevity by any means necessary. The show is full of blood and violence and has attracted 18 to 49-year-old viewers.
The dialogues in the series are simple and the conversations (mostly about abnormal daily life) are easy to follow. Therefore you will have the opportunity to learn the Southern American accent through this TV show.
Level: Upper Intermediate
Theme: Drugs and crime
Genre: Crime drama thriller
This is one of the most popular series of all time according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The series is about Walter White, a struggling and depressed high school chemistry teacher who was diagnosed with lung cancer. In order to pay for his medical bills and to secure his family’s financial future before he dies, he decides to start producing and selling crystallized methamphetamine with his former student Jesse Pinkman. As the title “Breaking bad”, White turns to a life of crime, while navigating the dangers of the criminal world.
It is a one of a kind show. The series has great plot twists that make it impossible to stop watching. The dialogues and conversations are at the upper intermediate level since they contain vocabulary in Chemistry. If you are into the crime drama thriller then this show is a must.
Genre: Political drama
The series depicts the behind the scenes events at the fictional Atlantis Cable News (ACN) channel. It revolves around anchor Will McAvoy, his new executive producer, newsroom staffs and the head of ACN, Charlie Skinner. In season 1, each episode is built around a major news event from the recent past such as the killing of Osama Bin Laden. The second season has reported a false news story about the United States Marine Corps using sarin gas during the war in Afghanistan in 2009. The third season gathers two controversial topics, the subject of citizen journalism (focus on the Boston Marathon Bombing and its subsequent investigation) and the whistleblowing (the leak of the US government’s complicity in an atrocity in an African state from an anonymous).
This show is for those who interested in political subjects, especially the US related issues. The language of the show is quite complicated due to the unfamiliar topic, politicals (to most of non-native English speakers). However, it is a great source if you want to improve your vocabulary as well as your knowledge on this topic. The speed of the conversation in this series is quite fast, therefore, it requires an advanced English level.
Theme: Mystery, Detective
Genre: Crime drama
Sherlock is a TV series based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous novel. It depicts consulting detective Sherlock Holmes solving various mysteries in 21st century London. Holmes is assisted by his flatmate and friend, Dr. John Watson, who has returned from military service in Afghanistan with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Dr. Watson writes a blog documenting their adventures, reporting on Holmes’ cases and eccentric personal life, which makes Holmes becomes a reluctant celebrity with the press. Both ordinary people and the British government come to find Holmes for his help. The series depicts a variety of crimes and perpetrators, especially Jim Moriarty, a criminal mastermind.
If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes and mysteries then this show is definitely for you. However, in order to watch the whole series without subtitle, you should have an advanced English level since the conversations are complex with a wide range of vocabulary. The speed of almost conversation is quite fast, too.
Where on Earth can I watch these shows?
Amazon.com If you are an old-fashioned person and prefer to watch these series on DVD, you can definitely find them here. Make sure to check if there are subtitle included on the DVD.
Netflix.com You can find most of the shows mentioned above on Netflix with great quality and full English subtitles.
Amazon Prime This site is also run by Amazon which is a great source of movies and TV shows DVD. Hence, it’s sure that you can find most of the shows here.
YouTube.com You can also find the most interesting scenes or short parts of episodes from the series you like.
If you are still worrying about numerous new words you might see while watching these shows, try the eXtension from eJOY. This Chrome eXtension will help you to look up any new words while watching. Moreover, you can save those words for further practice by just one click.
Check out the Introduction to eJOY eXtension: Word master for more information.
So, you have just got the list of 8 TV shows to learn English with. Now you can try to immerse yourself in one of the series of your choice and improve your English. You can also check our blog about Top 4 TV shows to improve your English for more references.
Have fun watching TV shows to learn English!