Be Careful When Using TV Series To Learn English

December 14, 2020 - Priscila Pereira

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Hey student!

TV series are great! I love watching them and I often have to watch out because I can easily binge watch my favorite tv series all day long.

As much as I love tv series, in today’s post, I want to get your attention to one important FACT.

TV series alone will NOT help you improve your listening

Wait, WHAT? 


I know. I know. Don’t be upset. Read this post until the end and you will understand what I am trying to say.

Last week, a student of mine told me she was feeling a bit down.  When I asked her why, she told me her listening was not improving.  Then I asked her: well, what makes you think  that?

Well, teacher, 2 weeks ago I watched a tv show episode in English and I understood well. Yesterday though, I watched another show, and I didn’t understand ANYTHING. Even with subtitles on, I couldn’t understand. What’s wrong with my listening skills?

Has this ever happened to you? Keep reading this post if the answer is yes.

My next question was. What show did you watch 2 weeks ago and what show did you watch yesterday?

The first show was friends and the second was Vikings.  Before I tell you what I told her, can you see the HUGE difference between these shows?? Well, if you do, what a smart pants you are 😀

Now, tv shows are great, but you are not doing an active exercise when watching tv shows. It is an entertaining moment. In those moments you are supposed to relax and enjoy your favorite show.

Secondly, friends and Vikings are EXTREMELY different shows in terms of vocabulary, context, pronunciation, and intonation. No matter how awesome your listening is, every time you watch “period shows” like Vikings, Game of Thrones, the last kingdom, Downtown Abbey and so many other shows that take place in very ancient times, you will have problems understanding them.



The first time I watched Game of Thrones, I had to activate the subtitles. It took me some time before I could finally turn off the subtitles and understand well and even after that, there were some episodes were in some parts I would need to activate the subtitles to check if I had really understood what they were saying. Now, think about it, me teacher prix, having the same problem that many of you may have. The only difference is that I have understood when and how to use TV series in my favor and that is DEFINITELY NOT when watching kinds of shows that may have an unrealistic English.

So, teacher what do I do?

Firstly, if you want to improve your listening, TV series may not be the best way to go. The episodes are long and there is a lot of vocabulary you may not know which means TV series are not only about listening, but about vocabulary.

You can however watch TV shows as a COMPLEMENT and NOT as the main source of listening practice. Listening exercises have to be short and efficient. They need to target one listening comprehension skill. TV shows can’t offer you that.

If you want a post about listening exercises, I want you to comment below this post #listeningexercises and I will create a post just to tell you about efficient listening exercises you can do.

In the meantime, enjoy your favorite show and use it as a complement not as the main activity you do to work on your listening skills.


Teacher Prix

Priscila Pereira

Starbucks and TV Series lover: juggling with teaching, blogging, and a YouTube life! I’m teacher Prix and I want to help you talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime in English! This blog is for English speakers who are looking for an effective blog. Get inspired by hundreds of different posts for all English levels, so that you can finally learn English easily and effectively on the internet.

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