Sitting in your favorite chair, sipping tea, looking at the computer screen, worrying a little about when Juan will decide to propose to Maria, and learn a foreign language. A dream for those who have been going to learn it for many years now. And they look and believe that they teach him in this way, but… in vain.
Why doesn't this method work?
First, because there is no method here. You do nothing, just passively look at the screen, and often do other things as well. We are used to seeing films as a background. What can you learn from background noise?
Secondly, you train at best two skills - listening, that is, listening comprehension, and reading, if subtitles are connected. Writing and, most importantly, speaking, necessary for full-fledged mastery of speech, remain overlooked.
Thirdly, even if you memorize two or three words or phrases from a series, they will instantly be forgotten, just like everything that is not used is forgotten. That is, the vocabulary is not replenished either.
Fourthly, many first watch the same film in their native language, and only then revisit it in a foreign language. In this case, one does not even have to guess about the meaning of what is happening on the screen, that is, the brain does not strain at all.
To watch or not to watch?
It sounds counterintuitive, but ... better to watch than not. You have two options. The first is to continue watching what you are interested in, but honestly admit to yourself that you are not learning the language, but having fun. Quite a normal activity - no worse than other types of recreation.
The second way is not only to watch foreign language films, but also to finally start learning a foreign language. That is, take up systematic lessons, go to courses, to a private teacher, etc. In this case, TV shows are about combining business with pleasure: entertainment, which is connected with learning and helps it if you do everything right.
How to choose a movie?
First of all, it should be feasible for you. If you are at the Elementary level (aka "newbie", aka A1 according to the international classification), then "The Lord of the Rings" or "Downton Abbey" will definitely not suit you.
It is better to start with films created specifically for teaching - the speech there is slower, the series is short, you can find explanations and, importantly, tasks. The latter are best done honestly. After watching one or two of these series, go to the usual, filmed for the entertainment of the audience.
It is important to focus on something interesting for you personally. At least a dozen serious uncles have complained to me that they cannot watch Friends, with whom most people start watching films in English - they are annoyed by this series. On my offer to watch something filmed by the BBC, or to choose a TV series about their favorite fishing, they gave out the notorious "What can you do?" and, happy, went home to the TV.
Do not follow stereotypes, include films of the topic that excites you and which will be useful in real life - at work, in communication with friends, to improve your hobbies.
Be sure to insure yourself with the ability to connect subtitles in a foreign language. Better to use them than to succumb to the temptation to first watch the episode in your native language, and certainly better than getting annoyed at not understanding a key point.
TV series or movie?
Many believe that there is no fundamental difference. But there are several arguments in favor of serials.
Usually, the speech of their characters is as close to real life as possible, especially if the action takes place in the present. This means that the vocabulary in them will be especially relevant and you will be able to learn at least a few modern expressions.
Another advantage is the large number of episodes. Gradually, you will get involved and begin to worry about the characters, and everything connected with emotions is remembered much better. By the way, this is another reason to choose a show that you are really interested in.
Finally, the more episodes, the more often the same vocabulary is repeated in them. And this also helps memorization.
How to look correctly
If you decide that the series is for you first of all training, and only then entertainment, then you need to watch it like this:
Set aside a time in which you only focus on the movie. Household chores, handicrafts, email and social media checks should be postponed.
Look carefully at the actors, observe articulation (movement of the lips, mouth, jaws), gestures, facial expressions. This will make it easier for you to copy the phonetics and intonation of speakers.
Listen not only to the content of the phrases, but to the intonation of the actors, to try to recognize emotions by the tone of voice, sounds. This will help to more correctly determine the mood and attitude of people in real situations of communication in a foreign language.
Use subtitles only in a foreign language and only in extreme cases. Better to watch without them at all. About the advice to first watch the film in its native translation and completely forget it as one of the most harmful.
Ideally, write down at least a few unfamiliar phrases and expressions from each series in order to master them later.
If the series is educational, be sure to do tasks for it, and in writing.
The most important rule is not to leave what you were able to take from the series in passive. Put knowledge into practice right away. If you manage to use at least one phrase from the film at the next lesson or in real communication, consider that you have not wasted your time on it.
Is it possible to learn a foreign language from TV series?
Films & cinema, music & songs--past & present.
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