Learning a foreign language with Netflix, Amazon Prime or other streaming services

learn a language with Netflix - Learning a foreign language with Netflix, Amazon Prime or other streaming services

As a language teacher, I have heard many times of people learning English primarily by watching English-speaking TV shows and/or movies. While this may seem strange at first, if you think about it, it is entirely possible. But how? With constant connection to screens, we live and breathe entertainment. As a society glued to a screen, how can we use that entertainment in a more productive way? In the language world, it can be said that no language is difficult to learn if the motivation to learn it exists. Therefore, if you take your entertainment interests (favorite movie or TV show) and apply language to it, motivation and learning go hand in hand. Let’s break down how to use streaming services to study or learn a language. 

The learning model:  actively watch and listen to that film or show you have seen 1,000 times in the language you want to learn. Since you know the content, the storyline and characters, your only focus is the language. You should do this activity when you can devote time to focus on the language.

  1. Locate a movie or TV show you know well through Netflix, Amazon Prime or other streaming service (or DVD).
  2. Check out the audio and subtitle settings for the desired language. You may want to select one at a time and focus on listening and speaking (if audio) or reading and grammar (if subtitles). If you are unable to locate your favorite movie or show with the appropriate language option, just choose another one with which you are familiar.
  3. Select the proper language setting and play.
  4. At this point, you have some flexibility as to how frequently you stop the video, but you should pause the video periodically and repeat what you hear or pause and look at the vocabulary and grammar that you see in the subtitles. 
  5. If you are simply listening and repeating, once you pause the video to repeat, record yourself using your smartphone or other device. Play back the recording and compare it to the video. Pay attention to voice inflection, accents, liaisons (connections between words), etc. Continue to do this until you have a similar pronunciation. You can also pause just prior to the scene and try to recall the language.
  6. If you are reading the subtitles and focusing on grammar, keep notes of new vocabulary words or grammar structures that you find new or interesting. After a scene has concluded, review your notes, rewind the video, and replay the scene without looking at your notes and see if you can recall the new words. Continue to replay the scene until you feel you have a good grasp of the new vocabulary or structures.
  7. Once you have completed the video, restart it, and review all that you have learned.

Studying or learning with media will take time; you do not need to watch it all at once. Divide the video into sections by watching and reviewing daily. It may take a week or two to complete an entire movie; the pace is up to you. Et voila! Studying and learning through entertainment: could this be any more enjoyable?

By: Summer HC

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