Although to some people, merely attending a language class is sufficient for them to master the language, that is not the case for everyone. Some people just require a more hands-on or creative approach. If you are one of those people who struggles to study German by reading books, have you tried learning through watching TV?
If you don’t think that sounds plausible, studies have shown that those who frequently watch foreign-language shows tend to be better at reading, listening and vocabulary. This rule applies to language learners of all ages, be it for primary school students or even adults who are just starting to learn a new language.
In 2015, Pearson English, an education publisher, made a survey and found that 58% of English learners made use of TV shows such as ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘House of Cards’ to improve their language skills. The European Commission also made a survey and found that subtitles help to improve the mastery of foreign languages as compared to dubbed languages.
And that’s not all. Did you know that language is easier to be memorised through rhythm and melodies? Studies have shown that music can also greatly improve students’ language skills as it produces several positive effects on the human brain. By listening to music, students can activate both the left and right brain, which in turn can maximise learning ability and improve memory.
So, if you don’t think watching foreign films can improve your language skills, think again.
How to properly learn a language when watching foreign films
- Turn on the subtitles for beginners
First things first, it’s hard to learn the language if you don’t know what it means. For beginners, watch a foreign film with subtitles. These texts will help you to understand the words that are used in the film. If you come across words that you have never encountered before, read the subtitles to find out what they mean.
Once you have improved your language skills and are feeling more confident, you can proceed to watch without subtitles and only use subtitles when you don’t understand certain dialogues.
- Focus on the common words or phrases
When watching foreign films, try to identify the most common words or phrases used. If you would like to know the common phrases used in day-to-day conversations, then focus on the character’s conversations when watching the film. You can write down these repeated words or phrases and try to include them in your daily conversations.
- Recap the scene
If you’re somewhat fluent, try to watch the foreign film without subtitles by yourself or with a language partner. Then, pause on a particular scene and try to explain the scene to your language partner. This activity will test your level of understanding of the language and how well you can understand native speakers.
- Match the speech to the context
Other than focusing on the common words or phrases, keep your eyes open to the common expressions made by the characters in the film. Ask yourself these questions, “What are they trying to convey with their body language and tone of voice?” and “How does the phrase match their expression?”
When you try to match the speech to the context, you will have a clearer understanding of the meaning behind each word used. And you will also learn how to better express yourself in another language.
- Rewind scenes and listen carefully if you didn’t catch what they said
Last but not least, there is no shame in admitting that you don’t understand what you’re watching. If you find yourself still feeling confused about the words and phrases used despite having used the subtitles, feel free to rewind the scenes how many times you like to catch what was said.
When learning a new language, active listening is extremely important. Rather than just watching the show, you need to study them. Fully concentrate on the words used and try to understand the meaning behind those words. It might take you a long time to finish one film, but it will be an exciting learning experience.
5 Films and shows to watch for children and adults
All in all, there are plenty of ways for foreign language learners to improve their language skills. Watching shows and films on TV is just one of the many creative ways to try.
After 14 years of experience, our team at Learn German Singapore has discovered that it is better for students and those who wish to learn the German language to attend a beginner’s class before they proceed with this method of learning.
Once they have at least have basic knowledge of the language, only then can they further refine their language skills through watching foreign films over the weekend or by listening to foreign music. After all, learning through watching and listening is not only fun but is also proven to be very effective.