Almost everyone watches at least a little bit of television, right? Some people watch a whole lot.
So, doesn’t it make sense to watch some in English?
Get Hooked on a Great Show
Getting hooked on [addicted to] a great TV show is an excellent way to improve your English. In fact, most of the great nonnative English speakers that I’ve met watch all television shows in the original language (English).
People from Scandinavia and Holland are probably some of the best English speakers in the world–almost at the same level with native speakers from the UK, the U.S., Australia, etc. And if you ask someone from there why their English is so good, they will most likely tell you that it’s NOT from studying English a lot.
It’s because the television shows in those countries are not dubbed [the audio changed to the local language]–they’re in English with subtitles in the local language. So people from countries like Sweden and Denmark are watching almost all their television in English from the time they are about five, which also gives them an opportunity to apply what they’re learning in their classes.
10 Shows Which You’ll Love Learning English With
1. Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors
Theme: Youth, animation
Genre: Comedy, adventure
To enjoy these two shows you certainly need imagination.
They don’t have strong plots, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not great. Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors were both created by Pendleton Ward–the former being shown on Cartoon Network and the latter only available on YouTube.
Adventure Time has won several awards, including an Emmy. So, what makes Ward’s cartoons so great? The first couple times I saw Adventure Time, I didn’t like it. But after a few more times, it started to grow on me [I started to like it]. And now I’m hooked; I wouldn’t miss an episode!
First of all, this may be a cartoon, but this is not a children’s show. It has many references that a child wouldn’t understand, and some episodes even cover complex topics disguised [hidden] under a comical adventure.
Another great thing about these two shows is that they’re short–five to 10 minutes each. So you can watch an episode on your coffee break and improve your English!
Adventure Time has even created its own culture and language. And while made up [created] slang like, “mathematical” or “tops blooby” might not be useful for your English vocabulary; it can make you a part of an entire community based on these two shows.
Of course, you’re going to learn a lot of useful English from this show as well.
2. Breaking Bad
Level: Upper Intermediate
Theme: Drugs and crime
You’ve probably heard of Breaking Bad, as it is one of the most popular movies of all time, and for good reason! This show is about Walt, a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with lung cancer. In order to provide for his family and pay for his medical bills, he decides to start developing and selling methamphetamine with a former student.
It’s a one of a kind show. It’s taboo [a subject that is generally unacceptable to discuss] and has great, crazy plot twists [unexpected changes in the story] that make it impossible to stop watching.
Breaking Bad has been awarded the highest-rated television series of all time by the Guinness Book of World Records, receiving a score of 99 out of 100, so if you don’t mind the subject matter, then definitely check it out! (By the way, I actually watched this show in Spanish for extra practice)
Theme: Murder, crime
Genres: Thriller, suspense
Dexter is an exciting, intense drama that centers on a man named Dexter who, from a young age, when his mother was murdered, has had an urge to kill people. His adopted father, a police officer, teaches him that he must use this terrible urge for good–and only ever kill other murderers who have killed without any just cause. He also teaches Dexter that he must only kill people who he is absolutely sure are guilty, so Dexter often goes to great lengths to assure that his “victim” is a terrible criminal.
Although one could say that Dexter is a “just killer” (that is, one who kills for the right reasons), this is certainly a dark show, and it may even have you watching with the lights on. It will keep you on the edge of your seat [full of excitement] to see what happens, as Dexter is another show full of great plot twists.
4. Game of Thrones
Country: United Kingdom
Theme: Medieval fantasy
Genres: Action, drama, intrigue
Game of Thrones is based a wonderful series of books called A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin.
This show (and the books) is great for anyone that likes action, passion, fantasy, history, and great plot twists [something sudden and unexpected]. Game of Thrones takes place in the land of Westeros in a medieval-like time. It follows the stories of many different fascinating characters and “the game,” that is, the fight for the throne–to be King or Queen of Westeros.
Game of Thrones has an awesome plot–in my opinion one of the best of any book or show that’s been made–and it always leaves you wanting more (the episodes are each about an hour long, but you would never guess that!).
If you have an active imagination and like movies/books like the Lord of the Rings then you’ll love Game of Thrones, but if you are more of a realist, then Game of Thrones might not be for you.
Level: Lower Intermediate
Country: United Kingdom
Theme: Modern day superheroes
Genres: Drama, action, intrigue
Misfits is about several young people doing community service after committing various minor crimes. One day, there is a strange lightening storm. The main characters (the misfits) are all struck. When they wake up, all of the sudden, they each have different superpowers like invisibility and the ability to read minds.
The series covers the different obstacles that they have to overcome after acquiring these powers. And with lots of intense action, you’re bound to want to keep watching!
This series also gives you the opportunity to hear several different typical English accents.
6. Modern Family
Level: Lower Intermediate
Theme: Strange American family life
Modern Family is a hilarious show that makes a commentary on how the traditional American family has completely changed, and it shows what could perhaps be considered “typical” nowadays.
The Modern Family is composed of a grandfather, Jay Pritchett, who has a hot, young Colombian wife who still doesn’t quite fit in with American culture. She has a son who is a huge romantic, loves poetry, and wears suits and ties. It’s also about Jay’s son and daughter. His son is gay and has a partner and an adopted baby from Vietnam. His daughter is married to a man who is goofy [acts funny, silly] and a little crazy, and they have three children, each very different from the others.
As you can see, it’s quite a complex and unique family, which is what makes the show so interesting and hilarious. Although this might not be completely typical, the show gives a good insight into American culture and how family life there has changed so much.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Crime, drama
This show is a modern day twist on the old Sherlock Holmes stories. Holmes is a consulting detective who uses modern technology to help him solve crimes with the help of his colleague Doctor John Watson, a former military doctor. Together, they work to solve London’s most complex crimes and defeat Holmes’ archnemesis, Jim Moriarty, a criminal mastermind.
If you’re a fan of mysteries, and you enjoy shows that keep you guessing [you never know what is going to happen] then this is a great show for you to check out. This show requires you to dedicate a little more time (each episode is 90 minutes), but it’s definitely worth it.
Level: Upper Intermediate
Theme: Law and business
Genres: Witty comedy, intrigue
Suits is a show about one of the best lawyers in New York City–Harvey Specter.
Now, a show about lawyers might sound boring–that’s certainly what I though–but it’s not. This is an excellent show. It’s funny, witty, and it always keeps you guessing.
I would recommend this show to anyone who isn’t interested in predictable endings and who likes intelligent humor. And I would especially recommend this show for those who practice law (lawyers, judges, etc.) or business, who can benefit a lot from learning about law vocabulary.
However, whether or not you are a lawyer, I believe you will understand and love this show. Plus, you can learn a lot about confidence, integrity, justice, and leadership–all of which are important for learning a new language.
Theme: The connections between us
Genres: Thriller, drama
Touch is about Martin Bohm and his 11 year-old son, Jake. Martin’s wife died in the World Trade Center Buildings during the attacks in 2011. Jake has never spoken, and so most people think that he’s emotionally disturbed from losing his mom or that he has some mental problem, but the truth is that he’s a genius.
Jake sees the world in numbers and the connection between everything, and after a while, his father begins to figure this out as Jake uses the numbers to communicate with Martin. He doesn’t understand very well what his son is trying to communicate to him, so he seeks out someone who knows better, a professor, who shows him that Jake sees a bigger picture, and is trying to help not just his father, but everyone.
Throughout the show, Jake sends Martin on different “missions” where he encounters and helps strangers, changing occurrences all over the world.
This show truly shows us how much our little actions can affect and change the lives of tons of other people. If you want to watch something that will really make you think about how your actions affect the world, then check out this show.
Country: United Kingdom/Scandinavia
Theme: Historical fiction
Vikings takes place in Scandanavia in the 700’s. It’s centered around Ragnar Lodbrok, a famous Viking hero from Norse mythology, who has a plan to be the first person of his land to sail west to England and raid for riches.
If you want a show similar to Game of Thrones, but more realistic, then check out Vikings. It’s full of action, intrigue, and exciting plot twists. It’s also a great way to learn a little bit about Norse history and mythology. You’re bound [assured] to get hooked.
You may find Vikings an easier show to understand because they speak slowly. Note that many characters use a Scandinavian accent, but speak grammatically correct.