The Secret Way to Learn a New Language

The Secret Way to Learn a New Language

Some of us soak in languages like sponges – they hear a word or a sentence once and they might automatically remember it. Others have to try a bit harder to memorise vocabulary and apply the grammar rules. Which type are you?

 

Regardless of how easy language learning comes to you, we guarantee you will love the secret method we’re about to reveal. Perhaps it’s not even that secret – it just sometimes continues to be discredited as less reliable or less credible than more formal ones like attending language classes or filling out workbook exercises.

 

As a bunch of multilinguals, with most of us at Europe Language Jobs fluently speaking at least three languages, we are here to tell you that it’s 100% effective, 100% legitimate, and, most importantly, 100% enjoyable.

 

The secret method is…

 

Drums…

 

Learning through watching TV series!

 

Perhaps we didn’t blow your mind. Watching series is, after all, something we all do on a daily basis. But many of us make the mistake of not approaching it as a valuable source of language skills, treating it purely as a source of entertainment. In fact, it can serve both purposes perfectly well.

 

For this article, we have joined forces with our partner, Lingopie – an expert in learning languages through osmosis aka via watching films and series. Together, we’re going to run by you the main advantages of this method and explain how come it’s actually working.

 

Ready? Let’s start by going through the main ways in which watching series can help you learn a language.

 

1. You get accustomed to the language through listening

Languages aren’t limited to just writing – speaking and listening are also crucial. Regardless of whether you’re more of a visual or audio learner, it is a fact that you absolutely cannot master a language well without being exposed to it in every way you can.

 

Even if you remember things better by looking at them, believe us that you can still learn more by listening than you think. How many times did you hear a song in a foreign language and then couldn’t get it out of your head, no matter if you could understand the lyrics or not? We are programmed to subconsciously register, decode, and store the information we acquire by hearing.

 

Why do you think so many people say that the best way to learn a language is to move to a country where it is spoken? It’s all about the exposure. Living in a French-speaking country, you automatically hear French everywhere you go. When you come back, whether you realise it or not, your French skills will have improved.

 

So, if we can boost our language skills without even knowing it, imagine how much you can learn while actively watching a series and paying attention to what is being said.

 

2. Watching series is a pleasurable action

Watching films and series is a form of spending leisure time, which means most of us treat it as a reward. It is an action that is supposed to bring us pleasure – therefore, when we click the play button and snuggle in, our brains automatically release that dose of endorphins that flood out bodies.

 

Our biggest enemy while trying to learn anything is oftentimes the pressure. With the amount of other duties hanging over us, we sometimes just cannot focus on something that we know we have to study. Our brains detect the stress, get the adrenaline going, and assimilating any knowledge becomes impossible. We all know the feeling of staring at a page of text for good ten minutes before realising we have absolutely no idea what we have been looking at.

 

The solution?

 

Swap the adrenaline for endorphins. Close that textbook. Power on a favourite series. You will see how much this alternative method will help you along.

 

3. You learn the correct pronunciation of words

May the one who has never mispronounced a word in a foreign language be the first one to throw the stone. Are we correct in assuming there are no stones flying?

 

I’ll go first. Do you know how many years of my life passed before I realised the word “mature” is actually pronounced more like “manure” (pardon the comparison) rather than “nature”? Sixteen. And I have considered myself bilingual for more than half of that time.

 

And do you know how I could have easily avoided the humiliation of having this and many other pronunciation mistakes pointed out in public? By watching more films. As a bookworm, I have relied too heavily on reading books while learning English. So much so, that I almost completely disregarded the listening part.

 

So, by the time I discovered the phenomenon of binge-watching, I was shocked to realise how many words I used every day have an entirely different pronunciation than what I’d thought. And it took a long time for me to teach my brain, already so familiar with the incorrect version, the new one. And to think I could have simply avoided this problem by powering on a TV show!

 

4. The language used is casual

The biggest fear of a language learner is sounding like a human dictionary. Nobody wants to speak as though they never stop consulting Thesaurus.

 

By skipping the importance of learning by watching in the language-learning process, we end up like Joey Tribbiani in Friends. In our everyday speech, “warm, big-hearted people” become “humid, prepossessing Homo sapiens with full-sized aortic pumps.”.

 

Perfect grammar and rich vocabulary are one thing. Everyday speech, however, tends to be another. Spoken language always aims to become as simplified as possible. As a result, natives who understand that the ultra-correct way to say is, “Tomorrow at this time, I will have already arrived there”, will still choose to actually say “yeah, tomorrow I’ll be there”.

 

The same applies to colloquial language and slang. Some of the expressions used by natives in everyday life make no sense to foreigners if translated literally. By watching films and series, you not only save yourself the weird looks upon talking like a machine, but you also learn new, useful expressions that will bring you closer to the native speaker level.

 

5. You get familiar with different accents

I’d thought I could speak English. And then I went to live in Wales.

 

A week in, I started to wonder if my English is somehow a different English than the kind spoken by the locals. The same happened when I moved to Spain. When I finally started understanding my Catalan friends, I still struggled to hold a conversation with the Colombian family I lived with.

 

I could have probably lessened my problems by dedicating a few hours of my life to watching the good old telenovelas. That’s not exactly my favourite genre, but the great thing about learning a language by watching films is that the kinds of titles you pick can be very different from what you’d usually go for.

 

You can watch different series for improving your language skills, and another in your native language for the plot. Ideally, you might try to connect both, but don’t be surprised if, for your language learning, you end up choosing something that you normally wouldn’t consider!

 

At Lingopie, each film and series is marked with its country of origin, so you can easily choose which part of the world you’d like to travel to today. Want to learn Spanish with a Colombian telenovela? No problem!

 

6. Sound + image = context

Many language learners’ main worry about watching TV series in the target language is that they won’t understand enough to enjoy the show. But if you also share that concern, then you’re not giving yourself enough credit!

 

First of all, you can start with subtitles – easily available in all of the films on Lingopie. You can start off with subtitles in your native language, and then move on to the target language. A film differs from a podcast in a way that it doesn’t just rely on the speech – there is image provided, and it is there to help you.

 

It’s true that regardless of your level, there’s no way you’ll understand every single word in the foreign language. There will be new ones, which might slightly impact your understanding. If that happens, however, the action happening on the screen will probably tell you all you need to know and you’ll be able to happily keep on watching without losing the context.

 

Of course, there are many more reasons why learning languages through watching films and series is a great method, but we’d also like to mention a few pieces of advice to get you started.

 

Helpful tips for learning a language through watching:

 

1. Look up words or phrases you don’t understand

Yes, we did just tell you that you might not have to do that because the image provides the context. But the fact that you don’t have to do this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.

 

Sometimes, we can feel like we kinda understand the context of the word or expression, but we’re still unsure whether we’d be able to use it correctly ourselves. In that case, we recommend pausing the video and looking the word up.

 

The amazing thing about Lingopie is that usually, they will do that for you. As the platform is programmed to optimise your language learning to the max, you can learn the meaning of the words you don’t understand by clicking on them. It saves you the trouble of having to jump in-between windows in your browser or – even worse – looking around for your phone tangled up somewhere in the folds of your blanket!

 

2. Note down new things

We realise watching a show with a notepad and a pen might take away some of the pleasure and make you feel like you’re back at school. But Lingopie came up with a solution to that.

 

The whole point of watching a series with the aim of learning a language is to actually take something away from each episode, right? You will get accustomed to the language and learn to understand different accents anyway, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could also learn a phrase or two from every movie night?

 

This might be especially useful for all of you visual learners out there. Oftentimes, writing a word down might help it stick for much longer than simply hearing it. It might also ensure you know how to spell it out in the future and help you avoid eventual mistakes.

 

At Lingopie, the words you mark during watching are automatically added to your account as flashcards so that you can keep reviewing them in the future until you’re confident they’ve become a part of your active vocabulary. So while you can still stick to the good old pen and paper, you don’t have to!

 

3. Repeat the sentences out loud

“Okay, they want me to watch series with a notebook and take notes and now they’re actually telling me to talk to myself while I’m at it, too? Is this a joke?”

 

We know that’s what you’re thinking right now. You don’t have to pretend like that’s not true.

 

But, yes, the cool thing about languages is that they come bearing the whole package – listening, writing, and speaking. If you want to learn a language, then sorry to disappoint, but you’ll have to practice in all of those areas.

 

Personally, I find this hilarious. Maybe it’s only me, but I just love how Spanish actors somehow spit out entire sentences with the speed of a machine gun. I will literally pause the show and try to repeat what they just said without stuttering. It’s harder than it seems! You’ll see that once you try, you’re going to love it, too.

 

4. Implement what you learn into your everyday talk

We’ve already established that watching series helps us develop in all areas of language-learning. You learn to listen, write, and speak – you’re exposing yourself to the language, taking notes, talking to yourself trying to sound like a native. Great.

 

But what is it all for if you’re not going to actually do anything with that knowledge?

 

As we have mentioned before, the great thing about films is that they generally aim to sound natural. Unless you’re watching a period drama, then you can be mostly sure that you’ll be safe using the words and expressions you’ve remembered from the film or series.

 

The famous case of baseball players having learnt English by watching films is almost a cliché by now, but it proves our point perfectly, so we’re going to use it as an example to support our thesis and sum up this article!

 

Convinced about the amazing benefits of learning a language by watching films and series yet? Personally, we didn’t need too much convincing. Of course, it’s important to remember that while this method is very fun and effective, it shouldn’t be the only one we apply. Language courses, chats with natives, and the old school workbooks are all great, and the bigger the variety of means you apply, the bigger your chances of success.

 

We think we can all agree, however, that learning languages this way is the most exciting.

 

About Lingopie

Lingopie is a language-learning platform created by language enthusiasts for other language enthusiasts out there. Its creators have discovered the pleasure of learning a language by watching films and series, and wanted to facilitate this process for everyone else.

 

Just like on other streaming platforms, you can choose from a variety of titles, as well as languages. Bookworms, Lingopie didn’t forget about you! You can also access audiobooks, in case movies are not your jam.

 

Your dashboard shows you how many hours you have spent watching and how many new words you have learnt. You can easily navigate between jumping back into your favourite film and wanting to dedicate your time solely to revising vocabulary.

 

The leaderboard spices things up, as you can climb your way up to the top with the points you receive for watching and learning! And if you feel like you’d like to go over certain topics with a professional, Lingopie also offers the option to arrange 1:1 lessons with native speakers.

 

If you still haven’t created an account, go sign up now!

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