Watching movies, television and videos is an integral part of most people’s lives. In fact, statistics show that people spend about half their leisure time watching videos. People spend more time watching videos than reading, exercising, socializing, drawing and dancing combined. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend an average of 2.8 hours a day watching television. That’s over 1000 hours a year, or the equivalent of 6 months in working hours. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
That’s a lot of hours that could potentially become learning time. So, why not adapt the way you watch movies and television to include language learning? Changing only a fraction of the hours spent watching television can give you a real language-learning boost. When you can transform a hobby into a learning method, it’s phantasmagorical! (Whatever that means.)
Keep in mind though that you must use movies and television in a productive way. It is very possible to watch movies in your new language and not get much out of them. In this post, we’ll talk about how to use movies and television to your advantage and how to get the most out of your movie language-learning time.
Choose material appropriate for your learning level.
Like we talked about in our post on drowning in language-learning, you must choose material that is appropriate for your current skill level. Otherwise, it can be counter-productive. If you’re a beginner in your new language, there is really no point in watching a complicated political drama. You’ll likely just zone out and won’t be able to focus in a way that can be productive. Learn to choose material that is slightly above your current level in the language. In the next post, we’ll go through this into much more detail and we’ll recommend some appropriate learning material.
Aim for short, but focused sessions.
The most important thing to keep in mind while watching a video for language learning is to be totally engaged and concentrate on what you are watching. It can be tempting to put on your favorite Netflix show and completely zone out. Unfortunately, by going in zombie mode, the benefits will be very limited. Zombies aren’t very skilled with languages.
Actively focusing for the entire length of a 2-hour movie when you are just starting out is next to impossible. If you really want to get the best benefit-to-time ratio, we recommend watching in smaller segments. Make sure you can concentrate the whole time. Watch for 10 to 15 minutes, or until you feel your concentration level going down.
Make an exercise out of it.
In order to gain the most out of your watching sessions, try to interact with the scenes. There are several ways to do that. For example, you may want to write down the words you hear often and look them up after watching the scene. Once you know what the words mean, watch the scene again to reinforce what you just learned.
If you want to practice your pronunciation, repeat after the actors out loud. Try to have the same intonations, stress pattern, and pronunciation as them. Unless it’s Yoda. Want to imitate him, you do not. This can do wonders on your pronunciation. Plus, it can be quite entertaining to imitate a Spanish-dubbed version of Christopher Walken.
As your language-learning skills develop, pick a short scene and try to write down what you hear. This can be quite the challenge and requires a lot of focus. Pause and rewind the scene as much as you need to. Once you are done writing the dialogue, compare what you wrote to the subtitles of the movie. You may sometimes have to write down complete gobbledygook because you have no idea what they’re saying, but it’s all part of the fun. Plus, making mistakes is what allows you to improve. In upcoming posts, we will go through scene-watching exercises in much more detail.
If done correctly, watching movies and television can be a very powerful language-learning tool. One of the main reasons why people fail at language-learning is that they eventually get fed up with traditional language-learning methods. But if you practice your new language in ways you enjoy, it’ll keep the motivation machine running at full speed. Watching movies and television does not replace a well-planned language course, but it can certainly complement it very well and provide extra practice that is both enjoyable and highly effective.
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it with your friends by using one the social links below. If you are looking for a language-learning method to improve your foreign movie watching skills, check out our website at Ouino.com. Thanks a lot! Until next time!
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