Learning English skills with TV and films

Improving English skills through the small screen

Learners also use television shows to improve their English. Popular English-speaking programmes that are viewed by millions of people globally include the CSI shows, The Mentalist and Downton Abbey. Documentaries are also particularly popular. In 2015, when we asked learners which TV shows helped them improved their English skills the most House of Cards came in a clear winner followed by Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey:


Subtitles are a great idea as you can check on the meaning of a word or you can pause the movie and repeat a sentence you would like to learn. In some countries, such as the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Portugal, movies and television programmes in English are subtitled. However, dubbing is still used in France, Italy, Spain and German-speaking countries. In Spain, officials are asking for an end to dubbing and replace it with subtitles on all programmes in the television schedules. It’s part of an educational plan to improve the nation’s English. And in our research, we found quite a range of popular TV programmes across the globe:


If you would like to begin using television shows and movies as study aids to help you learn English, try starting with some children’s ones. These are a rich source of simple, authentic English with lots of visual clues.

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  • #1

    Виктория (Понедельник, 08 Февраль 2016 16:33)

    I'm not surprised that House of Cards is one of the most popular TV shows round the world. It's really captivating.