Learning English through Television

I grew up in a home where English is not an everyday thing. My parents only spoke the language when they were talking to visitors from other countries, and I would only have to think in English when I was playing video games on my old Play Station because all the games I had are in English; though, it would be nice to understand Japanese to enjoy the games in its original format.

However, that kind of environment is not the best when it comes to learning English. In terms of grammar, I learned it in school, but speaking was not taught intensively. I guess, during my time at least, English in an academic setting focused a lot more on grammar, reading, and writing. Actually, the setting in some schools here in the Philippines is that you get teased when you insist on speaking English, but that’s another story.

Source: www.npr.org

Source: www.npr.org

But how did I end up having a well-trained American accent? When I was around 15 or 16, I got hooked into watching American TV shows. At that time, Heroes was the craze along with Supernatural and many others. I used to save money and buy DVDs just to binge watch on school nights or over the weekends. And I watched it a lot, too. Over and over again, in fact.

From time to time, the American Institute for English Proficiency would get students who are eager to learn English but have nobody to practice with. Apart from talking to the specialists and classmates, some students don’t really get a chance to seize the opportunity to practice the language outside our school, so I sometimes get questions about how one could practice English while they’re here in Metro Manila.

My usual answer in how to improve your communication skills in English is television. This is my go-to answer because it played a huge role in the development of my accent and grammar. I basically learned grammar in school and listened to different sorts of accents in English via television. However, you also tend to learn how sentences are constructed in English and see the patterns the more you watch TV shows which actually does improve grammar to a certain extent.

During my obsession over those shows, I also wondered about how your typical Juan Dela Cruz (an average Filipino like me) who speaks English compare to a native speakers. You should compare non-native speakers with the characters on TV shows, and then you’ll realize that there is a huge difference. So what I did was I tried mimicking the characters at first and repeated some of their lines. I also found friends who would watch it with me, so there would be people whom I can talk to about it. And that went on for a couple of years.

English has already played a big role in my family because some of my aunts married men outside the Philippines, such as a Filipino-American, a Hungarian, and a Canadian, and when I had to talk to them, people around the house noticed that I was speaking in English differently. It was better and natural.

Watching TV shows really helped me in my speaking skills. Although it may feel a bit awkward at first, saying lines like save the cheerleader, save the world!, but trust me, it works. And it really helps a lot if you have friends who can join you, too.


  • Liz Orale Aiep

    Yes! I totally agree with you, Reggie. Watching TV actually helps us not only improve in the English lingo, but also our listening skills. In terms of the American accent, that takes time and a lot of hard work to concentrate and get it; more like pause-play-rewind. If people try it more often, with English subtitles, they’d realize the progress they have before they know it. Good one! 😉

  • Czaree Deles

    I agree that watching television will help you learn how to speak English better. Watching English tv shows will help one build his vocabulary when it comes to English language and you can also parrot the way someone talks.

    • Liz Orale Aiep

      Yes, watching English/American movies with English subtitles would enhance your communication skills immensely! It’s both tricky and fun at the same time. Should you ever try it, you may try it with your friends who’re on the same boat with you. You’d help each other and your progress may also be enhanced faster. Good luck! 🙂

  • Candie Sanchez

    When I was a kid, I love watching American shows and imitate them. Through that experience, I learned and appreciate English at the very young age. Now that I got older, I still watch television to help me improve my English listening skills; Specifically, European English shows. Watching helps us jump start the learning process when it’s really difficult to understand it on reading books.

  • Dimash

    Yeah! I found it as a good helper when i started to learn English. In the beginning, it was quite hard to understand their accent. After a couple of months, I got used to it and began to understand more.

  • Wyn Inocentes-Aiep

    When I was young, I would always watch English shows and movies which is a big factor of me learning English

  • Adnan Lolgvggv

    Watching TV and movies helped improve my English too. But I think speaking helps improve your English more.

  • Micah Mouse

    The same goes for me! I was an introvert when I was a kid and I grew up watching Disney Channel’s shows like Totally Spice, Kim Possible, and Martin Mystery instead of playing outdoors. I didn’t realize that I was actually learning how to speak English little by little because I was just a child enjoying my favorite shows. It dawned on me when I started my 5th-grade year in elementary school and our teacher mandated us all to start speaking in English in the classroom. I found my classmates finding it difficult not only to speak English but also to comprehend the language. I might not have as much fun as others had when I was little but I definitely felt the perks of being cooped up in my house watching English cartoons alone when I was at school by doing well in my English classes.