Netflix and learn?

We always hear students say “I’m going to watch a film every night in English” or “I will watch everything in VOSE”, but how practical is this?

The truth is, anytime you watch, listen, speak or read in English is brilliant and helps, but after a hard day at work or university, do you really listen when you are watching the latest smash-hit series on Netflix or blockbuster at the cinema?

Are films and series the best idea?

Speaking from personal experience of learning a second language, I know that while you can have the best of intentions to watch things in their original version, in reality it can be hard to understand and follow the story for the whole episode or film (personally I sometimes struggle when watching things in my native language!) You understand the words, maybe the context, but what is actually happening is not clear. This is even worse when you’re tired in the evening and just want to relax.

So instead of a 30 minute episode, or 2 hour film, why not try a short YouTube video? Or Ted Talk? By watching something shorter you can really focus on the vocabulary, pronunciation, or whatever you’re tyring to improve. A short video is also more practical to fit into your busy life as you can watch it on the Metro, on your lunch-break or even in the bathroom!

A daily dose

As you can fit a short video into your day-to-day life, you will be more inclined to do it regularly. After doing it a few times not only will you feel proud that you’ve stuck to your plan, but it will also feel like a natural part of your routine.

What if you prefer a series or film?

Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with watching a film or series, but if you do, I’d recommend watching something that you have already seen and know. For me, I choose to watch Friends in Spanish as I know all the stories, jokes and characters very well, so when I listen I can concentrate on what is being said and not worry about understanding what is happening.

If you do decide to watch something new, why not try something easy like a competition series or cooking show? That way you don’t have to worry about the storyline and can concentrate on understanding the people, experience different accents and more informal, day-to-day speech. Personally, something like First Dates in Spanish is great for me as it’s great to listen to a variety of accents and general conversation.

The most important thing is that you watch something you enjoy or are interested in. Whether that is the Roman Empire or cycling, fashion or nuclear fusion, if you find something you enjoy, you will be more focussed and motivated.

What are you going to watch? Tell us in the comments.

Happy watching!


Resources for short videos


Smash-hit (compound noun): refers to something, such as a movie, song, or book, that is extremely successful, popular, and generates a significant impact or attention.

Blockbuster (noun): denotes something, typically a movie, book, or product, that achieves immense commercial success, often characterized by high sales, popularity, and widespread recognition.

Struggle (noun / verb): involves making forceful efforts or facing challenges to overcome a difficult situation, achieve a goal, or deal with adversity.

To fit something in (phrasal verb): to find the time to do something. 

Dose (noun): a measured amount of something.

To be inclined to do something (verb phrase): to have a tendency or preference toward doing a specific action or behaving in a particular way.

To stick to a plan (verb phrase): to adhere firmly to a predetermined course of action, strategy, or schedule without deviation or veering off track.

Storyline (noun): refers to the plot or sequence of events that make up the narrative or main storyline in a book, movie, or other forms of storytelling.

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