One goal of English language instruction is to help learners gain the skills to use English confidently in every day conversations. To build that confidence, it helps to hear lots of English conversations as they take place. What better way to do that than with television? TV shows give English language learners the opportunity to see English in action in a variety of "everyday" situations. Of course, you can't show just any television show. You need to pick shows that highlight the types of language your learners need.
Friends is one of the most popular shows for ESL and ELL students. A quick search of BusyTeacher.org will reveal numerous worksheets related to the series. The series follows a group of friends living in New York City. It's great for English language learners because the friends navigate jobs and relationships, just like many of your students will have to deal with eventually.
Seinfeld is also about a group of friends in New York City. However, the friends are older. A lot of the dialogue on the show is slower, making it easier for English language learners to catch on. The show itself has the characters engage in a variety of activities and also incorporates humor, which gives learners the chance to learn idioms and slang.
3. Boy Meets World
The show Boy Meets World follows a group of high school students. It's great for helping your own students hear conversations between people their own age and learn vocabulary related to school and family. There are also a lot of great life lessons involved with the show.
4. The Andy Griffith Show
What better way to introduce traditonal family values than by having English language learners watch reruns of The Andy Griffith Show? The show features easy-to-understand characters, humorous scenarios, and a slow pace to allow learners to keep up with the dialogue.
5. I Love Lucy
I Love Lucy contains a lot of humorous scenarios, including many that involve simple misunderstandings with language. This can help English language learners become more comfortable with making mistakes in their own language usage.
6. Saved by the Bell
If you teach high schoolers, introduce them to some typical American high schoolers (from the 80s and 90s anyway). Learners will discover common teenage conversations and silly scenarios. They may also learn a few key character lessons.
7. Full House
Full House shows students conversations between family members as they go through life's ups and downs together. Students will learn about different types of family relationships and discover conversations between people of different ages and generations.
8. The Simpsons
For the past twenty years, few shows have been able to top The Simpsons' ability to be culturally relevant and funny. As they watch, language learners can try to guess the pop culture and historical references they see in the show. Although it's a cartoon, the show is best for high school and adult learners.
On Chopped, chefs compete to make dishes out of surprise ingredients. The show is a great way for learners to build their vocabulary related to food and cooking techniques.
10. House Hunters
House Hunters follows people as they search for the perfect home. Watching the show will help learners build their everyday vocabulary related to home searches, communities, and everyday life in the United States.
When using TV shows in the classroom, you can choose whether to have students fill in a worksheet as they watch or simply hold a discussion during or after the episode. For newer language learners, you may want to turn on captions to help them connect the scenarios to their native language.
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