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10+ Easy TV Series to Learn English

10 easy TV series to learn English | Learn English Online

Last updated: March 03, 2019

Is it a good idea to improve your English watching TV series? Of course! I will tell you today about the great TV series to learn English with. They are easier to understand than others if you just start practising natural English.

While TV shows like Sherlock, Doctor Who, Games of Thrones, or Suits are fun to watch, they are quite difficult to understand for English learners. Unfortunately, they are intense and use a lot of specific vocabulary.

If you are an Elementary or Intermediate English learner without everyday contact with English, you need to prepare yourself for difficult stuff. Start with easier TV shows, get used to fast speaking and conversational language, and then you will be unstoppable 😉

Why use TV series to learn English?

First of all, they are fun! Linguists say that you get much better learning results when you like what you are doing. Pick the shows which you are personally interested in. Learning will be easier this way!

But also don’t forget that TV series:

  • improve your listening skills
  • develop your confidence in understanding English
  • teach you tons of speaking phrases and cool vocabulary
You can watch TV series in English with English subtitles on ororo.tv. It's possible to change the speed and use the English-Russian dictionary installed in the player. And it is not expensive!

List of easy TV series to learn English with

I always advise starting with learning programmes like EXTRA or documentaries. They are created with learners in mind: not too difficult but good to make a start.

10 Easy TV Series to Learn English | Learn English Online

Extra is a TV show created specially for English learners. My students love it because it is so easy to understand. It’s a story of 4 friends living in London and teaching their Spanish-speaking friend English. There are 40 episodes available on Youtube or ororo.tv.

You could also try educational programmes like Crash Course, Smarter Every day, Planet Earth, Cosmos etc. They are great for Beginner English learners: the actors have perfect pronunciation, the texts are well-written, and the narrative is not too fast.

But if you are up for a big game, here are the stories in English which are not too difficult to understand:

The Umbrella Academy (2019)

We have just finished watching this new TV show from Netflix and I think it’s definitely worth checking out. If you like superheroes and comics, it’s a great TV series to enjoy and learn English at the same time. Most dialogues are quite easy to understand, heroes speak clearly and not too fast. There is no slang or incorrect grammar – perfect for learning good conversational English!

Futurama

Contrary to the common opinion, cartoons are not always easy to understand in English. The heroes use a lot of slang, funny voices, and it all makes it difficult if you are not acquainted with the American culture. This one, Futurama, is ok. The dialogues are simple, teach you a lot of everyday phrases. If you love science fiction, it’s your first choice!

Episodes

This is a great TV series about 2 British writers who came to Hollywood. You will hear both British and American accents of English which is great for your listening practice. And it’s funny!

Timeless

If you like time travel and history at the same time, this will be a great choice for you. The actors in this show have very clear pronunciation, and the dialogues are not hard to understand.

Silicon Valley

This is another comedy TV series created about IT industry you know where. If you know tech vocabulary, this show will be a great English learning experience for you. There are tons of real-life situations and dialogues, especially if you are interested in the informal conversational style. Try it! It will take some time to get used to, but at the end of the day it not too difficult.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The word ‘marvelous’ definitely describes well this witty TV series about a divorced housewife trying to become a comic in the traditional lifestyle of America in the 60s. The costume shows are usually quite simple to understand because the actors are trying to speak old school. This one is not an exception – good dialogues, clear pronunciation, and funny jokes!

iZombie

The title and the trailer are a bit horror movie style, but it’s actually an almost normal criminal drama. The girl becomes a zombie and this helps you fighting crime in the modern day America. I found this TV series understandable because the stories are not too complicated and the actors speak well.

Lucifer

It is another untypical police drama. Criminal stories are extremely popular but often are hard to understand for English learners because of very high speed and abundance of criminal terms. ‘Lucifer’ is something in between the comedy and the police story and it makes it easier than many. It’s funny in parts, and I am sure you will get used to the accents without problems.

The Big Bang Theory

There is still no clear understanding about this TV show for me. Some students say it’s difficult to understand, but some find it not hard at all. Personally, I skip the scientific lingo and if you don’t worry about it, you will find that it’s pretty simple to understand the everyday talks between the main heroes (except for Sheldon, of course). His speaking is a part of the comic effect of the show, but many people get used to it in the process. The show is not too fast and has short episodes of only 20 minutes each which makes it great for learning English.

This is us

We have started watching this TV series out of personal interest, and I find it not very hard to understand. If you like a good quality life story, you will like this one too. It has an incredible rating on IMDB (8.9), and I have heard a lot of positive reviews. So, there is a chance you will enjoy this emotional story while improving your English vocabulary and listening!

Alf

The old good Alf has never let me down 😉 I remember this TV programme from my childhood, and I have been using it in my English teaching for years. It could look a bit antique, but it is really not difficult and very often funny. If you want to learn American English, you will get numerous phrasal verbs and set expressions from this show!

Final Thoughts on how to learn English with TV series

We are very lucky now to have a lot of authentic materials available to improve our English. TV series is a great way to pracise your listening skills and improve English vocabulary. You can use ororo.tv or Netflix to watch TV shows in English with subtitles, and it becomes a habit for you, your English will be becoming better every day.

Did you find an interesting TV series on this list? How do you use them to learn English? Please share your experience in the comments!

Comments
  • I partially disagree with this recommendation but some of the series on the list should be easy enough for advanced students. I teach English and students have great difficulties understanding fast dialogues, especially when there are a lot of puns, word play, and diverse vocabulary. I’d say it’s better to start with something simple in terms of vocabulary. The best choice is clear, simple dialogues without too much rattling or diversity like in The Big Bang Theory. The Vampire Diaries is a good start. While its plot is convoluted, the vocabulary and dialogues are simple enough. If the UK English is needed, then the Humans and Doctor Who should be digestible for ESL students. It’s even better to start with cartoons: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Winx Club, Kung Fu Panda etc. It’s important that subtitles be present all the time so that a student can learn new words and idioms. There are a lot of them in English. We tend to forget that. I realized that ESL students often ignore/skip words and phrases relying on visuals. They even turn off subtitles so as not to strain themselves! That’s very, very bad, and it needs to be dealt with. A possible solution is simpler shows, perhaps all the way down to cartoons. I’m talking out of my experience here. I know for a fact that students skip and ignore too many phrases. Sometimes it looks as if they are not learning anything at all from the shows, and half of the words, even recurring ones, are lost on them. So, I often have to fall back on audio books, depriving them of the visual ‘crutch’. That’s because everybody can understand a movie/cartoon even without a sound to some extent but nothing is learned that way. And yet, shows and movies contain essential informal vocabulary, while the majority of books are written in a more neutral register. Since I can’t give all the colloquial English in class, my students must watch a lot of movies or even shows to keep their vocabularies well-balanced, not overly bookish. Unfortunately most shows are challenging for ESL students. It’s hard to tell where the language is difficult. I need to watch it myself first to make sure that the vocabulary and dialogues aren’t especially challenging. I believe the following shows are easier than average: Star Trek, Stargate SG1, the Originals, Once Upon a Time, the Desperate Housewives, the Vampire Diaries, Doctor Who (UK), and Humans (UK). In these shows they usually pronounce words clearly, especially the protagonist in the Originals. He pronounces everything as clear as a news anchorman but more slowly as if targeting ESL students :))). The vocabulary seems average, not challenging. So, advanced students should cope with such shows but they should never switch off subtitles or ignore new words/idioms. What about Extra? Well, it clearly targets ESL students. So, it should be trivial in terms of vocabulary. I guess it’s best suited for beginners just like simplified Oxford Bookworms books. But I consider audio books far superior for improving listening comprehension. I also think Harry Potter audio books will be an excellent option after students completed all the six levels of Oxford Bookworms series.

    I also think that….No, I’m actually sure that watching shows without subtitles is a waste of time due to lack of improvement. It’s more of a placebo effect. I give movies and series to my students mainly for learning modern everyday English which is harder to find in fiction. I mean basic phrases and words like these: for crying out loud, by a long shot, own up to, hang out, make out, soup up, two-time, sales rep, kickback, AI, CAT scan, LA, SUV, TA, GPA, gross, crackerjack, cute, nerd, lab, sis, daddy etc. TV shows are both enjoyable and good for studying English. It’s just that students should never switch off subtitles throwing new vocabulary down the drain, although, I guess, it is easier that way. I mean it should be easier for them just to watch without learning a barrage of new words and having to pause the movie all the time. Simple shows/cartoons remedy this problem by helping students focus on important words they need to know while digressing into advanced vocabulary is a negative as it won’t help them with speaking or comprehension. Therefore for efficiency purposes, students must focus on simple TV series and books. I don’t recommend movies with slang, historic shows, and any series with too many cultural references and word puns such as comedies. This is too much for ESL students. The worst case scenario is if the movie lacks subtitles. I equate it with a complete waste of time; my students won’t learn much from it. Absence of subtitle is also going to lower their understanding and the overall enjoyment of the movie.

    The list of movies like The Big Bang Theory, This is Us etc. is not the best choice because the language in them is diverse and full of references ESL students have no idea about. It all goes to waste. What’s more, I would not even recommend starting with ANY comedies, and this also includes books like Three Men in a Boat, although I love the book. Studying a language is not just edutainment. Students must invest a bit of hard work. Sorry for disagreeing with the list. It contains good comedies. From my perspective they are just not the best choice for English learners. I bumped into this thread by googling movies and shows optimal for ESL purposes. I often think about what might be the best for my students, but there’s very little information on the Internet. So, after reading this article I decided to post a few lines but it got a little verbose. Sorry for that.

  • Hi DARIA , actually i am reading a book in english the tittle is « the bookshop of the broken hearted » for me,it’s a way to learn And speak better in english .
    thank you for yours advices.

  • Hello,
    I think Big Bang Theory is a good TV show but the vocabulary in it might be challenging for new learners. They talk a lot about science and stuff.
    Can you recommend appropriate TV shows for kids aged 8-14?
    Thanks in advance.

  • Hey hi Daria Storozhilova, I am actually landed on this page accidentally. I am also a English language learner which is why I am intrigued by this article. I am actually keeping up with TBBT and Boston legal the post series of “the practice”. I don’t think if I start watching any series using informal language will add up to my professional speaking skill.However, I am intrested in watching “Izombie” . So, Thanks a ton in informal way I guess.

  • Hi Daria
    I’m Amir from Iran 🇮🇷
    I try every day to get better at learning English
    thank’s for your recommendation
    I hope to write this comment correctly :))

    • Dear Amir,
      Thanks a lot for commenting! I hope you find some useful articles and videos on my blog.
      Yes, it’s all good about your comment. Just don’t add ‘ in Thanks.
      Good luck with your English!
      Daria

  • Thanx for recommendation already I’m watching Big Bang theory but here you told me many series to improve English for that thank u very much 😊

  • Thank you very much indeed! I like to keep things informal teaching English and I look forward to using the material suggested .I’ll keep you posted on the results .
    Sandra

  • Thanks for recommendations.I will try to see the movies. I hope it will be helpfull to me.

  • Well, Friends is the choice, obviously… HIMYM, BigBang sure… British sitcoms are superb, but full of strange (fun and hilarious, though) accents. Black’s Books is strongly recommended!

  • Thank you Daria. I already know Extra but the others are new for me. Your series will help me with my students.
    Luciana

    • Thank you very much for your comment, Luciana! You could also try ‘Battlestar Galactica’. We just started watching it, and the dialogues are not too fast at the most part. Hope your students enjoy these shows!

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