Learn English Through TV: Workbooks and Activities for ESL/EFL Learners

Hey guys! So you may remember from last week’s posts that I mentioned 2016 was bringing with it something new – and it’s time to fully reveal what that is!

Learn English Through TV

Okay – so what is this exactly? Basically, it comes from this: I really like to watch TV. I am such a Netflix fan and I have so much free time at the moment that I am burning through TV series left and right. And it’s not just in English – I love Mandarin dramas (they’re so melodramatic and awesome) and I watch things in Spanish and German when I can, too.

Plus, I feel like TV shows are accessible to most people; and I think that the exposure that you get through watching a season of a show (or five) is great for the learning process.

So… what is this?

What this is, is: a workbook. And, eventually, a whole series of workbooks that will allow you to use your favourite TV shows to learn English actively, before and after you watch.

Here’s a little preview of what I mean:

MFS01E0101 MFS01E0102 MFS01E0103

How should the workbook be used?

Each workbook will have usually one or two activities you should do before you watch, and a few (in the case of the first workbook, ten) activities for you to do after you’ve finished watching the episode in question.

Each workbook will also cover certain skills (in this case: vocabulary, listening, reading, writing and speaking) as well as general comprehension. You can, of course, pick and choose which skills you’d like to work on, or just work through the whole thing.

Listening and reading are easy enough to do on your own (there is an answer key provided and if the answers aren’t clear, then you can always send me a message or leave a comment on the blog), but if you’re learning or practising English by yourself, then you may find doing writing or speaking tasks much harder.

For writing: I suggest that you post your writing on a website such as lang-8, or if you want, you could always set up your own blog on wordpress or tumblr. (There are, of course, other blogging sites, but tumblr has a very active language community who are pretty good at helping out, so that might be useful.)

For speaking: I have a couple of suggestions. If you don’t already have a speaking partner and you really want to practice speaking, then there are plenty of apps and sites to help you with that for free. (Language exchanges on iTalki, the HelloTalk app, the Tandem app…) If you’re less concerned about speaking, then you can always write your answers/responses to the speaking tasks for some more writing practice. It’s up to you.

Now, I’ve chosen to base the first set of workbooks on the TV show Modern Family. I’m assuming most of you have heard of it, but if you haven’t, then you can find more information on wikipedia. I think this is a pretty good show to use because:

  • most of the characters speak pretty clear US English
  • there’s a large cast and the show covers lots of modern situations you might encounter
  • it’s an interesting show and family friendly!

Okay, so if you want to try the workbook out, you can find it here. It’s in A5 format, so you can print it – and if you do use it, please let me know what you think. I will be releasing a new one every Tuesday (circumstances permitting) and I’ll post the link on the blog – maybe with some bonus material from time to time – when I do.

Also: let me know if there are any other shows you’d like me to cover. There are 24 episodes in the first season of Modern Family, so I think I’m going to want a break from it after that. If you’re stuck for ideas, then check out Lindsay’s post on 82 British TV Shows to Help with Your English – I’d be happy to promote any British TV! 😉

That’s it for this post! Of course, if you’re not learning English, then feel free to tell your English learning friends about the workbooks too. The more the merrier!

See you all next week – and good luck with your learning, no matter which language it is!

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