What does binge watching mean? 🤔
The 45 best TV series to learn English 📺
Do you want to learn English in a fun way? Discover our list of the best series to learn English!
We all love spending our time watching exciting TV series. But do you ever feel a little guilty? Do you ever feel like you're wasting your time?
Today, we'll find out together how watching TV series in English can help you learn English and, more specifically, which TV shows you should watch to learn English. You're in for a treat! 🤩
Learn English by watching TV series
Watching series in their original version will help you acquire a more correct and natural pronunciation in English, improve your listening comprehension (because you will get used to the way native speakers speak), learn slang, expressions, and cultural characteristics through exciting stories! By watching series in English, you really will be getting the best of both worlds, because you will be learning without even realizing it.
What do I do if I don't understand?
How do you learn English by watching TV series? What should you do if you don't understand the shows in their original language?
Obviously, the best way to watch TV shows to learn English would be to watch them in the original language without subtitles. However, if you still find it difficult to follow the dialogues and the plot of the show, it's better to turn on the English subtitles rather than subtitles in your own language! Oftentimes, the reason why you can't understand something is not that you don't know the words, but that the actors talk too fact, unclearly, or that there's too much background noise. Thanks to English-subtitles, you'll be able to read and listen to what the characters are saying at the same time. By using your two senses, you're multiplying your capacity to understand, which will help you progressively start watching movies and TV shows without any subtitles!
That's actually what I did myself. Back in the day, my goal wasn't necessarily to learn English. In fact, subtitles in my own native language were only available several days after the new episodes of my favorite series had aired. Because I just couldn't wait to see what happens, I put on subtitles in English, despite the fact that I didn't understand everything. Little by little, I ended up not needing them, because I got used to the way natives spoke.
TV series helped me tremendously in my English studies and I'm convinced they can do it for you, too! Don't worry if you don't understand everything at first. If you understood 100% of the content, it would mean you wouldn't be learning anything new.**
Where can I watch TV series in English?
Okay, you're motivated. You want to use TV series to learn English, but you don't know where to find them. The most popular platform to stream series in the English-speaking world is undoubtedly Netflix. You've probably already heard of it, but here are a few alternatives as well:
No matter whether you choose to learn English with Netflix or another platform, what's important is your motivation! We have created a list of the best TV shows to watch in order to improve your English just for you! Add this article to your favorites and come back to it each time you want to discover a new show.
I wanted to dedicate a small paragraph to explain to you the phenomenon of binge-watching. To binge-watch means spending a considerable time in front of the TV (or the computer), watching episodes of a TV show one after the other.
- I decided to binge-watch all the episodes of Game of Thrones I had missed - it took me all day!
As you can imagine, it can quickly turn into an addiction... But if you do it in English instead of in your own language, it's a great opportunity to practice English more than ever! It's all a matter of perspective. :)
What does to binge watch mean?
And now, choose your favorite TV show genre and Happy binge-watching!
We're starting out our list with the best English thriller series! Lock your doors!
The Wire (USA)
The drug world, as seen by drug dealers and the police. This TV show contains a lot of slang and vocabulary related to the drug world - the junkies, dealers, cops, politicians, etc. This was for a long time ranked as best English TV series of all time on IMDb!
House of Cards (USA)
A political TV show which is excellent if you're interested in learning business vocabulary in English! You can also get to know the American judicial system better. It might seem a bit complicated at first, but once you get to know the new vocabulary, you can start enjoying the captivating storyline!
Breaking Bad (USA)
The story of a chemistry teacher recently diagnosed with cancer who begins to make and sell drugs. This unexpected turn of events results in a cocktail of language registers - neutral, criminal, with slang related to drugs in English.
Sherlock (UK/ USA)
A modern version of the adventures of Sir Conan Doyle's 19th century detective Sherlock Holmes characters. Situated in London in the end of 21st century, this TV show offers a thrilling storyline, accents which are so British and long conversations, full of wit!
A true masterpiece of crime storytelling- the story is that of a financial planner from Chicago who suddenly has to move to Ozarks with his family. That's a region in the heart of the American Midwest. There, a Mexican cartel notices he has robbed them. This TV show is great to practice your comprehension of the Latin-American and Midwest accents in English!
We continue with the best horror shows in English! Not recommended for weak souls.
American Horror Story (USA)
Each season has its own story. That means new characters, new accents, new ways of speaking. The dialogues are very accessible and you wouldn't need a particularly advanced level to be able to follow them - that's ideal to learn English as a beginner!
The Haunting of Hill House (USA)
If you're wondering which Netflix show to watch to learn English, I would recommend this one - it's a horror show you'll quickly get addicted to! It combines short, simple dialogues with deeper monologues, which require a more advanced level. It can be a great stepping-stone to try reaching a higher level of listening comprehension.
The Walking Dead (USA)
Imagine an apocalyptic world, overrun by zombies. There's only one question left in this infernal dystopia - who will survive? The show is also based on a comic book, so the language is simpler than the one we find in Sherlock!
The advantage of watching soap operas in English is that they don't require all of your attention! You can play them on your TV or on your computer and do something else at the same time - work out, clean around, do the laundry, etc. Dialogues are usually simple and the plots... predictable. Because the story lines are not complicated, you can focus on understanding the language. This is without a doubt a great genre to learn English for beginners!
Home and Away (Australia)
Great for anyone looking to put a light show in the background. The show follows the life, the love, the joy, and the sorrow of ordinary people in Australia. By watching it, you can get a better idea about what life in Australia is like and practice your comprehension of the Aussie accent!
🦘 Aussie is slang for someone or something, coming from Australia.
Shortland Street (New Zealand)
Follow the personal and professional lives of a hospital staff from Auckland. Have a taste of the Kiwi lifestyle and learn a ton about the New Zealander accent and slang!
🥝 Kiwi is a common slang term to refer to someone or something coming from New Zealand.
Do you want to watch dramas in English? Here are our top picks:
Orange Is the New Black (USA)
This is a story of how jail can change a life. Explore the rich variety of common accents which tend to be underrepresented in cinema : black, Southern, Italian, and more.
Grey's Anatomy (USA)
Follow the personal and professional lives of a group of surgery interns. Perfect if you want to learn vocabulary related to biology and anatomy in English!
If you want to improve your business English, this is the perfect show for you! If you're a beginner, it's probably not ideal to start from this one, but it's great if you want to start learning about work life in English!
Dear White People (USA)
At a predominantly white university, a group of black Americans fight racism and other types of discrimination. An accurate representation of the current reality in the US, perfect to learn to understand black accents and slang.
Warning - this is the 2017 version derived from the TV show from the 80s. The series follows the life of the two richest families in the United States, who are fighting for power. Because the characters and setting are more upper class, you could expect a more sophisticated language and a more advanced language register in a lot of scenes.
Mad Men (USA)
The show takes place in an advertising agency in New York in the 60s, so you will be exposed to both a more retro version of English and the marketing language! Understanding is a bit harder for most of the TV shows because the conversations are fast and are not always clear. This is a perfect TV show for advanced speakers.
A love story from the 21st century which turns around the Internet and social media. The writers did a great job at creating the script which feels natural and makes the show easy to follow. Perfect to practice your everyday English!
This TV series will show you the life of the working class part of London, called the East End. If you're interested in British accents and spend a lot of time in London, this show will be a big help to you in getting used to the Cockney accent!
Please Like Me (Australia)
The main character of this show is called Josh and the plot turns around the realization of the fact that he's gay. Discover LGBTQ+ vocabulary in English while practicing your Australian English!
Peaky Blinders (UK)
Situated in Birmingham, England, after the Second World War, this TV show tells the story of a family of gangsters. It talks about crime, war, and discrimination. You can really feel the dark atmosphere, which is typical for shows from the UK, while also discovering a number of British dialects!
Here's a TV show which can be extremely valuable for English learners, as it talks about the Internet and uses a lot of slang from social media. It's vocabulary we come across all the time - hashtag, trending, follow, and more.
The Crown (UK/ USA)
Discover the beauty of England and English life with the story of the young queen Elizabeth II! Another great show to practice your British English.
Action time! Discover the best action and adventure TV shows in English:
Game of Thrones (USA/ UK)
Even though everyone already knows about this show, it would be a crime to not include it in this list! You've certainly already seen it (several times) but maybe only in your native language. I would recommend watching Game of Thrones in English instead! The casting of actors from all over the world will expose you to a variety of different accents. The language is pretty standard, not too difficult to understand, especially given the fact that you already know the plot, you can now focus only on the language!
The Umbrella Academy (USA)
If you like superheroes and comic books, this is the perfect show for you! It tells the story of a group of superheroes reunited after the death of their father. The show does not contain too much slang or incorrect grammar, which means it's relatively easy to follow.
Vikings (Ireland/ Canada)
If you like watching action and are interested in History, you'll definitely enjoy this TV show! When it comes to the language, you can find vocabulary related to life in a village, sailing, fighting, instruments, rituals, magic, and much more!
Prison Break (USA/ UK)
This TV series tells the story of an innocent man put in prison. His only objective is to help his brother, who is also imprisoned, to escape. By doing so, he ends up going to the same prison. Because of the prisoner environment in which the story takes place, you can prepare to hear a version of English which is colloquial and discover vocabulary connected to this specific area.
Rome (UK/ USA)
Because of the big number of scenes with sex and violence, this TV show was very controversial at its premiere. However, it has also seen some big success thanks to the actors' performance, the gripping plot, the betrayal stories, and the beautiful story of friendship in ancient Rome. You'll be sad when it's over!
Discover the world-famous story of Spartacus, the gladiator! When it comes to sex and violence, the show is comparable to Rome, but the storyline is still so captivating, you shouldn't let that bother you!
English reality shows are a great resource to practice your language skills, as they tend to be more specific than regular shows. You can learn how to express yourself in specific situations and improve your vocabulary related to certain fields, like cooking, physical challenges, farm-life, everyday life, etc. Here are some suggestions:
The Great British Bake Off (UK)
If you'd like to improve your cooking vocabulary in English, with a beautiful British accent, then this show is made for you!
Everyone already knows about Survivor because almost every country has its own version of the show. But has the idea of watching it in English ever crossed your mind? Watch what a team does to survive on an island, enjoy the natural speech, spontaneous dialogues, and authentic reactions in order to learn a natural English!
Keeping up with the Kardashians (USA)
Regardless of its bad reputation, this show can be useful from a linguistic point of view. Even though the Kardashians are sometimes extravagant, they do represent a part of the American population and, more specifically, their way of speaking. Learn American slang words, such as like, literally, common interjections, etc.
Too much reality? Here are some of the best English fantasy TV series:
Stranger Things (USA)
The series takes place in Indiana in the 80s and tells the story of several unexplained events which happened there. Because the plot doesn't take place in the modern world, the show does not contain a lot of current slang and you can enjoy a more "classic" English!
Once Upon a Time (USA)
What would happen if the fairy tales we all know and love took place in the current world? Discover the names of princesses in English, as well as vocabulary related to magic, curses, enchanted forests, etc.
If you like criminal stories which are truly challenging to solve, I recommend checking this show out. Part police drama, part comedy, the show is light-hearted, challenging the mind, yet easy to follow.
We continue our list with recommendations for English mystery series:
Bates Motel (USA)
A modern prequel to the novel Psycho, which shows how Norman Bates' psyche develops during his teenage years. Because the show talks about the mental problems of the main character, it contains a lot of vocabulary related to psychology and mental illness, for those of you who are interested in these topics!
The Mentalist (USA)
The wife and daughter of an illusionist have been murdered, so he tries to help the FBI solve these crimes. By doing so, he hopes to find out who is responsible for the murder of his family.
If you like dramas, mysteries, and romance, we have a surprise for you! Riverdale will check off all those boxes for you! The show takes place in a rural high school, so it will undoubtedly help you learn a ton of slang, too.
How to Get Away with Murder (USA)
An extremely addictive show! It follows the life of a group of law students and their professor. It's perfect if you want to become familiar with vocabulary of the American justice system.
This show turns around the investigation about a mysterious murder of a young boy in a small coastal town in Britain. Learn vocabulary connected to the police and crime!
13 Reasons Why (USA)
A show which deals with the topics of drama at high school, emotions, and above all, suicide.
A bipolar member of the CIA is convinced that a war prisoner has become a member of al-Qaeda and is planning a terrorist attack on American territory. The show is extremely captivating and allows to learn vocabulary related to terrorism, terrorist attacks, violence. Topics which are unfortunately still relevant in the world we live in now.
A police drama which takes place in London. Each episode focuses on a new case, so you'll never get bored! This is an excellent occasion to practice your comprehension of the regional accents in the UK!
Looking for English sci-fi series? Why not start with...
Orphan Black (Canada)
This show has several different topics which are all exciting and interesting - brain washing, science, and even genetic refinement! It might seem a bit confusing to you, but I can guarantee that you'll become addicted from the very first episode!
Black Mirror (UK)
What does the future hold? Currently, technology is everywhere but are we actually better off that way? The episodes of this dystopian show will make you want to question and discuss what you've seen!
Stargate SG-1 (USA/Canada)
A secret civil team, SG-1, is formed in order to explore other planets using the recently discovered Stargates. If you're passionate about space and astronomy, and you'd like to improve your English, this is the show for you!
You have just now discovered the best series in English (in our opinion!) and how to learn English with Netflix or whatever other platform you might prefer. Did we miss your favorite one? Tell us in the comments!
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