Believe it or not, Teacher Joe is not the best English teacher in the world. (Maybe Teacher Joe is number two?!?) No, the very best teacher in the world is video! Joe learned the value of watching videos while studying Chinese. His very best teacher of Chinese is not a Chinese person. In fact, his best teacher is not even a person! Joe learned Chinese from a big, green monster named "Shrek", who is the main character of a movie with the appropriate title, "Shrek"!
Learn English from Video
By listening to "Shrek" while trying to read the subtitles in Chinese, Joe learned to listen to complete sentences in Chinese. He was also introduced to lots of new vocabulary and expressions that he had never learned from any textbook. In addition to new words, watching a movie or TV program is a good review - Teacher Joe learned how to use basic words that he had studied before but had never used.
Why are movies or TV programs more useful than other materials? One big advantage is that the language is rich and colorful and, though not completely real, the language is at least realistic or similar to real life. Beyond the language, we can also learn everyday culture - how people live, think and feel. The story in a movie or TV program also helps students understand new words and remember them better than ordinary textbooks.
Teacher Joe's students often ask if they should look at English subtitles while listening. If you really concentrate on listening, then reading the subtitles at the same time can be very useful, because the subtitles can help you catch some words or expressions that you may not know yet. With practice, though, you can eventually need to use subtitles less and less.
So, what kind of movies or TV programs should you watch? Generally speaking, action movies are less useful than others because there is
less speaking and often there is too much slang. Animations, such as Shrek and The Simpsons, are usually very good because the pictures
help you understand the words more clearly than live actors. The best approach is to try many different videos until you find a few that
you really like. For example, Teacher Joe uses videos such as this funny
TV commercial or this song about grammar. You can find many songs at the
main Learn English site (links on the right side).
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