Very often my students ask me: “Teacher, what series do you recommend for me to practice English? Do I see them with or without subtitles?” Well, there go my answers.
How to watch a series in English and improve the language? Steps to follow
What kind of series do I start with?
If you do not dare to start with a series of long chapters because your level is “too low”, you can always try to start with a series for children (Peppa Pig, Dora the Explorer, etc.). They are very short and dynamic episodes, as well as very rich in vocabulary for beginners 😉 If you have children, there is no excuse.
You can sit down with them to watch their favorite series in English. If you choose a series that you like and are hooked, it will be difficult to leave it, so you will be exposed to the language for hours without realizing that you are learning. It’s all advantages!
How many chapters to watch per day?
The ideal is to watch an episode of your favorite series every day. In addition, if it is a series that you have already seen in Spanish, it will be easier for you to follow it and you will not be so overwhelmed.
Subtitles yes, Subtitles no
As for the subject of subtitles, I always say that the ideal is to see them without subtitles, because when we have subtitles, we have a tendency to read and we do not listen as carefully or look at what we are seeing.
Still, if you don’t feel like starting without subtitles:
- Start with Spanish subtitles. Get used to the accents and the speed at which they speak (depending on which series you also have to get used to the vocabulary they use).
- Continue the series with English subtitles.
- You will see how you will no longer need subtitles.
What series do you recommend?
Below, I share with you my recommendations:
Comedy – 10 seasons
A classic. The series, very famous in the 90s, revolves around a group of friends who live in New York. Throughout the series, we see (and live) their good and bad moments, their successes and failures, their love lives but, above all, many funny moments.
Reasons to watch Friends to practice English
This series is suitable for all levels as it is easy to follow. The vocabulary they use is everyday and the characters do not usually speak very quickly (only on some occasions).
Police – 15 seasons
If you like crime series with some plot and science, this is your series. There are several versions by city (Miami, Las Vegas and New York), which will allow you to hear different American accents.
Reasons to watch CSI to practice English
Being a series where technical terms are used, the type of language is a little more complicated. I recommend it to people who have a high-advanced level of English (B2-C2)
Once upon a time
Drama/fantasy – 7 seasons
This series revolves around the theory that there is a parallel world in which there are (and live) all the characters of fairy tales (Snow White and the Prince, Pinocchio, Hook, Maleficent, etc.).
Reasons to watch Once upon a time to practice English
The characters don’t speak very quickly and it’s easy to follow. In addition, as they are characters that come out of fairy tales, the stories will sound to you. I recommend this series especially to people who have an intermediate level of English (B1)
Malcolm in the Middle
Comedy – 7 seasons
Malcolm is the third of 5 male siblings. Malcolm is a gifted boy from an atypical and somewhat dysfunctional family. This series, of short episodes, narrates the daily life of this somewhat peculiar family.
Reasons to watch Malcolm in the Middle to practice English
This series is suitable for all levels, because it is very fun, but I recommend it especially to beginners (A1-A2), since the vocabulary used is simple and everyday.
American telenovela – 4 seasons
I have to admit that this series hooked me. When she was little, the show’s main character, Amanda Clark, watches her father be arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. While her father was in prison, she was taken to a mental institution and then to a reformatory school. When he discovers that his father has been unjustly imprisoned, he decides to devote himself to avenging the injustice committed. It is a series full of revenge, mystery and truth that finally emerges…
Reasons to watch Revenge to practice English
In this series you can learn colloquial words and expressions. The characters don’t usually speak very quickly. I recommend this series especially to people who have an intermediate level of English (B1).
Police/Drama – 5 seasons
Highly awarded series. Its protagonist, Walter White, is a chemistry professor who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. In addition, she has a sick son and another on the way. When he is diagnosed with cancer, he can’t help but wonder what will happen to his family members when he is gone. Therefore, and thinking that this will ensure the economic stability of his family, he decides to get into the world of drugs by selling methamphetamine.
Reasons to watch Breaking Bad to practice English
I recommend this series to people who have a high-advanced level (B2-C2), as the characters use many colloquial expressions.
Comedy – 4 seasons
A series that tells the story of a boy with autism who prepares for adult life. Short chapters with a dose of overwhelming reality and with a lot of reflection.
Reasons to watch Atypical to practice English
The dialogues are very well understood and are conversations more focused on the day to day, so I recommend it at all levels.
My top 3 series of staff to improve English
And now, if you allow me, I’m going to tell you my personal top 3. They are especially recommended if you are interested in learning a British accent:
Drama/story – 4 seasons
This series tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II from her wedding to Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh to the present day. In the series you will find historical and charismatic characters such as Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, or Lady Di, in addition to Queen Elizabeth II herself, of course.
Reasons to watch The Crown to practice English
It is a series suitable for all levels, since the characters usually speak slowly and the dialogues are easy to follow.
Those who know me know that this series is my weakness (I’m a big fan of Benedict Cumberbatch). Set in present-day London, this series follows in the footsteps of eccentric detective Sherlock Holmes alongside his inseparable companion and friend Watson. This BBC adaptation of the famous books written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has become a cult work.
Reasons to watch Sherlock to practice English
The vocabulary they use is very extensive and rich, so I recommend it especially for people from an intermediate level onwards (B1-C2).
Historical drama – 6 seasons
The story takes place in the county of Downton, Yorkshire, England. The series recreates the life of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants. Set in the early twentieth century, it is full of intrigue, romance, class conflict and all sorts of dilemmas.
Reasons to see Downton Abbey to practice English
It is a series suitable for all levels, since the characters usually speak slowly, although sometimes the events pass very quickly and you can lose a little thread. Nothing happens, because that’s what the subtitles and the back 😉 button are for.
I hope my (very) personal listing will encourage you to watch the series in English. I’ve left a few, but I didn’t want to make an endless list. Also, I have an excuse to write another article! …