Learn English with Game of Thrones

If you are like me, you wait all year for the new season of Game of Thrones.

Seriously, it’s like Christmas, or your birthday. We GoT fans (as we abbreviate it in English) mark the days on our calendar to find out what will happen next.

But for non-native speakers, you probably find the language in Game of Thrones complicated (unless you’re watching a dubbed version, which you should stop!). Even subtitles might not be enough to help you understand the quasi-medieval language and a variety of accents (from English, to Scottish, to more American-sounding).

Even native speakers can have trouble understanding everything, not to mention the complex plot and plethora of characters.

geek-game-of-thronesSo, as a huge Game of Thrones geek myself–no really, I’ve read all the books, watched every episode, and even have a House Targaryan t-shirt–I thought it would be a wonderful idea to create a lesson to help you better understand the show. Especially since Season 6 has just started.

Even if you don’t watch Game of Thrones, yet, or you have only seen it dubbed, this guide will help you to start enjoying it in its native language.

And if you read until the end, I have a special PRESENT that will help you memorize all of the important vocabulary from season 6, episode 1 so that you can understand it much easier!

Learning Game of Thrones Vocabulary

Much of the vocabulary used in GoT is difficult. Some of it is even rare or outdated because of the medieval-like setting.

However, you will find that like in almost any series, much of the same vocabulary is repeated in every episode.

This means that the more you watch (while proactively learning), the more that you will understand.

The same is true for watching or listening to anything in a foreign language: Patience is crucial! Just like a baby needs to get comfortable crawling before he can walk, so must you be ok not understanding 100%, until little-by-little it becomes effortless. To learn more, I’d highly recommend this video.

The Main Course

And much like a baby needs help standing when he learns to walk; today I am going to hold your hand through understanding the Season 6 trailer.

We will analyze the vocabulary, expressions, AND the pronunciation, so that you can understand all of it!

After, your homework is to watch (or re-watch) Season 6, episode 1. Don’t worry; I am going to explain to you how to make understanding it easier.

Game of Thrones Season 6 Trailer

Here at RealLife, we have coined a simple method for learning with TV shows we call Watch-Study-Watch.

Here’s how it works, first you watch the scene or episode, then you study the lesson (or transcript if you don’t have a lesson), then watch again. You repeat this process as necessary until you understand almost everything.

This trailer is short, so it’s a great way for you to get started playing with this method. First, watch the short trailer below.

 

How did that go?

Maybe you understood most of it, but missed a few words. Or maybe you didn’t understand anything.

Either way, that’s great! Because I have created a special Power Lesson for you below.

Now, let’s study all the difficult vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and cultural references.

GoT Power Lesson

Key:

Sb = Somebody, Sth = Something

Note: Most of the accents in Game of Thrones are British, so pronunciation and connected speech can differ slightly from American English.

Transcript

–I thought he was the man to lead us(A) through the long night(•M) But I(B) was wrong

Do you(C) like games little man(•N)?

–You would spill blood(1) in this holy place(2)?

–The Gods won’t mind(3). They spill more blood than the rest of us(D) combined(4).

–Who are you?

–No one.

A girl(•O) has been given a(E) second chance(5). There will not be a third.

–It’s all I think about. What(F) was taken from me.

–I know what happens(6).

–There’s no hiding from this. We have to(G) fight.

Stand at(H) the head of our(I) army where you belong. Show them what Lanisters are. What we do to our enemies.

–The real war is between the living and the dead. And make no mistake(7). The dead are (J) coming.

–Dragons do not do well in captivity(8).

How do you(K) know this(•P)?

–That’s what I do(L). I drink(•Q), and I know things.

Vocabulary & Expressions

  1. Spill blood: Kill or wound people
  2. Holy place: A church or other religious building
  3. Mind (doing sth): To be bothered or annoyed by. Ex. Would you mind taking out the trash?
  4. Do (sth) more than the rest of us combined: To do something a huge amount (often exaggerated). Ex. He can eat more pizza than the rest of us combined.
  5. Second chance: Another opportunity
  6. Happen: To occur. Ex. Did you hear about what happened in Paris?
  7. Make no mistake: Do not be deceived into thinking otherwise. Ex. He looks small, but make no mistake, he’s a great fighter.
  8. In captivity: Imprisoned or confined

Pronunciation & Connected Speech

A. Lead us: Lee-dus

B. But I: Buh-dai

C. Do you: Dju

D. Rest of us: Res-tuh-vus

E. Given a: Gi-vuh-nuh

F. What: Wuh (stop T, learn more)

G. Have to: hav-duh

H. Stand at: Stan-dat

I. Head of our: heh-duh-vawr

J. Dead are: deh-dar

K. Do you: dyu

L. What I do: wuh-tai-do

Grammar & Cultural References

  • M. The Long Night: In the world of GoT the seasons are much longer than on Earth, so winter is harsher, colder, and darker. That’s why it’s referred to as the long night.
  • N. Little Man: Referring to the fact that Tyrion is a dwarf.
  • O. A girl: This is not correct grammar, it's just how Jaqen H'ghar talks (a sort of foreign accent)
  • P. How do you know this: Nowadays, it would be more colloquial to just ask, “How do you know?”
  • Q. Drink: When we use drink by itself like this, we usually mean alcohol.

Now watch again! You can reference the lesson while you watch if you need to.

How did it go? Did you understand more after studying?

Now just imagine how effective this would be with an entire episode 😀

You can do this on your own. All I did was take the transcript, highlight difficult vocabulary, and look up the definitions. Actually, I know the definitions, but that’s what you would do ;). The pronunciation is more challenging, but if you listen carefully, many times, you may be able to identify some of the connected speech.

For the cultural notes and grammar you may need to get the help of a teacher or native speaker.

By the way, if you enjoyed this lesson, you’ll love our new course, Fluent with Friends. We make Power Lessons like this for every full length episode of the popular TV show Friends (which various academic studies have shown is one of the best TV series for learning English). And Justin, Chad and I will be your teachers and guides through every step of the process!

Learn More About Fluent with Friends

Homework and Special Present!!!

I know, I know. I promised you a present.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget ;).

What I’ve prepared for you is a Memrise deck with 78 new words and expressions from episode 1 of season 6 of Game of Thrones.

Memrise is an amazing application that makes memorizing new vocabulary easy. With Fluent with Friends we provide one of these with each episode (those ones have even got audio to help you with correct pronunciation! Learn more).

I don’t just want you to download this, though. I want you to try our Watch-Study-Watch strategy to maximize your learning!

So first, WATCH the episode if you haven’t already. You can use subtitles, preferably in English if you need them. It can be a good idea to keep a piece of paper or an app like Evernote and pause and take notes when you have doubts. As we discussed before, it is okay if you don’t understand anything, you’ll get more later ;).

Next, STUDY. Use the Memrise lesson (which you can get below) to learn all the new vocabulary. You can find the full Episode 1 transcript here. Go through it and identify anything that still is not clear.

Then, WATCH again. See how much more you can understand the second time around. It’s ok if you still don’t understand everything (I’d be surprised if you did with a show like GoT). The goal is to understand more than the first time, not to understand 100%.

You can REPEAT the process as many times as you like. And if you found it helpful, try it with your other favorite shows. This will do wonders for your English comprehension.

Click below to get your FREE present:

Download Your Present

I hope you enjoyed this lesson and you learned a lot! Remember that the best way to remember it all is to actually use it, so speak at every opportunity.

Want other lessons like this? Check these out!

5 Comments

  1. Naty Riveros on May 2, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    Brillant!

  2. Khaled Khalil Hasan on May 3, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Amazing lesson 🙂

  3. Gerard Arbat Triginer on May 3, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    I love Game of Thrones too, Ethan. I read all the books in English before I started watching the TV series. I don't find the English of GoT too difficult. Maybe, that's because I've watched a number of British TV series to get used to their different accents. I'm looking forward to reading the sixth book.

  4. Isabella Salgado on May 4, 2016 at 5:14 am

    It helps me a lot! Thanks Ethan, I love GoT!

  5. […] this use is rare (to me, it sounds like it should be used at a fancy ball with nobility or in Game of Thrones). A couple examples of how this definition of present would be used are […]

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