RealLife English Podcast #297 – Why FRIENDS is The Best TV Series to Learn English

Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Joey. If these names ring a bell, then you are in for a treat! Friends premiered in 1994 and ran for 10 seasons. It is one of the most iconic and influential sitcoms from the 20th century. In today’s episode, we will be discussing why Friends is one of the best TV shows to learn English with. Plus, you will learn some great vocabulary with us.

Our company RealLife English is celebrating our 10th Anniversary! To thank you for all of your support, we are making a super special gift! https://reallifeglobal.com/fwf/

51% OFF our popular fluency course, Fluent with Friends, PLUS a BONUS of 4 Live Lessons with our Fluency Coaches! Learn more through the link above, and remember to use the promo code RLE10. Click Here to Learn More

Words You’ll Learn in the App

  • Ring a bell
  • In for a treat
  • Resonate
  • Compelling
  • Wild card 
  • Goofy
  • Ups and downs
  • Low point
  • Catch on
  • Comprise

And many more in the app.

Why Learn English with Friends?

One of the reasons we believe Friends is the best TV show to learn English is because it has the perfect concept. It is about a group of six friends that sit around a café and talk about all of life’s ups and downs. So the language used tends to be everyday and practical. You spend a lot of time talking with your friends, too, right?

Plus, Friends is a sitcom. Sitcom stands for “Situation Comedy”. These are comedy series like How I Met Your Mother, The Office and The Big Bang Theory. As far as sitcoms go, we believe Friends is the easiest for English learners, because it’s easy to digest. Keep reading to find out more.

Great to Improve Vocabulary

The language used in Friends is not as challenging as a TV show such as The Big Bang Theory, which is full of scientific terms and academic jargon. 

If you still don’t have the habit of watching TV series to improve your English, Friends is the perfect show to get started with. Most of the vocabulary used in Friends revolves around daily activities, such as hanging out with friends, working at an office, eating a meal at a restaurant and taking an airplane. 

Shows like Game of Thrones are great, but you are unlikely to use most of the vocabulary used in these types of series.

Backed by Academic Studies

Another reason why Friends is so great to learn English with is because academic studies have shown that compared to all other series, Friends closely represents how most Americans really speak. Not only that, but Friends has been such a popular series in the USA (and continues to be, thanks to streaming services) that it has influenced how Americans (and even Brits) speak! Much of this is related to casual slang and discourse markers.

For example, the use of “so” as an emphasizer became common in everyday speech thanks to Friends. 

Friends Helps You Improve Your Pronunciation

Friends is also a great TV show to improve pronunciation with. There’s a lot of connected speech in the way the characters speak. Connected Speech is what we call when natives reduce, cut and connect the sounds when speaking. Learning connected speech will help you not only understand fast English more easily, but also help you sound more natural when speaking English with someone.

The Cultural Impact

In addition, Friends has had a huge cultural impact that continues even today. Most Americans have seen at least a few episodes of the series, and even those who haven’t will recognize different Friends-related pop-culture. 

For example, getting together with your Friends at coffee shops has become commonplace after the world has watched Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Joey mostly hanging out at Central Perk, the fictitious coffee shop in the series. 

Also, who remembers “The Rachel”? Rachel Green (played by Jennifer Aniston) sported a haircut during the airing of the show that became hugely popular in the 90’s. In fact, it became so popular that people started to call it “The Rachel”. Few TV shows are able to have that much influence in fashion.

Famous quotes from Friends have also spread around. Joey’s “How you doin’?” and Ross’s “We were on a break” are lines that people recognize to this day.


Tips to Learn English with Friends

1. Active Practice vs Passive Practice

There is a difference between watching a TV show to have fun and watching a TV show to study English. When you watch a TV show to have fun, your focus is on the story and on enjoying yourself. When you watch a TV show to study English, your focus is on the language. You need to pause, repeat, listen to some sections again and take notes. Make sure you combine both approaches in your study routine.

2. Watch the same episode at least two times

One of the great things about Friends is that the episodes are incredibly short. You’re able to finish watching a whole episode in only 20 minutes. First, watch the episode with both the audio and subtitles in English. Second, watch the whole episode again without subtitles. I guarantee that you will understand a lot more when watching the second time! And this will only take 40 minutes of your time.

3. Keep a vocabulary notebook

Make sure you have a notebook to register all the English words, phrasal verbs and idioms you will be learning from the series. Review your notes often, once a week at least. Also, try to use the new vocabulary you learn when you have a conversation with someone. By the way, you can use our app to connect with another Global Citizen and practice your speaking skills!

Conclusion

Friends is the perfect TV series to learn English with. The amount of vocabulary, connected speech and cultural knowledge you will get from watching this show is staggering. And if you need help with your learning, check out our Fluent with Friends course, where we guide you on how you can learn English with the first two seasons of Friends!

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