This article is a guest post by Andrijana. She is a writer and a marketing manager at Justlearn. She speaks three languages and enjoys sharing tips related to language learning. Quite a big fan of Friends, binge-watching, and old movies.
If only there were a way to learn new English words by watching Friends.
Of course, there is. There’s always a way but in this case, there are more ways to improve your English vocabulary.
The TV show Friends is one of the most popular American and worldwide sitcoms. It’s a show about a group of six friends trying to find their path in the city of New York. We can all relate to that (to the ‘find their path’ part, not exactly to the New York part).
What makes these people even more relatable is their sense of humor, the ability to laugh at each other and still be friends, their friendships, all the love, and especially their problems.
Those same things make this show the best show to learn English with – you get to learn actual real-life dialogues because Friends will take you through their best and worst moments. Moments that most of us will go through at one point.
So if you’ve decided to improve your vocabulary, Friends should be your choice of resource. Not only can this show give you a different look on life, but it can also be a fun and practical learning tool.
And like every tool, there are different ways to use it.
So how can you improve your vocabulary with Friends?
These methods have helped me become a ‘Rachel/Chandler’ of the group, and here’s how you can improve your English skills too.
Make a vocabulary list for each episode
If you intend to learn new words, you should prepare a notebook and a pen. Especially for this first method.
A great way to learn and memorize new words is to remember them by episodes. For example, the episode where Ross tries to teach Phoebe and Rachel the importance of unagi is called ‘The One With Unagi’. So the vocabulary list for this episode would look something like this:
Eel – a snake-like fish, famous for being slipper, used in Japanese cuisine
Awareness – the ability to directly know or perceive, the state of being conscious of something
Danger – the possibility of suffering harm or injury
To befall – to happen (especially of something bad)
Below each new word, make sure you write down an example (from the episode) or more examples that you can google and find online. Here’s how you could do it:
- Unagi is a type of sushi, made out of freshwater eel.
- He’s as slippery as an eel, you can never get a straight answer from him.
- Unagi is a state of total awareness.
- We should raise awareness of this rare disease.
Danger (you might remember this one easily because of the scene where Ross pretends to attack the girls by yelling ‘Danger! Danger!’ to them)
Only by achieving true unagi can you be prepared for any danger that may befall you.
The best way to memorize words is by learning them in context. The more fun the context, the faster you’ll learn.
Use and then lose the subtitles
A lot of European countries have dubbed audio instead of subtitles, making it harder for their citizens to listen to native English speakers.
Luckily, Friends are still on Netflix, so if you want to improve your vocabulary, head over there to watch the original version of the show. You’ll have the option to add subtitles, but if you are not a beginner, I would recommend going for either English subtitles or no subtitles at all.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t understand every single word. Be honest with yourself – do you always understand every word in your mother tongue? Not really. You live, and you learn. As long as you understand what’s happening in the scene and what’s funny about it, you are good.
If not, feel free to pause the video. This is how you’ll learn. Google the expression or talk about it with your English teacher. Write it down by making a vocabulary list, as explained in the previous point.
Organize Friends binge-watching nights
My all-time favorite! I still do this with my friends from time to time.
I am sure you have some Friends fans around you that also want to improve their vocabulary. Why not organize a get-together where you’ll binge-watch the show and then talk about it but in English?
Each of you can write down words that they didn’t know, so after the episode is over, you can talk about it, find out the meaning, and explain to each other.
You can make summaries for the episodes that you watched. Talk about your favorite characters, the best scenes, and the funniest dialogues.
Friends are always a great conversation starter, so it won’t be that hard for you to find topics. Just make sure everything is in English!
Follow Friends fan pages on Instagram
Despite popular belief, Instagram is not just a fun time-wasting app. If you know how to use it to your advantage, it can help you improve your language skills or support your learning journey.
The first thing you should do is follow the right Instagram accounts. There are tons of Friends fans out there who post videos, screenshots, and stories from the show. Seeing pictures from the show with captions to follow on your Instagram feed will help you revise your Friends’ knowledge.
You are having a hard time remembering what the word ‘lobster’ means?
Seeing Phoebe’s explanation once or twice on your feed will help you remember lobsters forever.
Here are some fan accounts you can follow: @friendsbestscenes, @friends, @idratherbewatchingfriends, @thefriendscontent, @theonewithscenes, etc.
Include Friends into your daily routines
It is very healthy to develop routines, especially morning routines. Having something to look forward to in the morning can make you jump out of bed at the first sound of your alarm. Lunch routines are no exception. They can help you relax and not look at social media for a while, instead just enjoy some free time.
So why not include Friends into your morning or lunch routine? Episodes last around 20 minutes, which is perfect to fully wake up, drink your coffee, eat breakfast, or have a lunch break.
Not only will you have fun, but you will also learn some new words every day.
Watching one episode of Friends in the morning has been my routine for years. Sometimes I even play it in the background while I put my make up on or prepare breakfast. It’s a great way to start the day.
If you adapt your routines a bit and include these fun little English lessons, you will make a big progress in your English journey. It will be your way to surround yourself with native speakers, until your next trip when you’ll be able to put your knowledge to use.
Still think this sounds too good to be true? I’d suggest trying the above methods with the first season first. Then look back and check the progress you’ve made.
Learned quite a few new words? There are nine more seasons to go, so go ahead.
Boost your vocabulary knowledge, discover which Friends character you are, and get ready to make people around you laugh their heads off.