Train Your American Accent with Netflix Series

Have you ever met someone who speaks really good English, even though they’re not a native English speaker and they have not studied English in the classroom?

It’s hard to believe, but these people do exist! When I was in Brazil, I had a friend named Pedro. I asked him, “How did you learn to speak English like a native? You sound like an American English speaker!”

He said, “Well, my secret is that I watch a lot of TV, Netflix series and movies in English.”

This is a great way to study! Today, I’m going to recommend Netflix series for beginner, intermediate and advanced English learners. I’ll also share my tips or how to use Netflix effectively to improve your English fluency.

Netflix Series for Beginners

Netflix series are a great way for beginners to practice your American English accent, and to train your listening and speaking skills. A Netflix series for beginners that I highly recommend is Magic for Humans. Besides being super fun, you will hear numbers from one to ten, and simple directions like, “Hand me back the card.”

Magic for Humans is a fun show to watch, too. You can watch the magician make people disappear, or do fun or funny magic tricks.

Wait, What’s the difference between fun and funny?

Let’s talk about this, because many of my intermediate students often mix up these words.

Fun is something that amuses you.
Funny is something that makes you laugh.

Magic for Humans is fun, because you like it, and you watch it again and again.

It’s funny, because you might laugh at some of the more amusing magic tricks.

Netflix shows for Intermediate Learners

For intermediate learners, watch Love is Blind, especially if you are into relationships. On this show, you get to see what different people will do in order to spend the rest of their lives with that special someone.

Love is Blind is good for the intermediate level because there will be some challenging vocabulary. But don’t worry! It’s enough for you to understand what the main ideas are, even if you don’t understand everything.

100 Humans is another good show for intermediate learners. I love this show about human behavior. It’s interesting because it examines things about our behavior that we might assume to be true, and then, using scientific studies, proves our assumptions to be right or wrong.

This is a good show for intermediate English speakers because you can watch what’s going on while you hear them explain the experiments. It’s easy to follow and you can understand what is happening even if you don’t understand all the words.

Netflix shows for Advanced Learners

A lot of my friends on social media have been talking about Ozark. Have you seen it? Ozark is a very exciting and dramatic series that can help you train your English because you’re going to want to keep watching it over and over and over!

This show is good for advanced English speakers because you’ll hear standard American English as well as a Southern accent. You can train your ears to understand that accent as well.

So Many Accents!

While we’re on the topic of Southern American accents, you should watch The Walking Dead. I don’t even like horror movies, but I love watching The Walking Dead because they leave you with a cliffhanger every episode where you want to know what happens next!

The Walking Dead is challenging. You’ll hear British English accents, and American English accents from the Midwest, the West coast, and New York. You’ll also hear a character named Ezekiel speak in Old English, as if he were an actor in a Shakespearean play. A character named Eugene speaks in a very unique academic way.

Ezekiel and Eugene are difficult even for native English speakers to understand. But hold on tight and buckle up, and see how much you can understand! These two will really challenge your English listening skills.

Tips for Watching

Now that you have some suggestions about which programs to watch, let’s talk about how to use them for English learning.

Beginners

If you’re a beginner, please use a show with more standard American English. These will help you train your listening skills and your pronunciation skills. I also recommend not watching the whole program at first. Just watch 5 to 10 minutes. If you are an advanced beginner, you can start with 5 to 10 minutes, then watch a little more each time, if you feel comfortable with that.

If you don’t understand more than 50%, it’s a good idea to turn on those English captions so you can read along and listen at the same time. This will help you understand what’s happening.

Be patient with yourself, beginners! It’s very tiring to watch a program in another language!

Intermediate Learners

Intermediate English speakers, let’s challenge you a little bit more. Try to watch an entire episode without stopping! It’s okay if you don’t understand every word, just try to understand the main idea.  You can always go back later and look up the meaning of words you didn’t understand. As an intermediate, you shouldn’t rely on captions or subtitles, but if you’re not sure about a word, you can check by  turning on the captions.

Remember that native English speakers don’t always understand 100% of what the characters say, either!

Advanced Learners

If you are an advanced learner, train your listening skills to understand not only the standard American dialects, but regional accents as well. Don’t rely on subtitles or captions. Really make sure that you’re challenging yourself to watch the whole series without stopping! This is good practice for taking tests, or listening to long conversations or lectures.

if you want to listen to more academic materials, I highly recommend TED Talks, because they’re great for advanced English speakers. In fact, if you didn’t already know, I did a TEDx presentation a few years ago! Here’s the link if you want to watch it.

You Might Hear Strange Vocabulary

Sometimes, when you are watching a more advanced program, you will hear vocabulary that is specific to that program. For example, in The Walking Dead, you will hear the word “walkers.” “Walkers” in normal, everyday English means people who are walking. But on The Walking Dead, it means “zombies!” Each program might have its own set of inside vocabulary.

What Else Can You Do to Have Fun and Improve Your English Skills?

Try having a Netflix party! You and your friends can choose a show to watch at the same time, and you can actually chat about what is going on even if you are not in the same house. It’s a really cool thing we can do with technology!

I also recommend keeping a notebook with new vocabulary words and phrases that you learn during the show. It’s important to go back and review, so you can remember them and use them in conversations.

A really fun way to train your American accent is to repeat what you hear characters saying. Let’s say you’re watching The Walking Dead, and you really like the character named Rick. Repeat everything Rick says as soon as you hear it! By repeating what the characters say, you can practice their pronunciation, their accent, and the way they deliver their words. It’s a powerful way for you to practice speaking from your own home for free, so take advantage of your free Netflix English tutors!

What Netflix Shows Do You Like?

I would love to know what your favorite Netflix series for learning English is! Write it in the comments below, and tell us why you like it. If you liked this post, try this post about how to learn English with Siri!

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