Idea 027: Learning English – Youtube, Audio Books & Netflix

When I studied in school I always got relative low scores on listening and speaking, it is because I always found the native speakers speaking English so fast that I could hardly hear a word. Since then, I always look for a way to improve my English listening.

I always envy some of my friends who have chances to study aboard. Of course some of them were forced to study outside Hong Kong (because they couldn’t get enough scores to get to the local Universities), and some of them got financial support from their parents to study aboard.

No matter the reasons behind, they had chances to live in a place surrounding by people speaking other languages. Most of them studied in Australia, England , Canada and USA, so they were forced to use English to communicate in their daily lives.

In other words, they were offered golden opportunities to learn English and get to the higher standard of English than normal people in Hong Kong.

Actually the most important factors of learning a language is to be surrounded by that language, and make sure we use that language every single day.

If we use English to communicate every day, we must master English, just like we master our Cantonese.

This is actually the key to learn English, and this condition can be manually created by ourselves.

Listening to Youtube videos Every Day

Watching Youtube videos can be more than just entertaining.

There are a lot of videos on Youtube presented in different languages like Mandarin, Cantonese, English, etc. If you want to learn a language, the most direct way is to listen to the videos presented in that language.

My practice is that I always put on my headset and listen to different English videos that are related to start-up, entrepreneurship, motivation, marketing, presentation, etc. Instead of watching them, I just listen to them because I need to work on the daytime.

“Listening to Youtube videos while working? Dude! how can you focus on your work?”

That’s right. When I am working on some tasks that requires my laser focus, I won’t listening to anything. However, when I am doing something routines, I am able to do the work while listening to Youtube.

The key here is, I am not trying to understand every single work but to make sure that I got used to an English speaking environment. By listening to hundreds of Youtube videos I will be familiarise with native speakers’ speaking speed and accents.

As a result, I start to hear some words that previously I couldn’t hear from native speaker’s talk.

Listening to Audio Books

Same applies to listening to audio books. While Youtube videos might be shorter in length and more fun, audio books are more lengthy and more educational.

Because of the writing in nature, we can learn a lot of vocabularies and way of writing from audio books.

I find the main difference between Youtube videos and audio books is that the speakers of audio book are speaking more formally and pronouncing words in a better way.

Because the “reader” have nothing to read but to listen to the book in order to understand it, the speaker needs to speak correctly and in attractive way, otherwise no one would like to listen to the book no matter how informative and interesting the book could be.

From listening to audio book, we can be more than just being surrounded by English speaking environment, but to really know how to pronounce a sentence, how to present a story in an attractive way so that the listeners will not get bored, and how to make sure the listeners can understand the story without reading anything.

In other words, listening to audio book can improve our writing, listening and speaking skills.

Watching Netflix Movies & TV dramas

The final way of improving listening skill is to watch Netflix movies and TV dramas.

This is indeed the most interesting way of learning English as we all love to watch movies and TV dramas.

I was told that one of the ways to learn English via watching movies is to turn on English subtitles. When we listen to some words that we don’t understand, we can check the subtitles.

I personally think this does not work because I don’t think I can read anything when I am focusing on listening. That’s why I mentioned above that I only listening to Youtube when I am doing something that requires less focus.

Unless you can understand the subtitle immediately with just a glance, I would recommend you use the subtitle in your mother language, ie, Chinese in my case.

When watching the movie, I will not look at the subtitle at all and only hear what the characters say, until the moment I really don’t understand the meaning of the sentence, I will spend a second to look at the subtitle. In that sense I can easily get the meaning without pausing the movie.

For some movies that I am confident to understand without the subtitle, I will turn off the subtitle and listen to the characters’s speaking just like I listen to Youtube videos.

So the main advantage of watching Netflix movies and TV dramas is that they have better subtitles to help us understand the English, and we can choose to use this tool whenever we want. We can also use the English subtitle to learn how people speak in daily lives.

I hope you enjoy my blog post today.

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