It’s Monday night. You get home from work and you want to relax, maybe have a beer or a coffee and enjoy a nice TV show. But you also want to practice English. What to do?
If you already have a Netflix subscription you can do both: enjoy your favorite English language movie or TV show, and improve your spoken English and pronunciation at the same time.
Here are 5 simple steps you can take to improve your English (or American! Or Australian!) pronunciation with Netflix:
1. Choose the right movie or TV program for YOU
You wanna speak like an American? Perhaps you prefer to improve your British accent. Or maybe you really want an Australian accent, right mate!?
In my personal language studies, I always choose a specific accent, from a particular region even, to try and master. For example, when I was living in Japan, I had a lot of friends from Osaka. I learned and used the slang from that region, and copied my friends’ accents. When I would travel to Tokyo, my Japanese friends there would laugh at me, because I spoke like someone from Osaka! This was a compliment, though.
Be focused. Choose one accent. Make it good. Then you can work on another if you’d like!
Choose a program like “Friends” if you want to perfect your American accent. “Downton Abbey” is a popular British TV show if you want to work on your English accent. You can focus on the Australian characters in “Lost” if you want to ‘speak Aussie.’
2. Keep it short
After choosing the right program or movie for you, pick a short (and I really do mean short – 2 to 3 minutes MAXIMUM) dialogue to work with.
A short, focused study session can be just as helpful as browsing your favorite grammar website or watching YouTube English lessons for an hour. By choosing a 2 – 3 minute long clip from the program or movie you are able to really focus and learn the specific pronunciation of phrases and words.
Remember: only 3 minutes max!
3. Follow the leader (or in this case, the actor)
Okay, so let’s look at the best way to really practice your pronunciation now that you have chosen your 2 minute clip.
Start the video clip and repeat after the actors and actresses. This method of practicing pronunciation and speaking is called shadowing. You can repeat after the actors and practice shadowing in a few different ways:
- Variation #1: Keep the English subtitles on and read and repeat after the characters
- Variation #2: Turn off the subtitles and try and repeat all the sounds and tones the characters make (this can be helpful even if you don’t know every single word)
- Variation #3: Listen as one of the characters says a sentence and phrase, then pause the video and repeat the sentence
- Variation #4 (Most advanced): Repeat after the characters at almost the same time as they are speaking
Here’s an example of me practicing with shadowing so that you can see the different ways that it can work. I chose a clip from the TV show “Modern Family”: