Coming across the Youtube comment above I immediately thought of my 20 year old cousin who is fond of Korean TV series just like me. The difference between us is she can watch the fresh episodes in Korean right after the release, while I usually chase after her trying to persuade her to interpret for me. Interestingly, she can’t speak Korean, but understands most of the dialogues in TV series. In fact, she neither learned Korean nor spoke to a Korean native speaker in her entire life. All she did is watching subtitled Korean TV shows and series incessantly from her childhood. Her experience tells us that watching TV series in a foreign language with subtitles for a prolonged period of time might help you to acquire the language incidentally, and can be more beneficial in language learning than two-hour films.
In British council’s site Kieran Donaghy explains the benefits of learning a language through films as follows: 1) it is enjoyable and motivating; 2) it provides authentic and varied language; 3) it gives you a visual context; 4) it brings variety and flexibility to language classrooms. Sharing all those leverages, subtitled TV series can be even more helpful in terms of language learning since you do it regularly, and they are full of repeated words. According to Webb& Rodgers, watching television regularly may significantly affect the learner’s vocabulary size since lots of studies demonstrate that increasing the frequency of the words within a context improves the possibilities of vocabulary learning (as cited in Webb & Rodgers, 2010). This means that having constant characters that talk in a certain style using specific expressions and words again and again, TV series might certainly facilitate the vocabulary acquisition.
To conclude, watching TV series in a foreign language might trigger incidental language learning as it contains plethora of repeated words. Moreover, being fun and enjoyable activity it serves as an excellent supplement to formal learning. So, next time when you desire to watch your favorite subtitled TV series in a foreign language you might justify yourself by telling that it can be helpful in learning new foreign expressions and words and improving your language knowledge.
Webb, S. (2010). Using glossaries to increase the lexical coverage of television programs, 22(1), 201–221.
Screenshot taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMmOLN5zBLY&t=1s