Language is not something I really think about on a day-to-day basis. Most of the time, I just go through my day freely communicating with ease and not running into any language-related problems. I feel like this is the way a lot of native English speakers living in America feel, and I’ve found that it is a very ignorant way of thinking. Everyone should acknowledge that being fluent in English is a major privilege that is often overlooked or taken for granted by native speakers.
During my first conversation session at ALI, I was talking with an international student specifically about what our high schools were like. He said that he had a few required classes that he had to take during high school, and that one of them was four years of English. I mentioned that I was also required to take a foreign language and my conversation partner was puzzled by this, and he questioned me on why I would be required to learn any other language besides English. This forced me to step back and think more deeply about English.
My conversation partner’s statement is sad but true, because in a practical sense, if you know English, there is not a need to know any other language because of English’s dominance in the world. This is unfortunate, because it is not fair to rate languages above each other because it creates a big disadvantage to those who are not native English speakers, and thus they are given the burden of learning another language (usually English) out of necessity.
Los Angeles is the center of the entertainment industry. The media that is produced here largely affects and creates the trends in American pop culture. Television and film are a universal social activity that brings people together. TV is such a mainstream form of entertainment that there is a show available for everyone’s liking.
Some people learn languages and accents just from watching English shows. The conversations on the shows can help explain social norms and give a better understanding of behavior. Constantly hearing the language not only can help with grammar and overall proficiency, but also pronunciation. It is an easy way to hear and help form more of an American accent.
American TV not only helps improve language development but also showcases American culture and current pop culture trends. Each show’s plot will include different scenarios and show how or what the typical way of reacting in those situations are. They can also portray the general standards and behaviors in America. For example, it is very common for shows to have an annual holiday special that show typical customs and common traditions. Shows will also include slang and common phrases that are not taught when learning traditional grammar.
Sitcoms, aka situational comedies, are some of the best shows to watch when working on everyday conversational language practice. They are usually light hearted, easy to follow, and include relevant topics to the time. They follow a group of people episode to episode, so you’re able to become familiar with each character and their personalities. The repetition and easy to follow plot helps advance your familiarity with English by giving lots of context and multiple different scenarios for everyday vocabulary.