Simple English Listening

Best TV shows to IMPROVE your English (Pre-Intermediate) + HOW to use them + Trip to Phu Yen Province

January 31, 2021 Tristan Palumbo
Simple English Listening
Best TV shows to IMPROVE your English (Pre-Intermediate) + HOW to use them + Trip to Phu Yen Province
Show Notes Transcript

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❤️ English: Your PASSPORT to the world! My name is Tristan, from England. I've been a university-qualified English teacher for 10+ years, and taught in five countries - UK, Italy, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam. So far, I've lived in 10 countries and visited over 45.

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Hello and welcome everyone and welcome to the new season!

Today, we will talk about some TV shows, all on Netflix, that can help you improve your English! For pre-intermediate learners, and intermediate. And, how you can watch them to learn English. We'll also have a little catch up with me, I haven't seen you in 6 weeks, so I'll let you know how I've been doing and what I've been up to.  

Welcome to Simple English Listening. On this channel, I speak about different topics in SIMPLER English, it's perfect for pre-intermediate and intermediate English learners. On this channel, we learn by using a learning style called 'comprehensible input'. This learning style was first introduced in 1977 by Professor Steven Krashen. He says that the quickest way to learn a new language is to listen to and to read as much language as possible which is just one level, one level above your level. So, you should understand about 70% or 80% or more of the language. This way, by listening to and reading English that you mostly understand, you are able to pick up and learn the maximum amount of new language naturally. This is how we learn on this channel.

Also, if you want the transcript for this podcast so you can read along with me, I have put the link to the transcript in the description and on the Simple English Listening FB page. Reading along whilst listening to me is the best way ti pick up as much new language as possible.

Remember on the Castbox app, on Castbox, you can also change the speed of this podcast, to make it easier for you to understand. We have podcasts every Sunday.

OK, first, what are the best English-language TV shows to help pre-intermediate learners? I have chosen four for you for now. I'll share with you my ideas. I'll make a Youtube video once I've found more - 'Top 7 TV shows for pre-intermediate learners' - I'll call it something like that.

First, what makes a good TV show for English learners? We must have some specifications. I've looked for these specifications for finding TV shows: 

a)  They should have simpler vocabulary, vocabulary that we use every day. In some shows, the vocabulary is too specific, for example, Gordon Ramsay's 'Hell's Kitchen', is too focused on food vocabulary. 'The Big Bang Theory' in my opinion is not so good because it's too focused on higher level, more formal language because they're trying to sound clever and uses too much vocabulary related to science, right? What you want, for pre-intermediate learners, is to watch shows with every day, conversational, simpler vocabulary.

b) For pre-intermediate level, the show should be American. The reason for this is that Americans speak much more straight and directly. On the other hand, British English TV uses much more informal language, slang, idioms, more difficult expressions. More metaphors and abstract language. And, one reason American TV shows have simpler language is because, I feel, they are also written for a more worldwide, global audience. Also, the American accent is easier to understand - the sounds are clearer and they usually speak a bit louder and more from the nose.

'Hey man, I'm American and I speak more from the nose'. However, for British people the sound comes more from the chest, like me, which sounds less clear and a bit quieter and also they mumble their words a bit when they talk, their mouths are a bit more closed and they speak through their teeth more often. I'm British! I know these things. And I'm also Canadian - a dual citizen, two passports! So I've spent lots of time in Canada and in England (so Canada has the American accent)

So, I'd suggest, come back to British TV when you get to upper-intermediate level or above. They'll be better for you then. Because remember, you must (mostly) understand what you watch.  

c) There must be lots of dialogue ('dialogue' means: speaking, the script). In some TV shows, there isn't much talking. They are more about what you see, with amazing cinematography, great big landscapes, such as nature and wildlife documentaries. And yea, documentaries - the language would be too difficult for pre-intermediate learners so you don't want that.

d) The TV show must follow the 'comprehensible input' rule. Which means, find shows that are interesting for you and where you understand at least 70 or 80% of what's happening. If you don't understand this much, find simpler shows - even go to cartoons and Pixar if you need to!  Pixar movies, such as Up, Zootopia, Inside Out, Finding Nemo. 

e) I've mostly chosen shows where you can watch any episode! The story line throughout the whole season isn't that important. This way, if you get lost and you don't know what's happening, then, it doesn't matter because in the next episode there's mostly a new story line so yea, it doesn't matter if you get lost.

and f) there has to be lots of visual elements ('visual' meaning: things you can see) that you can see, that help you understand what is happening.

OK, so with these specifications in mind, here are my chosen shows for you:

By the way, I had to watch about 20 different shows on Netflix as the research for this podcast, recommended to me by various English teacher friends. And yes, all of these shows are on Netflix (well, in Vietnam anyways, where I live)! Because over 190 countries have Netflix and over 200 million people have Netflix accounts!

OK, my first recommendation for pre-intermediate learners is drum roll..

'Love is Blind' - it's a reality TV show! In this show, people have to go on dates and try to find a romantic partner to get married with but all of these dates are behind a thin wall, so the man and woman cannot see each other. But, if one of them asks the other to get married and they say yes, so, if they get engaged - engaged - then after they agree to marry, once they're engaged they can finally see each other for the first time! So, the first time they see each other is once they are already engaged! OMG!! How exciting!

For the first five minutes maybe listen to it in your own language so you understand the concept of the show, and then after five minutes, go to English audio and English subtitles. The language is very conversational, very useful, lots of every day questions because they are on dates, getting to know each other for lots of the show.

Another show for pre-intermediate is 'Brooklyn 99'. This is a simple sitcom about a police force. It's easy to watch and easy to follow what's happening.

Next, for pre-intermediate is a show called 'Modern Family'. This is another American sitcom ('sitcom' meaning - a comedy drama series). This follows the adventures of three families. It's very much for an international audience. Lots of the dialogue is spoken by the kids (the children) so the language is usually simple and the actions are very visual.

Next, for intermediate learners, the classic - 'Friends'! The 1990s classic! In my opinion, the dialogue isn't quite as simple as the previous three shows I've recommended and there are less visual elements than the previous three but you should still try it and see what you think. I know that many English learners really enjoy this show and the language is quite simple overall. 

My final recommendation for today is called 'How I Met Your Mother'. 'How I Met Your Mother'. Another sitcom. Basic, conversational, everyday vocabulary. It's a charming, sweet and romantic comedy.

In my research, I found one final show but I hesitate to recommend it to you. It's called 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians'. I mean yea, It's conversational and much of it is comprehensible language but to be honest, I could feel myself losing some of my intelligence while watching it and becoming more 2D, two dimensional. I found myself suddenly wondering if I myself should get a fake tan and open a cosmetics shop. I just had to switch it off to be honest. Feel free to try it I guess - intermediate level. It's just not my cup of tea. There's an idiom for you - it's not my kind of show. 

OK, anyways, those are my current TV shows that I recommend for pre-intermediate English learners. So, A quick recap: for pre-intermediate learners we have: 'Love is Blind', 'Brooklyn 99' and 'Modern Family' and a little bit more challenging than those we have 'Friends' and 'Modern Family'.

How should you watch these? I suggest watching them with both English audio AND subtitles. This way, you will be exposed to more language and you'll have the opportunity to take in, to absorb more language. 

If you really like the show and you want to watch it twice, feel free to watch it first with subtitles in your native language and then the second time use English subtitles. 

Don't worry too much if you don't understand everything. The shows that I've recommended are quite lighthearted sitcoms and reality TV so it doesn't really matter if you don't understand everything. What's more important is, you enjoy it! And don't put too much pressure on yourself to understand everything.

OK next, my friends, what have I been up to? In the six weeks since we last spoke.

I have been organizing moving to a new city! I am moving to the beautiful coastal city of Da Nang from where I live currently in Hanoi, which is the capital of Vietnam ('coastal' is an adjective meaning, on the coast, next to the ocean). I have organized my flight there, my accommodation, a moving van to take my possessions, and I've organized leaving my apartment in Hanoi. Last week, I left my job in Hanoi of the last four years! Four years is the longest I've ever worked at one company! I left my job at the Korean International School here in Hanoi. I left it last week. I had to give a goodbye speech, say goodbye to my students. They gave me flowers you know.. that kinda thing. 

The last six days I took a break and I traveled around some of the lesser-known coastal towns of Vietnam. Because we can't leave the country of Vietnam right now, because of Covid-19, it makes you think more creatively about where to go in your own country. I went to an area that nobody I know here has ever been to before! An area where not many foreigners go but some Vietnamese friends told me this province has the most beautiful beaches in all of Vietnam. So, I went there and I rented a motorbike and I drove up the coast, passing some lovely towns and small fishing villages where people have a very natural way of life. There were many big deserted beaches. Very big and beautiful and clean ('deserted' means: not many people were there) The beaches were mostly completely empty of other people. There were deserted beaches, with many tropical trees and palm trees that have coconuts growing on them.

When I drove past the locals on my bike, I could see in the expression on their faces that they hadn't see a  foreigner like me for a very long time! I think, because there have been no tourists in Vietnam for about eight months now so, the locals seemed a little bit surprised to see me! And the children would say 'hello, hello hello' obsessively, waving with both of their hands, and sometimes running after my motorbike a little bit, shouting and waving 'hello'. 

I flew into a town called Tuy Hoa and drove up the coast to the town Quy Nhon. It was great! So Quy Nhon's more popular for expats and tourists but yea, the province Phu Yen, which is underneath Qui Nhon, yea not many people go there at all. 

OK, so next week we'll discuss what President Biden will do! What are his aims and goals for his next four years as the US president? We'll also be joined by my lovely co-host Chloe, who will tell us some stories all in pre-intermediate level English. 

Please subscribe to this podcast to help it grow and so the algorithm picks it up and shares it with more people. And please share it! On social media, by email, with anyone who you think may benefit. And don't forget to join the Simple English Listening FB page, where I post all new releases and feel free to add your email to my mailing list on It's a new website which I'm currently making. Soon I'll have lots of educational and interesting English-learning resources on there for you.

OK, guys, lots of love and it's good to be back and See you next next week! Ok, ciao.