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Top TV Shows to Improve Your English Listening Skills: American and British Series

By Vidhi

Updated - June 17, 20247 min read

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Improving your English listening skills doesn't have to be a chore. While traditional methods like listening to BBC news might seem daunting, there's a more enjoyable way to enhance your vocabulary and comprehension: watching TV shows. We’ve compiled a fantastic list of shows in both British and American English that are not only entertaining but also educational. These series will immerse you in the language and culture, making the learning process both effective and fun.


TV Series in American English


1. Friends


Image courtesy: Prime Video


Synopsis: "Friends" is a beloved classic that follows the lives of six friends living in New York City. The show’s humor and relatable scenarios have made it a favorite worldwide.


Why It’s Great for Learning: Chances are, you’ve watched "Friends" in your native language. This familiarity with the storyline makes it easier to follow in English. The characters speak clearly, and the humor is universal, making it an excellent choice for English learners.


2. Grace and Frankie

grace and frankie

Image courtesy: Netflix


Synopsis: This comedy series revolves around two older women, Grace and Frankie, whose lives are turned upside down when their husbands reveal they are in love with each other.


Why It’s Great for Learning: The episodes are short and filled with humor, making it an enjoyable watch. The dialogue is natural and not overly complex, which helps in picking up conversational English.


3. Brooklyn 99

brooklyn 99

Image courtesy: NBC


Synopsis: A comedic take on the classic American cop show, "Brooklyn 99" centers around the detectives of the 99th precinct of the NYPD.


Why It’s Great for Learning: The show’s fast-paced comedy and short episodes are both engaging and manageable for learners. While the humor can be quick, repeated viewing helps in understanding and enjoying the jokes.


4. Stranger Things

stranger things

Image courtesy: The Economic Times


Synopsis: This popular sci-fi series follows a group of kids in the 1980s who uncover a series of supernatural mysteries.


Why It’s Great for Learning: The children in the show speak slowly and clearly, making it easier for non-native speakers to understand. The intriguing plot will keep you hooked, and the frequent use of 1980s slang adds a fun cultural learning aspect.


5. Russian Doll

russian doll

Image courtesy: IMDb


Synopsis: Nadia, the protagonist, is caught in a time loop, reliving the same day repeatedly.


Why It’s Great for Learning: The repetitive nature of the storyline aids comprehension. Each episode builds on the previous one, reinforcing vocabulary and phrases, making it an addictive way to learn.


6. Jane the Virgin

jane the virgin

Image courtesy: Collider


Synopsis: This dramedy follows Jane, a young Latina woman, who is accidentally artificially inseminated.


Why It’s Great for Learning: For Spanish speakers, the show’s bilingual nature provides a gentle introduction to English. The familiar telenovela format and occasional Spanish dialogue make it less intimidating for beginners.


7. The Good Place

the good place

Image courtesy: Netflix


Synopsis: A woman finds herself in a heaven-like place and realizes she doesn't belong there.


Why It’s Great for Learning: The show’s unique premise and its moral and philosophical themes provide a rich source of new vocabulary. The slow-moving plot and repeated storylines make it easier to follow along.


8. Modern Family

modern family

Image courtesy: Hotstar


Synopsis: This mockumentary-style sitcom depicts the lives of three related families.


Why It’s Great for Learning: The presence of children characters who speak slowly and use simpler vocabulary makes the show accessible. Additionally, cultural explanations given to the Colombian character Gloria help viewers understand English idioms and phrases.


TV Series in British English


1. Misfits


Image courtesy: Radio Times


Synopsis: A group of young offenders gains supernatural powers after a strange storm.


Why It’s Great for Learning: This show is a crash course in various British accents, including Yorkshire, Derby, London, and Irish. It’s ideal for advanced learners looking to challenge their listening skills.


2. The Crown

the crown

Image courtesy: Netflix


Synopsis: A historical drama chronicling the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.


Why It’s Great for Learning: The series offers a deep dive into the British monarchy with characters speaking in posh, clear British accents. It’s perfect for those wanting to learn the “Queen’s English” and gain insights into British history.


3. Downton Abbey

downtown abbey

Image courtesy: TV Insider


Synopsis: Set in early 20th-century England, this series follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants.


Why It’s Great for Learning: Similar to "The Crown," the characters speak in refined British accents, which are easier to understand. The historical context also provides a learning opportunity about British society and history.


4. The Great British Bake Off

tv show

Image courtesy: Channel 4


Synopsis: Amateur bakers compete to be named the UK’s best.


Why It’s Great for Learning: The show’s format introduces viewers to British food, culture, and humor. The diverse accents and the clear, slow-paced dialogue make it an excellent choice for learners at all levels.


5. Call the Midwife

call the midwife

Image courtesy: PBS


Synopsis: This series follows midwives working in London’s East End in the 1950s.


Why It’s Great for Learning: The clear and deliberate speech of the characters makes it easy to follow. Additionally, it provides historical context about post-war Britain and the challenges faced by women.


6. Sherlock


Image courtesy: BBC player


Synopsis: A modern adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes detective stories.


Why It’s Great for Learning: The fast-paced dialogue and complex plots challenge advanced learners. The captivating storylines ensure you stay engaged and eager to learn more.


7. Killing Eve

killing eve

Image courtesy: Prime video


Synopsis: A thrilling spy drama centered around an MI5 officer and a psychopathic assassin.


Why It’s Great for Learning: The mix of British and international accents (including clear Canadian and Belgian) makes it a good learning tool. The slow and deliberate speech of some characters aids comprehension.


Tips for Maximizing Learning


1. Use Subtitles: Start with subtitles in your native language, then switch to English subtitles as you get more comfortable.

2. Repeat and Review: Rewatch episodes to reinforce vocabulary and phrases.

3. Take Notes: Jot down new words and expressions. Look them up and practice using them in sentences.

4. Engage with the Content: Discuss episodes with friends or online communities. This reinforces what you’ve learned and improves your speaking skills.

5. Be Consistent: Regularly watching and listening will gradually improve your understanding and fluency.


Learning English doesn’t have to be boring or stressful. By incorporating TV shows into your study routine, you can enhance your listening skills while enjoying great entertainment. Whether you prefer American or British English, there’s a show out there that will keep you engaged and motivated. So, grab some popcorn, sit back, and start your journey to better English with these fantastic series!