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Cartoons - The Secret Weapon for Learning English

Cartoons: The Secret Weapon for Learning English

Children’s Cartoon Television Series

Watching children’s cartoons is perhaps one of the easiest and most efficient ways to immerse yourself in the English-speaking world. You now ask, why cartoons? Why not other forms of television entertainment? I see two reasons why children’s cartoons are a good choice.

  1. They are simple- Most cartoons have very basic storylines. This is an element of cartoons that cannot be stressed enough. One of the issues with more complicated forms of television is that, without the help of language, you will have trouble following the story. This in turn has a negative impact on your understanding of the language itself. Let me put it like this: you have two elements to consider: the story and the spoken words. It is possible to understand the story without understanding the spoken words in the following sense: I see a robber. He is going into the house, he is stealing the television, but I do not understand what he is talking about to his partner in crime. Vice versa, you can understand spoken words without understanding the story. Here is the important part: understanding one of these elements enhances the other. In the case of cartoons, because the pictures are so clear and simple, you will have a good understanding of the story even if you do not understand the words. Understanding the context in which the words are spoken will help you understand the words themselves. Your listening comprehension will skyrocket.

  2. They are repetitive- Because children’s cartoons often talk about the same thing over and over again, you will have many chances to grasp certain key words and phrases. Repetition is also good because the more times you hear a word or phrase, the more likely you are to commit it to memory.

When choosing a Children’s Show to watch, it is important to consider a number of factors. For one, you want a show where the people speak like actual human beings (animals in cartoons often speak with exaggerated accents that might make it difficult to learn an appropriate accent). You also want a show with a fair amount of dialogue (stay away from the shows with minimal to no dialogue that only rely on physical entertainment. Of course, the most important factor to consider is to find a show that you will enjoy. This means that you will have to do some searching yourself. Here is a list of shows, in no particular order, which I would recommend.

  • Adventure time

  • Micky Mouse Clubhouse

  • Arthur

  • Sesame Street

  • Blues Clues

  • Phineas and Ferb

  • Berenstein Bears

If you need help finding additional shows to watch, here are a few sites to check out:

If you want to just explore on your own (besides flipping through channels on your T.V. if you have cable or Satellite) I would recommend exploring YouTube. It has clips from virtually every television show there is, allowing to you view short segments of many different television shows.

Children’s Animation/Cartoon Movies
You also might be interested in finding Movies to watch that are either children’s Cartoons or animation. Here are few suggestions:

Adult/Mature Cartoons
I would recommend staying away from adult Cartoons until you feel you have a very good grasp on basic vocabulary and structure. Adult English cartoons, such as South Park or family guy, generally have extremely fast dialogue and difficult to follow plots. If, however, you are looking for a change of pace, I would recommend considering Japanese animes that have been translated into English. I recommend this because the majority of straight-up Adult English cartoons are comedies that have nonsensical stories that might be very hard to follow. Japanese animes often rely on the same stereotypes again and again, which means that they are sometimes repetitive- an excellent trait to have when you are watching them to improve you speaking and listening abilities. As an added bonus, some of the best shows and movies are actually Japanese animes. What follows is a few suggestions, in no particular order, of more mature cartoons that I view as being potentially beneficial for a new speaker.

  • Deadnote

  • Attack on Titan

  • Full Metal Alchemist

  • Cowboy Bebop

As an additional note to address a possible concern, there are English translations of all these shows that are accurate and representative of actual English accents.

Photo Credit: Loren Javier
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