Language Learning with Netflix



With just a word in the search bar, Netflix shows off its varieties of foreign-language films, ranging in many different categories.

Sharon Sun, Photojournalist

Netflix boasts an incredible catalog of movies, shows, and documentaries–all at the convenience of a TV, a laptop, or even a phone for a simple monthly subscription. It’s no doubt a giant in the streaming industry, offering its subscribers access to foreign films alongside American productions. And while Netflix boasts a treasure trove of unlimited entertainment, the streaming service also has the hidden potential to help language learners achieve the next level of language proficiency through a rich collection of foreign-language films.

So what parts of language learning can Netflix help train you in? Listening or watching foreign media helps improve the listening skills of a language. Frequent exposure to a foreign language builds language skills, like acquiring new vocabulary or understanding new grammar rules, to help learners adjust to listening to a language. Mrs. Nicholson (Staff), a Spanish teacher at YLHS, posits that, aside from Netflix media, listening to music also helps immensely. “The repetitive nature of song lyrics can really nail in lots of new vocabulary. Words are being repeated as part of the chorus and we as listeners can pick up on that,” she says.

Netflix media also helps build listening skills because they expose learners to the genuine and colloquial speech spoken by native speakers, as opposed to limiting language learners to the rigidly structured sentences of a textbook. Learning a language’s colloquial speech — that is, everyday or informal speech — offers a practical advantage as well, improving a learner’s ability to comprehend the casual, often grammatically incorrect, speech within boundaries. 

New vocabulary is especially a key aspect of language learning and Netflix’s foreign films have no shortage of such. Action, romance, mystery, horror, words, slang, and curses from all walks of life are featured in foreign films. Mrs. Nicholson (Staff), says that watching movies and listening can help all sorts of learners to acquire informal words and slang from native Spanish speakers. 

Language learning with Netflix just got a whole lot easier with the introduction of a new program by the same name- Language Learning with Netflix. This is a Chrome extension, meaning it is available exclusively for Netflix services and operating on a Chrome browser. Installable from the Chrome Web Store, Language Learning with Netflix (LLN) shows two language subtitles side-by-side spontaneously. The program also includes an extremely helpful foreign language dictionary with an option to save any confusing words to be looked at later.

Netflix might not teach you Spanish overnight, but the service certainly provides the tools to train a successful bilingual brain. Mrs. Nicholson (Staff) suggests two particular TV series for Spanish study: Velvet and The Time in Between. With the right resources, enough dedication, and a willingness to learn, Netflix’s foreign film catalogue can propel you to the proficiency you want in a foreign language.