Can we learn a langugae just by watching tv no reading just listening

i want to ask all can we learn a langugae just by watching tv no reading just listening. if yes do you know anyone who have done this

There is someone who goes by the name of “Kanji Keith”. He primarily uses TV to learn his languages. Look him up if you’re curious.

You can’t learn the language from the beginning only by watcvhing TV, but you can improve your skills quirte quickly by watching TV.
However, you have to obtaiin an itermediate level before in order to understand the gist of the brodcastinfg.

I think that , by watching only TV, you will become able to speak, but you will miss some vocabulary (some words being used primarily, sometimes only, in writing) and your grammar will be lacking.

I would say, “Not much.”

What do you think yourself?

Really , i don’t think it is possible to learn only by watching TV . It is one way to train for understanding conversation and various voices but it is not enough

It depends on the language I’d say. I think I could learn a lot of Catalan, or Galician, watching TV. On the other hand I could spend years watching Chinese TV and I don’t think I would improve much.

That’s how I’ve learned English, but it took me more than ten years. If you are not in a hurry, it’s possible.

I would recommend to have a basic level, then, you can try and watch tv. I did this with my French, and I can say that I am amazed with my progress, in the beginning I wasn’t able to understand a thing, now, it’s a pleasure watching french tv.


I watch a lot of documentary style videos about animals and wildlife in Russian that have no subtitles and I’ll pick up a few words. I wouldn’t spend time watching a documentary on a subject that didn’t interest me though, because learning 1-2 words an hour would really be time consuming if I didn’t find the video entertaining.


For my personal opinion: As a Swede, I could probably learn a lot by watching Norwegian or Danish broadcasts, because our languages are very similar. However, let’s say, If I were to learn Turkish - I think even after 10 000 hours of watching, I would still be at a very basic level.

Watching TV is not the same thing as growing up in a L2 speaking environment. The characters are not interacting with you. They are not teaching you words or answering your questions.

Imagine putting a baby in front of the TV expecting it to become fluent in the target language, without any interaction whatsoever with real people. Seems implausible, doesn’t it?

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I saw your post and found Kanji Keith on YouTube and watched his TV Method video. I think videos on YouTube are great too. But, I really don’t see the point of ignoring my literacy skills to speed up language acquisition by intentionally working on vocabulary and grammar. He mentioned watching a few episodes of a show before figuring out one of the words was the character’s name was. I watched a Chinese movie the other night. The first thing I did was read the synopsis of the movie, so two minutes into the movie when I heard the main character’s name, I recognized it immediately. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to struggle though the whole movie to try to figure out what word was the character’s name based on situations in the movie when the synopsis made that so obvious.

From personal experiences, my answer to your questions would be NO. To me I need the text and audio to learn languages. I read them aloud (or shadow them as listening to the audio) many times and then words, phrases and expressions will stick to my mind. When I first started English as a second language, that is what I did for the 3 years. In my high school, I had so much to study and couldn’t do that anymore, and Now I look back, that was the time I stopped acquiring many words and phrases.

I like watching tv. I see watching tv is a reward. I find it very rewarding when I can hear the words and phrases I had learned through my “reading aloud” method" while watching TV or seeing movies.

If you can learn languages by watching TV, that would be great. After all everyone has different methods to work by. As long as a certain method works for you, you should do that.

Depends on what TV programs. I don’t see much from learning from the news other than listening practice and vocabulary (because no one talks like that in every day situations) and a lot of TV series are dramatization and aren’t like every day life either.

I’m not sure how one can learn a language without reading, because listening to dialogue without much context to go with it (unless the actions shown with the dialogue are VERY demonstrative) would be very ineffective.

It’s an interesting question that popped up in my head at some point as well. You hear about the fantasy stories in movies, where someone gets captured in a foreign country and they become fluent just from the immersion (Last Samurai anyone?). I’ve wondered if that would be possible. I really couldn’t tell you, but I’ve been curious!

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Maybe, but it is not time efficient.

There are courses like the BBC’s Muzzy in Gondoland in many languages. There must have been some scientific papers about that experiment.

Where do you find these documentaries? I’m genuinely curious!

On YouTube they have Russian language documentaries on anything from aliens to zebras. Just look up the Russian word such as … Амазонка. Some of the documentaries seem to be from a legitimate sources that will be around awhile.

BBC Russian channel has “Мой город” videos featuring different cities that are short and sweet.

I recently found this channel that has a travel related reality TV style show.

Russia24 has more than news on their channel

Star Media has documentaries, movies, and shows


For me, it was a massive waste of time. I watched a lot of Russian movies and tv shows since my wife is russian and it did very little for me until I reached a certain level. I would say that trying to learn Russian through movies before I was ready was one of the biggest mistakes I made in my learning.

Even today, after 7 years of study, I still need dedicated study with dialog for complex conversations on talk radio.

That is just my experience.

On the other hand, my 4 year old speaks pretty darn good Russians often with proper cases and verb forms and she has never spent a day studying Russian. Everything is from listening to her mother and watching Russian cartoons.


I don’t know anyone personally who’s done this but I’m sure a whole lot of factors are at play - and if optimised watching TV could be really useful. Maybe just not the most efficient way to learn from scratch. My guess is that the optimal conditions for learning would be:

  • clear relationship between words and meaning (e.g. documentaries good because they often narrate the action being shown - news and talk shows not so good)
  • repetition (e.g. characters who speak in formulaic ways - I’m sure over time the same common greetings and phrases would pop up and be obvious from context)
  • simplicity e.g. kids programs

Maybe it’s not as efficient as reading translated text but I’m guessing the advantage is that it helps comprehension and provides diversity of formats, accents, levels of formality etc that you can’t get as easily through just written material.

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It depends on what you mean by “learn a language”.