Cartoons and animated shows are a great way to improve your English because, apart from having fun, you’ll learn authentic English language, improve your listening skills and expand your vocabulary.
In this podcast, we’ll give you some tips on how to use cartoons and animation for self-study and give you some recommendations.
Voice message from Angie from Colombia
Angie also sent me an email. She’s going to Denmark in August to take part in a summer camp.
She wrote, “we will be talking English at all times and I find this to be the perfect trigger for pushing myself to experience new things when it comes to learning.
I have a very decent English level and I am sure I will be able to understand the conversations and everyday moments while I am there, even if I were to travel right now with the knowledge I have. However, as I have been stating (mentioned) in this email, my objective is to keep updating this skill I have as far as I can this year!”
Angie is only 17 and she has an excellent level. What can she do to improve her English before she goes on her trip?
Online conversation apps:
https://www.hellotalk.com/ (Free up to 8 conversations per day – ad supported. Monthly VIP subscription is $6.99)
https://www.tandem.net/ (community area and tutors area – There is a limited free version of Tandem and a pro version available at $6.99 for one month, $3.99/month for three months, and $2.92/month for a year’s subscription.
Animation or cartoon – What’s the difference?
Animation refers to the art, process or technique of making films with drawings, photographs of static objects or computer graphics. All techniques that don’t fall into the category of continuous filming of live-action images can be termed animations.
A cartoon basically refers to two things. It can either refer to a simple, non-realistic, drawing depicting a humorous situation or humorously exaggerated characters. This type of cartoon is often found in newspapers and magazines. Cartoons often use satire to offer subtle criticism.
A cartoonist – a person who creates cartoons
A cartoon character. e.g. Mickey Mouse, Daffy Duck.
Comic strip – a sequence of drawings that tell an entertaining story, typical of a newspaper/magazine
Speech bubble/balloon – where the direct speech of the characters is written in a printed cartoon
Manga – a Japanese form of comic book
Anime – Japanese animation
Popular cartoon genres
Adventures, Action, Comedy, Drama, Sci Fi, Superheroes, Horror, Romance, Mystery, Fantasy, Hentai, etc.
Why use cartoons to improve your English?
Cartoons are often short. (Perfect for people with short attention spans, like kids!)
The voice actors speak clearly.
They often focus on social interaction, so you hear real-world conversations and expressions.
Many are suitable for (young) kids, which can’t always be said for non-animated films
There’s lots of repetition.
How to use cartoons to improve your English
Find cartoons or animated shows that are originally in English.
Use subtitles if you need to (English is better). This will help you associate spoken words with their written form and enhance your vocabulary. You can also turn the subtitles on and off as you need them.
Pay attention to dialogue and intonation: Focus on how the characters speak, their pronunciation, intonation, and expressions. Try to copy them (shadowing) to improve your pronunciation and fluency.
Take note of new words and phrases: Keep a notebook handy and look up the meanings of words and expressions that interest you.
Discuss and interact: Join fan groups and discuss the cartoons with other English learners or native speakers. Share your thoughts, opinions, and favorite moments.
Look for supplementary materials and additional resources related to the cartoons, such as vocabulary lists, quizzes, or exercises.
The Simpsons (over 30 years old and still going strong!)
Disenchantment (by Simpsons writer Matt Groening – Netflix)
South Park – started 1997
Watch with your kids
Dora the Explorer
What’s the best full-length animated film you’ve ever seen?
If they made a cartoon about Reza/Craig, which actor would you choose to do the voice-over?
Which cartoon series do you most fondly remember from childhood? (See list below)
Much loved classics
Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Daffy Duck, etc.
Tom & Jerry
The Pink Panther
Woody the Woodpecker
Dogtanian & The Three Muskehounds
Hong Kong Phooey – Reza’s all-time favourite cartoon character, aka Penrod “Penry” Pooch, whose day job is as a “mild-mannered janitor” until he transforms into our bungling and completely useless superhero.
Only his striped cat, called Spot, can save him from his own incompetence. He has the voice of a jivey 1970’s black guy who mistakenly believes he’s an oriental martial arts expert, but hasn’t a clue what he’s doing. He made up a word to describe himself: “He’s fan-rific!” (fantastic + terrific). My hero!
…and now it’s your turn to practise your English. Do you have a favourite cartoon that you like to watch in English? Send us your recommendations and we’ll share them on a future podcast.
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The music in this podcast is by Pitx. The track is called ‘See You Later’