October 10

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7 Of The Best Cartoons and Animation To Learn English On Netflix

By Gordon Gaffney

October 10, 2021


7 Of The Best Cartoons and Animation To Learn English On Netflix

Learning English can be quite stressful at times, with so many rules to learn and memorise, you can end up feeling overwhelmed by so much information.

But it doesn't always have to be like this: did you know that you can also learn English by enjoying a good cartoon on Netflix?

You can now drop the grammar book and close the Google Translator tab, or other great translation tools like Transover and Microsoft Translator that you can read about here, because now you can learn English easily and in a fun way.

It may sound too good to be true, but there is a way to learn a new language while having fun.

Here we list the best cartoons on Netflix to learn English in a fun way, from beginner to advanced  

But… Cartoons Aren't Just For Kids?!

No way! We grew up watching children's cartoons and, now adults, when we re-watch them we realise how silly they were.

Because of this, we created (sometimes without noticing) a certain prejudice against talking animated characters.

Although many of the cartoons created are aimed at little ones, this is not a rule set in stone.

Many use this aesthetic to present themes a little more adult in a light and comical way, remember cartoons like The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, and many more...

If you are a person who likes to watch cute things, lots of action, or even something more adult... the fact is: cartoons can give you all of that — and much more! 

But Why Learn English With Cartoons and Animation? 

7 Of The Best Cartoons and Animation To Learn English On Netflix
  • Children's cartoons and animation, in any language, are created with the main purpose of teaching children in a fun and easy way how to communicate, learn words, actions and even ethics and morals. Because of this, they are highly recommended for anyone looking to learn a new language.
  • Because they are mainly for children, there is a lot of repetition of words, to help fix vocabulary in your mind.
  • Many children's cartoons and animation show actions that the characters are talking about, such as the character talking about “waking up in the morning” while waking up and getting out of bed. This makes us absorb the content faster. We are learning by visualising it.
  • Children's cartoons and animation often have one factor that sets them apart from other TV shows and movies: the characters interact with the viewers. And this interaction forces the viewer to practice their pronunciation by answering the questions out loud.
  • Voice actors must always show how the character feels by using just their voices - and you can use that to your advantage when learning English! In a cartoon, the characters have a lot of intonation in their speech, and each spoken word conveys a specific feeling. Try to pay attention to these nuances, and repeat them - you will see amazing results in your speaking.
  • And one of the best reasons to learn English by watching cartoons and animation is that they are short. Most episodes are around 20 minutes long and you will learn a lot in a short time.

How to Use Cartoons and Animation to Learn English

  • Repeat the dialogues as much as you can. Don't be afraid to look silly doing this, or to mispronounce it: your mouth isn't used to speaking the words in that way, but it's just a matter of practice.
  • Have a notebook, and always remember to write down new words you learn, you can read my advice on this here.
  • When you're watching something about a new everyday routine, try taking it off the screen. Did the character say a word you didn't know about gardening, homework, shopping...? After taking notes in your notebook, think of yourself performing the task you heard - in English!
  • Try to watch at least one episode a day, they are short and easy to fit into any routine.

Learn English with Cartoons and Animation Study Method

The repetition learning method is based on watching the same episode 3 or even more times, if you think it's necessary.

That's the same advice when you watch my online video course "Eliminate All the Most Important Mistakes Portuguese Speakers Make in English".

Over 4 hours of video made by a native teacher to eliminate all the common mistakes Portuguese speakers make in English, only €14.99 instead of €49 with lifetime access.

You can read more about it and watch a total of 7 free videos here.

If you want to improve your English then you need to know what Portuguese structures create and make mistakes in English. Watch the video below and ask yourself "Do I make sentences like this in English?"

The method for Learning English with cartoons and animation consists of watching the episode for the first time in your native tongue to understand what they will show in the next 20 minutes. Then you will already have the knowledge beforehand and will not get totally lost.

For the second time, you watch the same episode in English, with subtitles in your native language. This second step is extremely important as your ear will begin to adapt to the English language.

On the third viewing, watch with English subtitles. Note that if you already have a solid knowledge of English, you can skip step 1.

But don't run away from cartoons and animation when learning English even if you have an advanced level, as you'll always learn something new!

With that in mind, check out the best cartoons and animation to learn English on Netflix.

Beginner:

Word Party - Cartoons to Learn English on Netflix

7 Of The Best Cartoons and Animation To Learn English On Netflix

Word Party lives up to its name, and its goal is to teach younger viewers new words. The cartoon addresses simple, everyday themes, such as the mysterious arrival of some furniture in the first episode and the characters (Kip, Bailey, Lulu and Franny) investigating the event.

Keep in mind that this is a cartoon aimed at much younger children, so it might seem a little silly to older viewers.

How to use it: if you can understand less than 50% of what they are talking about, try to pay attention to how the characters are acting and what they are feeling. Is anyone sad, angry, hungry…?

Try to understand what's going on so that the character acts that way, and pay attention to the words they use to express themselves. 

Dora, the Explorer - Cartoons and Animation for Learning English on Netflix

7 Of The Best Cartoons and Animation To Learn English On Netflix

Dora is a great cartoon for anyone looking to learn English because not only does she ask for feedback, she also waits for that feedback. Another good point is that nothing is rushed or confusing.

There are enough pauses during the characters' speeches, which means the viewer is not lost at all. The story also unfolds slowly and smoothly, nothing is left misunderstood by the end of the episode.

Listening in the original language, you also learn some of the vocabulary of the Spanish language.

How to use it: make good use of pauses in dialogues so that you can repeat everything the character says. Answer Dora's questions (even if you have to look a little silly doing it!). 

Peppa Pig - Cartoons and Animation to Learn English on Netflix

7 Of The Best Cartoons and Animation To Learn English On Netflix

In the original language, Peppa's family and friends communicate in British English, so it's a good thing for anyone interested in learning it and getting used to its differences in pronunciation and spelling.

How to use it: Pay attention to what each character does, specifically in their daily activities. Focus on the way the character structures their sentence, especially the way they use verbs and nouns. 

Intermediate: 

Avatar, The Last Airbender - Cartoons and Animation to Learn English on Netflix

7 Of The Best Cartoons and Animation To Learn English On Netflix

If you are an anime lover, you will definitely love this cartoon - that is, of course, if you haven't seen it before. The Last Airbender brings a mix of epic fights, a dash of romance and a lot of comedy.

How to use it: focus on the characters's dialogues and their own way of talking to each other, using different tones and timbres.

Although each voice actor has a unique voice, they usually speak clearly. Because of that, it's good to watch only with the English subtitles or even take a chance and turn off the subtitles completely. 

Disenchantment - Cartoons and Animation for Learning English on Netflix

7 Of The Best Cartoons and Animation To Learn English On Netflix

For those of you who are fans of The Simpsons, this cartoon is for you.

Disenchantment has a unique atmosphere, and presents a fairy tale in a completely different way than what we are used to.

How to use it: Focus on learning and understanding the jokes used. 

Advanced:

SpongeBob SquarePants - Cartoons and Animation for Learning English on Netflix

7 Of The Best Cartoons and Animation To Learn English On Netflix

SpongeBob is a cartoon aimed at older children, so it has more creative jokes, a vocabulary with a diversity of words and dialogues that change speed and volume in the blink of an eye — it's very common to hear the characters screaming at each other and suddenly they are whispering, and there are many interrupting each other's lines.

How to use it: the characters in SpongeBob SquarePants speak like people do in real life, so pay extra attention to this. For example, the characters cut the words in their speech, the contractions of sentences, such as “gonna”, “wanna”, "watcha”, and many others).

In cartoons and animation aimed at younger children they will not do this, they will say “going to”, “want to” and “what are you”. This shows the differences in formal and informal speech.

Because they can talk very quickly and sometimes in a convoluted way, you may end up not understanding 100% of what is being said. Remember that subtitles are always there to help you!

Voltron, Legendary Defender - Cartoons and Animation for Learning English on Netflix

7 Of The Best Cartoons and Animation To Learn English On Netflix

Because this is a remake of an old cartoon, older viewers might get a little nostalgic watching it. A group of earthling friends are faced with a great mystery and before they know it they end up discovering alien creatures and gigantic spaceships.

How to use it: notice the use of words related to such things physics and the way they create completely new words to use throughout the show. These words don’t seem that crazy and/or meaningless.

Bonus tip: if you want to take your studies a step further when using the streaming service, there's a little-known Google Chrome extension called Learning Language With Netflix.

This plugin caters to several languages you are interested in learning, including English. It works in a very practical way: Download the plugin and log into your Netflix account. Once you decide what you want to watch, you'll notice the subtitles are a little… different.

The tool lets you know the translation of words and phrases in real time and much more!

All these cartoons and animation on Netflix are great for helping you learn English, but you might want to read about TV shows that are NOT good for studying English here.

If you like to read, you can discover some famous books in English that are easy to read.

If you like poetry, here are some interesting and fun English poets and poems that are easy to read in here soon.

Do you watch any cartoons on Netflix to learn English? You can leave a comment below!

Gordon Gaffney

About the author

Gordon is The Irish English Teacher, creator of this blog and many products to help all students learning English as a second language, but with a focus on Portuguese speakers.

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