February 19


How to Learn English With the TV Show “Friends”

By Gordon Gaffney

February 19, 2022

How to Learn English With the TV Show “Friends”

Learning English just by watching a TV show or series sounds like it is too good to be true. In this article, I will show you how to learn English with the TV show Friends in an easy and fun way.

Maybe you started your journey of learning the English language, but gave up several times along the way due to lack of motivation.

Being restricted to only studying a lot of grammar and vocabulary books, in addition to hours and hours of research can be exhausting for your mind. This can mean that all that desire you had to learn English can end up disappearing.

How to Learn English With the TV Show “Friends”

We can't always stay focused just by reading books and taking classes, our minds need some entertainment from time to time.

Now, have you ever thought how great it would be if you could watch fun series and learn at the same time?

With Friends, this is possible! You'll learn English with just a few minutes of each episode without even realizing it, while having fun with some of its favourite characters.

A Little About The Series

With 10 seasons and millions of fans around the world, Friends has managed to become one of the most beloved American sitcoms of all time.

It's simply a very good show, especially from seasons 1 to 4, in my opinion. I stopped watching it around season 5, but it's still very popular today.

The series tells the story of six friends who are very different from each other:

Rachel Green

Played by Jennifer Aniston, she is a spoiled rich woman who needs to mature and learn to be more independent from her family.Monica GellerPlayed by Courteney Cox, she is a neurotic chef, obsessed with cleanliness. She is also Ross' sister.

Phoebe Buffay

Played by Lisa Kudrow, she has a tragic past living on the streets before meeting her group of friends. She works as a masseuse and musician.

Joey Tribbiani

Played by Matt LeBlanc, he is a slow-witted, stuggling actor who loves trying to win over the women he meets. 

Chandler Bing

Played by Matthew Perry, he had an immense hatred for his job. His sarcastic wit made him one of the most beloved characters among fans.

Ross Geller

Played by David Schwimmer, he is Monica's paleontologist brother. He has a history of failed marriages and has an immense love for dinosaurs and Rachel.

Together, these friends learn to mature through the most diverse and wacky situations, while getting lots of laughs from the audience.

Why Start Learning English With Friends?

Although many still don't know it, it is possible to learn a lot of a new language by watching several series in the desired language.

With the series, you can finally delve into English without leaving your couch. Your knowledge of pronunciation, behaviour, a new culture etc will all be studied with just around 20 minutes per episode.

But of course, there are many other reasons to learn English with Friends, such as:

Easy-to-understand vocabulary

One of the biggest attractions for anyone interested in studying English with the TV show Friends is the ease of understanding what is being said.

In general the characters speak with everyday, easy-to-understand vocabulary that is easy to understand. If they do use complicated English then the whole context of the scene will explain to the viewer what they are trying to convey.

In fact, the show was so popular in the late 90's, early 2000's that I met people who used to make jokes in the same way that Friends characters made jokes like "could you BE any more honest?". That kind of sarcastic humour and the emphasis on 'be', as Chandler said.

Boredom No More, Fun Always!

With Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, Rachel, Joey and Ross you'll never be alone or bored again. The characters will keep you company, entertain you and, at the same time, teach you the English language.

Watching the episodes, you won't feel like you're studying something boring and/or tiring. On the contrary, you won't even realize that you are studying, you are just having fun.

Extra Study Tips

When to use subtitles and when to finally say goodbye to them?

If you're still a beginner, it's a good idea to start watching Friends in English and with subtitles in your own language turned on.

When you start to get used to listening to the series without needing a translation 100% of the time, then you can turn on English subtitles.

Now, if you already have a well-structured vocabulary and a good understanding of spoken English, you can try watching Friends without any subtitles.

Watch with a friend!

There's nothing better than sharing a laugh with our best friends. So why not join this fun time to learn the English language together? Studying with a companion can bring several benefits to both.

You can help each other when you need feedback and you will still be able to talk in English about the series together.

How to Learn English With the TV Show Friends?

This method of learning English has been popular for a few years now. I had students in 2015 in Brazil doing this. Learning English shouldn't be hard work, it's always best that you enjoy it so that your motivation stays high.

Unfortunately you can’t just sit back and spend hours and hours watching all the available seasons of the show in order to help you reach that much-desired level of English proficiency once and for all.

Before jumping into the next episode and wasting your precious time, remember that just consuming the show passively will not bring any benefit to your learning.

As stated above, if you don’t study English with Friends in the right way, you will just be wasting your time and will not be able to extract all the knowledge you need.

How to Learn English With the TV Show “Friends”

First, choose an episode

To start your English language study journey with Friends, you should start with the basics: choosing your favourite episode.

It is extremely important that you choose an episode with good dialogue or that you are already familiar with (you are free to watch your favourite episode for the thousandth time!).

Watch the episodes with English audio

In order to improve your understanding of spoken English, you need to look for more chances to hear natives speaking the language.

So, set the series' audio to the original language and start listening to your favourite characters speaking English.

Use subtitles to your advantage

If you don't feel so comfortable watching the series without subtitles, you can choose to leave them on.

If you're a complete beginner, use them in your native language. After getting a little more used to hearing native speakers speak English, you can use English subtitles.

Remember when using them, pay attention to how the words differ from when they are spoken or written.

Look for words you don't know or can't remember from their translations. Write them down in a notebook and look up their meaning later!

You will probably see lots of slang and other informal language. Urbandictionary.com is a good resource for slang, you can read more about it and other dictionaries both online and books in a blog post coming soon.

Another tip is to create your own sentences with these new words, you can use a theme or character from the series to help you when writing.

Briefly summarise each episode

Have you just finished the episode? Take a few minutes to write a summary of what happened in that episode, the best scenes or best dialogue that happened during those twenty minutes.

Pay attention to the words you choose to use as a description, and when you're done writing, check that your grammar and vocabulary are correct and then move on to the next episode!

Imitate the characters

Watching the series in its original language, pay attention to how the characters behave towards each other.

Focus on the differences in tone of voice, on how they pronounce each word, and the gestures they make when speaking… And then start imitating everything!

Use the same posture, the same intonation in your voice, and try your best to get closer to the correct pronunciations. Following this tip, both your speaking and listening will improve immensely.

Look for the most common expressions

Found a phrase that Chandler uses a lot? Or a very common slang word used by Rachel? Write them down, look for the meaning and try to pronounce them as closely as possible.

Always keep your eyes (and ears) very open for those phrases that are repeated a lot, as they can be important in everyday life.

The Best Episodes to Study English With Friends

If you're not sure where to start or because you have so many favourite episodes that it's hard to choose just one to study, here's a list of the best Friends episodes for you to learn English.

The One with the Blackout (episode 7, season 1)

After the city suffers a general power outage, the group of friends find themselves trapped together in Monica's apartment, waiting for the lights to come back on.

The friends then decide to spend time talking about trivial topics, like each other's past relationships, while Chandler gets stuck at an ATM with a famous model.

Because of that, it's a great episode to delve deeper into common dialogue and realistic topics.

How to Learn English With the TV Show “Friends”

The One With Ross's New Girlfriend (episode 1, season 2)

In this episode, Rachel is determined to confess to Ross as soon as he arrives at the airport. But upon arriving there, she finds him with Julie, her new girlfriend.

The next twenty minutes are filled with references to common expressions. Like the scene where Phoebe says “Oh my god. This is huge. This is bigger than huge… What's bigger than huge?”.

How to Learn English With the TV Show “Friends”

The One With Every Day of Thanksgiving (episode 8, season 5)

For the next twenty minutes, the group of friends will talk about the worst Thanksgiving holidays they've ever had.

This episode is full of jokes and references to the most famous holiday in the United States.

How to Learn English With the TV Show “Friends”

The One with Unagi (episode 17, season 6)

In this episode, Joey goes through financial difficulties and looks for solutions that can bring him money.

Chandler and Monica decide to celebrate Valentine's Day two weeks late by giving each other handmade gifts.

Meanwhile, Ross tries to teach the concept of "Unagi" karate to Rachel and Phoebe, who don't pay much attention to him.

How to Learn English With the TV Show “Friends”

The One Where Joey Dates Rachel (episode 12, season 8)

With Rachel and Joey together on a date at a restaurant, this is your chance to learn some expressions and phrases used when ordering food.

You'll also get a lot of common expressions used by the recent couple Chandler and Monica as they have fun and mess with the Pac-man machine they got from Phoebe.

How to Learn English With the TV Show “Friends”


It is possible to learn and/or improve your English knowledge by watching TV series and also having fun in the process.

With just a few minutes of your day, you can then learn English with Friends, one of the greatest American sitcoms in history.

Laughing with Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey, Monica and Ross you can study without even realising it. You can improve your listening, writing and even speaking by watching episodes of one of this great show.

If you liked this article, then you might also like 7 of the best Netflix cartoons to learn English here and also how to learn English with movies here.

You might also be interested in our video course on sale on Udemy for €29.99/69.99R$ "Eliminate the Mistakes that Portuguese Speakers Make in English". 4 hours of video exclusively for people that speak Portuguese. You can read more about it and watch free videos here.

Our original eBook from 2016 "Eliminate the 63 Most Important Mistakes that Portuguese Speakers Make in English" is on sale here for €6.99, you can read more about the book and its method here and read a free sample here.

Do you like Friends? What is your favourite scene or episode? 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}