Watch Reality TV to Learn a Language

Any blog or teacher will tell you to watch movies and shows in the language you are studying to help practice listening comprehension skills. But, no one really talks about reality TV.

In this article, I am going to give you my top 3 reasons why you should watch reality TV to practice your language (English) and some English recommendations as they are based in English speaking locations. However, some have other language versions and I have also found that the dubbed version can lead to learning opportunities as well.

What is Reality TV?

First, what is reality TV? Reality TV is a series or a show that features non-actors. They might want to be actors, but, naturally, they are normal average people.

There is a debate how much of it is real and not. But, for the most part, these are real people living their lives.

Here are 3 reasons why it is even more beneficial than a regular movie.

It is More Street English (or the target language)

Since reality TV features regular people, they will use more street words and sentences. This can mean it is more conversation and or have more slang. This will give you a sense of what a real conversation on the street would be like.

In movies and drama shows, the conversations are scripted and, often, predictable. They might even use higher level vocab that normal native speakers do not use.

For example, someone in a clothing store in a movie might say “I am browsing.” But regular people would just say “I’m looking.” Both are correct, but one is higher level… and not so used on the street.

Language learners often say that it is actually easier to follow reality TV due to the “street level” vocab.

It Shows Cultural Norms

When you see the people interacting, it is not dictated by a director (though there might be some encouragement of where to take the conversation). They are behaving how they normally would in real life. This means: shaking hands, hugging, or not touching at all.

This can also be with how they greet each other. For example:

“Hey man” vs “Hello, how are you?”

Both could be used in the street, but when? Does Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible show an actual representation of how people greet each other?

It Isn’t SO Scripted

As mentioned, there are some scripted moments or moments where the producers poke the individuals to get a specific conversation or outcome, but for the most part, these people are doing what they think it is best or fits the situation.

In interviews after the show, the people often talk about how those feelings and actions are pretty genuine. You should keep in mind that today’s society is all about social media. They can ruin their whole lives/careers with anything said or done on the show. So, they aren’t going to do anything on purpose because a producer told them to.

This is clearly seen in “Love is Blind.” I talk about the show in the next section, but in season 3, one lady seems to attack one of the men and now, the internet believes she is the villain and she gets a lot of hate. I doubt that was her intention.

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Reality TV Shows

Speaking of “Love is Blind,” I also have made a list of reality TV shows you can watch.

Love is Blind

The concept of “Love is Blind” is a dating show where you get engaged without ever seeing the person. Once you become engaged then you meet the person in real life and have 4 weeks before having a wedding. Often, couples say “no” at the altar, but some do say “yes.”

I do not recommend this show as quality TV. However, I recommend it for the English component. Just like the rest of my list. However, Love is Blind also has seasons in Brazil and Japan and so those native languages are Portuguese and Japanese.

I watched the Brazil one with Spanish dubbed since Portuguese and Spanish are closer. I also found that they did a better dubbing job with Spanish than in English and I actually learned a lot of vocab!


One of the classic reality TV shows, “Survivor” has been around for decades and is even in other languages. A group of people go into the wild and have to survive off the elements. This show isn’t as cheesy as “Love is Blind,” but there are cringe-worthy moments.

Some other Survivors not from America include Survivor in Quebec and Koh Lanta – The version from France based in the Philippines.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Everyone knows Kim Kardashian and her sisters. I don’t think I need to explain this show :)

Since the Kardashian family is unique, there is no other country version, but there might be a famous family in a reality TV show in a different country that is similar!

Bachelor / Bachelorette

This one is another dating show. One guy or girl picks from a group of the opposite gender to be their fiancé/spouse.

Again, I do not recommend it for quality, but for English learning.

There are so many other reality TV shows you can watch – too many to count. Enjoy!

Married at First Sight

Another reality show about finding the love of your life.

This show centers around a matchmaker who pairs people up and they don’t see each other until they are already at the altar.

They have to decide to continue or not.

This is also available in other language versions such as English/America and French/France.

Need Conversation Practice?

Book a class today with one of our native speakers or one of our teachers that have spent years studying the language!

Practice the new vocab, slang, expressions, etc. that you learned from reality TV as well as practice speaking in general!

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