In April 2021, six friends who had not seen each other in a very long time gathered together for a catch up. Since 2004, they had had only been in the same room once but there was one very big difference when it came to their most recent meeting, there were cameras present to catch every moment. We are of course talking about the Friends reunion, a one off, unscripted special where Joey, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe and Monica reunited once again, to be there for you!
And while the majority of Friends fans fell in love with the characters for their unique approaches to life, there is another, often undervalued aspect of the show. Along with providing endless hours of re-watchable entertainment, Friends has been helping teach the world the English language since 1994. The ability to speak multiple languages is a common desire around the globe and with English having the largest number of speakers worldwide, it comes as no surprise that so many people want to be able to join in on the conversation!
If you are still a little confused as to how Friends has had such an impact when it comes to helping individuals speak English, it is more than worth your while taking a closer look at Preply’s study, a detailed analyses of the optimal language learning conditions. The study focuses on the European Union, the United States and Canada and provides some insight on why Friends struck such a chord with learners of the English language all over the world.
For English teachers around the world, they will more than likely be aware of the phenomenon of using the American sitcom as a language learning tool. When we say simplicity, we mean it in almost every way.
The dialogue is never too complex, the story lines are easy to follow and the characters accents are quite neutral, which makes the whole show accessible and easy to understand even for early learners.
There have even been a number of confessions from celebrities who have used Friends to improve their English, including Jürgen Klopp, the German-born football manager currently in charge of Liverpool FC.
One of the stand out pieces of information from the aforementioned study is the benefit of watching television, particularly when there are subtitles as it requires the viewer to form connections between the spoken word, the subtitles and the body language of the characters.
According to the work of Noa Talavan, there is a direct correlation to the level of both language retention and competence in countries that use subtitles more often than voiceovers.
Finally, while the six Friends spent the vast majority of the show in New York City, the situations they encounter on a daily basis are universally understandable. As a group of friends making their way through their twenties, they deal with the same issues people do all over the world.
Over the course of the ten seasons, they experience the highs and lows of love, the difficulties that come with finding a suitable job and every other imaginable event that comes with the process transitioning from finding your place in the world to true adulthood.
So the next time someone says that Friends is just a TV show, you have one more way to tell the world how they were there for you!