Fans and educators on three continents echo the sentiment, saying that Friends is a near-perfect amalgam of easy-to-understand English and real-life eventualities that really feel acquainted even to individuals who dwell worlds away from Manhattan
True or false: In the tv present Friends, Monica Geller was invited to Rachel Green’s marriage ceremony.
The query is a part of an English lesson for worldwide college students in San Jose, California, that’s based mostly completely on the present’s pilot episode. It was designed by Elif Konus, a instructor from Turkey who as soon as binge-watched Friends to enhance her personal English.
The class, and the instructor’s TV habits, illustrate a world phenomenon that emerged within the 1990s and has endured throughout generations: Young individuals who aren’t native English audio system seem to get pleasure from studying the language with assist from the hit sitcom.
Seventeen years after the ultimate Friends episode, college students and educators say that the present, nonetheless seen extensively in syndication around the globe, works properly as a studying useful resource. The dad denims and cordless telephones could look dated, however the plot twists — falling in love, beginning a profession and different seminal moments in a teen’s life — are nonetheless extremely relatable.
“It’s really entertaining compared to other sitcoms, and it addresses universal issues,” Konus, 29, stated by phone from her dwelling in Monterey, California. “The themes, if you ask me, speak to everyone.”
Over the years, a number of outstanding celebrities have stated that they realized English from Friends. The checklist contains Jürgen Klopp, the German soccer coach who helms Liverpool within the English Premier League; quite a few Major League Baseball gamers whose first language is Spanish; and Kim Nam-joon, chief of the South Korean pop group BTS.
“I thought I was kind of like a victim at that time, but right now, I’m the lucky one, thanks to my mother,” Kim, who performs beneath the stage identify RM, informed tv host Ellen DeGeneres in 2017. “She bought all the seasons.”
The Friends reunion episode that premiered Thursday on HBO Max included a cameo by the members of BTS and scenes from the present that had been translated into French, Japanese and Spanish. Fans around the globe, from Ghana to Mexico, additionally reminisced about how the present helped them deal with private dilemmas or tragedies.
Measuring the recognition of Friends as a educating useful resource is an inexact science as a result of so many individuals watch it exterior of formal lecture rooms. But educators, educational research and page-view information counsel that the present nonetheless has a large following amongst English-language learners.
“I’ve been on YouTube for 13 years and I’ve not been posting Friends content material the entire time,” stated Rachel Smith, founding father of the educational web site Rachel’s English, based mostly in Philadelphia. “But I’ve definitely never sensed that the time for it has passed.”
In one obvious signal of that, Friends-based studying movies that Smith posted in 2019 have obtained considerably extra views per day on common — 839 — than these that includes different reveals or motion pictures, she stated. After the United States, the most well-liked markets for her movies as a complete are Vietnam, India, Brazil, Japan, the Philippines and South Korea.
Other seminal American TV reveals can serve an analogous studying perform, Smith stated, however they are usually too specific for nonnative English audio system. The humour in Seinfeld is a bit too gritty and New York-specific, for instance, whereas The Big Bang Theory may come throughout as an excessive amount of of a “scientific nerd thing.”
“Other shows do work,” she stated. “Friends simply appears to have the magic one thing that’s much more engaging.”
Fans and educators on three continents echo the sentiment, saying that Friends is a near-perfect amalgam of easy-to-understand English and real-life eventualities that really feel acquainted even to individuals who dwell worlds away from Manhattan’s West Village.
Just a few followers stated they might pinpoint exactly when and the place they noticed Friends for the primary time.
Konus was educating English at a navy academy in Ankara, Turkey, six years in the past when she seen that her roommate stored laughing whereas watching Friends on a laptop computer. Konus started watching “nonstop,” she stated and realized way more about English than she had in years of grammar-based lessons.
Jamie Ouyang, 30, found the present throughout her final yr of highschool in south-central China when she purchased a field set in her hometown, Changsha, for about $15. She was hooked from the primary episode, during which Rachel, performed by Jennifer Aniston, meets the opposite characters in a marriage costume after abandoning her groom on the altar.
Ouyang, who attended faculty in Ohio and now works as a movie producer in Beijing, stated that Friends gave her the arrogance to make small speak with Americans. It was comforting, she added, to see Rachel make grammatical errors on her resume.
“But Rachel also grew a lot: She did well at her job and found her own path,” Ouyang stated. “Over time, I noticed that people stopped teasing her about her grammar. I paid close attention to that.”
Friends could have endured as a educating instrument partially as a result of the web has made it accessible to new generations of followers. YouTube, particularly, permits nonnative audio system to look at clips with out having to, say, purchase pirated DVDs beneath a bridge, as Ouyang did in China 12 years in the past.
Another motive, stated Ángela Larrea Espinar, a professor within the division of English research on the University of Córdoba in Spain, is that individuals who educate international languages have steadily shifted during the last twenty years from a “communicative” strategy that emphasises grammar to 1 that encourages cross-cultural understanding and reflection.
“Culture is a difficult thing to teach, and if you rely on textbooks what you get is stereotypes,” she stated.
To keep away from the textbook entice, Konus, the English instructor in California, constructed lesson plans across the sitcom’s 1994 pilot episode. In addition to the query about whether or not Monica, performed by Courteney Cox, was invited to Rachel’s marriage ceremony (reply: false), there are workouts that ask college students to analyse scenes, idioms and character motivations.
Why, for instance, does Rachel breathe right into a paper bag? And what does Monica imply when she tells Joey Tribbiani, performed by Matt LeBlanc, to “stop hitting on” her buddy? (Answers: “She is scared of her decision about living on her own” and, “to try to start a conversation with someone that you are interested in.”)
Konus stated that her college students — who’re from Brazil, China, Colombia, Japan, South Korea and Turkey — typically just like the Friends classes and find yourself binge-watching the present on their very own. They additionally slip strains from it into conversations, together with Joey’s signature “How you doin’?” greeting, and mimic the depressive means during which David Schwimmer’s character, Ross Geller, says “Hi.”
After one class, a Turkish scholar noticed that her instructor’s English sounded not fairly native, but additionally “not Turkish.” Konus stated she took the remark as excessive reward.
How, the coed requested, may one hope to succeed in the identical stage of English proficiency?
“Just watch Friends and attempt to imitate the characters,” Konus informed her. “You’ll get there.”