Practical Teaching Ideas

Netflix for Extensive Listening

With Netflix now available in Japan, at ¥650 a month (¥950 for HD), one should consider recommending it to students for extensive listening. One of the highest and simplest correlations for language learning is time of exposure to the target language. With a wealth of material, Netflix allows for plenty of listening time and choice.


As teachers, it would be wise to give some specific recommendations, depending on the students. Master of None is the hottest new television show in the US. It Aziz Ansari, previously in the hit comedy Parks and Recreation, is a 20-something Brooklyn resident with parents from India. It deals with race and human relations in a sweet and funny way, without making fun of people. It does, however have some rough language and a few sexual innuendos, which would be advisable to warn people about if they are sensitive to such things. Best, though, to show students how to read reviews of the TV shows so they are aware of the content before they watch. They could use Netflix, or IMDB, or Common Sense for parents, or choose from another 10 sites. You could even contrast reviews with sites like Christian Spotlight on Entertainment.

The best TV series in the last 10 years is Black Mirror. Netflix allows people to watch many episodes in a row (called “binge watching”) without commercials. Not recommended for Black Mirror as it is so intense, a series of near-future science fiction dystopias. But for something light, a sitcom like the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, one could watch the 20-minute episodes alone or in a bunch. Netflix allows you to watch on your desktop, laptop, mobile.  With an adaptor like Google Chromecast or Apple TV, you can watch on your regular TV.

Language support is in the form of English Closed Caption subtitles, and for most foreign content, Japanese subtitles. Sadly there are few English subtitles for Japanese content for those learning Japanese.

There are also thousands of movies available. This could conceivably entice students away from their traditional two hours a night of Japanese prime time TV, the quality of which we are all aware.



A teacher could even start a movie discussion group by buying a class set (Premium Subscriptions can be used by 4 people at the same time. See above.) for a short time (minimum 1 month, but you can quit any time), and giving the student the login information. You might think of using a release form or other to protect yourself from accidental exposure of material to sensitive students.

1 thought on “Netflix for Extensive Listening”

  1. Aside from first suggesting it to students as a great way to get more English exposure, I have also used some of these in class.

    I agree that Black Mirror is amazing, thought provoking, and relevant sci-fi; however, as every story has fairly strong sexual content, I could never use it in class. I did however use an episode from Master of None, the one about grandparents.

    There are also a lot of documentaries on Netflix. One I have used already is Living on One Dollar.

    In one of my classes, I have been using Downton Abbey, the series.
    So far we have watched the pilot, and the second episode. I wasn’t sure if they would find it all that interesting, but they love it. It motivates them to complete our textbook units so there is time to watch another episode. I teach a 3 hour class, so it really helps to have something like this to break up the class: It also allows for the teaching of history as well. For instance, after the pilot episode I broke the class into 6 groups, and had each group research a theme from the pilot, and then give short presentations on it. The themes were: (1) The Titanic; (2) Servants, their titles and duties; (3) Lords, Ladies, Dukes, and Gentlemen; (4) Homosexuality and the Law in turn of the century England; (5) British marrying American’s for money; and (6) The South African Wars.

Leave a Reply