Already watching movies to learn English?
And can’t stop learning English with those ’90s sitcoms?
We’ve got an idea that will not just expand your English vocabulary, but also expand your mind.
We’re talking about sci-fi TV shows!
So, What Are Sci-Fi TV Shows?
Sci-Fi means “Science fiction.” Science fiction stories are about imaginary inventions, space, and life beyond earth.
When people think of sci-fi, they automatically think it’s for geeks (people who love science and technology) but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Men, women, boys and girls from around the world all love a bit of sci-fi.
Why Watch Sci-Fi TV Shows to Learn English?
Watching a good sci-fi series can be gripping (will keep your attention) and once you start it will become difficult to stop. But why are sci-fi shows sometimes better to watch than other shows when learning English?
- Sci-fi shows are optimistic. Are you sick of watching shows and movies which no longer have happy endings? You’re not alone and when it comes to positive endings, sci-fi is a smart choice because the hero always wins.
- Sci-fi shows are a great way to escape. You’ve probably spent all day at work or school and it’s time to learn English but at the same time you want to rest. Sci-fi shows have the great ability to take us to another place and you’ll get so lost in the show that you’ll forget you’re even listening to English and learning at the same time.
- Sci-fi has something for everyone and the possibilities are endless. If you’re interested in aliens there’s something to watch, if you’re interested in humans with superpowers, there’s something to watch and if you’re interested in the future, there’s a ton of series to watch – the genre of Sci-fi is huge and you’ll find something that suits your tastes which of course will make learning English more fun.
- There’s no age limit on Sci-fi and if you have a young family, it’s perfectly okay to sit down with them and enjoy the show. Because it also suits kids too, sci-fi uses relatively simple language and it never overcomplicates things which will make it easier for you to learn English at the same time.
- Sci-fi shows and movies are timeless and will always be popular no matter how old they are so if you want to watch and learn English from older shows it’s going to be pretty easy to get your hands on some copies. Also, because sci-fi shows never seem to go out of fashion, you’ll always be able to find reruns (repeated shows from the past) to watch on TV…there’s so much variety, you’re going to have a challenge deciding which show to start off with.
The 11 Best Sci-fi TV Shows to Learn English
1. “Quantum Leap” (1989-1993)
Dr. Sam Beckett leads a group of some of the world’s best scientists into the middle of the desert to carry out research related to his theory that people can travel in time. Sam is forced to enter the machine earlier than they had planned to save money and when he enters he suddenly vanishes.
A short while later, Sam finds himself in the body of another person suffering from a little bit of amnesia (memory loss). He only manages to keep in contact with one character back home, Al–a holographic image (computerized picture).
Only Sam can hear and see Al and no one else. The show follows Sam leaping (jumping) from different periods of time and all the time he hopes that he’s getting closer to home.
Why “Quantum Leap” is a great series to learn English: The language is simple and the accents are clean American accents that are very easy to understand. You’ll also be able to pick up everyday English phrases such as play hard to get (act in a way that’s it’s difficult for a man or woman to get into a relationship with you), no way (impossible) and many more.
2. “The X-Files” (1993-2002)
Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are FBI agents and they work together as partners, however, they have completely different beliefs. Mulder likes to believe in the paranormal life and aliens and Scully does not.
They work together investigating different paranormal (not normal) cases and sometimes they find themselves involved in investigating theories of alien conspiracies and the U.S. government.
They spend a lot of their time investigating and putting their lives and careers in danger. Their aim is to try and solve the many mysteries in the U.S. government and sometimes they go very far in order to do so.
Why “The X-Files” is a great series to learn English: This show is perfect if you want to improve your knowledge of technical English and you can pick up words such as transmission, silicon, toxin, biologist, chemist, rabies and many more words that will help you if you work within the field of science and research.
3. “Dr. Who” (2005-present)
The Dr. is an extremely talented and super intelligent scientist from a planet far away from Earth. He has the amazing ability to travel through both time and space in a weird and wonderful time machine called the TARDIS.
This time machine is not your normal time machine, and it was specially designed to change what it looks like to fit its surroundings. The Dr. loves Earth and he often visits it. He sometimes visits Earth to try and save it from alien invasions or to take away a few chosen people to other faraway planets.
Although he’s a good man, he has many enemies which include a group of aliens called the Daleks.
Why “Dr. Who” is a great sci-fi show to learn English: Dr. Who’s character is very sarcastic and you will be able to learn how to use humor in an intelligent way. This series comes from the UK and you’ll also be exposed to different English accents which will allow you to understand how people speak English around the world.
4. “Lost” (2004-2010)
A passenger jet is destroyed in mid-air and crashes onto an island in the middle of the Pacific. There are 48 survivors from the crash who no longer have any contact with the outside world and are forced to fight for survival.
There is an interesting mix of characters including the main character Dr. Jack Shepherd, a runaway fugitive (a person who has broken the law), called Kate, a rock-star called Charlie and many others. The series follows the group of different characters relying on one another in order to stay alive.
A number of dark secrets are revealed and of course, not surprisingly there are a number of romantic relationships. This show has a lot of suspense (it will keep you interested because you just don’t know what’s going to happen) and this is evident in the first series when a person who was not on the original passenger list of the crashed plane appears.
Why “Lost” is a great sci-fi show to learn English: There are a number of people from different backgrounds which will allow you to hear different accents and understand the differences between everyday English across the United States. Generally the characters speak slowly. And because of the drama and suspense, a lot of information can be revealed through the pictures which will give you a better idea of what’s going on.
5. “Futurama” (1999 – present)
This Sci-fi cartoon series follows a 25-year-old young man called Phillip Fry, who is a pizza delivery guy. His life seems to be going nowhere and his life is pretty boring until something strange happens.
One day he has an accident and as a result he accidentally freezes his body. The year is 1999 and after freezing himself he wakes up 1000 years later in the future. In the future he has the opportunity to make a new start for himself.
He begins work at the Planet Express Corporation, a large delivery company which delivers packages to different areas of the universe. He makes friends with a number of different aliens and robots along the way.
Why “Futurama” is a great sci-fi show to learn English: The actions are really obvious and sometimes over the top which will allow you to understand more complicated words. Also, this show’s target audience is teenagers and young adults and therefore it uses a lot of everyday English which will help you speak English more fluently with your friends.
6. “Dragon Ball Z” (1989 – 2003)
This long running cartoon sci-fi series was a favorite among young people around the world for many years. This show follows the adventures of Goku (a Japanese animated character) and the Z warriors. Together they try to fight monsters and aliens in order to save Earth.
The brother of Goku, Raditz, travels to Earth on a mission to try and find out why Goku has not yet destroyed the planet like he was told to do. But because of an accident when he was young, Goku has forgotten what his true mission was.
Gohan, the son of Goku discovers he has special secret powers and tries to fight his evil uncle Raditz. This follows a family battle and the fight against Earth, however, Goku’s mission has changed after his memory loss and he now intends to try and save his friends.
Why “Dragon Ball Z” is a great sci-fi show for learning English: This is an animated series but there are different levels of humor which are intended for both younger and adult audiences. The characters are over-the-top and at times very funny which allows you to understand the ideas of conflict and humor in English. Although this a cartoon and of the sci-fi genre, there are a lot of scenes that relate to everyday real life such as falling in love, road anger and shopping therefore you’ll be able to pick up bits of English for different situations.
7. “Star Trek – the Next Generation” (1987 – 1994)
It is the 24th century and it is many decades since the very first original crew of the Starship Enterprise has traveled space. Under the rule and command of the captain, Jean-Luc Picard, the new Enterprise (team) called NCC 1701-D travels far away to very distant planets looking for new life and breath. They continuously go on adventures and bravely travel to no place that man has ever been before.
Why “Star Trek” is a great Sic-Fi show for learning English: The English used in Star Trek is slow and very easy to understand. It is always very clear who’s speaking and there’s no confusion who is speaking and when which makes it easy to follow. Also Star Trek is full of great and interesting vocabulary if you’re interested in improving your English vocabulary in the area of science and technology.
8. “Heroes” (2006 – 2010)
The story “Heroes” is told in a similar way to that of comic books. The storyline follows a group of “normal” people who suddenly discover that they have got superpowers after a solar eclipse on Earth. We are taken on an adventure and are able to see how these special abilities and superpowers affect the lives’ of the characters.
The first season begins with a group of ordinary people who learn of their abilities. As the story develops more, the audience can see how the different characters react to their new superpowers and how they affect both their professional and personal lives.
As the characters are learning about their new powers there are other normal people who are trying to find out more about them through serious investigations. These new heroes don’t have much time to get used to their new superpowers as they now have a new mission of stopping the destruction of the world.
Why “Heroes” is a great sci-fi show to learn English: This show is full of drama and the visual effects are great therefore it is much easier for you to follow what is happening. The show follows a number of characters from around the world therefore the dialogue spoken is usually much slower making it easy to understand.
9. “Stargate Universe” (2009 – 2011)
After a surprise attack on an out-of-world (other planets in the galaxy) base, the last survivors of the ancient ship “Destiny”, have been stranded (left in the middle of nowhere with no way of getting back). At the very end of the universe, Dr. Nicolas Rush and Colonel Everett Young are now the new leaders of the Destiny crew.
Together the new crew travel discovering new worlds and planets while meeting aliens on the way. Their main aim is try to find their way home but there is always something getting in the way and testing them. Towards the end, they end up discovering the true purpose of the Destiny ship and it’s nothing like what they had imagined.
Why “Stargate Universe” is a great sci-fi show to watch to learn English: There is a lot of conflict between characters in this show and the characters are often seen repeating themselves or speaking slower to get their point across which is beneficial to English learners. It also includes great vocabulary and includes a lot of medical terms and everyday language therefore you’ll be able to improve your vocabulary.
10. “Dark Angel” (1999 – 2002)
Dark Angel is set in the future and the world is about to collapse both politically and economically. It follows the character of Max, who has escaped from military prison and lives under the streets of Seattle where life is far from normal. She spends her life trying to avoid being caught by government agents.
She spends a lot of her time looking for other creatures or people just like her. She meets Logan, an idealist and a cyber journalist who is trying to fight corruption in America after the Apocalypse. Together they make a team and they use their power and brain to travel through to the new Millennium.
As they travel forward, Max’s secret of her past becomes closer to being revealed and this may just complicate and possibly destroy their relationship.
Why “Dark Angel” is a great sci-fi show to learn English: Dark Angel only has two main characters that are seen most of the time therefore the plot is not complicated and easier to follow. The show is aimed at younger audiences therefore the language is modern and you’ll have an idea how to communicate with your friends in everyday situations.
11. “Third Rock From the Sun” (1996 – 2001)
Earth is invaded by a group of aliens who have come in the name of research. The aliens have great desires to learn more about human life, its population and traditions. In order not to be noticed by anyone, the aliens need to change their form so they no longer look like aliens but instead they look like normal humans so they cannot be recognized.
The leader of the aliens changes his form of an alien into a college professor. It follows him and his alien colleagues who have changed into his human sister and teenage son and their discovery and education about the simple things on Earth. What would seem like normal everyday things for real humans, the aliens have trouble with which makes this show an interesting and funny watch.
Why “Third Rock from the Sun” is a great sci-fi show to learn English: This is a very funny show and it’s not your usual sci-fi series with a lot of technology and computer vocabulary. It shows the everyday life of aliens trying to understand Earth, English and all the explanations of what we would consider to be normal things. The language has been made simple on purpose and as a result you will find it easy to pick up English.
So now it’s time to sit back and learn English in a different way–through some of the best sci-fi series in history. May the force be with you!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.