December 3, 2012 10:51 am

‘Friends’ sitcom helps ESL community learn English

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TORONTO – The catchphrases “How you doin?” and “We were on a break!” are now more than just famous and instantly recognizable sayings made famous by the popular American sitcom Friends.

Research by Kaplan International Colleges, an international education service provider, found that the long-running American sitcom was the most popular television show for helping people who are studying improve their language skills. The study found that 82 per cent of people said watching television programs helped them learn English while 26 per cent claim to have improved their understanding of the language from watching episodes of Friends.

The Simpsons and How I Met Your Mother were found to have only helped seven per cent and six per cent those surveyed, respectively.

Kaplan surveyed hundreds of current and previous students on whether watching television, among other things, helped them on their English learning journey.

 Research by Kaplan International Colleges, an international education service provider, found that the long-running American sitcom was the most popular television show for helping people who are studying improve their language skills. Graphic credit: Kaplan International Colleges

Jeff Astrof, an executive story editor and writer of several Friends episodes, explained that he was not surprised by the research as he has heard Friends catchphrases being used in the most unlikely situations.

“That’s very interesting, but it makes sense,” said Astrof to Kaplan researchers. “A couple of months ago in New York I had a cab driver of Middle Eastern descent say, “Could there be any more traffic?” in his best Chandler dialect.

Originally airing between 1994 and 2004, Friends was created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman and followed the lives of six best friends in New York. The series continues in international syndication and millions of people across the world have grown up with the comedy exploits of Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Monica, Joey and Phoebe.

Here’s a look at some memorable Friends moments that we believe could be of great use to those wanting to brush up their language skills.

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Joey writes a letter                                                          
Chandler and Monica ask Joey to write a recommendation letter for them to the adoption agency. To sound smart, Joey uses a thesaurus. Watch the hilarious result here.

The catch-phrases                                                      
From Monica’s “I know!” to Janice’s ear-piercing, “Oh My God,” here’s a look at some of the most legendary expressions made by the cast.  View the clip here.

Joey learns French                                                    
Need to hone up your French speaking skills?  Just don’t ask Joey for help. In this scene, Joey asks Phoebe to help him learn French after he is required to speak the language at an audition. Watch the video here. 

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