How to talk about TELEVISION in English

This is the first lesson of a new series of lessons I am creating called Big Topics.

These lessons will centre around a major topic in our daily lives and come with many exercises for you to use in your class. Or if you are a student, you can use them at home in your self-study sessions.

This first lesson is about TELEVISION. What we watch, how much we watch and what the shows are.

I hope you like — please let me know what you think in the comments below!





Do you like to watch TV?

What TV shows are popular in your country?

Do we watch too much TV?





Read the monologue below from Sharon. She is talking about what television shows you watches and how many hours TV she watches every week.




I like to think that I don’t watch so much TV, but if I go through all the things I watch — yes, it’s a lot.

The main problem for this is Netflix — they make it so easy to just keep watching. I can go through an entire TV series in a few days easily.

For example, I am a big fan of Better Call Saul. I love the actors, and I just love the show. And each time a new season comes out, I tell myself that I will only watch one show every few days. Or maximum, one show a day. That is only about fifty minutes or so. Not that bad.

But the show comes on and each episode has a cliffhanger ending, which makes me want to watch what happens next immediately.

The last season of Better Call Saul, I watched every episode in three days. It’s terrible.

Before Netflix, I never had this problem. I had to wait for each episode to appear on TV before I could watch it. I wanted to know what happened next, but there was nothing I could do about it. And anyway, I would forget about it after a short time. I would get on with life.

It’s strange what has happened to television shows in the last few years.

Years ago, it was the terrestrial channels that made all the quality TV shows. The satellite and cable networks were usually low quality.

But now we have channels like HBO and AXN making these great shows. They have become the producers of good quality TV shows.

Two shows that have become very popular in recent years are all talent shows — The Voice and X-Factor. And so many reality TV shows — Love Island is very popular.

I can’t stand these shows. I think they are demeaning to the guests on the show and they are an insult to people’s intelligence. But I still watch them.

Sometimes I just want to be entertained by something. Then I will watch anything. And I end up watching mindless rubbish like Love Island.

Essentially, I am just looking at beautiful young people having arguments with each other in a big house. How stupid is that?

I think many of these shows are made because people love to watch other people make fools of themselves. We have become a nation of voyeurs.

Also, it’s the idea of watching something not because we like it — but because we hate it.

I would hate to calculate how much time I spend on Netflix. I know I spend a lot of time on it. I can make a wild guess at it being around 20 hours a week, but I suspect it is much higher than that.

And I could do so many other, more meaningful things. I could read books for a start. That would be a much more productive use of my time. But I think my ability to concentrate has diminished over the years.

So I end up watching Love Island.

How sad.



Reading Comprehension Questions


Does Sharon watch a lot of TV? Or not?

How does she watch TV?

How long does it take her to watch one season of a TV show?

Name a TV show that Sharon likes.

What is it about this show that makes Sharon continue watching after each episode?

How long did it take her to watch the last season of this show?

Describe Sharon’s feelings about terrestrial and satellite and cable channels. How does she think they have changed?

In Sharon’s opinion, what are two types of TV shows that are very popular today?

Does she like these shows? Why/why not?

Why does she think people like to watch these shows?

How many hours TV does Sharon watch a week?

What does she think she could do instead of watching TV?

Why doesn’t she do this activity?



Essential Vocabulary



reality TV

soap opera





talk show








the news

switch (channels)

remote control





game show


weather report






Write each word from the vocabulary above in your notebook.

Look up the meaning of each word in your dictionary and write down the meaning.

Then write a sentence of your own using the new word.



Discussion Questions


How many hours of TV do you watch in an average week?

Describe one of your favourite TV shows. Why do you like this show? Do your parents like this show? Why/why not?

What TV shows did you watch yesterday? Why did you watch these shows?

Do you watch TV alone or with friends or family? Why do you watch TV this way?

How many hours of TV do you watch every week, do you think? Is this too much? Too little? Average?

Name three of the most popular TV shows in your country. Why are these shows so popular?

Can you name any educational TV shows in your country? How can they benefit people?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of watching TV?

Has the quality of TV shows in your country declined or improved in the last few years? Give examples and reasons for your answers.

Are there many reality TV shows and talent shows in your country? Talk about them. What do people think of them? Are they entertaining? Or really terrible? Why do you think this?

Who are the biggest TV stars in your country? Describe them. Why are they so popular? Do you like these stars? Why/why not?

Are there any political programmes on TV in your country? What are they about?

What about the news on TV in your country? Is it unbiased? It is accurate? Do you watch the news on TV? Why/why not?

Is there too much violence on TV in your country? What about sex? Too much or too little? What do you think about sex and violence on TV?

How do you think TV will change in the future? Do you think the internet will kill TV? Has it already killed it?

Does TV make people stupid? How?



Role Play — TV Addict


There are two people in this role play exercise — a TV addict and the long-suffering boyfriend or girlfriend.

Take a look at the characters below and create a role play to show in your class.


Character 1

There are so many great TV shows to watch. And you have to see all of them. You can’t spare time for trivial things like going out to meet friends or going to a restaurant.

All you want to do is stay at home and watch TV all night.

Friday evening is the best time for TV — and you like to stock up on all your favourite snacks, order a pizza and kick back on the sofa.

You can’t think of anything better to do with your time!


Character 2

This is getting too much. The only thing your boyfriend/girlfriend wants to do is watch one TV show after another. You feel like this is the only thing you do together.

You have many friends, but you seldom see them.

And there is a new restaurant that has opened in town and you really want to go.

Try to persuade your boyfriend/girlfriend to turn off the TV and leave the house for the evening.





Go round the class and find out who likes to watch what kind of TV shows.

If you are one person studying alone, then ask your family members or friends.

TV Show



Don’t mind

Don’t like


Reality TV
Soap Opera
Detective Show



Use the table above and conduct a survey on TV shows in your classroom.

Ask people what kind of shows they like and try to get some extra information.

Then at the end, do a short presentation on your findings.


What words can you use to describe the kind of TV shows in the table?

Here are some words to help you:




Try to use some or all of these words to describe the TV shows in the table. Explain why you have these opinions.



TV Genres


Soap Opera


The NewsPolice ThrillerDocumentary
Chat ShowReality TV ShowCookery ShowTalent ShowSports
MusicReligiousThe WeatherPoliticsAnimal Show
Kids TVEducationalBreakfast TVDramaHistory

Look at all the different kinds of TV shows in the table.

In your notebook, write down each genre. Then do some research and find out what these shows are. What style are they, and what kind of people watch these shows?

Then make a sentence of your own using each TV genre word or phrase.



Create Your Own TV Show!


Get into groups of 3 or 4 students.

You work for a big TV channel in your country. You have been asked to design and create a brand new TV show.

You have a big budget to make the show — so money is no object. But you have to come up with something original and very popular.

With your group, think of an idea for a TV show. It can be any kind of show — comedy, news, reality TV, sports. But it has to be unique, and it has to be interesting so that many people will watch it.

In your group, try to think of:

  • the main idea of the show
  • what happens in the show every week
  • what TV stars you will use in your show
  • will it have a live audience or prerecorded
  • some other special features of the show

Once you have some ideas, then present to the class. Each member of your group should present a part of the show to the rest of the class.

Later all the class will ask your group questions about your TV show idea.





Write a letter to a TV channel in your country.

You are an ordinary citizen in your country, but you object to the kinds of TV shows that the channel shows. You can say whatever you want — maybe the show is too trivial or meaningless. Or maybe too much sex or violence. Maybe the show is not suitable for children.

But you wish to complain.

Voice your letter very strongly and make sure you express yourself very clearly.

Your letter should try to make a big impact.

When you have written your letter, show it to your teacher or another student for feedback.



How was it? Was it useful for you in your class?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “How to talk about TELEVISION in English”

  1. I solved this matter years ago by not owning a television. But it is a rich worthwhile topic for students who do watch TV. Lots of discussion can come from it and best of all good ESL/EFL training! You can also learn a lot about your students by noting their likes, interest and dislikes.

    1. Thanks Leona! I hope I am not encouraging people to watch TV… But I think it is also a part of many peoples daily lives so a worthwhile topic in the ESL/EFL classroom.

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