As a cultural returnee to the USA, I found TV a very useful way to catch up. These days it’s hard to use that as an excuse but TV is still fresh enough to me to be interesting. I usually watch TV in background while getting computer-based work done. If I am fully watching TV, I want it to be pre-recorded or on commercial free cable. Commercials interest me but I want to control which ones I watch.
I went through a phase of not owning a TV for three years before moving to Japan in 1981.
In Japan I began watching TV to study Japanese. The dramas were pretty easy to follow even with minimal understanding of the language. I liked to use American movies broadcast in Japanese because I already knew the story so I could absorb the language almost subconsciously. I found TV a great right-brained way to study.
Broadcasting TV subtitles are not mandatory for television sets directed at Japanese consumers but I managed to find one. NHK was the leader but gradually the commercial stations produced more and more shows with closed caption sub-titles. This is a terrific way to study Japanese. Watching the story unfold, listening and reading is a great right brain left brain medley. I still have a collection of VHS tapes (I know, ancient technology) I made in Japan. Over the years, people would tell me my Japanese sounded “natural” as opposed to “textbook” which I attribute to the influence of TV.
I also watched Japanese TV to follow consumer taste. The style in Japan for commercial broadcast TV is to present a series of 12 shows that trap you in the story. While on the mission of checking out a hit show to better understand my customers, I would certainly get hooked from time to time. A show title that translated to “I Owe Her Money” was one of my favorites. It was about a man who falls in love with a professional money lender.
I found this method of studying language so useful that I used American movie DVD’s to study French and then Italian when I was working for Club Med and Barilla (supported by Berlitz lessons). The great thing about DVD’s is I can watch in French/Italian with English titles and then in French/Italian with French/Italian subtitles. The work days in Japan are very long but it is possible to squeeze in 30 minutes here and there. I set up an exer-cycle in front of the TV for morning exercise before dashing to the office.
These days I like watching TV in Spanish, which is very convenient in LA. I especially like HBO Latina because it broadcasts Spanish closed caption. Unfortunately it isn’t broadcast in Hawaii. I guess I am the only person spending time in Hawaii that wants to see it.
Why do you watch TV?