The television trick to learning a new language

Whether it's "Friends" or a telenovela, TV shows can help some people learn a new language.

Story highlights

  • Some people find that they can learn new languages by obsessively watching TV shows
  • Studies show that it's best to acquire a language through both active and passive learning

(CNN)Every day for about five years, Israeli sisters Reut and Shoham Nistel ran home from school, made themselves sandwiches and plopped down on the couch to watch an Argentine telenovela with Hebrew subtitles.

The girls became so proficient in Spanish that they started speaking it at home to keep secrets from their parents.
"That's how we learned English, too," said Reut, now 26. "We had English class in school, but I never paid attention. All my English is from 'Full House' and 'Family Matters.' "