"Friends" Helps Global Television Audience Learn English

An international study has discovered that Friends is the most popular television show for helping people learn English.

Research by Kaplan International Colleges revealed that watching the popular sitcom assists the largest number of people who are studying to improve their language skills.

The study found that 82% of people said watching television programs helps them learn English and 26% claim to have enhanced their understanding of the language from enjoying episodes of the popular sitcom, which originally aired between 1994 and 2004.

Friends Learn English
Credit: The Independent

Friends, which was created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, was vastly more popular with English learners than other American exports. The Simpsons and How I Met Your Motherwere found to have only helped 7% and 6% of those surveyed, respectively.

The series continues in international syndication and millions of people across the world have grown up with the comedy exploits of Rachel, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Monica and Phoebe as well as their famous catchphrases such as "How you doin'?" and "We were on a break!"

Jeff Astrof, an executive story editor and writer on 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.

He said of the research: "That's very interesting, but it makes sense. 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.

"Friends was a unique writing experience because you could pitch a joke in a small room in an office building in Burbank, then a month later hear random people talking about it. I even saw one of my lines printed on a button, and to this day I have people say to me "Did you come up with the line...?" I always say yes."

The research also discovered that the influence of the show is so powerful that people who said Friends helped them learn English were more likely to want to travel to the USA to study the language.

Kaplan asked hundreds of their current and previous students whether watching television, among other things, helped them on their English learning journey and created the How to Learn English Infographic to showcase the results.

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