Many people are quick to say that television has little, or no, educational value. It is true that there are lots of programmes which are completely pointless - take Big Brother, for example. However, I would also argue that some television programmes can be stimulating for the mind and can improve our knowledge of certain things. You're not limited to documentaries - there is a wide range of programmes which can be entertaining as well as educational. Here are a few of my favourite shows, each of which have some educational value:
- Blue Peter: As a child, this was one of the only programmes I was allowed to watch. It is the longest-running children's TV show in the world, but seems to have fallen out of fashion recently. The crafts on the show were always good fun, and you would often learn about different countries around the globe - for example, one presenter went to the Amazon rainforest in South America! As the show is aimed at children, it should be fairly easy to watch for learners with a basic level of English.
- The Great British Bake Off: This show is all about making cakes, biscuits, pastries and pies. The aim is to find Britain's best amateur (this means not professionally trained) baker. You can watch the show to get some ideas of new things to try baking and the recipes are often available online.
- Frozen Planet: David Attenborough has produced many wildlife documentaries. This one is about life in the Arctic and Antarctic regions: polar bears, seals, penguins, moose and many more animals feature in this programme. I love this show not only because of the cute animals in it, but also because it teaches us about the impact we have on the planet and what we need to do to save these regions. David Attenborough narrates each episode; because he speaks clearly and slowly his shows might be of interest to English language learners.
- Pointless: Contrary to what its name might suggest, this show is great for making you think. It is a general knowledge quiz show. Each round will feature a different category (e.g. sport, music, films) and a topic will be given, for example "Teams which have won the World Cup". Prior to the show, 100 people will have been asked the same question. Contestants then have to think of an answer (and of course, viewers can play along) and the aim is to find an answer which none of the 100 people asked before the show thought of. I've learnt lots of trivia from this show!
Do you ever watch educational TV shows? Tell us about your favourites.