‘Wheel of Fortune’ Contestant Reveals She Learned English Watching the Game Show

by John Jamison
(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

“Wheel of Fortune” has been entertaining millions for nearly 50 years. And while most tune in for the game itself, others are getting an entirely different type of value from the show. Deidre, a contestant on the May 12 episode, used “Wheel of Fortune” to learn English when she first moved to the United States.

And what better game to learn English? In a video uploaded to Twitter by the official “Wheel of Fortune” account, Pat Sajak interviews Deidre during the episode.

“Now, you’re from Belize,” Sajak said.

“I am. I’ve been watching the since the ’80s when we came to America. It was how learned how to speak English and spell,” Deidre responded.

And what a trip that must have been for her. She got to stand face to face with the same man who helped teach her English over three decades ago. Pat Sajak seemed touched by the moment. He told Deidre that he was glad “Wheel of Fortune” had a part in teaching her the language.

This ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Contestant is Not the Only One to Learn English Through TV

Interestingly enough, learning how to speak and understand English (or any language for that matter) through TV shows is a common thing. What’s more? The method is backed by science.

A research study done by PLOS ONE showed that watching even just an hour of English TV programming could improve the perception of the language. The study suggests that by being exposed to it consistently over time, English comprehension could improve drastically.

Deidre from “Wheel of Fortune” didn’t need a research study to tell her that the method worked, however. All she had to do was tune into Pat Sajak and Vanna White in the early days and let the phrases explain themselves.

The previously mentioned study used TV dramas as the subject material. But it would be interesting to see if a spelling game could have an impact on the results. One would think that a show like “Wheel of Fortune” could be more effective for learning the language. But unfortunately, there is a lack of specific research on the subject.

Maybe there is a dedicated enough graduate student somewhere that could choose “Wheel of Fortune” and its capacity to teach English as their thesis study. If anybody out there feels so compelled, remember to cite Outsider as your inspiration.