If you're looking for a way to make your English study routine more fun, then learning English with movies/films might be the option you've been looking for. You can learn (a lot!) in just a few hours from the comfort of your sofa, watching Netflix or other streaming services, easily and all while having fun.
We all can encounter certain difficulties in our study lives, we can suffer from a lack of time or opportunities to deepen our English knowledge and fit it into our daily routine.
Perhaps because of excessive work, having children and/or a house to take care of, maybe a lack of money to spend on expensive materials and course, we can end up pushing aside all our desire to learn English.
And, of course, at the end of the day when fatigue can hit hard, I'm sure the last thing you wants to do is sit in a chair and bury your face in a huge grammar book. This is exactly where movies can enter your learning plan.
Maybe you are wondering…
But Can You Learn English From Movies/Films?
Yes of course! You will learn and practice your listening, writing and speaking in an easy way and see amazing and fast results.
But before you go start and choose a random movie to study, keep in mind that there are study plans and methods for how to learn English from movies/films so that you actually absorb the teachings.
But each plan will be different for each of the three levels of fluency. So practice with these tips at your own level.
Study Methods and Tips for Learning English With Movies
Watch children's movies
Whenever you are learning a new language (whether through movies, series, songs, etc) always try to start with children's content as they are made especially for children who are still learning their own language. This will help you to understand without major difficulties.
Another advantage of this type of film is that it requires little (or no) visual attention from the viewer. There are no hidden objects or smooth change of facial expression of one of the characters that forces you to keep your eyes wide open to try to understand what's going on in the story.
This gives you complete freedom to direct your full attention to the subtitles and notice new words.
Learn English with movies/films with a simple theme
Films with a more routine and simple theme, like romantic comedies, have lots of casual and real dialogue. This will help you increase your vocabulary and be able to understand conversations between friends - even have your own conversations.
Stay alert and look for slang, expressions and phrases that are repeated in the film - they will be very important for you to use in everyday English. Once you notice them, write them down in a notebook and repeat them to get used to the pronunciation.
Please note: you don't need to pause the movie every time you encounter something new or difficult. If you do pause then you will likely end up spending more of your time pausing the movie than actually watching it. A tip is to keep a notepad close by so you can write everything down and, when finished, review the written words.
Your brain needs to get used to hearing and adapting to a new language. That is its phonetics, words, structures and, of course, a completely new culture.
To achieve fluency in English, you will have to “immerse yourself” in this new language and try to get used to it as quickly as possible and learn English with subtitled movies.
You can read more about immersion in English in a blog post coming soon.
To learn a new language, you will have to start consuming English content daily. In this case, you will start watching your movies and series in English and with subtitles in your own language.
Learn English with movies/films by reading the scripts
That's right. Read the scripts. You don't need to be a film student or a fan to do this, reading English film scripts will help you on your learning journey.
You will be reading (that is, your reading will be put into practice) the dialogues between the characters and, consequently, you will better understand the structures of the most used sentences and words in English.
You will also better understand the words or phrases you do not know and, based on this, increase your vocabulary and the fixation on what was learned. Another advantage is that very often the dialogue will be informal and so it is more realistic and is how people speak in native English speaking countries.
Learn English with movies/films by writing a short review
Once you've finished watching your chosen movie, take a few minutes to write a short review (in English) about it. How did you feel watching it? Was the story good? Who were the characters? Were they interesting?
The text does not have to be long, but always be clear and precise with what you want to convey. In this way, you will be working on both your writing and your ability to form whole sentences by yourself.
Learn English with movies/films by repeating what you just heard
Choose scenes and moments that have some speech that will be important for your study. Listen very carefully to what (and how it) is being said, pause and then try to repeat as closely as possible what you just heard. Do this exercise as often as you feel is necessary.
Also, be aware of how natives often communicate with each other, which can often be different from what is presented in textbooks. A good example of this are the contractions they use in their dialogues, as in “wanna” (want + to), “gimme” (give + me), “gonna” (going + to), and many others that may confuse you from start.
Learn English with movies/films with subtitles in English
Now that you already have a great knowledge of the English language used in everyday life and a well-developed vocabulary, you can gradually detach from the subtitles in your own language and start using them in English.
Don't skip this step and go straight to watching your movies without any subtitles, as you may end up giving yourself too much work and get discouraged.
Learn English with musical movies/films
At this level, you are already familiar with audio in English, understanding most of what you are listening to. But, to reach the advanced level in English, you will need to get used to the changes in tone, speed and accent of the dialogues.
An efficient way to achieve this is to start watching musical movies. They often blend normal dialogue with music in a way that you'll learn from both at the same time.
The songs in this type of movie tend to change speed and pitch all the time, often discussing some topic (which will increase or ‘fix’ your vocabulary in your mind), and of course they can be fun to watch.
Learn English with period movies/films
Although it is almost no longer used in everyday life or even in work environments, at various times in your language study journey you will find it: Early Modern English (or simply known as the "Old English", used by Shakespeare, for example).
And that's exactly what it is, old and somehow difficult. You can read more about this English and the language of the bible here.Its difficulty comes mainly from the fact that it is no longer in use and ends up falling into oblivion.
It just so happens that, at one time or another, you will encounter this English. When that happens, it's good to be prepared and already have the knowledge.
Learn English with movies/films with no subtitles now!
That dreaded moment has arrived: saying goodbye to the subtitles (even the ones in English!). This step can be a bit stressful at first, after with all your long and arduous study journey you may end up getting too caught up in the subtitles, and when you don't have them, it seems like you've suddenly forgotten everything.
The words and phrases being spoken may seem strange at first, but don't be discouraged, you will soon get used to this change and consequently expand your listening.
At this stage, it is important that you get used to understanding everything or at least a little more than 90% of what is being said without the help of subtitles. Don’t get discouraged, it takes time to be able to understand what is being said.
Learn English with movies/films by discussing them with a friend or partner
Similar to the intermediate stage, where you previously had to write a few paragraphs about the movie you just watched, this time you will practice your speaking.
Find a partner or friend to watch the movie with in English without subtitles. Then after the final credits roll, try to discuss (in English) everything you've just seen and heard.
Again, think about how the actor acted in that particular scene, what the characters were like, etc., and form your own sentences based on their opinions.
Learn English with movies/films by watching documentaries
Most documentaries have a specific theme and therefore use a new and richer vocabulary about what is being portrayed. This English vocabulary may not be generally commonly used in the daily routine of native speakers.
Watching documentaries with topics related to your career can help you a lot. You might also like to read about how to put your English course on your CV and English while studying for a Masters which is coming soon.
But remember: there is no need to watch topics that do not interest you or bore you. You should choose to watch documentaries of famous musicians, stylists, engineers, political figures… Whatever you like, there will be a perfect documentary for you to learn English.
Movie Tips for Learning English
“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”... Who doesn't remember the adventures of the most famous goldfish which is loved by children? That's why it's the perfect choice for newcomers to English who need to worry more about starting into the language without feeling overwhelmed by a flood of new content all at once.
If you are passionate about animation, check out 7 of the best cartoons to learn English on Netflix here.
The film portrays the life of Riley, an 11-year-old girl who is trying to understand and get used to her own feelings when moving to a new home and having to rebuild her life from scratch.
By the end of the film, you will have learned vocabulary about basic feelings and will be able to better express yourself in English in conversation.
Over the Moon
Recently released on Netflix, Over the Moon is a hit around the world. The story revolves around Fei Fei, a Chinese girl who has just lost her mother and must accept the fact that, years later, her father is rebuilding his family again.
Rich in Chinese culture and with songs that stick in your mind, it's a good option for you to start immersing yourself in musical movies to improve your English.
50 First Dates
Another well-known movie, 50 First Dates is a romantic comedy that should be on the must-see list of lovers of this genre. With it, you'll be able to practice listening to more common (and often more difficult to understand) voice tones.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
As in Finding Nemo, this film is one of the most beloved classics of all and was part of the childhood of most of us.
You will be able to direct your attention to the subtitles by becoming familiar with the English lines. Another plus of this movie is also the fact that it has a variety of characters. You will find children that are very different from each other, seniors, adults, each with a different timbre, vocabulary and intonation.
With moments that take the viewer's breath away, Inception has themes of human psychology and a little more. As it is longer than many movies we are used to watching, it is a great option for you to practice your listening (without subtitles!) for a longer period of time.
Pride and Prejudice
A great choice for you who are looking for a movie with an older theme to learn (and get used to) this type of English. These are often called period-dramas in English and this one is adapted from Jane Austen's novel.
If you love watching or reading about Elizabeth Bennett, why not learn English with these easy poems or perhaps these 6 easy to read English books?
Hamilton: The Musical
One of the biggest hits on Broadway today, Hamilton: The Musical remained almost a mystery to the internet for a long time, this was because no recording of the musical was allowed so there was only audio of the songs.
In 2020, together with Disney+, audiences that didn't have access to Broadway finally got to see the performance taped for the first time.
What makes Hamilton so special for those who want to achieve an advanced level in English is the fact that it has no speech or dialogue at all, everything is sung from start to finish. In addition to having important vocabulary on topics such as politics, elections, etc.
By clicking here you can learn more about learning English with Friends.
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Our original eBook from 2016 "Eliminate the 63 Most Important Mistakes that Portuguese Speakers Make in English" is on sale here for €6.99, you can read more about the book and its method here and read a free sample here.
What movies do you like to watch in English? You can leave a comment below!