Can I learn English by watching films?

Why learn English with films?

There are a huge number of methods you can use to learn a new language. The most important trick is to keep your learning varied and consistent. Watching films is one way to familiarise yourself with English in conversation and speed up your learning process – and it’s a lot more fun than simply studying with a textbook!

5 top tips to learn English through films

  1. Choose films you like

Choosing films you enjoy means you will be more invested while watching and it will also make it easier to follow the storyline and character development. This means you can anticipate what characters are going to say even if you don’t fully understand the language.

  1. The shorter the better

When learning English from films, the phrase ‘short and sweet’ is definitely relevant! Pick a film that is relatively short and avoid films that require a complex level of understanding as this could consume your thoughts rather than allowing you to focus on the language.

  1. Use subtitles

Try watching the film in English and using your own language for the subtitles. This means you can familiarise yourself with the verbal aspect of the English language while gaining a clear understanding of what is going on through the subtitles. Following the subtitles word for word can be tiring and may distract you from listening properly, however you can glance at the subtitles to get an idea of what is going on if you are feeling lost with the plot.

  1. Repeat your favourite lines

One way of picking up a language quicker is to repeat what you hear out loud. This helps improve your accent and gives you the chance to become more familiar with speaking the language. Doing this while watching a film is a great idea – you won’t be embarrassed of how you sound since you are in the comfort of your own home and you can keep pausing or rewinding the film until you get it right!

  1. Keep a film journal

A film journal allows you to keep notes of what you watched and log any words or phrases you have learned. This will be helpful to look back on as you can see how your language skills have improved over time.

Benefits of learning English through films

  1. Combine fun and education
  2. Varying learning styles helps improve long term retention
  3. Improve verbal skills rather than just writing skills
  4. Learn to connect words and phrases with associate body language
  5. Learn about culture at the same time
  6. Can often be more relaxing than other forms of studying
  7. You can learn through ‘passive listening’ too
  8. You can learn through a collaborative study session with friends online or in person
  9. You can use subtitles to help improve comprehension and written skills too

Top 10 films to learn fluent English

There are a few factors which make a film an appropriate choice to learn English from. These factors will vary depending on the viewer, e.g. a film should be interesting enough to keep your attention, however what is deemed interesting varies from viewer to viewer.

Some basic things to consider whether or not a film is a good choice to learn English from are: general popularity or your own personal familiarity with the film, a plot that is relatively easy to follow and not too long so you won’t lose interest.

Below are some films we suggest learning English from:

  1. Clueless (1995)
     Clueless (1995)
  2. The Hunger Games (2012) 
    The Hunger Games (2012)
  3. The King's Speech (2010)
     The King's Speech (2010)
  4. The Queen (2006)
     The Queen (2006)
  5. My Neighbour Totoro (1988) 
    My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
  6. Love Actually (2003) 
    Love Actually (2003)
  7. The Pursuit of Happiness (2006) 
    The Pursuit of Happiness
  8. The Hangover (2009)
    The Hangover (2009)
  9. Forest Gump (1994) 
    Forest Gump (1994)
  10. Trainspotting (1996) 
    Trainspotting (1996)



Frequently asked questions

  1. How can I learn English from films?

The best way to learn English from films is to use subtitles so you can clarify what is being said, practice repeating words and phrases to familiarise yourself and pay attention to body language and tone when actors are speaking. However, if you are using this as a ‘study break’ or a more relaxed activity, you will also learn the language from passive listening.

  1. Is it better to learn English through films?

It is not necessarily ‘better’ to learn English through films rather than reading, studying, flashcards, practicing talking etc, but it allows you to process the language differently.

  1. Are films the best way to learn English?

The best way to ensure you pick up the language quickly is to keep your learning methods varied and interesting.

  1. Is it possible to improve my English through films?

Yes – definitely! You will be able to improve your English through watching films. You will especially improve your verbal skills because you are able to hear lots of different voices and accents and you can practice as many times as you want in the comfort of your own home.

So, if you are looking for a fun, more relaxed way to learn English, why not try out one of the films we have suggested above? Several of these can be found on Netflix now. Happy watching!

Click here to find out how The Language Gallery can help you improve your English skills.

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