Hands up if you love watching movies? Yes! We do, too!

The good news about your love for film? Learning English can be made so easier by kicking back and watching a movie in English. Essentially, it’s an excellent way to improve your fluency.

Learning English as a second language can seem daunting to begin with but doing something you love, like watching movies, makes it less challenging.

The trick to making it effortless is to keep the subtitles on.  The storyline and what is being said will be easier to follow.

So How Do Films Improve Your Fluency?

Learning English shouldn’t just be about English lessons, textbooks and teachers. Although the aforementioned are important learning tools, especially for English beginners, incorporating English skills into your lifestyle makes learning entertaining.

This is where English films come into play. Watching an English film can enrich your learning journey by providing you with the opportunity to improve your English skills.

Firstly, it can have a positive impact on your listening comprehension skills. It’s an ideal way to practice listening to spoken English which will in turn help boost your own speaking skills.

Whenever you start feeling textbook weary, take a break and watch a Hollywood blockbuster.

If your goal is to speak English fluently, an excursion to the cinema, or the couch, is a learning plus.

Learning English by watching movies on your tablet
Take online English tutorials. (Source: Commerce Master)

Here’s how a little bit of entertaining downtime can improve your English skills.

Let’s go back to our question: Why should you watch films to learn English?

  • Due to the sheer quantity of English films, they are a brilliant source of varied language, from slang to conversational and old school English, that helps improve your listening skills.
  • Watching English films is the perfect way to get a better understanding of the local culture and history of the country.
  • Movies are a fun and entertaining way to learn and improve your English skills.
  • Considering English films are made for native speakers, they’re ideal for honing your English vocabulary skills and picking up local expressions and slang.
  • Need help with your pronunciation? Films are a terrific tool for improving your speaking skills.

Which Films Are The Best For Learning English?

When you’re not familiar with what English movies have on offer, it can be tricky choosing what to watch. No one wants to waste hours on a dud flick.

If you want to learn English but your skills aren’t up to scratch, turn to films you’ve already seen.

But don’t dismiss children’s movies – they’re a good way of establishing your foray into English cinema. The language used in kid’s films is made to be simple plus the storyline is told at a slower pace than most adult flicks. This makes them great for fine-tuning your English skills. You can pick up new verbs, and tenses as you work towards becoming fluent in the English language.

If English is not a new language for you, step up the pace and watch a more complex film.

For more advanced students, switch on English subtitles so you can practice your reading and listening skills simultaneously. Your vocabulary, including idiomatic expressions, will improve tenfold by doing so.

If the English subtitles become frustrating and start to impede your learning time, watch the movie in the subtitles of your own language - at least until you feel more comfortable with what is being said. Remember, they should only be on to facilitate and improve your learning so don’t worry if you switch them off.

Don’t forget that watching films is now a part of your learning experience. If you can’t comprehend a particular scene, watch it again until you do.

Find an English speaker to watch the film with you. Even if they haven’t watched the film, they can assist you with tricky words and untangling the narrative.

Take advantage of watching an English movie and don’t forget to:

  • Improve your vocab by choosing a selection of words from the film to memorise

  • Evaluate your skill level in order to pick the best movie for you

  • Once the film is over, practice your new-found speaking skills

  •  Pick up on pronunciation and use it to improve your own

4 Top English Films To Watch

1. The Social Network: Ever wondered how Facebook came about? This flick goes back to its genesis when Mark Zuckerberg was a Harvard University student. The movie covers how Zuckerberg revolutionised the way we communicate with one another. Why should you watch it? With a reported 17.1 million users of Facebook in Australia alone, you’ll no doubt be able to relate to this movie. But with a funny script written by Aaron Sorkin, it’s an easy one to watch.

Learn English by watching The Social Network
You can pretend to be the English-speaking inventor of Facebook if you want. (Source: Memondo)

2. The Hangover: It’s a story of a bachelor party gone wrong. A few days before the wedding, the groom-to-be and three of his mates take a trip to Las Vegas. This film recounts the crazy adventure these four men go on. Why should you watch it? It will keep you entertained from go to woe but be prepared for a little bit of shock and awe. It also represents everyday English dialogue with a hint of slang.

Take a break from English lessons and watch The Hangover
The Hangover. A very funny film. (Source: NYup.com)

3. Toy Story: This animated kids’ movie is great for those studying English for beginners. It’s all about a young boy named Andy who has a beloved collection of toys. But when Andy leaves his room, his toys come alive. While his favourite toy has always been Woody, a cowboy doll, Andy gets a new Buzz Lightyear doll and ditches his old toys, making them unhappy. Why should you watch it? It’s a straightforward film, so it's easy to follow. But the film is also funny and suited for all ages. You and your kids will want to watch it again and again.

Toy Story is the perfect movie for English beginners
Improve your basic English with Pixar films! (Source: Today)

4. Pulp Fiction: Created by one of Hollywood’s most celebrated directors, Quentin Tarantino, this film is a classic. Touted as one of the most influential films of the 1990s, it cleverly combines comedy and gore. Not for the faint-hearted, the story follows two killers around Los Angeles on their savage and funny adventures. Why should you watch it? Tarantino mixes comedy and playfulness with commonplace dialogue.

No matter which film you end up watching, the end result will be the same: becoming bilingual.

Learn Traditional English With Historial Drama

The Young Victoria

This biographical film covers Queen Victoria’s early turbulent years with a focus on her romantic relationship with Prince Albert. It features a star-studded cast who won prestigious awards for their roles in the film.

Learn English with The Young Victoria
Discover British history and the English language in one film! (Source: Tylogy)

Even though the language is outdated, it’s a must-watch for getting an understanding of the language and vocabulary that was used in the 1800s.

Pride and Prejudice

The lineup includes some of the UK’s most awarded actors including Keira Knightley, Judi Dench, and Donald Sutherland.

Learn English with Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice: One of British literature's best novels. (Source: A Pilgrim in Narnia)

From a learning perspective, Pride and Prejudice by literary great, Jane Austen, is exemplary of 18th-century language. It focuses on the romance between a young Elizabeth Bennet and a rich and proud Mr Darcy and the class problems that ensue. Loaded with great pieces of English literature, it’s a top film to invest your time in.

Get A Kick Out Of Learning With These Comedies

The Inbetweeners Movie

This comedy is based on a TV series that aired on British TV channel E4 and follows four super awkward teenagers who go on holiday to Malia.

Take English lessons offline with The Inbetweeners movie
Enjoy the juvenile humour of the Inbetweeners! (Source: RavePad)

If you’re wanting to learn British slang and cursing, the Inbetweeners is your best bet. While we don’t suggest talking like this on a daily basis, it might give you an insight into what the teenagers are talking about on your next holiday to the UK.

Superbad

It’s one of America’s most popular all-time comedies with a plot that features a typical teenage scenario, a booze-fueled party gone awry.

Boost your English fluency skills with Superbad
Superbad took $170 million at the American box office! (Source: The Movie Score)

Superbad attracted an impressive line-up of American comedians from Jonah Hill to Seth Rogen and Michael Cera. A favourite film of celebrities around the world including Eminen, this film kicked off the career of Oscar winner Emma Stone.

Be prepared for a couple of hours of cheeky language and crazy jokes.

How To Pick Up Different Accents

The British accent

Here are the best films to watch when getting familiar with the British accent.

The King’s Speech

Hone your English speaking skills while being entertained with a film focussed on speaking English.

The main character of The King’s Speech, Prince Albert, has a speech impediment that he must overcome to ascend the throne.

A critically acclaimed film with four Oscars wins and a Golden Globe, by the end of it, you’ll be inspired to improve your own English speaking skills.

Improve your English fluency with The King's Speech
Master your English pronunciation just like Colin Firth did in The King's Speech! (Source: Taringa)

Although Prince Albert faces a tough challenge with the help of a speech therapist played by Aussie actor, Geoffrey Rush, the Prince goes on the overcome his stammer.

Bloody Sunday

Learn all about the Irish accent through Bloody Sunday, a film set in 1972 that dramatizes the Irish civil rights protest march and subsequent massacre by British troops.

The film directed by Paul Greengrass is a documentary-style drama that details the tragic circumstances around the British troops firing upon protesters, which killed 13 people and wounded a further 14.

It’s a great opportunity to hear the difference between an English accent and an Irish accent.

The American Accent

Here are the best films to watch when getting familiar with the American accent.

Forrest Gump

Starring one of Hollywood’s nicest and most celebrated actors, Tom Hanks plays the role of Forrest Gump, a man with a low I.Q. Tom was initially so impressed with the script he signed up to the film after an hour and half of reading it.

You’ll come out loving the film because it’s a mix of comedy, drama and romance. This American flick is based on the book of the same name by Winston Groom and has become an all-time American classic.

Speak English fluently with the help of Forrest Gump
“My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.” (Source: Emaze)

If you haven’t heard a Southern accent before, be prepared to enjoy the pronounced version of the loveable Forrest Gump.

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind is one of America’s most epic historical romance films of all time.

It became so famous being the first technicolour Hollywood film. It also starred some of the acting industry’s most illustrious names including Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.

This film is based on Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel of the same name that details the love story of a young, manipulative woman, and a roguish man, who have a romance during the Civil War.

This film remains one of the top-grossing movies of all time, making it a great one to analyse and learn from.

The Aussie Accent

Here are the best films to watch when getting familiar with the Australian accent.

Lion

Lion is based on the book, A Long Way Home, by Indian-born Australian businessman, Saroo Brierley.

It’s a biographical film about Saroo’s life story who was accidentally separated from his biological mother and adopted by Australian parents. However, 25 years later, Saroo was reunited with this biological mother after discovering his long lost home via Google Earth.

Pick up new grammar with the Lion film
Indian and Australian culture merge in Lion. (Source: Newsweek)

The film is a beautiful way to discover the Australian accent via the star-studded cast that includes Nicole Kidman, who plays the adoptive mother of Saroo.

Lion became one of Australia’s highest-grossing films of all time and won two BAFTA awards for Best Support Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road made its debut in 2015 but is the fourth instalment of the Mad Max films that were a hit in the late seventies and throughout the eighties.

Directed by the legendary George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road features a stellar roundup of actors including Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hout, Tom Hardy, Zoe Kravitz and Courtney Eaton.

The film is a post-apocalyptic epic action movie set in a deserted wasteland where Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) are trying to flee from cult leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

Debuting in 2015, it became the highest-grossing Mad Max film to date. Filmed in and around Sydney, it shows off the beautiful and natural Australian landscape.

The Canadian Accent

Here are the best films to watch when getting familiar with the Canadian accent.

My Winnipeg

A mockumentary, directed by Guy Maddin, My Winnipeg is an unconventional take on the documentary style that plays with fact and fiction.

Structured around a metafictional plot, the narrative focuses on the capital and largest city of the province of Manitoba in Canada. It adds up to be a series of fictional episodes narrated by the director himself, Guy Maddin.

Filmed in black and white, it presents the geography and surrounds of this city known as the heart and centre of North America.

Tips And Hints For Learning English Through The World Of Film

Choose a film you already know

If you’re already familiar with an English film start with that. When you’re an English beginner, it’s best to choose films that are well known to you so the plot is easier to understand.

A film you’re acquainted with will also give you the headspace to focus on the language, especially when it comes to idioms and slang.

Switch On The Subtitles

You’re not cheating by turning on the subtitles. Cut yourself some slack. Subtitles are a great tool for improving your English skills.

When you’re a beginner put them on in your own language or at least until your skill level improves to intermediate or advanced.

Once your confidence grows and improves you can switch the subtitles over to English. They’re an ideal way of helping to follow the storyline and improve your vocabulary and spelling of English words.

Subtitles can even help you improve your writing in English.

Start with a short film

Are you sure you’ll be able to focus on a film in English for 2 or 3 hours? If not, choose a shorter film or a film whose language is better suited to your level.

Go for a shorter film that captures your attention for the entire movie.

A shorter film will have a less complicated storyline that is more suited to a beginner and easy to follow.

Take A Tea Break

Not sure if you could sit for long watching an English film? No worries. Break the movie up into blocks and take a break every 30 minutes.

After every 30 minutes, press pause, and get up for a drink and a stretch. Hitting the refresh button will give you the stamina to get through an entire movie while learning new English words.

Pause And Repeat

The benefit of watching a film in English is to improve your English skills in a relaxed and flexible environment.

Take advantage of watching a film in the privacy of your own home. Hit the pause button so you can take note of any new grammar, and to look up the meaning of new words, if needed. But make sure you write it all down. This will help when you go back revise what you've just learnt.

Don’t hesitate to say these words outloud after the actor has said them on screen. Repeating words outloud is a powerful way of learning and remembering.

Stick To What You Like

Watching a film you know you’re going to enjoy will make the learning process so much more enjoyable. Choose a genre you love whether that be horror, romance, action or comedy.

Need a little bit of help choosing? Head to Youtube or IMDB and watch trailers of the top 10 movies of all time from your fave genre.

Kick Back With A Buddy

Call in a favour of your English speaking friends and ask them to watch a movie with you.

Where can I join an English film club?
Share your thoughts after the film with your English-speaking friends. (Source: Voice of the Customer)

Warn them you might ask questions throughout the film. But make sure you tell them this is the best way to improve your English skills - no doubt they'll be all too obliging. If they’re happy to do so, practice your conversational English with them after the film, too.

Test And Improve Your English Skills

It's a proven fact ESOL courses are best at cementing the foundations of the English language. Their structured environment provides beginners, as well as, the advanced with most of the tools they need to improve their English skills.

However, they don’t deliver practical and everyday scenarios. Enter the world of film.

Movies present real-life situations and conversations that are relatable to everyday life.

It’s not surprising ESL teachers incorporate film into their class plans.

Learn English online, be sure to test your level with Quizzes, start English conversation lessons online or take a formal ESOL exam such as TOEFL & IELTS.

Need an ESL (English) teacher?

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Kristy