How to learn English with movies
Learning English with movies, is it possible? Lying on the sofa, watching movies and series all weekend, without feeling guilty and progressing in English, it’s the dream, isn’t it?
You often hear people who claim to have mastered English just by watching films in their original version, but when you try to imitate them, you don’t understand anything without the subtitles… in India? The reason is that you are immersed in the English-speaking world without a lifeline. In today’s article, we’ll tell you how to learn English with movies, where to start, and how to get the most out of it. It’s a great way to progress in English while having fun!
Why watch films in the original version?
Let’s start at the beginning: why is it better to watch films in original version instead of continuing with dubbed films?
Here are some of the benefits:
- You will improve your understanding of spoken English.
- You will improve your understanding of particular accents . Since films are short and digestible resources (compared to series ), they allow you to vary the pleasures, which gives you the opportunity to choose different ones from all over the world. I also recommend that you try to find films from various English-speaking countries to get used to all the varieties of Shakespeare’s language!
- You’ll learn gender-specific vocabulary , legal, medical, and of course colloquial terms .
- You will be working two of your senses at the same time: not only are you listening, but you are also watching, and this visual aid will allow you to follow the plot. That’s why English audiobooks and podcasts are among the most advanced resources: no visual aids!
Improve your oral comprehension thanks to films in English
What movies to watch to learn English?
So that your goal of becoming bilingual does not fall into the water, choose content that interests you , resources that you want to work with, that make you look forward to the next study session! If you’re bored with one movie, choose another. Always keep the flame of your interest burning.
The second important criterion is difficulty : try to find the balance between what interests you and what you can follow. Avoid movies that are too hard to understand, because it’s discouraging and you might give up. However, don’t rely on movies that are too easy either, since that won’t be productive.
Where to start ?
It’s clear that you have to find the balance between fun and difficulty when it comes to choosing your film, but it is not always easy to find the most suitable for your needs. So, in this part of the article, I offer you some avenues to explore:
- Short movies . It’s hard to stay focused for long, especially when you ‘re a beginner . So as not to intimidate you, you can start by watching short films in English. Just type short movies on YouTube and you’ll receive heaps of results!
Films in several languages. Does the idea of spending two hours listening only to English scare you? If so, you can opt for multilingual movies, including English and Indian movies. During the dialogues in English you will work and during the dialogues in hindi you will rest and during the dialogues in other languages (if there are any) you can focus on the English subtitles . A recommendation is the movie Inglorious Basterds , available on Netflix. Most of the dialogue is in English with scenes in Indian, German and Italian.
- English films for children . Generally, the plot is easier to follow, the dialogues are simpler, and the audio is clearer. The other advantage of these films is that they aim to teach important vocabulary to children, so why not use them when learning English as an adult , too? Any Disney movie will do!
3…2…1… Action! Discover the best films in English to become bilingual!
How to learn English with movies?
After choosing a movie:
Look at it with the dictionary in hand (whether physical or rather online for quick reference). Check important vocabulary and spend time with new words . Check the pronunciation of the word, how it is used, look up sentence examples, etc. By spending time with new words , you are learning the vocabulary instead of trying to memorize it. It’s the difference between memorizing a word, being able to recognize it and using it on demand, and memorizing vocabulary lists that you won’t be able to use.
Two resources to use when watching a movie in its original version: Wiktionary to check the pronunciation of a word, listen to an audio recording, read additional information like its etymology, etc., and YouGlish , a superb resource that allows you to search for words or phrases and gives you sample sentences from YouTube. You will thus expose yourself to natural and authentic English , by seeing how English speakers use the word in question in a spontaneous context. Frankly, I can spend hours on this site!
Watch your favourite scenes over and over again. We appreciate some films just for certain cult scenes, so I advise you to watch them on repeat, with or without subtitles, trying to hear every word clearly. This will allow you to improve your listening comprehension.
Apply the Shadowing technique to work on your pronunciation and accent with your favorite scenes. It’s also the perfect opportunity to revise what you’ve learned and put it to use yourself. You may have noticed that you understand English better than you can speak it, this is because one tends to listen more than one speaks. By trying to reproduce your favorite scenes, you will “activate” the new vocabulary so that it does not remain only in your passive knowledge.
- Repetition is the mother of learning: watch your favorite movies over and over again ! We already know very well that to retain new information, you have to revise it several times.
From a passive spectator to an active speaker. To maximize your efforts, try some of the following techniques:
Practice lines that you like and work on your pronunciation . If you come across a line that you find funny, witty, interesting in a movie or TV show, try writing it down. Then check the subtitles or the script to see if you wrote it correctly. Try pronouncing it while imitating the actor or actress.
Apply the Shadowing technique . To start slowly, you can try repeating after a few cult scenes, then try to hold for a few minutes and finally, why not apply this technique for an entire film? However, remember what English speakers say, Sometimes, less is more. . Sometimes less is more. Better to work on a single scene, but do it well instead of surface-working the whole movie.
Learn cult lines by heart. Not only is it fun, but the popular lines truly become part of everyday language and are used naturally by native speakers. Think “No arms, no chocolate!”, for example.
- Work with subtitle and script files. You can easily open them with any text editor like Notepad. A fun and extremely productive exercise is to replay the roles in front of a mirror, with a friend, pen pal or teacher.
Are you passionate about English cinema? Discover the best films and series in English !
Where to watch movies in English?
- VLC media player is the video player that I recommend to you. It is powerful software that has lots of handy features that you can take advantage of when learning English with movies.
Go back and forward
SHIFT + right arrow: 3 seconds forward
SHIFT + left arrow: 3 seconds back
ALT + right arrow: 10 seconds forward
ALT + left arrow: 10 seconds back
CTRL + right arrow: 1 minute forward
CTRL + left arrow: 1 minute backward
Normal speed: =
Increase speed: ]
Decrease speed: [
Services like Le Vidéo Club and Rakuten TV or many other streaming platforms.
- Don’t forget the public bookstores in France where you can rent DVDs.
First step, learn useful shortcuts.
The next one: join the Anonymous!
Subtitles and scripts
To learn English well with films, should you put subtitles? If so, English or indian subtitles? Or in both languages?
Here are the options with their pros and cons:
Watch a film in original version with Indian subtitles. If you are a complete beginner and the idea of spending long periods of time listening to English scares you , then Indian subtitles are just a springboard to advance in your studies. Don’t forget to listen to what the characters say. I advise you to prioritize other possibilities as soon as possible.
Watch a film in original version with English subtitles. The problem is not always that we do not know the words, but rather that we have learned them badly. If you haven’t followed all the steps to learn a word in English , you probably won’t be able to understand it orally. By watching films in their original version with English subtitles, you will get used to the differences between spoken and written language. I advise against checking all the unknown words at this stage, because it’s too intimidating and discouraging, you might get bored. However, if there is any unfamiliar vocabulary that prevents you from understanding the meaning of the plot, then it goes without saying to check it in a dictionary .
- Watch a movie in original version without subtitles. Chaotic English spelling and no use of phonetics prevents learners from acquiring good pronunciation. If you watch (or listen to) content without text, this gives you the opportunity to focus only on the audio. Thanks to this, we can ignore the opacity of the language and start speaking with a better accent .
And, a fourth little-known but interesting option: watch films in their original version with subtitles in both languages, in English and in Indian.
There’s a handy Chrome extension called Language Learning with Netflix & YouTube . As its name suggests, it allows you to watch movies, series and YouTube videos with subtitles in two languages (English and Indian, for example).
For the extension to work, you need to use Netflix in your browser.
Other resources to practice English while having fun
Although films are a great resource for having fun while learning English , they are not the only option. Series and sitcoms, for example, offer other interesting advantages:
Learn English with series
- In the series , we always find the same characters and actors, which gives us the opportunity to get used to their accents and their way of speaking, which will allow you to understand them more easily. That’s not the case in movies that are challenging, because you have to get used to new people with each new title.
- The series are visual, which helps to learn vocabulary without translating it .
Learn English with sitcoms
- Emphasis on dialogue, with generally clear articulation.
- The most visual series and, therefore, the easiest to understand and follow.
- Even if you don’t understand all the words, you can still have fun with the situation.
- Episodes are only 20 minutes long, which is the perfect amount of time to stay focused without getting tired.
- It contains everyday vocabulary , common expressions that you will certainly use. These expressions often become Internet memes or common phrases in colloquial language.
- We hear the laughter after a joke , which prompts us to check what happened if we did not understand it out of curiosity.
Learn English with films, yes, but with the right method and with a meticulous choice of the resources with which we will work!
See as well
- Our online English course , Click & Speak , which teaches you 96% of everyday language. A combination of a solid course like ours and exposing yourself to English by watching movies will make you bilingual!
- Our section dedicated to English cinema : you will find series, films, sitcoms, British series, etc.
- Other resources to practice English while having fun : books, podcasts, comics, Internet memes… there’s something for everyone!