When it comes to learning English, the more time you spend exposed to the language the better. Not only will watching movies get you familiar with different accents, you’ll also get an incredible insight into English-speaking culture from around the world. From immersing yourself in 19th Century Britain to experiencing life in suburban California, movies give you a chance to live the language as it’s spoken in real life.
10 Movies for Learning English
1. Forest Gump
Starring the incredible Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump tells the tale of a man with low IQ who has lived an extraordinary life. The whole film is narrated by Forrest, who speaks with a ‘Southern Drawl’ (accent from the South of the United States) that is slow, easy to understand and perfect for English beginners.
2. Harry Potter
You’re probably already familiar with the story of Harry Potter, so if you’re new to watching films in English then Harry Potter is a great place to start. With the first two films made for young audiences, the dialogue is slow and easy to understand. Just be aware that a lot of the magic vocabulary varies from country to country so it may be worth checking out this awesome Harry Potter vocab list.
3. When Harry met Sally
When Harry Met Sally is a classic American rom-com that tells the story of two friends and their growing relationship. Although the 1989 storyline might be a little dated (old-fashioned) now, the film is full of catchphrases (well known phrases) that have become iconic in modern American culture. The film begins with a long conversation between the two characters over a lengthy car journey, providing you with plenty of dialogue to practise your listening skills.
4. Four Weddings and a Funeral
Not sure whether you want a British or American accent? Four Weddings and a Funeral gives you the best of both! In a classic film set over the course of four weddings (and a funeral, obviously) Hugh Grant plays an awkward British wedding guest who falls for Andie Mcdowell, a beautiful American woman. Four Weddings gives you a chance to learn the best British slang and compare the two accents with this heartwarming movie.
5. Little Women
One of the most successful movies of 2019, Little Women is a great choice for language learners because of its clear dialogue and charming storyline. The film tells the story of four sisters living during the American Civil War and is of particular interest to fans of American history. Once you’re familiar with the film, you can also have a go reading the novel it's based on!
6. Great Gatsby
A modern interpretation of the classic American novel, Bazz Lurham’s Great Gatsby is perfect for English language learners who want to learn more about 1920s America. With slow and somber dialogue as well as an incredible soundtrack, this movie will keep any English language learner interested.
7. The Social Network
The story behind the world’s most popular Social Media Channel is definitely one worth learning about! This captivating movie traces Mark Zuckerberg’s life from college student to entrepreneur and is perfect for practising legal and technical vocabulary.
Hilarious, endearing and easy to understand, Juno is the perfect film for students who prefer independent films to big Hollywood blockbusters (commercially successful films). This movie also makes a great talking point for conversation class. Try watching it in a group and asking each other: ‘What would you do if you were in Juno’s situation?’’
9. The Imitation Game
The moving story of an English war-hero who ended up being persecuted for his sexuality, the Imitation Game gives learners the chance to discover an untold story in British history. The language spoken in the film is a perfect example of the ‘Queen’s English’ with clear pronunciation and easy to understand dialogue.
The delightful story of a girl searching for her sister, Frozen is an immensely popular Disney movie that’s super simple to understand. Yes it may be a kid’s movie, but if you’re new to learning English then watching children’s films is the perfect starting point. With simple dialogue and catchy theme songs, kids’ films are a great introduction to English movies.
Tips for Learning English with Movies
1. The shorter the better
Choose shorter films so you don’t become overwhelmed with new vocabulary and feel tempted to stop watching halfway through.
2. Use English subtitles
Watching the movie with English subtitles, rather than subtitles in your own language means you'll be reading and listening to new vocabulary at the same time. This makes it much easier for you to understand new words and get to know the plot of the film.
3. Avoid pausing the movie to look up words
Try not to pause and look up words you don’t understand, as this will stop you from enjoying the plot. Instead, try and work out the word’s meaning from context- you might find you learn more than you think!
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