5 ways films can help improve your English

Barry_Norman_Top_49_filmsWe all love watching movies and one of the great things about them is how they can help us improve a language. There are all sort of films out there that can help improve your English, from kids cartoons to more complicated films like thrillers and political movies. 


I’m sure a lot of you know some famous movie quotes such as “Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you’re gonna get.”, “ET phone home.” and “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” Some of those quotes are known all around the world and even though people may not understand the whole film, they remember some of the famous lines. And remembering is learning! 


Here are 5 ways films can help improve your English: 


1 – Listening Skills – movies are great to try and understand the different english accents. Listening to native speakers is a great way to learn how we use intonation and word stress in sentences. The great things about movies these days is that they all have subtitles so while you are listening, you can also read to help you understand exactly what they are saying. Choose the film that is right level for you though. If you are an intermediate student, watch a comedy for example. More advanced students can watch more complicated films such as thrillers. 


2 – Speaking Skills – maybe you are not speaking English while watching the movie but listening to native speakers will really help you with your speaking skills. You will learn new vocabulary which you can try to use after when talking to friends. You can also try to imitate accents and intonation from films you have watched. 


3 – Vocabulary – Watching movies is a great way to learn more vocabulary, especially idiomatic expressions and slang. When you are watching a film, put the subtitles on (in English of course!) and every time there is a new word or expression, pause the film and use a dictionary or the internet to find the meaning. This is a long process but you will learn so much new vocabulary this way! 


4 – Pronunciation – It is very difficult to speak English like a native speaker and it can take years and years to learn. The best way to improve your pronunciation is of course to go and live in the UK or the US but that is not always possible. The next best thing is movies! Choose a 5 or 10 minute dialogue from a movie you love and study it!! Put the subtitles on, listen to the dialogue and then try to speak in the same way. A great way to do this is to record your voice then compare it with the film. It takes a long time but it’s a such a good way to improve your pronunciation. 


5 – Grammar – Watching movies is great fun and it will improve your grammar. While you are watching a film you are not studying grammar but you are listening to native speakers use grammar. The more you listen the more you will improve your grammar. 


A lot of students tell me they watch a lot of movies in English but don’t feel like they improve their language skills. This is because they watch movies without taking the time to try and learn. Yes movies should be relaxing and they are but if you want to improve your English you need to spend time watching the movie again and again. Pause the film while watching it, study the language, try to speak in the same way! Don’t understand what someone says? Then rewind and listen again. Don’t understand a word? Then pause and use you dictionary. 


Learning a language takes time so make sure you enjoy it! 

Jake has been helping people learn English for over 10 years. He believes that everyone should access to quality and affordable education. He worked in Europe and the Middle East as a freelance corporate language trainer before opening his own institute in Dubai in 2013.

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