This probably sounds obvious, but if you choose a boring movie, you’ll bored. And if you’re bored, it will be difficult to pay attention…for more than one and a half hours!
I remember when I was a child, I had to watch hours and hours of really old movies like “Singing in the Rain”, “Mary Poppins” to learn English. If you don’t know these films – you’re welcome to check them up – they’re really old! I didn’t exactly hate them, but I didn’t feel excited at all when watching these films.
And because of that, I highly recommend you choose movies you like. To do this, you can go to a website called , which is a website with many great critics and reviews on many tens of thousands of movies.
For example, for beginners in English, I usually recommend you learn English through animations. The main reason is because the English is usually very friendly, nice and easy to understand.
On the other hand, if you try to watch something like “Romeo and Juliet”, you will be very confused. Shakespearian English (which is English used many centuries ago) is very difficult to understand on screen, for advanced English learners.
Maybe I’ll add point 3.5 too – choose a film with subtitles! So when you hear a word you’re interested in, check it up! Because you went through the trouble to understand it…you’ll be able to remember that word for a long time too!
Some times, you might hear something cool in the movie. For example, some short phrases, or slang like, “hell yeah!”, or “sure thing”, or “you betcha!” that are commonly used in English. If you like how it sounds, it really helps to repeat it! After saying it out loud a while, you will be able to remember it for a longer time! It’s a great and enjoyable exercise – one of my personal favourites.
I know it can be really challenging to watch a film in a foreign language without subtitles. So here’s my recommendation. When you watch a film the first time, just turn on subtitles. But if you get the chance to watch it a second time, try turning off subtitles.
This way, you already know the story from the first time you watched it. And this time, you can try listening to some individual words that you might have checked up last time. Or you might try to see how much you can understand the film without subtitles.
This is actually a video player I recommend for watching films on your computer. This is one of my tools. Most people use it just to watch movies, but I use it a little differently. (And if you don’t have it, you can download VLC player, it’s free.)
Here’s what I do – if you download a movie online, and you play it, you know how you don’t understand English sometimes? VLC Player allows you to play back movies at half speed or quarter speed. So if there are parts you don’t understand, you can play these back at a slower speed and try again! It’s very helpful to practice your listening.
Last of all, remember what we said in the start? Watching movies should be fun…so if you miss a word, a phrase, or even many sentences, that’s okay! Just follow along the subtitles and learn that way. Don’t make yourself feel bad…watching films is supposed to be fun!
I’ll admit – while learning English can be fun, there are a few disadvantages too. Here’s a few problems you may run into:
1. This is pretty rare nowadays. But if you watch a film without subtitles, it can be difficult to understand what’s going on.
2. It can take you many times to understand something said on screen, because sometimes, the film might be easy. But at other times, it might be hard to understand. (As an example, characters who play “professors” in films can be difficult to understand. They use some difficult words, which you may have never heard of before.)
3. For every word you don’t know, you might want to look it up in the dictionary. While it’s a lot faster to check up words nowadays on our phones, it can be annoying to keep pausing and checking up words.
4. It can be difficult to keep track of what you’ve learnt, because it takes time and effort to take notes, and we want to have an enjoyable experience in watching the movie, without having to be interrupted every minute to write down a word!
After a week, or a month, or even three months, you might forget what you’ve learnt! And because you didn’t jot down notes, you can’t really test yourself either.