6 tips on how to learn English from movies

Having access to hundreds of TV channels, a Netflix account, uloz.to, YouTube, and other web portals has led us to believe that the movies are still king! The lovers of good movies and TV series have a clear idea where to look for “quality material.” Still, it can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

There are countless possibilities, but choosing the right one is an art in itself. This is even more important when it comes to movies and series in English. For a chosen title to “grab your heart,” it needs to take you into the story — and the level of English must match your own. How can we learn English from movies?

  • A series is better than a movie

If you would like to know how to learn English from movies, you might wonder whether movies or series are better for you. A series gives you space to get used to its themes and the actors’ voices, their accents, vocabulary. When you know the characters, it is easier to remember the slang they use, and to deduce what they might say in specific situations. Thanks to the regularity and dramatic composition typical of the series, you will naturally look forward to the next episode.

  • Watch one episode several times

If you have a problem with comprehension, try watching the same episode several times. As Zig Ziglar expanded on the ancient proverb, “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.” In other words, practice makes perfect. When you listen to and watch the same episode of the series again, your brain gets the chance to review and fine-tune your listening skills.

In a movie, there are lot more stimuli that keep you on the edge of your seat. You need to concentrate more to understand it on the first try. Your brain does not have as much time to remember new words and sentences as when watching a series.

  • Keep a diary of what you have seen.

After watching a movie or part of a series, it is a great idea to write down what you have seen on paper. It is even better to do it by hand rather than typing on a computer. When you write by hand, you train your muscle memory and remember new words more easily than when typing on a laptop.

This will keep you focused and make it easier to recall new vocabulary. You should tell the story in your own words or come up with your own extra activities. Ask yourself questions like these: What would I draw attention to in the movie or the series? What would deserve criticism?

  • Turn subtitles off gradually

When you first start watching movies and series, keep the subtitles on. Use them to get to know the story and understand it better. Once you feel more grounded, turn the subtitles off.

  • Audio is better for beginners 

Finding really good English movies for beginners that feature A1 or A2 vocabulary can be challenging. Even fairy tales can be too hard at times. If you’re a beginner, try Penguin audio books with simplified vocabulary. There is also an American resource, Starfall.com, which offers cleverly made fairy tales. After you click on a sentence in your fairy tale, a voice from the web reads it to you. Since movies with simple English are not easy to find, we also recommend that beginners listen to recordings from a CD or an e-book.

  • Love TEDx videos

They are enlightening and inspiring, easy-to-access, and high-quality – with subtitles and transcripts in multiple languages. When you watch a TEDx talk, you hear colloquial English and at the same time you read the subtitles or transcript. In addition, you choose the topics that interest you. If you watch videos to improve your English and expand your vocabulary, try watching the video as many times as you can until you hear and understand every word. After watching, say what the talk is about in your own words and write it down in ten sentences.

What do we love to watch at The Bridge?

KLAUDIA BEDNÁROVÁ, director of The Bridge

The Iron Lady  (Netflix)

Why? The British politician Margaret Thatcher is brilliantly portrayed by Meryl Streep. For this role, she received an Oscar and other awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role.  This great film shows a woman’s strength to do (almost) everything.

Ocean’s 8 

Why? This story of female robbers who plan a jewel heist teaches us that it is always good to have a back-up plan: D.

KATKA KVETKOVÁ, front – desk manager

Black Mirror (Netflix TV Series)

Why? This great science fiction series is a perfect demonstration of what can happen when technology gets out of control. The series forces us to think about both the negative and positive impact of technology.

Big Mouth (Netflix TV Series)

Why? This cartoon series about Americans growing up is a funny, relaxing TV show that makes you giggle and laugh.

ANNA ZOZULIA, front-desk manager

Green Mile

Why? Steven King is a fantastic author, and the movie is even better than the book. It shows us that you can find a solution even in the most catastrophic situation. 

LUCIA, HR manager

Better Call Saul (Netflix TV Series)

Why? This story of a lawyer-turned-criminal uses excellent, simple English that you will understand even at lower levels. 

RADKA VAJGELOVÁ, course manager

Olive Kitteridge

Why?  Because it is a super relaxing four-part mini-series. Olive is a very original math teacher living in a small town where everyone knows everyone. The series is full of situational comedy that imitates our everyday reality.

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