Learning English With Movies
The most fun way to learn English without a doubt is through movies. Many people take this simply activity for granted, simply because they don’t know how to activate captions or because they are too afraid of technology.
Does it really work?
It really does! And it does more for your learning than many other things that are considered essential. Why? Well, because you can learn from those little cultural aspects: slang, proverbs, idioms and phrasal verbs that simple learning in your own country won’t teach you. Movies are full of Urban language and terms that will help you during your travels and will get you thinking on how the language is used for colloquial expressions.
Reasons why learning English through movies really works.
- You will listen to real English as it is used everyday, not formal, rigid and specific English. During your ESL class what you usually reply to your teacher when asking “How are you” is a very robotic “Fine thank you, and you?” During a movie you will be able to compare replies to this basic question and will get a variety such as: “I’m good,” “not so bad,” “could be better” etc.
You will acquaint yourself to the natural flow of speech in movies and realize that you don’t have to be so rigid yourself.
- Learning in context means that you will associate language with happenings and real stituations. Sometimes when we read textbooks we have trouble linking the words to meaningful events. In movies this content is immediately associated to the action displayed in the film.
At school we usually study vocabulary lists and have trouble remembering them since they stand devoid of content; this is because there is no immediate action to attach them to.
Say that you learn the new word “eager”, teacher tells you what it means with a funny performance and body language, you manage to at least “know” it then and there. But after a while you forget; the only thing that made you remember the word was a moment’s necessity and the funny performance of your well-intentioned teacher. Now, while that was forgettable, it is not the same with films, since the whole progression of a scene is tied to the words used to reference specific things. Say the main characters tells a secondary character: “tomorrow’s the race, aren’t you excited?” the secondary character replies, “I’m eager!” You immediately associate this reply to the facial expression of the character and the whole progressive sequence of the film, it is magic!
- Association of past, present and future events In film work better than a tenses class.
One of the problems with practicing tenses in an English class is that the verbs in past tense have no story or progression to be attached to. This is not the case when watching a movie, because you can start thinking on verbs to talk about past events during the film. If you engage in a review, you will have a better idea of how to place verbs in the different tenses, and the powerful images the film instills in your head will make the machanics of verb attachment seamless and natural.
- The why and the how. We know why we say things and the reasons behind our expressions. Yet living in a different non-English-Speaking country will not acquaint us very much with the “how”. Imagine your first day in Las Vegas, you are lucky enough to win one million dollars. You can’t hold your emotion and yell “I’m glad!!!” People look at you as if you were from another planet and wonder why you’re saying you’re glad and not saying “I can’t believe it!” or “I’m gonna die!” or maybe some not very refined language. Movies are great in showing the how to every why and get us in tune with our expressions.
- Choose a movie you really want to see or that you liked in the past. This will at least guarantee you are entertained and not frustrated with your task of understanding the captions. In addition, familiarity and expectation for a film will help you relate language.
- Choose movies according to your English level. Be gradual in your learning process and don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t feel silly when you find yourself watching cartoons. Don’t go way over your head with some Shakespeare or the Odyssey.
- Take notes and write down difficult words or expressions and make a vocabulary bank. Here’s a snapshot of how I make my own vocabulary banks:
- Have a dictionary at hand. Though many of the words or common expressions you learn will find their way easily into your head, it is always a good idea to have a dictionary at hand. Learn some synonyms and antonyms for a better grasp of the words.
- Remember, don’t be too hard on yourself. You might miss many words or fail to understand many of the expressions you hear. But hey! Practice makes the master, right? So just focus on those words you can remember and try to use them even in monologue, speaking to yourself and repeating them during situations where you would typically use the expression in your original language.
. Check up on your words, include them in day to day conversations or use the monologue technique.
. Try without subtitles. I know it might sound crazy, but the best way to test yourself and your hearing ability is to play the movies you have seen subtitled, without them. This will encourage you to focus, it will make you happy to recognize words and know how they are spelled.
. I have selected a wonderful series from the BBC England for you to watch. It is full of humor, basic English and a great and easy progression into the language. I will leave the link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k89GF-i_Eyg&list=PLdYSWqTrWP2jyqWIdjsATbrb11uN_BMrF