Learning English with movies can be very effective if we do it right. In this post, I’d like to share with you the ultimate guide to learning English with movies for beginners. If you’re an intermediate or advanced learner in English, you’d better take a look at our complete guide for these levels here for the best results.

Why should you learn English with movies

1.  Improve your communication skills

Learning English with movies can help to improve many of your English skills, especially your listening and speaking.

Listening skills

Your listening skills will show the best improvement using this method. The English spoken in movies is very natural. It’s very close to what you’ll hear if you speak with native English speakers.

For example, you may have already learned from the textbook or at school that English speakers greet each other by saying:

  • Good morning. How are you?
  • I am fine. Thank you. And you?

In fact, native speakers sometimes find these sentences unnatural. They tend to say:  

  • Hi. How is it going?
  • What’s up?

learning english with movies

Normally, actors and actresses tend to have proper pronunciation, which means you are practicing listening skills with one of the most understandable accents. And your pronunciation should be much more accurate than if you’re learning from a book if you do it right.

Speaking skills

If you can listen properly, you can speak properly. Your English communication skills will be gradually improved.

Have you ever found yourself repeating what the characters say, especially an impressive sentence? This is exactly what babies do from the first day of learning their mother tongue.

There are many actors and actresses who are insanely good at accent:  Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice 2005), Matthew Macfadyen (Mr. Darcy – Pride and Prejudice 2005) and Lee Pace (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day 2008). They can be gold models for you to practice speaking English.

Phim ảnh còn giúp bạn cải thiện kỹ năng nói (nguồn: Ethan Hoover via Unsplash)

2.  Widen your English vocabulary

English movies are a great source of vocabulary and idioms. You may need a total of 6000 – 7000 vocabularies to watch a normal movie. Isn’t it impressive?

Depending on what types of movies you choose to watch, the vocabularies can relate to daily activities or even more academic terms.

For example, movies with the theme about family and love like Friends (1994-2004), Modern Family (2009-present) are full of daily life vocabularies. While documentary films with more complicated topics like Planet Earth (2006) bring along vocabularies about nature and the environment. Political vocabularies can be found plenty in the TV series The Newsroom (2012-2014).

One of the most interesting things about learning English with movies is that you learn new words in context. By watching movies and paying attention to what the actors are saying, not only will you be able to learn new words, you will be able to understand how they are said as well.

A step-by-step guide to learning English on mobile phone

Step 1: Choose your favorite movie to watch

This probably sounds obvious, but if you choose a boring movie, you’ll be bored. And if you’re bored, it will be difficult to pay attention to the movie. Just find some movies that excite you and make you want to watch again and again.

Besides, as a beginner, you are advised to watch simple and easy movies such as the ones with familiar topics like family, friendship. Extra English, Friends, Up, Inside Out are great movies/ TV series to begin with.

If you’re watching movies on YouTube, you can use the YouTube Connect feature on eJOY English app to connect the movie with eJOY.

Step 2: Watch the movie with subtitles in your native language

After selecting a movie that you’d like to practice, you now can watch it to get the gist of the movie. It can be really challenging to watch a movie in the English language without subtitles. So here’s my recommendation. When you watch the movie the first time, just turn on the subtitles in your native language.

Step 3: Watch the movie in dual subtitles

After that, you can watch the movie again with English subtitles or dual subtitles (English and your native language).
If you’re watching the movie on eJOY app using YouTube Connect, you now can watch the movie in dual subtitles by holding the phone horizontally (if the movie has both English subtitles and the subtitles in your mother tongue). Remember to look up and save new words and phrases that interest you for later review.

Read more: How to look up on eJOY app

Step 4: Split the movie into parts and start off with the most interesting scenes

Split the movie into parts

Once you get the main idea of the movie, if you’re watching it on eJOY app, use the Cut A Clip feature to split the movie into smaller clips. When practicing your English with videos or movies, we always suggest working with a short video clip of no more than three minutes. A one minute piece is even better. Then choose a scene that you find simple and easy to start practicing.

Practice with 5 gamified steps

Practicing with 5 gamified steps will help you practice your listening and speaking skills in depth. Currently, eJOY offers 5 games including Active listening, Quiz, Write (Dictation), Shadowing, Roleplay. In the Roleplay game, just speak out the movie lines, and don’t worry about your speaking speed or if you’re unable to catch up with the actors/actresses. What matters most is that you’re speaking it out loud. Gradually, you’ll be able to speak faster and more fluently.

Note: Basic accounts will need to unlock videos with coins to practice with 5 learning steps. Each video requires 20 coins. If you don’t have enough coins to unlock videos then check in eJOY every day to get more coins. You can collect up to 60 coins for each daily check-in.

(1) Active Listening

Active listening is a combination of comprehension listening and bottom-up listening (listening for details or focused listening). This method of listening will focus on language forms at the word and sentence levels.

  • Listen to each dialogue carefully (you can listen to it as many times as you want)
  • Repeat the dialogue when the video is paused
  • Check your results when the subtitles are displayed

(2) Listening Quizzes

Quizzes will allow you to practice your active listening through word recognition and sentence completion

  • Listen to each dialogue line
  • Use the correct words/ phrases to complete the sentences 

(3) Do Shadowing

Based on the shadowing technique, we design the Shadow game to help you practice your speaking skills.

  • Listen to each dialogue line
  • Click on the record icon (the micro icon) to start recording your voice. 
  • Click again to stop recording 
  • Our latest speech recognition technology will analyze your speech and show you all of your pronunciation errors

(4) Write

Dictation is one of the best methods to improve your listening fluency. By transferring what you hear into text, your brain will have to work hard and fast to process new information, which means that you’ll need to work on both your listening and writing skills simultaneously.

  • Listen to each dialogue line and type what you hear
  • eJOY will show you your mistakes 

(5) Roleplay

The roleplay activity will help you speak English more fluently and naturally

  • Listen to a group of dialogue lines 
  • Click on the record icon (the micro icon) to start recording your voice within time limits (You can record your speech as many times as you want). 
  • View your dubbed video to check your speaking

Step 5: Watch the movie a few more times and review vocabulary

After studying with your favorite scenes, you should proceed to watch the movie a few more times to practice your listening skills. Try watching it with dual subtitles and then push yourself a little bit more by turning off the native language subtitles completely. 

On the following days, don’t forget to revise your vocabulary on eJOY eXtension Game Center (if you saved words with eJOY eXtensions, these words will be stored in your wordbooks. Just go to Game Center on eJOY eXtension and review words with games. You can also revise vocabulary in a certain wordbook simply by clicking on the wordbook you want to revise and choose Play Game on the left side of the wordbook).

A step-by-step guide to learning English on Laptop

Step 1: Choose a favorite movie

You should choose a movie that matches your interests and level so that you can enjoy it and are willing to watch it many times without feeling bored.

Step 2: Watch the movie in your native language 

This is quite a relaxing step. Watching the whole movie in your mother tongue will give you a big picture of the movie plot and characters.

Step 3: Watch the movie again with dual subtitles and save new words 

This step suggests you watch the entire movie in your native language and English so that you can get familiar with the English words that are used by the characters. Anytime you come across a word/ phrase that is useful for your English communication purpose, look it up and save it to your wordbook.

  • One single word may have varied definitions so remember to select only the most relevant definition to the movie context. Click on Add to save it to your wordbooks.
  • Don’t forget to check out other information of the word such as slangs, synonyms, antonyms to understand the word better (1)
  • To look up the meaning of a phrase or sentence: press and hold Alt (Window) or Option (Mac) and click on the words. To save it for further practice, select Advanced Translation -> Highlight -> Save (3)
  • Click on ‘Say it’  to see how the word is used in different video contexts (2)

Step 4: Study intensively with the easiest scenes

Now, seek back to a scene that you think is interesting and suitable for your beginner level. Watch it a few more times to make sure that you understand everything that’s said in this scene. If the characters speak too fast, slow it down by choosing Slow mode or adjusting the movie speed level (if there’s one).
Next, practice shadowing (repeating what you hear) and auto-pause listening until you’re able to speak out all of the movie lines in this scene with ease.
If you’re watching movies on Netflix or iFlix, remember to install eJOY eXtension in your web browser to access supporting features such as dual subtitles, seek forward/backward, loop, slow mode. Especially, with the upcoming eJOY eXtension version, you can also bookmark multiple parts of a movie so that you can quickly find the most important parts that you want to study intensively.

For those who watch movies on Netflix, don’t forget to take advantage of eJOY eXtension’s keyboard shortcuts for more convenience. These keyboard shortcuts enable you to navigate the movie without touching your mouse.

  1. Enable eJOY eXtension on Netflix
  2. A – Back to the previous dialogue line
  3. D – Move to the following dialogue line
  4. E – Turn on/ off subtitles
  5. Rightwards arrow – Seek forward 10 seconds
  6. Leftwards arrow – Seek backward 10 seconds
  7. Space – Pause/ Play

Step 5: Watch the movie a few more times and review vocabulary

After studying with your favorite scenes, you should proceed to watch the movie a few more times to practice your listening skills. Try watching it with dual subtitles and then push yourself a little bit more by turning off the native language subtitles completely.
On the following days, don’t forget to revise your vocabulary on eJOY eXtension Game Center (if you saved words with eJOY eXtensions, these words will be stored in your wordbooks. Just go to Game Center on eJOY eXtension and review words with games. You can also revise vocabulary in a certain wordbook simply by clicking on the wordbook you want to revise and choose Play Game on the left side of the wordbook).

Game Center

Recommended movies in English that are perfect for beginners

1 Friends

With frequently used English vocabulary and daily-life dialogues, “Friends” is a really suitable movie for beginners not only to learn English but also to learn more about America’s society.

2 How I met your mother? 

The series is about Ted Mosby recounting to his children about the events that led him to meet their mother. Like “Friends”, “How I met your mother” is an ideal series for you to learn English and to have more insight about the American culture.

3 The Big Bang Theory 

The series revolves around the daily life of 4 science nerds who spend all of their time studying science and hence, they know nothing about socializing.

4 Breakfast at Tiffany’s 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is a classic film about Holly, a beautiful country girl who wishes to marry a rich husband to change her life. However, things changed when Holly met and fell in love with the poor young writer Paul Varjak.

5 Titanic

The movie is about the romantic yet tragic love story between Jack and Rose, two lovers from two different social classes, a penniless artist and a young lady from a noble family.

6 The Hangover 

“The Hangover” will teach you a load of slang words and colloquial expressions that are commonly used by native speakers.

7 Forrest Gump 

This movie is perfect for beginners to learn English because of its slow speech (due to Forrest Gump’s mental problem) and simple vocabulary.

8 Home Alone 

With hilarious scenes, slow and clear speech, “Home Alone” is a good choice for you to learn English and also entertain yourself.

9 10 things I hate about you  

This teenage romantic comedy has anything you would expect of. Its funny, lively, and enjoyable, especially the dialogues are quite slow and clear.

10 Mean Girls 

The movie is famous among teen audiences for dissecting the true American high school society. Lines of the movie characters are not too fast, not too slow, enough for you to follow.

To learn more about movies for beginners, check out our blog post Top 15 Must-watch English Movies for Beginners.

So that’s the step-by-step guide to learning English with movies for beginners. And if you have any questions regarding this guide, leave us a comment below. Thank you and happy learning!