Many people successfully learn English with movies, and the great thing about it is that you’re learning real English that is used in daily life by native speakers. In this post, I’d like to share with you the ultimate guide to learning English with movies for intermediate and advanced learners. If you’re a beginner in English, you’d better take a look at our guide for beginners here for the best results. 

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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.  Broaden 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 new words always show up with their 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. It’s better to select a movie that matches your current English level and target as well. 

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 in dual subtitles

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 dual subtitles (subtitles in your native language and in English). 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 2 subtitles). 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 3: Split the movie into parts and practice with your most favorite ones

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 few favorite scenes 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, you should try your best to practice sound reduction, connected speech and elision to catch up with the characters’ speaking speed. Don’t forget to imitate the way the characters use the language. 

Learning steps

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.

Choose any game to begin with. Below is our suggestion: 

(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). Don’t forget to pay close attention to different aspects of connected speech such as assimilations, elisions, and linking…to catch up with the speaker. Intonation is also very important. Never underestimate the importance of intonation
  • View your dubbed video to check your speaking

Step 4: Watch the movie again and review vocabulary

After practicing the previous steps, you should watch the movie again with English subtitles to see if you can understand what the characters are saying and expressing. Then spend some time reviewing your saved vocabulary in Game Center.

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 dual subtitles 

At the Intermediate level, you might feel much more confident with your listening skills. You don’t need to watch the movie in your native language. Just start off by watching it in dual subtitles. You will save a lot of time. 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 3: Practice with your favorite scenes

Pick out some scenes that you find interesting to study. You will have to practice with each scene at a time. Just watch the scene a few times and use the loop and slow feature if you need to until you remember all of the transcripts.

  • In this step, you will practice your listening and speaking skills by imitating the way the actors speak. You will need to pause the movie, back to the previous subtitle line, move to the next one. With each dialogue line, you will need to pause and repeat it. Remember to use eJOY eXtension to check word pronunciation and IPA whenever necessary.
  • Once you become more confident, try turning the subtitle off and listen to the dialogue. And then you turn it on again to check.

Extra tips for better results

  • Try to IMITATE the mouth position, accent, intonation and even facial expression of the characters. You can also record your own voice and compare the result with the original ones. Spend as much time as possible on this step until you can speak at the same speed as the characters.
  • You can also do dictation if you have more time. Just listen to each dialogue line and write down what you heard. After that, turn the subtitle on to check.
  • eJOY will soon develop more new functions to help you learn English on Netflix more conveniently such as bilingual subtitles, auto-pause, looping, and other keyboard shortcuts.

If you’re watching the movie 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

We’re done with the movie. Now what? Put it aside and move on to the new one? It’s highly recommended that you watch the movie a few more times before jumping to another movie. At this step, you should watch the movie with English subtitles only and see how much of it you can understand. And don’t forget to revise all the vocabulary learned from the movie. With the application of the latest spaced repetition algorithm, eJOY eXtension will help you bring all of the vocabularies to your long-term memory. All you need to do is access eJOY’s Game Center on Chrome and play games. If you want to revise your phrase list, just click on Phrasebook in your wordbook screen and choose Play Game to start reviewing. 

learning english with movies

Learn English through movies with eJOY now

Must-Watch Movies For Intermediate Learners 

1 How I Met Your Mother (2005 – 2014)

How I Met Your Mother is a US TV show with 9 seasons and 208 episodes in total. The show is about the main character – Ted Mosby, who was telling his kids the story of how he met their mother.

2 The Big Bang Theory (2007 – 2019)

The series has a name relating to science but actually revolves around the life, friendship, and love of a group of four “nerds” with a passion for science – Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, Raj.

3 The Boy In Striped Pyjamas (2008)

Based on the famous novel with the same name of Irish author John Boyne in 2008, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a subtle yet haunting movie depicting the crime of Nazism through the naive eye of a young boy.

4 The King’s Speech (2010)

The movie uses a diverse vocabulary and idiom system, especially in the field of linguistics. Besides, the content of the movie also provides many tips to speak English fluently which will certainly be helpful for those in the Intermediate level looking to speak English more confidently.

5 Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013)

The adventure in this unprecedented story of Oz takes place many years before The Wizard of Oz – the story once very familiar to fans of the magical world of witches.

6 About Time (2013)

At the New Year’s Eve party, Tim’s father introduced to him the family’s hereditary ability: being able to travel through time. Surprised and amused, Tim decided to use this ability to change his life, making it better by looking for a girlfriend himself. As a result, he found his true love but would his ability help Tim to successfully win her heart?

7 Orange Is The New Black (2013 – 2019)

Adapted from the memoir “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison” by Piper Kerman, this series is about Piper Chapman, a woman who has everything: home, work, and a fiancé. Suddenly one day she had to go to jail for being involved in drug trafficking from 10 years ago with her former lesbian lover. What will Piper have to do to survive in prison, as well as keep her love?

To find out more movies for Intermediate levels, read our blog post Top 12 Must-Watch Movies For Intermediate Learners.

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