We all know the effectiveness of learning English with movies but do you think you know how to make the most out of it? When it comes to using movies as your learning materials, most people find it struggling to adopt a learning approach that works best for them. Other people don’t have any clue about what films they should watch. In this post, we’re going to help you deal with these problems to get the best possible results when you learn English with movies.
Now, let’s get right into it, shall we?
Learn English with movies – Which type of learners are you?
“Super lazy” type
Not everyone is willing to learn English while enjoying their favorite movies. If you’re such a person who never wants English learning to disrupt your relaxing time then you might be thinking learning English with movies isn’t the right one for you. However, good news is that your English can somewhat be improved just by watching movies. When watching films, you’ll get exposed to the English language being used in a very natural way. Some parts may be spoken too fast for you to understand but it will be a perfect way for you to get used to hearing native speakers talk to each other. Believe me, your English Listening skills will not get better overnight but you’ll see your improvement over time.
So for the “super lazy” type, the best method is to watch the movie as many times as possible (at least twice). You don’t need to think about English learning while watching the movie. Just focus on the movie itself and relax. This so-called passive learning method will help your ears get familiar with English sounds with little to no effort.
Do you know that repetition is the mother of skill? Repetition will help to retain what you hear in the long-term memory. This learning is super easy, don’t you think?
“Pretty lazy” type
“Pretty lazy” type means you watch movies with a little intention of practicing your English. Spending some hours learning English seems like a lot of work for you but you’re willing to put half an hour sessions for it if you have time.. The learning approach for this type is quite simple, and yet effective. If you do it right, you will surely improve your listening and speaking skills.
So here is the learning method for the pretty lazy type:
- Watch your favorite movie and repeat any interesting dialogue out loud. Try to imitate the way the actors/ actresses say it.
- Watch again your favorite scene, and practice shadowing (repeating the actors/ actresses).
More details about how to study will be presented in the next section.
If you’re serious with your English learning and choose watching movies as part of your learning journey, you may be the “hard-working” type. Being “hard-working” means you have to and are willing to put great effort into your learning. Movies become your ultimate learning materials. To get the best results, you’re encouraged to divide the movie into small parts and practice intensively with each part. Therefore, people with “hard-working” type are expected to see significant improvement in their listening, speaking and vocabulary within a relatively short period of time.
You’ll need to:
- Watch the movie and get the gist of the movie
- Intensively study each divided part (especially the most important ones which are of your favorites or include interesting, helpful phrases and sentences).
The ultimate guide to learning English through movies
Foundational principles in learning English with movies
Basically, whichever learning type you are, there are some key principles that you need to follow to get the most out of this learning method:
- Watch what you love: You should choose the movies that you find interesting and are willing to watch it again and again. They can be ones with great twists and turns or ones in which your favorite actor stars.
- Study with short divided parts: Splitting the entire movie into small parts to study is a good way to go. You’ll be able to focus better and never get bored.
- Practice with the selected clips many times and review your vocabulary on a regular basis: As mentioned above, repetition is essential when it comes to learning new languages. The more you repeat practicing with the clips, the more fluent your English will become. Besides, you also need to review your saved words and phrases from the movie to bring them into your long-term memory. People are likely to forget 90% of what they learned in a matter of hours. In order to use English in a natural and fluent way, you should spend some time reviewing vocabulary.
For laptop/ computer users
Step 1: Choose a movie of your choice
Being a beginner, you are advised to watch simple and easy movies such as the ones with familiar topics like family, friendship.
Step 2: Watch the movie in your native language
Watching the movie in your native language will help you get the plot of the movie before doing everything else.
Step 3: Watch the movie again with English subtitles or dual subtitles (English and your native language)
This time, use eJOY eXtension to look up new words or phrases that you encounter. And don’t forget to save them to your word books for later practice.
Step 4: Start off with the easiest, yet most interesting scene
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.
Step 5: Watch the movies multiple 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).
Read more: How to Play Games on eJOY eXtension
For mobile users
Step 1: Select a simple, easy movie on Youtube
As a beginner, you should start off with the most simple movies. Movies about lifestyle, family, friendship are highly recommended. Here is a list of recommended movies for beginners
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. You’d better create different word books for different movies. This will help you easily review and keep track of your vocabulary.
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.
Step 4: Study intensively with the easiest scenes
It’s time for you to study seriously. This step requires the most amount of effort and is pretty challenging for some people (that’s why the “super lazy” and “pretty lazy” types skip it). You’ll need to study the selected scenes intensively until you’re really fluent. If you watch the movie on YouTube, you can use YouTube Connect on eJOY English app to connect the movie to eJOY. This will allow you to access a lot of useful features such as Cut a Clip and 5 Gamified 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.
Step 5: Watch the movie a few more times and review vocabulary
Just like the method for laptop users, you should watch the movie again for some more times to review what you’ve learned. You can challenge yourself a bit by turning off the native language subtitles and watching the movie in English subtitles only.
In addition, vocabulary review is very important. Spaced repetition review will help you move the vocabularies into long-term memory. and bring them to life. You can go to the Game Center on the app to revise the words. If you’d like to review a certain wordbook, tap on Wordbank, choose the wordbook, tap (+) and start playing games to revise the wordbook.
For laptop users
Step 1: Choose a favorite 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.
Step 2: Watch the movie with dual subtitles (English and your native language)
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 much 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.
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. And then, practice shadowing and auto-pause.
Step 4: Watch the entire movie again and review vocabulary
At this step, you should watch the movie with English subtitles only and see how much of it you can understand. Don’t forget to revise your saved words/ phrases/ sentences to master them.
For mobile users
Step 1: Choose a favorite movie to watch
Open eJOY English app and tap on “YouTube Connect” on the Home screen. On the YouTube Connect screen, you can search for a movie of your choice by typing in its name or keyword. Make sure the movie has captions, not the auto-generated ones.
Step 2: Watch the movie in dual subtitles and look up new words
Got your favorite movie, now what? Convert it to eJOY and start watching it with dual subtitles to have a general idea of what the movie is about. Remember to look up and save new words/ phrases to your wordbooks to review them later.
Step 3: Practice with your most favorite scenes
Use the Cut A Clip feature, choose the start time and end time and then press Cut and Save. Now is the time to study the selected scenes intensively with 5 gamified steps on eJOY App. 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.
Step 4: Watch the movie in English 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 detailed plan to learn English with movies
Here are our detailed plans to learn English with movies for different purposes and levels. You don’t necessarily need to follow these plans. They are just our suggestions. You’d better try out different plans to find out which one works best for you.
A detailed plan for beginners
If your English is at the beginner or elementary level, you should watch short and simple movies to avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed out. We suggest you spend around 1-3 hours to practice with each movie, depending on your learning purpose and target.
Starting is the most difficult part of any task. Don’t worry, the first step is always the hardest—it’ll get easier after that. You may need from 3 to 6 months to be familiar with English speaking and listening. Once you get over this phase, the following ones will be much easier.
Here is our suggested plan:
- Select a short and simple movie series to start learning. Extra English is a great one to begin with because it’s made specifically for English learners (not English speakers). Each episode is very funny and lasts only 20 minutes so it won’t be so much a challenge for you.
- Spend around 1-2 hours practicing with the movie following the steps mentioned in the part 2
- Spend around 1 hour reviewing the saved words
- Spend 1-2 hours listening to the most favorite parts of the movie/ tv series while you’re carrying out your daily tasks like washing the dishes, doing exercises, cleaning,…
Setting goals is essential to your English learning. It gets you more focused and motivated. Your daily goal can be practicing with a 20-minute episode… Depending on your learning type, you can choose a learning method that best suits you. If you’re super lazy, you can watch each episode a few times, if you are pretty lazy, you can spend some more time practicing with one favorite scene. And if you’re hard-working, you may want to study intensively every scene of the episode.
Not sure how to write down your goals? Here is our sample:
Goal Statement: Day […] practice with  episode of […]
“ By 31/6/2020, finish practicing with 12 episodes, season 1 of Extra English.”
Reward yourself each time you’ve achieved a goal. You should get it framed and put it somewhere prominent so that you can see it every day.
A detailed plan for intermediate and advanced learners
The plan for intermediate and advanced learners are basically similar to the plan for beginners. However, for intermediate and advanced learners, you mainly practice with your favorite content. Depending on your timetable and goals, you can spend around 30 minutes to 3 hours each day learning English with movies. The learning approach for intermediate and advanced learners are mentioned in the previous section.
Here is our suggested plan:
- Make a list of your favorite movies that you want to watch and learn with. Then set goals for each movie. If you don’t know which movies to begin with, check out our movie recommendation list below.
- Spend 20 minutes to 1 hour studying intensively with a favorite scene.
- Spend 10-15 minutes reviewing your vocabulary
- Spend 30 minutes to 1 hour listening passively to the movie while you’re doing other activities like washing the dishes, doing exercises,…
At this stage, you may want to set a target of completing a tv series. Write down your goals on paper and put it somewhere you continue to see it .
Here is our goal sample:
Goal Statement: Day […] complete […] episodes of […]
“By 31/6/2020, Complete 13 episodes of season 1 of The Big Bang Theory.
A detailed plan for IELTS takers
If you’re about to take the IELTS examination, you may want to watch the movies on the topics that are not only of your interest but also are frequently used in IELTS such as environment, science and technology, education,…
Watching movies on a wide range of topics will help to provide you with good ideas, information, content for your IELTS exam.
- If your exam is coming soon: You’d better focus on your exam techniques and practice tests. You can think of watching movies as a way to relax and get new ideas. It’s advisable that you study with movies once a week on the weekends. And then you can spend the other days listening to the previously learned movies while carrying out other tasks.
- If you’re improving your general English skills: Learning English with movies will help to broaden your vocabulary, develop your listening skills, and get new ideas for your speaking and writing test. First, you’ll need to identify your strengths and weaknesses to allocate your study time wisely. For example, if you’re not good at listening and reading, you can spend 1,5 hours each day practicing English with movies, 1-hour reading news, books, and 1 hour for the other skills (writing and speaking).
A detailed plan for parents homeschooling kids
Many parents are looking for a detailed plan for their kids so we include a plan so that kids can learn English with their parents effectively.
- Choose a suitable movie: Different kids have different tastes in movies, depending on their gender, age, and personality. Parents should choose the movies that they really love so that your kids won’t get bored watching them over and over again.
- Select the scenes that kids find most interesting: It’s better to select less than 3-minute scenes. Short videos keep kids’ attention.
- Do role-play with your kids: When kids remember all of the movie lines, you should spend some time doing role-play with them. This exercise will help kids absorb and use the language in a much more natural way.
You can check out our list of movies for kids and then make a list of your own. However, as a parent, you should respect your kid’s interest. If there is any movie on the list that your kid doesn’t like, cross it off and find other alternatives.
Where to learn English with movies?
1. Netflix, iFlix, Amazon
- Netflix: Netflix is an American media-services. Its content focuses on movies and TV shows. Now, Netflix is available in many countries and offers its users a great source of updated movies with subtitles. You can watch movies on Netflix and look for new words’ meanings using eJOY eXtension.
- iflix: Although its source of movies is not as huge as Netflix, iflix is still a good choice for movie lovers because of its lower cost. Considered as “Netflix of developing countries”, iflix is headquartered in Malaysia.
- Amazon Prime Video: is a video streaming service developed by Amazon. It offers a huge library of movies and TV shows across every category, from romantic comedies to timeless classics.
Currently, you can use eJOY eXtension on these websites to look up and save new words.
2. YouTube or YouTube Connect on eJOY
The world’s most popular source of video including movie scenes, of course, YouTube is truly a wonderful site to learn English. eJOY is one of the first apps to help you look up words while watching YouTube Videos. (It’s quite challenging to find full movies with dual subtitles on YouTube, though).
The ultimate movie recommendation list for English learners
- Extra English: Extra English is the story of Bridget and Annie, Hector and Nick, four good-looking 19–22 years old who are thrown together to play out their romances, life crises, and contrasting interests in a familiar sitcom setting. The program features lively, colloquial English dialogue. The characters speak naturally, but clearly with constant repetition and strong use of visual prompts that help learners without detracting from the sitcom format.
- Friends: Friends is an American sitcom TV series that is widely used in English learning because of its simple language and hilarious content. The sitcom follows the personal and professional lives of 6 friends living in Manhattan.
- Up: Up follows the story of 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen who decides to travel to Paradise Falls in his house equipped with balloons, inadvertently taking a young stowaway.
- The Big Bang Theory: It’s about a group of nerdy friends who work together at the university carrying out different kinds of scientific research and experiments. The four young men are brilliant but socially awkward physicists. Their lives are turned upside down when they have a new neighbor. Practicing English with this series will not only help to increase your academic vocabulary but also to improve your English listening skills.
- The King’s speech: The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.
- The Social Network: Based on the book The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Money Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook, The Social Network is a biographical drama film about the founders of the most popular social networking website, Facebook.
- Our Planet:Our Planet is a groundbreaking documentary series created for Netflix in collaboration with WWF and Silverback Films. Its aim is to raise awareness of the world’s rarest wildlife and most precious habitats. The series is also an inspiration for people all around the world to make changes to protect the place that we call home. Follow this series and you’ll never be worried about lacking ideas on the Environment topic.
- Planet Earth: Filmed over four years across 64 different countries, this epic documentary series is the definitive look at the diversity of our planet. You’ll be overwhelmed by the beauty of the Earth and numerous useful English vocabulary.
- Suits: Suits is an American legal drama television series, following the lives of Mike Ross, a brilliant college dropout and Harvey Specter, one of New York City’s best lawyers when they work together in different legal cases.
- The Lion King: the story of a young lion prince living in the flourishing African Pride Lands. When an unthinkable tragedy, orchestrated by Simba’s wicked uncle, Scar, takes his father’s life, Simba flees the Pride Lands, leaving his loss and the life he knew behind. Eventually companioned by two hilarious and unlikely friends, Simba starts anew. But when weight of responsibility and a desperate plea from the now ravaged Pride Lands come to find the adult prince, Simba must take on a formidable enemy, and fulfill his destiny to be king.
- The Secret Life of Pets: a 2016 American computer-animated comedy film produced by Illumination Entertainment. It’s a comedy about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day.
- Lava: This imaginative, animated musical short from Pixar about tropical islands and explosive volcanoes tells a love story that takes place over the course of millions of years.
So that’s our ultimate guide to learning English with movies for both beginner and intermediate levels. From now on, whenever you watch a movie in English, remember to watch it actively and attentively to get the most out of it. And if you have any questions regarding this guide, leave us a comment below. Thank you and happy watching!