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The most effective way to improve your ‘real’ English: watch movies

Have you ever experienced that moment when you need to ask, “What did you say?” or “What is that meaning?” when talking to an Aussie? Even though you studied hard in English classes in your own country? From my experience, I assure you that watching movies is one of the best ways to improve your English listening and speaking skills.

What can you learn from watching movies?

– You will hear “real English”

Do you know where the ”upper lash” or “lobe” is on your body? While we need to study in academic English, many of the words and phrases we learn are too difficult and unpractical to use in real conversation. Moreover, you cannot learn casual English, appropriate reactions, slang and feeling from academic textbooks. Ironically, the more time you spend studying academic material, the more you will miss the opportunity to study real life English. I call this “the international student’s dilemma”.

However, all of these things can be acquired just by watching movies.

– You will repeat and revise what they have said

Although we have a lot of opportunities to talk with Aussies and to come across new words and phrases, you will forget what you have learnt unless you take notes immediately. However, if you study by watching movies, you can brush up on popular expressions over and over and wherever you are using your phone, tablet or laptop.

How to study English using movies?

1. Browse the movie  with a subtitle in your first language

At first what we have to do is to understand the story all in all.

2. Watch with English subtitles and check the words

This is the most important process when watching movies. You will never learn a new thing without understanding the meaning of the words. Take your time to look up new words using a dictionary and jot down new vocabulary and expressions to use later.

3. Do shadowing with English subtitles

Copy and repeat what you hear as quickly as you can. Repetition makes your body understand pronunciation and intonation.

4. Repeat phases 2 and 3 over and over

Your pronunciation, fluency and intonation will be improved with thorough repetition. Repeat the same process over and over until you get bored.

5. Turn the subtitle off

When you reach this phase you will feel an improvement in your English.


1. Choose a movie that you are interested in

Just follow your curiosity. You would rather have fun while learning than say “I have to study English”.

2. Break down the movie into 15-25 minute blocks

A whole movie takes too much time to watch. I prefer using dramas and comedies, at longest, only 30 minutes.

3. Skip complicated wording

You don’t have to understand every conversation seeing as we stumble into different jokes or sarcasm based on the culture.

By following these steps, you will soon find improvement in your conversation skills.

My Recommendations

1. Friends

Everyone knows this sit-com drama even though it is from the 1990s. Friends is a gold mine of real-life conversation.

2. Fullhouse

Relatively easy and simple expression has been used in this comedy.

3. The Devil Wears PRADA

You will learn how English is used in a business situation. The content is also interesting.

4. Harry Potter

Students in Hogwarts talk about school life the same as us so the vocabulary is pretty practical.

What movies do you watch to help improve your English? Tell me in the comments below!

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  • Oanh
    July 29, 2015 at 2:18 am

    I’m real very interested in this ways so i will begin to practise on the spot.i hope that i will get it .you are welcome!.

  • deepa das
    December 30, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    i just enjoyed reading the experience of kento,hope something like that happens with me too

  • Shakib Ahmad
    August 20, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    I watch movies by the name of Happy Madison production Film . I wrote the script in a piece of paper . i listen and then i practice out loud with my self . Is these way can help me to improve my speaking , pronunciation and listing?