Movies are a great resource for language learning.

A good movie is a work of art – it is a creative way to tell a story, it evokes a strong emotional response, and it provides some original examples of human interaction and language.  Because movies have a story line and character development, they provide a semantic continuity, a basis for effective language learning.

But to learn English from movies, you have to use a system to get the most out of the film. Here are some tips.

  1. Choose a movie in English you really like

(We recommend some movies in our movies Resource section on   Buy a copy of the movie – either through a streaming source (like Netflix) or get a DVD of the movie.  You need to “own” the movie so you can watch several times.

  1. Get a copy of the screenplay (the script)

Many movie screenplays are available for free online (check out International Movie Script Database.).  The script will help you “get into” the movie.  And it will help you build your grammar and vocabulary.

  1. Watch in chunks

Watch one scene at a time. Repeat the scene at least twice.  Watch one time with subtitles.  Pause as many times as wish. Keep a separate notebook or note pad for your movie. After you watch a scene, take notes:  What happened?  What was one key line? What are some new words or expressions you learned? 

  1. Shadow one character

After you watch a scene, choose one character and repeat their lines as you listen.  Try to imitate the speed, the rhythm, the intonation.

  1. Write a movie review

After you have finished watching the whole movie – maybe after a week or two – write a review of the movie.  First, describe the story in detail:  What happened in each part of the movie (from beginning to end).  Then, write your opinions of the story:  What did you learn?  What did you like or dislike about the movie.


About The Author

, 5 Tips for Learning English Through Movies, Lateral Communications
Michael Rost, principal author of Pearson English Interactive, has been active in the areas of language teaching, learning technology and language acquisition research for over 25 years. His interest in bilingualism and language education began in the Peace Corps in West Africa and was fuelled during his 10 years as an educator in Japan and extensive touring as a lecturer in East Asia and Latin America. Formerly on the faculty of the TESOL programs at Temple University and the University of California, Berkeley, Michael now works as an independent researcher, author, and speaker based in San Francisco.