When you come home after a hard day’s work, do you really want to sit down and learn English? There is a good chance that you just want to relax. Maybe you like going to the gym, playing sport, meeting friends, or getting comfortable and watching television. Then, you remember that you still need to improve your English skills to improve your opportunities at work, or because you want to travel or study in an English-speaking country.
How can you improve your English skills in your free time?
We are all familiar with the traditional ways of learning from books and going to classes. When I think about the classes that I enjoyed the most at school, I can remember the personality of the teacher and specific activities that we did together. With interesting books and motivating teachers, this is an excellent way to learn English.
However, with a fast-moving lifestyle, it is also good to look at other options. We teach children with pictures, and adults can also benefit from a visual learning experience too. Don’t worry! You don’t need to go to the kids’ section of the book store and start colouring either! This week, we are we are looking at how to learn English by watching television and movies.
Ways to learn English by watching television and movies
1. Regularly watch television in English
It’s easy to turn on the television, but sometimes it harder to decide what you want to watch, especially if you’re thinking of options that can help to improve your English skills. The great thing is that there are a lot of choices, and it can be better to do this in stages. You don’t need to give yourself an English television challenge for the whole evening! If you don’t have a lot of time, you can just watch short programmes (e.g. a news broadcast for 15 minutes a day), an episode of a series, or part of a movie. Just try to make a regular pattern that fits with your plan.
2. Watch your favourite programmes and movies again
Watch a movie or programme again that you enjoyed and already know really well. For example, you must have seen British or American television series and movies which have been dubbed into your language. This time, try watching it in English. You already know the story, and if you’re a TV addict, you probably know some of the exact words and phrases too! The advantage is that you already understand what is happening, and so you can develop your English vocabulary and improve your listening skills while you relax.
3. Make notes to develop English vocabulary
Television and movies give great examples of English language in use. They automatically have a context as well, which is the best way to learn and understand new words and phrases. For example, if the storyline is set in an office, you will hear expressions that you can note down to expand your business English. Likewise, if it is a documentary about holiday destinations, you will be able to develop English vocabulary to describe places. However, there needs to be a balance. We don’t recommend that you keep stopping or pausing the programme either – it is not important to understand every word. You can still improve listening skills if you focus on getting a general understanding of the story, and then you can always watch again for more information.
4. Turn on the subtitles
Subtitles can be an excellent way to learn English by watching television in another language, and you have choices. You can watch the original version in English and read subtitles in your language. Alternatively, you can also try watching the original version in English and having English subtitles as well.
We recommend that you try both to find out what you prefer. However, remember that this is good way to improve listening skills, and not just your reading. Also, I know the subtitles are not always exactly the same as the words spoken. Therefore, it is better to use subtitles to help you to understand English television and movies, and to focus more on listening. This can help to improve your English skills and you can even speak along with the actors to practise your pronunciation!
5. Watch an animated TV programme or movie
From my experience, it can sometimes be easier to understand animated movies than watching actual actors and actresses. A lot of animated movies are targeted at a family audience, so the story line and the language is likely to be simpler than the style of language and vocabulary used in a complex thriller or drama. If you want to relax, then a classic animated film that you know well, can be a great way to spend your free time. For some movies, you might even want to sing along and just “let it go.” (I’m sure you know the film I’m referring to!)
6. Sit back, watch what you like and just enjoy it!
Finally, we’re focussing on ways to learn English by relaxing and watching television and movies. You don’t need to do an English proficiency exam the next day, so it doesn’t matter if you only learn a few new words. If you enjoy what you’re doing, then you will want to do it again. This means you can get regular practise to improve your English skills, you can still relax, and you can also learn English by watching television and movies. Pretty cool, eh!
We also have more ideas to study English at home with recommend study materials, and a free English proficiency test to find out your English level.
Thanks Natalya for your great comment and sharing your memories. It’s interesting that you chose one of the huge classics, and shows how television and movies can increase motivation to learn English.
Motivation is the key to learning faster and developing, and your fascinating memory also shows that with commitment and dedication, it is possible to develop language skills to proficiency level. Thanks and best wishes from EnglishRadar.
Thanks for this post! Very useful tips! What’s more watching movies in English is motivating & fun.
My favorite personal story about watching movies in English is from quite a few years ago when I was a student and it was difficult to get films in English in Russia.
I learned that “My Fair Lady” would be shown in the local library, but it is located about 40 min ride from where I live. Another complication was that I had to wait till the evening to watch it. Anyway I decided to go watch it. You can’t imagine my shock when 20 min into the movie I realised that I probably understand about 30 percent. Some time passed and I got my own copy of the film, and loved it so much that I kept watching it over and over again. In the end I learned most of it by heart, which as you can imagine helped me to improve my listening comprehension skills immensely. No need to mention how much interest in smth. and motivation do the trick.