Films and TV series to help you learn English: useful tips on how to use them and a list of the best ones

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Films and TV series to help you learn English: useful tips on how to use them and a list of the best ones

Welcome back language lovers! In this article we will explore the role that films and TV series can play in improving your English linguistic skills. Having over 20 years’ experience as a mother tongue English teacher, I understand the value of immersive language learning experiences; and some of the most efficient examples of this are films and TV series.

My goal is to provide you with useful suggestions on how to use films and TV series to improve your command of the English language, as well as give you some recommendations on the best titles to help you achieve this. We will examine the importance of choosing films and TV programmes which match your current level and knowledge of English, the benefits of using subtitles and pausing whilst watching to help your comprehension.

By the end of this article, you will have a solid understanding of how to make the most of the power of cinema and TV to improve your linguistic skills as well has have a list of some excellent titles to add to your Watchlist. So, lets dive in and start to explore the fascinating world of language learning using films and TV series!

How to use films and TV series to learn English

To understand how to use films and TV series to learn English or to improve your knowledge, you must pay attention to three main points: 

  • Choose films or TV series that are appropriate for your English level. If you are still a beginner, choose programmes or films with simple dialogues and basic vocabulary. As you become more confident with the language, you can move on to more complex and stimulating content;
  • Use the subtitles and pause whilst you’re watching. In the beginning, I recommended you use subtitles in your mother tongue to ensure you have a good understanding of the dialogue. You can then graduate to using English subtitles which will help improve your listening and comprehension skills. Also, whilst you’re watching, it’s important to pause at certain points and watch again until you are sure you have fully understood what is happening in that scene.
  • Watch the scenes with lots of dialogue more than once to improve comprehension. One of the best ways to learn English quickly is to repeat conversations out loud, concentrating on the pronunciation and intonation. If you have difficulty understanding any particular expressions or sentences, watch the scene again until you have fully understood.

What are the best TV series to help you learn English?

Here are my top 3 recommendations for the best TV series for beginners who want to learn English on their own: 

  1. Friends. This iconic TV series has entertained millions of spectators all over the world. It is very popular with people who want to improve their knowledge of English because it uses simple, everyday conversation and subjects. The characters also have a variety of American and English accents which give the listener a more varied listening experience.
  2. Breaking Bad. This hugely successful TV series follows the story of a chemistry teacher who becomes an illegal drug producer. The series provides excellent examples of everyday spoken English especially a wide variety of American idioms and slang;
  3. The Crown. This TV series tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and the British royal family. The series offers an overview of British culture and history with characters who use sophisticated and accurate dialogue and vocabulary.

What are the best films to watch to help you learn English?

For those who feel more confident and wish to improve their level, I would suggest watching: 

  1. The Social Network is a biographical film about Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook. The language used in this film is adapt for intermediate and advanced levels and offers an excellent opportunity to study more specific vocabulary related to IT and technology;
  2. The King’s Speech (Il Discorso del Re), this is a historical film which follows the life of King George VI of the United Kingdom and his battle with his stammer. As the film focuses on language and diction, it’s one of the most useful films to help learn and improve English on your own especially pronunciation;
  3. The Devil Wears Prada (Il Diavolo Veste Prada), this is an entertaining comedy film which follows the life of a young woman who works as the assistant to the editor of a famous fashion magazine in New York. The language used offers a lot of opportunities to learn new words, idioms and expressions linked to the world of fashion and the workplace.

More useful tips to help you learn English by watching films and TV series

As well as choosing the right film based on your level, you should also bear the following advice in mind: 

  • Practice active listening. When you watch a film or TV series, make sure you pay attention to the language, facial expressions and tone of voice used by the characters. Try to understand the context in which the various words and idiomatic expressions are used;
  • Take notes. Taking notes whilst you are watching a film or TV series is an excellent way to learn new vocabulary and useful expressions. Note down any new words, idioms and slang used in the dialogues;
  • Practice your pronunciation. Try and repeat the words and phrases which you don’t know out loud. This will help improve your pronunciation and accent.

Learning English using films and TV series can be a very useful and fun way to improve your linguistic skills. Choosing the right content and using the right techniques like subtitles and pausing whilst watching, can make all the difference in making this experience not only educational but also fun.

Always remember that learning a new language requires effort and commitment and watching films and TV series in their original language is only a small part of the language learning process. Definitely use these resources as a support to improve your language knowledge but don’t forget to integrate it with other activities like reading, writing and conversing with a mother tongue speaker or other English language students.