How to Learn English by Watching Movies

Hello Person of the Internet!

Everyone loves watching movies, right? And research shows that we learn more when we are having fun. So today we want to share some tips with you on how to learn English while you watch your favorite movies. This is a great way to keep learning while you’re taking a break from TOEFL-focused test prep!

First of all, let’s look at why you should be watching movies in English:

1. You improve your ability to understand and listen

2. You improve your pronunciation

3. You improve your comprehension of spoken English

4. You learn new vocabulary

5. It’s fun!!

And also: it’s always cool to watch movies in their original version. It’s so much better hearing the iconic “I’ll be back” line from Terminator in Schwarzenegger’s voice.

Let’s see some suggestions on watching movies with and without subtitles.

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.


Watch movies with subtitles

It’s always easier to start watching a film (“movie” is American English, “film” is British English) you have already seen before. This way, you can concentrate more on the language and less on following the plot.

A great tip is to visit ESL Notes and download the notes on the movie you chose first. You will be able to read the dialogue before watching the movie, underline words you don’t understand and find out what the expressions mean.


Watch movies without subtitles

If your level of English is advanced enough to understand a film without the subtitles on, good job! Now you can concentrate on your listening skills and practice understanding spoken English.

If you don’t understand something: don’t worry! Simply: Pause the video. Rewind. Watch again. 

Watching movies without subtitles is a fantastic way to get used to hearing different accents, different voices, and in different scenarios. It’s just like real life!


3 Tips on how to learn English watching movies

1. When you hear an interesting word or expression: write it down.

2. Research the words or expressions you like and find out how to use them.

3. Practice! Use the words and expressions you write down: make sentences or, even better, use them in conversation. This is the best way to improve your speaking and vocabulary.


ABA Films

Learning English with ABA Films is another great way to practice your listening skills.  ABA Films are part of the ABA English courses; they are short-films that teach you new vocabulary words and serve as the basis for the rest of the unit in the ABA English course. You can choose to watch the ABA Films with or without subtitles. After watching an ABA Film, you can wrap up the unit with the speaking, writing, grammar and vocabulary exercises that follow. Here’s a sample ABA Film you can watch to start practicing your English!

Hope you enjoyed that film! See you again soon.


ABA English bases English language learning on short films about real life in Europe and the United States produced exclusively for the American and British Academy.

ABA English’s course also contains 144 video classes on English grammar which are available for free.


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6 Responses to How to Learn English by Watching Movies

  1. Ezatollah Mosavi kani January 7, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    I am Ph.D student at medical university of Wien.I would like to improve my english. I need to help you.

    Best Regards

    Ezatollah Mosavikani

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas January 12, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

      If you have any questions about Magoosh TOEFL that aren’t relevant to a blog post, please email [email protected]


  2. nithin February 16, 2015 at 8:50 pm #

    this information what you are mentioning exactly is helpful for me and thanks for your plesant guidelines and all

    • Lucas Fink
      Lucas February 19, 2015 at 10:59 am #

      You’re welcome!

  3. Shakib Ahmad November 29, 2016 at 8:14 pm #


    I watch american english film with subtitles . but my pronunciation not good. how do i practice?
    1- i watched and practice what the actor said. Is that right for learning pronunciation ?


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 3, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

      That is a good way to learn pronunciation. Imitating what the actor says is called “shadowing.” Since you’ll be giving speeches on the TOEFL (rather than having movie style conversations), I also recommend “shadowing” parts of TED Talks in that way. (TED Talks are a great resource for learning both English listening and speaking. If you like what you see on the main TED Talks page, consider also checking out the special TED website for ESL students.)

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