Why is movie watching such an effective method of learning English?
1) the language is authentic, the real way people speak – learning from books is good for the exams, but some words and expressions are very formal or out of date, so we may sound a little weird talking to native speakers using only the language we learnt from books
2) listening practice – while watching movies, language learners are exposed to different accents, pace, voice, kinds of English like British, American, Australian. When it comes to listening comprehension, watching is better than a lesson with a native speaker. When you learn with a teacher, you get used to his accent, pace, the way of speaking and soon you can understand him/her well, but it doesn’t mean you will understand everybody. When we understand a movie, we are usually able to understand any English speaker
3) pleasure equals effectiveness – for most people watching movies is pleasant, obviously we learn faster when we like it. Learners are likely to spend more time watching than learning from books, and they are more willing to get down to watching a movie than other language learning activities. As language exposure matters, the results are impressive
What movies should we choose?
Firstly, the most effective for learning are short movies, like Ted speech or YouTube films which are information packed, but short enough to watch a few times. We learn by listening to the same sentences a few times, watching once is for information, not language learning. However, short movies are the hardest at the beginning because they force our brain to process information very fast. Sometimes our language practice is not long enough to think so fast in a foreign language.
Secondly, we should choose what we like or what we are interested in. However, it shouldn’t be the same topic all the time because we learn limited vocabulary.
Anyway, the most educating are 15-20 min movies, the least developing are action movies, as dialogues don’t play an important role in them. Everything in the middle like TV shows, comedies, dramas etc are great, too. If you understand less than 60 percent, it means the movie is too hard.
How to learn from movies? My most effective method
1) Read words from the quizlet and keep it open for checking vocabulary when you watch for the first time. Watch in English with English subtitles and try to remember context in which the words were used. Of course, sometimes you must pause to check the word
2) Learn the quizlet – you can skip useless words (some words are in the quizlet to let students understand the movie, but they may not be very common and useful)
3) Watch the movie again, this time switch off subtitles. Concentrate on dialogues and meaning rather than action. If you notice a useful expression or a sentence you can stop and repeat it or write it down
4) Watch the third time to make short notes what the movie, series is about. This time you can have subtitles. When there are questions to the watching exercise, it’s even better because you must find the right moment, understand the question, find and understand the answer and write down. It works best with shorter movies.
5) When you had questions to the watching exercise, compare your answers with the right ones or discuss the exercise with your teacher. As far as long movie or series is concerned, telling somebody, for example your teacher, what the movie was about is a great exercise. It gives you a great opportunity to check your understanding, process your knowledge, practise speaking and put vocabulary into practice.