10 best movies to watch to learn English

English movies to learn English

10 best movies to watch to learn English

English movies to learn English

Lights, camera, English! 

Bored of reading in English, writing endless essays, and working on grammar tasks? 

Yeah, learning English can be tough like that… But it doesn’t have to be! 

What if we said that there’s a way to actively learn English without having to lift your finger. A dream come true, isn’t it?

Enter the world of watching English movies to improve your language skills! In this article, we explain the benefits of watching movies in English, share tips for how to maximize their impact, and offer English movies for different language proficiency levels.

Why should you watch English movies to learn the English language?

Switching the language from your mother tongue to English when watching movies is one of the most effective passive-active ways to learn English. Here’s why…

  • Forget boring textbooks! Watching English movies is like stepping into an English-speaking world without leaving your couch. You soak in the language naturally, picking up on accents, slang, and expressions as if you were right there in the scene.
  • Ever heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, a movie is worth even more! With visual aids and real-life scenarios, you get to see how words are used in context, making it easier to grasp their meanings and nuances.
  • With movies, you practice your English listening skills, tuning it to pick up different kinds of English – fast, slow, and with funny accents. Plus, you’ll get better at understanding conversations in English in noisy places – just like in the movies!
  • Movies introduce you to lots of new words and phrases, from everyday stuff to fancy talk. Pause, rewind, and replay scenes to analyze new vocabulary in action – soon, you’ll speak English like a Hollywood star!
  • Hollywood isn’t just about superheroes and rom-coms; it’s a window into American culture and beyond. Through movies, you’ll explore customs, traditions, and societal norms, gaining a deeper understanding of the English-speaking world while munching on popcorn.


Last but not least, watching movies transforms your daily English practice from a dull task into a fun experience. Suddenly, it’s not about forcing yourself to learn; it’s about enjoying yourself while you learn. 

You’re no longer procrastinating, you’re actively improving your English skills — you can even use that excuse the next time your boss catches you enjoying your favorite show during a remote work meeting. But don’t tell them we taught you that

Best practices for learning English when watching an English movie

If the benefits of watching movies in English were convincing enough for you to immediately close the tab with this article and go on Netflix… Not so fast, chap, hold your horses! 

Just turning on your favorite TV show or checking out the newly released movie won’t do the trick. Even though watching English movies is entertaining, it’s still… A language learning exercise. And you need to approach it as such. 

Below, we’ve compiled a short list of best practices for actually learning English when watching an English movie and not just spending the next couple of hours procrastinating. 

Don’t focus too much on noting down new words

Let’s talk about something a bit controversial (some people might disagree with us on this)…

Don’t stop the movie every time you don’t understand a word and try to write it down. Trust us, it’s a buzzkill for your English movie marathon. Plus, chances are, you’ll never even revisit that English vocabulary list, defeating the purpose altogether.

Instead, try to guess what the word means from the situation. It’s okay if you don’t know every word, as long as you get the main idea.

And if you’re really stuck after a scene? Don’t rush to use a translator app. Check out EMERY’s Video Dictionary. It explains the words and shows you how they are used in real life, making learning easier and, ultimately, more effective. 

Try EMERY for learning English now

Watch movies with subtitles

Subtitle button on a TV remote

Turn on subtitles when watching English movies; Source

Use English subtitles to follow along, especially if you’re just starting. It helps connect spoken words with their written forms and improves listening comprehension.

Focus on pronunciation

Instead of getting caught up in new words all the time, focus on how native speakers put sentences together, emphasize certain words with their tone, and pronounce things. Listen closely to stress and rhythm – they’re super important in spoken English, especially if you’re trying to sound more like a native.

Feel free to hit pause and rewind to copy how the actors say things. Mimicking their pronunciation and tone can really help you improve your own spoken English.

Watch movies in English regularly

Consistency is key. Try to watch movies regularly, even if it’s just for a short period each day. It helps reinforce what you’ve learned.

Start off by sticking to a genre you know and love, maybe even choose movies made just in the US. As you get comfy watching English films, don’t be afraid to mix it up! Try different genres and movies with actors from diverse backgrounds and accents. 

For example, after getting the hang of American movies, challenge yourself with a film featuring the British accent exclusively. It might feel strange at first, but trust us, you’ll adapt in no time. 

Choose the right English movies

Pick movies with clear dialogue and subtitles in English. Avoid complex plots or movies with heavy accents until you’re more confident.

But what is the best movie to learn English? The answer to this question depends on a lot of different factors — your movie preferences, your mood, and, of course, your current level of English.

10 best movies to learn English

To accommodate English learners of different backgrounds and different proficiency levels, we’ve put together a list of English movies and TV shows divided into different categories — English movies for beginners, intermediate learners, and advanced English speakers. 

English movies for beginners

When you’re just starting to explore English movies for language learning, dive into something packed with action rather than lots of talking. For beginners, action movies and horror movies are the way to go!

Tip: It’s best to avoid comedies at this stage as understanding humor in a different language requires pretty decent command of the language.

1. World War Z (2013)

World War Z movie poster

The World War Z movie poster; Source

“World War Z” is a horror action movie about a global outbreak of zombies. A former United Nations investigator tries to stop it from spreading further.

2. The Umbrella Academy (2019)

The Umbrella Academy series poster

The Umbrella Academy series poster; Source

“The Umbrella Academy” is a quirky superhero series based on the comic books by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. It follows a dysfunctional family of adopted siblings with extraordinary abilities as they reunite to solve the mystery of their father’s death and prevent an impending apocalypse. Even though the language might feel complicated at first, it’s easy to follow and the actors speak clearly. 

Besides, with it being a series and not a movie, you can ensure watching consistency. There are three seasons available, which means you’ll be occupied for a while. 

3. Fast and Furious (2001)

The Fast and Furious movie poster

The Fast and Furious movie poster; Source

“Fast & Furious” movies are all about fast cars, daring heists, and tight-knit friendships. They’re great for English beginners because they have easy-to-follow conversations and lots of exciting action scenes. You’ll pick up some slang and everyday English while enjoying the thrill ride!

English movies for intermediate English learners

Once you become a more confident English speaker, you can move onto more complex English movies with specific vocabulary. Some of the genres to choose when you’re an Intermediate English speaker include thrillers, fantasy, young adult movies. 

When it comes to these genres, you’re bound to understand pretty much everything apart from film or series-specific terminology. For example, names of fictional creatures. 

1. Gossip Girl (2006)


The Gossip Girl series poster

The Gossip Girl series poster; Source

“Gossip Girl” is a teen drama series set in New York City that revolves around the lives of wealthy and privileged teenagers attending elite private schools. The show explores themes of love, friendship, betrayal, and scandal as an anonymous gossip blogger exposes their secrets and manipulates their lives.

“Gossip Girl” is helpful for intermediate English learners because it offers casual conversations and modern slang. The storylines and characters provide good practice for understanding everyday English in a city setting.

2. Old (2021)


The Old movie poster

The Old movie poster; Source

“Old” is a psychological thriller movie from 2021. It’s about a family who finds a beach where time moves super fast, making them get old quickly. They try to leave but face a lot of problems along the way.

The conversations in the movie are pretty normal, and the story keeps you interested. However, you need to know that some parts might be a bit tricky, so using subtitles could help.

3. Me Before You (2016)


The Me Before You movie poster

The Me Before You movie poster; Source

“Me Before You” is a romantic drama film about a young woman who becomes a caregiver for a wealthy, disabled man. As they spend time together, they develop a deep connection and transform each other’s lives in unexpected ways. The film explores themes of love, loss, and the importance of living life to the fullest.

The dialogue is generally straightforward and focuses on everyday conversations, making it accessible for learners.

English movies for advanced English learners 

When you’re an advanced English learner, you can… Pretty much watch whatever you want to watch — at this point watching movies in English is a habit rather than a learning exercise. However, if you still want to challenge yourself and combine an entertaining pastime with something useful, here are a few film and series recommendations. 

1. Peaky Blinders (2013)

The Peaky Blinders series poster

The Peaky Blinders series poster; Source

“Peaky Blinders” is a British television series set in the aftermath of World War I, focusing on the Shelby crime family in Birmingham, England. Led by the cunning and ambitious Tommy Shelby, the family rises to power through illegal activities such as gambling and smuggling.

Just a heads-up, brace yourself for the language in this series. Even native speakers admit to keeping subtitles on because understanding the northern British accent can be tough. So, be ready to focus and maybe have those captions handy!

2. Friends (1994)


The Friends series poster

The Friends series poster; Source

This one doesn’t need any introduction — pretty much everyone and their dog knows the famous sitcom series, “Friends”. The show follows the lives of six friends living in New York City as they navigate through the ups and downs of life, love, and friendship.

Even though most similar articles on the web recommend starting with Friends when you embark on your English learning journey, we would like to disagree. The thing is… To really enjoy your time watching Friends, you need to have a good grasp of the English language and be able to quickly get jokes, complex wordplays and nuanced humor. 

So, we insist you give Friends in English a try when you’re already a confident English speaker. 

3. House (2004)

The House series poster

The House series poster; Source

“House” is a medical drama series centered around the brilliant but unconventional Dr. Gregory House and his team of diagnosticians. Each episode follows the team as they solve complex medical mysteries while delving into the personal and professional lives of the characters.

The dialogue in “House” can be rapid-fire and filled with sarcasm, wit, and cultural references, making it difficult for non-fluent speakers to keep up with the nuances of the language. Moreover, characters frequently use technical medical jargon and terminology — something even native speakers may be unfamiliar with.

4. Tenet (2020)

The Tenet movie poster

The Tenet movie poster; Source

“Tenet” is a science fiction action thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan. It follows a protagonist known only as “The Protagonist,” who is recruited into a mysterious organization and tasked with preventing a future World War III by using time inversion technology to manipulate the flow of time. 

People find the film extremely confusing and difficult to follow even when watching it in their mother tongue, so you have to be a real English pro to watch it in English.

I’m not a movie fan, what can I do?

Looked through our list of the best best movies to learn English for beginners and advanced learners, yet still can’t find anything that would make you want to turn the TV on? No worries, there are still ways to leverage the benefits of watching English movies without… Well, actually watching them! 

‘Huh?’ you might ask. 

If you aren’t exactly a fan of movies or series, you can still improve your listening skills with EMERY’s video comprehension exercises. 

Try EMERY now!