How to Learn a New Foreign Language by Watching a Movie

When you’re learning a language, one of the toughest things, the thing that takes year to master is – how to speak like a native. You can understand the language perfectly when you read it from a textbook or listen to an audio lesson. But, when people speak in their natural habitat, at what is their natural speaking speed, it sounds like they are garbling their words together. That’s why we advise always using a translation service for anything important, like translating a transcript for work before you’re fluent in a new language. 

It’s so unfair and frustrating, and it often feels like the native speakers do this to us on purpose. But, that is very far from the truth. The reality is that, language taught in textbooks and classrooms is much different from the spoken language.

Assuming that you plan to learn the language in order to use it with native speakers and not textbook characters, you need to take some action to make this happen. The ideal solution is to get out there and find people who speak the language to practice with. But, since many of us don’t have that chance or can’t do it often, we have to find another solution. 

Thanks to technology, such a solution exists and most of us have access to it – watching movies. 

Why Should You Watch Movies to Learn a Language?

There might be other methods of learning a language, but watching foreign films is definitely the most fun of them all. There are amazing movies in any language as long as you know how to find them. This way, you get a perfect way to practice a language – whilst having some fun.

Those who choose to learn by watching can enjoy some brilliant benefits. They can listen to how people speak the language, put their learned vocabulary in context, and have a lot of fun in the process. Let’s not forget – most movies hold a lesson within, which is yet another advantage. 

How to Learn a Language by Watching

Now, this is a tricky thing. You can watch many movies and still learn nothing about the language, not unless you know how to use those movies to your benefit. Here are some excellent tips:

1) Watch movies with supportive resources (or others)

When you become fluent in the language, you can easily watch the movies on your own. We all know how to watch movies. But, if you haven’t watched movies in the foreign language or haven’t gone far with your studying, it will be really hard to dive into a movie just yet. This is why you need some help such as subtitles, reviews of the movie, as well as someone who already speaks the language to help you out. 

And of course, you should have a dictionary handy to be able to look up any words you don’t know.

2) Take your time with it

Watching movies to learn a language is nothing like watching your favourite TV show in your native language. You’re doing it for a purpose and aren’t fluent in the language, which means that it will take more time. Make sure to leave some time in your schedule to watch the movie, pause it, and maybe even rewind to see what happened. 

When I sit down to watch a movie with this goal, I always leave at least double of the length of the movie to truly understand it. In college, I used to pay someone to do my essay cheaply while I dwelled into a nice movie. I turned these movies into my relaxation nights, and I had a lot of fun while learning a language. 

3) Watch the right movie

Even though you might want to dwell into the biggest blockbusters and most popular movies, you won’t have much use of them if you haven’t mastered the language to at least some average point. Rather than watching complex, long movies right away, start with some videos and short movies, maybe even cartoons. 

4) Prepare ahead

When we plan a movie night, we usually think of popcorn and our only task is to press play. This shouldn’t be your entire endeavour when you plan to learn a language by watching the movie. Do some preparation at first. Research the movie a bit to see what it’s about. This will make it easier to follow it afterwards. Look up the actors and their roles – that’s how you will know who is who. And of course, find a nice dictionary you’ll have handy, perhaps even one on your smartphone that you can access instantly when a new word pops up on the screen.

As long as you’re prepared for the movie and carry on the idea of learning a language while watching, you can truly benefit from this method. But, most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the movie!

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