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Movies to Improve English Listening Skill

While textbooks and classes are a great way to learn the foundations of English, the language you learn will often be far removed from how people actually speak in real life. While we all know that watching movies is one of the best ways to practice your listening skills, they are also excellent for exposing you to lots of useful idioms, slang, and regional accents. 

One of the best ways to start learning a language through movies is to begin with something you’ve already seen. Since you won’t need to pay too much attention to the plot, you can focus on the language. When you’re ready to move onto something new, though, check out this list of classic films that are full of examples of informal English and cultural references. Grab the popcorn and enjoy! 


1. Forrest Gump (1994) 

This Oscar winning film holds a special place in the hearts of most Americans. It follows the main character, Forrest, through some of the biggest historical events in the second half of 20th century America. This movie has it all - love, war, loss, redemption, and an ending we dare you not to tear up during. What’s more, since the movie takes place in a variety of locations, you’ll be exposed to several different accents and a host of slang. Decades later, many Americans still quote some of its most famous lines, so this film doubles as a lesson in culture as well as language! 

2. The Hangover (2009) 

This comedy blockbuster follows three friends as they try to piece together the events of their wild night in Las Vegas. In addition to exposing you to a ton of slang, you’ll learn about the cultural phenomenon of a bachelor party (known as ‘stag party’ in the UK). A word of warning: this hilarious film isn’t meant for very young audiences. It contains strong language and sexual content. 


3. The Lion King (1994) 

A Disney classic, this is another movie that is a great resource for vocabulary as well as cultural references. As the intended audience is younger children, the English is clear and easy to follow. Other great choices in the same vein: Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Soul. 


4. Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) 

This romantic comedy follows the story of two couples: one in the process of forming, the other disintegrating. Starring Hollywood heavy hitters Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Steve Carell, and Julianne Moore, it’s full of hilarious dialogue and helpful vocabulary related to romantic relationships. 


5. The Help (2011) 

This film follows the lives of several wealthy white southern families and the African-American “help” they employ. Set in the 1960s, this film explores the racial tensions between these groups and highlights some of the descrimination African Americans faced in the decade after the desegregation of the US. This movie will not only introduce you to several accents and dialects, but also give you an important look into one of the most pressing social issues the US still faces today.