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Sometimes, I find it easier to learn so many English vocabulary and expressions and usage by watching movies. If you're a non-native English speaker, you probably noticed some of them that help you learn.

What are good movies you watched that are great for learning English? (Expressions, usage, etc.)

For example, in the movie The Social Network, I think some of the dialogue is quite intense. Great for English listening skill training if you watch it without subtitles.


Someone already asked "Films/Series that are extremely good to understand (and that are not…)". But I'm looking for those who are not just easy to understand, but also rich with more advanced English vocabulary, expressions and usage.

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here.

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A fast-talking film? His Girl Friday (archive.org/details/his_girl_friday) is a classic and one of my favourite films (and it's available online). – ShreevatsaR Dec 26 '10 at 3:15
@RegDwight: I guess this is sort of the opposite; movies that are hard to understand rather than easy to understand. Perhaps. – ShreevatsaR Dec 26 '10 at 3:17
Along the lines of what @ShreevatsaR posted (which I like also): [ What's Up, Doc? ](en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What's_Up,_Doc%3F_%28film%29) – mmyers Dec 28 '10 at 19:27
I'll add this as a comment since you asked for movies: check out the first four seasons (2 and 3 especially) of The West Wing. Same writer as The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin) and same fast-paced, nuanced dialog. Plus it's a great series. – Mark Peters Feb 13 '11 at 9:25

11 Answers 11

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Indeed, there are many options. My advice would be to always choose a film or series that is just above your level: that way you need to exert yourself and you learn the most. Pause and Google up any phrase that you do not understand.

If you are interested in politics, I recommend Yes Minister, a British comedy series from around 1990. It is all about intrigue and political games, and a great deal of fun. The wordplay and masterly use of English are a good way to learn about topics that it is actually important to know something about; the language of politics is more important that that of, say, jungle adventures, or fashion (my apologies if I have offended any film lovers).

A funny scene from YM: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIXH3-A8zMI
(Sir Humphrey explains foreign policy; you might notice that the series is very cynical, in a fun way.)

+million for Yes Minister. :-) – ShreevatsaR Dec 26 '10 at 4:00
@Orbling: Ahm yes, Humpy sounds rather RP, don't you think? The Minister is a different case - well, he went to the LSE... – Cerberus Dec 26 '10 at 4:25
@Cerberus: Yes, I do recall the occasional use, highly amusing as ever. I was only talking to my family today about the episode with the hospital visit, where there are no patients, classic. – Orbling Dec 26 '10 at 4:43
@Anwar Chandra: It is not a movie, a series of episodes, comedy. There is an amazing sale on at the moment here, £15! amazon.co.uk/Complete-Yes-Minister-Prime-Collectors/dp/… – Orbling Dec 26 '10 at 13:09
@Cerberus: A cast list for you: yes-minister.com/ymseas2a.htm#YM%202.1 – Orbling Dec 26 '10 at 13:47

I would also add the BlackAdder series to this list.

+1 because I love Blackadder :) A note of caution, however: humorous movies, especially of this kind, prove often to be quite a challenge for people whose first language is not English, as they often rely a lot on puns, double meanings and/or bizarre choice of words. That said, I realized my English had reached a fairly good level when I could finally watch and understand a whole Monthy Python movie without subtitles... – nico Apr 30 '11 at 14:36

For learning English I think it's a better idea to watch series. Each of them can improve some skills of your vocabulary and speaking. I have watched these series and they helped me a lot to improve my English:

Lost, Prison Break, Flashforward, 24 --> General English

Friends, Southpark --> Slang Idioms

I agree strongly with this for many reasons. 1. A series will give you the advantage of getting many hours of dialog from each character. 2. Each episode tries to reinforce plot elements from previous episodes, so you will have colorful repetition. 3. Series tend to be more accessible, language-wise. – tenfour Apr 30 '11 at 14:15

There is no real good answer for this kind of question, because the characteristic of a movie helping you to learn English is first and foremost its appeal to you.
You enjoy the movie so much you want to understand every lines in it.

And that is a very personal choice.
(For me, it was for instance the first Star Wars movies or, as I already mentioned, Pulp Fiction)


The movies I list here are not necessarily ones you can learn English from but since their plots are intricate and interesting, you will definitely want to learn more of the language to understand these better. Also I am giving you a mix and match of genres and English styles like American, UK, Deep South and so on.

==== Cinderella Man

Thank you for Smoking

Legend of the falls

Forrest Gump


Snatch (for UK style fast English, it's directed by Guy Ritchie so it's very different from the usual Hollywood blockbusters, yet went on to become a huge hit)

RocknRolla (again a Guy Ritchie film)

Remember the Titans

Sweet Home Alabama (this one obviously has deep Southern tones since it's set in Alabama)


I found this list of movies to be quite inspiring: Learn English with Movies

A quote from their site:

Exercises for vocabulary building, listening, reading, grammar, conversation, and American culture. A challenging and enjoyable way to learn English.


If to combine business with pleasure I'd recommend:

Just for the record, knowing this is a bit out of date, are these movies simply your favorites? None seem particularly well suited to English. 'Apocalypto', if any language is spoken, is essentially Mayan, with English subtitles. – Mitch Dec 12 '11 at 21:32
For learning Scottish-type English, see Trainspotting. It has English subtitles for the English spoken by some characters. – jwpat7 Aug 5 '12 at 0:27

Desperate Housewives
It's not a movie. But I'm pretty sure this is the best one I have tried.

I hate it, my wife follows them. It is just horrible. The more further on, the worse – Gennady Vanin Геннадий Ванин Feb 13 '11 at 7:01

There's a lot of varied dialogue in The X-Files series. You'll find a broad mix from common and obscure colloquialisms to technical jargon.


For fresh and clever (US) dialogue, I can warmly recommend Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD series with English subtitles. Anything from Joss Wedon has amazing dialogue.

For British English and vocabulary, try to get BBC Antique's Roadshow. I get it on Cable (BBC1 Sundays)
You will hear an incredible amount of new (or old) words from people with beautiful accents - explanations of what the items are for, from where they came and so on.


I'm a non-native English speaker and I would recommend you to watch:

It's a series where you can find a great variety of topics. I mean, one episode is about crimes involving biology toxic products, other is about a serial killer who is a therapist... So, the key words used on the episodes follow the topic, and with variety of topics you have variety of vocabulary.


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