Best Strategies to Learn English with Classic American Movies

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Learn how to improve your English pronunciation, listening comprehension, and vocab acquisition by watching movies! The best movies to watch are the American Classics from the Golden Era of Hollywood, where the actors speak with a Transatlantic accent. This accent is straightforward to understand and replicate.

Hello, Advanced English learners. Welcome back to this lesson. Today, we are going to talk about how you can improve your English by watching American movies. All right. If you're ready, let's get right into it.

All right. So when you're learning a language or when you're at the advanced level, let's be clear. It's going to be not only fun to do this, but also it's going to be really beneficial to you as you are improving your listening comprehension, pronunciation, and your understanding of American pop culture. And also it'll allow you to have some interesting dinner table conversation topics.

Or when you're talking to American friends, you might say, oh, hey, have you seen the new Marvel movie? Have you seen the new James Bond? Whatever it is that you know, you've watched, one thing that you can do as you're watching the movie is to jot down any new word or new phrase or a new collocation that you have never encountered before.

And you can write that down on a little Post-it, or if you have a notebook, a small notebook next to you, or even just to create a note, a digital note on your phone, that could really work, too. And then if you don't have the opportunity to rewind and listen to it again, let's say if you're watching it with other people and they're not there to make any sort of lesson out of it, then, you know, just have it written down somewhere and you can always go back.

So you can say in the beginning of the movie, I remember hearing that or in the middle of the movie, somewhere in the middle, I remember hearing that phrase or towards the end, right? So you can sort of timestamp it in that way so that you can go back to that movie and then jot down the phrase if you didn't happen to catch it in that first go but if you do catch it in that first go, then it would be a great idea to write it down.

Just jot it down somewhere and then you can look it up later and you can try to start incorporating it in your own language and communication. So that could be one thing. And then the other thing you can do is to seek out the older movies, the older films, American movies, and from the golden age of Hollywood, and I say that because, one, those movies, they're they're very, very good.

They're absolutely excellent, they're well-written, they're well acted and they're beautifully produced. And they're such an iconic part of American pop culture history. That I would really recommend you check them out. Things like Roman Holiday, Philadelphia Story. And there are some really good Westerns as well. Gone With the Wind is a big one. So choosing some movies from that time.

And the reason being is that the actors from that time period not only articulated very well. So it's a lot easier to understand their English than it is modern day movie English, to be honest with you. And this is coming from a native English speaker, but who also happens to be an English teacher. So there's both of those perspectives there that I'm sharing.

But the other really cool thing that I love is the transatlantic accent that a lot of the actors at this time put on and I say put on because this was a made up accent. It was supposed to be a mix of British English and American English accent wise, pronunciation wise, that is. And so people who really exemplified this accent and made it what it is today are two actors that come to mind, and those are Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.

Cary Grant is a brilliant actor. He's in movies like Charade, Suspicion, which is a Hitchcock movie and so many others. And then there's Katharine Hepburn and both of those actors. If you just did a YouTube search and you typed in their names. So Cary Grant and then Katharine Hepburn, and you listened to a clip or two maybe from an interview that they've given or a clip from one of their films you will hear them speak so beautifully and so clearly, and you'll notice that there's a little bit of a different accent that they're using.

It's not quite American English pronunciation, and it's not quite British English pronunciation. It's a beautiful blend of the two, and people don't really speak like this, at least not today. And we don't see it in films or hear it in films anymore. But it was the way people spoke at the time, and it was sort of this elegant and classy way of articulating and speaking.

And it's also very good for listening comprehension because you get to hear not only the connected speech very clearly, but you hear them articulate their words. So I highly encourage you to check out movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood, The Golden Era, and specifically seek out movies with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, because they exemplify the transatlantic accent and play around with maybe even trying to pronounce words they do.

You'll start to see how articulation can actually happen quite easily while also maintaining that connected speech aspect. Because if we try to over articulate, what ends up happening is it becomes a little bit stiff, a little bit robotic. And that's because we don't really separate the words that way. Right? We can articulate, but we don't avoid the connection between certain sounds and certain words.

But if we try to do that and just speak like this now, sing every word, we start to sound like a robot, right? And that's not really what we're getting at. So the really interesting thing about the transatlantic accent is that they don't speak very fast. They still articulate and they still have that connected speech. So it's just a marvel of the American English accent and the language, really.

And so I really encourage you to check that out. And the last thing you can do is find movies on YouTube where you can actually pause or whatever streaming service you use as well and pause the movie. So maybe watch 10 minutes of a movie, pause it at certain points and repeat, repeat, repeat. So this is a great exercise to do when you're viewing the movie by yourself or with some other friends who want to also engage in this kind of English exercise, so to speak, because it's kind of like fun homework, if you think about it that way.

But pausing it is going to be your best friend because you'll be able to control how many times you are exposed to that word or that collocation and then try it out yourself. So as you see it maybe on screen with the subtitles, you can also hear it and you can practice it right? And think about what the context was.

In what context did this joke come out or in what context did they talk about this concept or did they use this phrase or they use this collocation or they made this play on words, right? So that's a really good thing to do. Pause, rewind, play it again and then practice it yourself and then make sure you keep a note of this somewhere.

Keep a notebook, maybe you have a designated notebook, meaning you have one notebook that is just for English from the movies or English from your Netflix series or your Disney plus streaming anything where you're watching something and you're listening because it's a great way of advancing your vocabulary, of working on your listening comprehension, of making your pronunciation that much better and just again, that entertainment value that's there is also a lot of fun because it keeps you motivated, it keeps you interested.

Of course, you don't have to do any of this, you could do it in a more passive way. But if you're really gung ho, if you're really motivated about working on your English and advancing even further than where you are currently, then you need to be proactive. It's OK to have those days where you just feel like watching a movie and not maybe being as actively engaged in what was that word or what was that phrase or.

Oh, that's an interesting collocation. Right? Discovering new points of the language that you didn't know before. But I will say this, the more proactive you are, the more you will progress and the faster you will progress. So if that is your aim, if that is your goal, then I would say if you're watching a movie maybe twice or three times a week, let's say on the weekends, then at least one of those three times you should be proactively writing things down pausing, rewinding, repeating and so forth, because that's really going to help you catapult yourself into the next level, which is ultimately what we want it's ultimately why you are here and you are engaged

in these lessons, right? So that's a big thing with language learning specifically being proactive and finding opportunities in your day to day to enrich yourself and to make and find a teachable moment out of the things that you would normally do, like watching a program, watching a movie. So there are so many ways to continue advancing your English and that is one of them.

So I hope that you take these points into consideration and try them out yourself and always remember that practice makes progress. So the more practice you put into it, the more you'll get out of it. And you are just going to start soaking up new words and new phrases and new expressions and improving your pronunciation that much more by doing these kinds of activities each and every week.

All right, Advanced English learners thank you so much for joining me for this lesson. I hope that you enjoyed it if you did give it a big thumbs up. If you're watching here on YouTube and if you're listening to this as a podcast, and I look forward to seeing your review, you can leave up to five stars and be sure to share it with friends and family and anyone who's interested in advancing their English.

And be sure to check out the full transcript on our blog at Advanced English. That code word slash plug where you'll also find our newsletter, which you can sign up for free and you'll get lessons delivered straight to your inbox every week. All right. I will see you in the next Advanced English lesson. We're going to continue advancing your English together until then, keep up the awesome work and I will see you very soon.