After repeated requests from our readers, we’ve created this list of the 5 best movies to learn British English. Since we know that some of our English readers aren’t native speakers, and it’s common for them to be exposed to a less internationally-focused English (i.e US English), today we’ve decided to focus on British English alone.
Before presenting our list, here are some tips on the most effective method for improving your English skills by watching movies:
For beginners, we suggest leaving the subtitles in your native language. Even though the subtitles may disrupt your attention, this preliminary exposure helps you pick up the language much in the same way as a baby with their first language. (Subconscious learning is still learning.)
Progressively, you will be able to watch the film with the English subtitles. Seeing the words in writing helps you understand what you may have missed between the two accents.
And finally, watch the movies with no subtitles, in their purest form. With a little experience, this method is by far the best British film for improving your English skills. Even if you can’t understand half of what’s going on, you still make huge progress. If you still have troubles, I suggest you learn a little more vocabulary and learn the pronunciation of each new word in both accents.
From our experiences, the spaced repetition system is the quickest way to learn new vocabulary. You can download the MosaLingua applications to learn languages, and with just ten minutes per day, you can learn over 600 new words in three months. With a recording of each new word you learn, you will quickly improve your skills in understanding and speaking English.
Even though I had read about it being one of the most effective methods, even I was a little bit of a skeptic at the beginning. And to my surprise, I saw my listening abilities increase by a huge margin with my Spanish skills, and quickly. Today, I can watch movies like Sin Nombre or Volver with no subtitles — and more enjoyably at that!
MosaLingua’s List of the Best Movies to Learn British English
This Is England
[This Is England -Great Britain – 2006 – Directed by Shane Meadows – Drama – Watch the official trailer]
The story of a young man from an English neighborhood who ends up bonding with a group of skinheads. Little by little, they indoctrinate him to their ultra-nationalist and racist ideologies. The movie takes place in the East Midlands region in Northern England (between Newcastle and Derby). After some time, you’ll get used to the accent of Shaun and his little buddies.
For those of you who are used to “BBC”‘s English accents, this movie will pose some difficulties. However, what you’ll find here is one of the best movies to learn English British: Slang, informal language and political and social vocabulary, such as issues with racism and violence, form the core of this movie.
[Trainspotting – UK – 1996 – Directed by Danny Boyle – Black Comedy/Drama – Watch the trailer]
At the top of our British Film list we have a highly visceral look into the daily life of a group of young Edinburghers as they struggle with their addiction. A cult film adaption of a novel by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting features the language of youngsters, often abrasive slang, British and Scottish accents, and drug and addiction based vocabulary. This film is one of the greats, even though it may be difficult to follow without subtitles. If you hadn’t gathered it from the trailer, the dialogue is very fast.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
[Four Weddings and a Funeral – Great Britain – 1994 – Directed by Mike Newell – Comedy – Watch the official trailer]
We’re sure a lot of our readers have already seen this irresistible comedy, but I bet that some of you will choose to rewatch it in its original form. There’s nothing better than British humor for some free time!
Our interest with this movie is its parody on the magnificent British accent of Hugh Grant. Four Weddings and Funeral isn’t that difficult of a movie, and you should be able to follow it without much of a problem. Its themes make it perfect for studying vocabulary related to humor, marriage and daily life.
Children of Men
[Children of Men – Great Britain/USA – 2006 – Directed by Alfonso Cuaron – Science fiction- Watch the official trailer]
London, 2027. For reasons unknown, humans have been incapable of having children for the past 20 years. An ancient history professor, Clive Owen, must escort a miraculously pregnant woman in order to take her to a group of scientists with the hopes of saving humanity’s future.
Children of Men is a great sci-fi British film set amidst a dark and chaotic London of the future. With clear political and philosophical overtones, front and center in Children of Men is a mere shadow of the cosmopolitan English capital we think of today. It’s focused on two great British actors: Owen Clive and Michael Caine. In the film, you will hear a range of dialogues with accents of thugs on both sides of the law. But in all, the movie offers a reflection on the politics of immigration, disaster and revolutions.
The King’s Speech
[The King’s Speech– Great Britain/Australia – 2006 – Directed by Tom Hooper – History – Watch the official trailer]
For a king, who’s often invited to deliver speeches to the nation, a stuttering problem is an enormous handicap. This film recounts the true story of King George V, who somewhat reluctantly (due to his disability) accepted the throne of England.
But the king is determined to overcome his stuttering issue, relying on the slightly unorthodox methods of his speech therapist. Stressing the speech capabilities of its protagonist, The King’s Speech offers plenty of dialogues that put it at the top spot in our list of the best movies to learn British English. The fact that this a movie is in the history genre also gives you the opportunity to enrich your vocabulary with terms related to English royalty, war and family (all with the help of Colin Firth’s perfect accent).
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