How to Use Movies to Develop Listening Skills


Watching movies can improve the listening skills of students, whether they are learning English as a foreign language or whether they just want to improve their ability to listen, concentrate and comprehend. The use of movies enables students to improve their listening skills because they become engaged in the storyline of the film, which offers both a visual and audio depiction of dialogue and story in a potential real-life situation, using real emotions, diction, tone and slang, which can sometimes be lost in a classroom environment.

  • Listen to the context that certain words and phrases are used between characters in movies. This helps put into context expressions that may seem strange or have no logical translation when used in another culture or language context. Examples of such phrases include “Slept like a log” or “I have two left feet.” It is the common phrases and pop culture language that make it difficult for foreign language students to grasp or comprehend the language.

  • Listen to movies while wearing a blindfold if you are an English-speaking student who wants to improve listening skills. Forcing yourself to follow the plot by listening only to the dialogue will help you to understand and comprehend the language that is used and to make inferences about the plot and storyline without viewing what is taking place.

  • Watch movies with subtitles. Most movies these days contain subtitles in a variety of languages, including English, which can benefit anyone who wants to improve their listening skills. Foreign students can improve their listening skills by watching a movie in English with their language subtitles. This will enable them to match the written words with the English spoken words. English-speaking students can use subtitles to watch a film the second time around to see if they were able to listen to and comprehend the dialogue the first time around. Many will be surprised at how much information is missed without the use of subtitles.


  • Photo Credit girl with tv pilot image by krynio from
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