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Many of us are well-acquainted with American English and its associated slang, given the prevalence of American movies and TV shows. However, what about British slang? For instance, if someone were to refer to you as a “fit bird,” would you perceive it as a compliment or an insult?

British English can prove to be markedly distinct, not only in its vocabulary but also in the mannerisms and expressions employed, encompassing both everyday phrases and ways of addressing unfamiliar individuals.

So, how do you go about acquiring British English? Let’s begin by considering a selection of movies.

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How to learn British English with movies

Movies offer an excellent avenue for English language acquisition since they allow you to simultaneously engage your visual and auditory senses, enhancing your comprehension of words and phrases. Here’s a guide on how to optimize your cinematic learning experience:

Tip #1: Watch with English subtitles

Opt for English subtitles while watching. This practice assists in learning the correct spelling of expressions or phrasal verbs, which proves valuable when encountering seemingly nonsensical phrases or idioms. Subtitles can also enhance your pronunciation skills by allowing you to read the word while simultaneously hearing it spoken.

Additionally, reading subtitles aids in comprehending accents, particularly since many individuals find British accents somewhat challenging to understand.

Tip #2: Look for visual clues

The effectiveness of using movies as a learning tool lies in the abundance of visual hints provided to convey word meanings. For instance, if a character takes their hands out of their pockets and complains about being “skint,” you can deduce that it signifies having no money.

Unlike reading, these visual cues are absent, making watching an excellent method for expanding your conversational vocabulary.

Tip# 3: Find movies that interest you

I often advise my students that the most effective way to learn English is by engaging in activities you genuinely enjoy, but in English. This principle extends to movies as well. While our list encompasses films spanning various genres, you can also explore movies akin to those you typically watch in your native language. Learning becomes more enjoyable when driven by curiosity and genuine interest, as it doesn’t feel like a formal learning process at all.

Are you more inclined toward TV series? You might want to refer to our guide on the best TV series for English language learning.

Now that you’re all set, why not take a well-deserved break, brew a comforting cup of tea, and relax as you immerse yourself in these iconic British movies?

The Top 6 Films for British English Learning

(Categorized by Skill Level)
Selecting a movie that aligns with your skill level is crucial, as feeling overwhelmed and discouraged due to a lack of comprehension can be quite disheartening. Hence, we’ve curated a list of movies categorized by proficiency level to assist you on your journey of learning British English.

Let’s begin with movies suitable for novice English speakers.

 

Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

This particular film, possibly less familiar in your region, is a beloved classic suitable for both children and adults. Presented through stop-motion animation, the narrative revolves around Wallace and his faithful dog, Gromit, as they cross paths with a mischievous rabbit pilfering the villagers’ garden produce. Together, they embark on a mission to capture the elusive rabbit. The English used in this film is straightforward, yet the humor often carries a sophisticated tone. The characters’ habits and interactions mirror those typical of English villages, making it an excellent choice for starting your English learning journey.

In general, I would recommend animated films because they tend to feature simpler English, given their target audience of children. You might also consider exploring “Chicken Run,” “Flushed Away,” or the timeless classic, “Watership Down.”

Four Weddings and a Funeral

While it may not be a recent selection, this film stands as one of the most renowned British cinematic classics. It showcases the trademark deadpan humor that Britain is celebrated for and highlights the distinctions between British and American cultures. One example is how Hugh Grant’s character frequently unknowingly gives offense. The film’s overall lightheartedness, except for the funeral scene, makes it exceptionally enjoyable to watch – you might not even realize you’re viewing a movie in a foreign language!

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Shaun of the Dead

This film is a side-splitting comedy with a zombie theme, taking place in London. The plot centers on two unsuspecting friends attempting to evade a zombie apocalypse. Primarily, it’s a parody of zombie films and offers a breezy viewing experience since the English used is not overly complex. Additionally, it portrays the everyday life of the city, with characters engaging in ordinary conversations that prove beneficial for learning British conversational English.

Movies for Intermediate-level English speakers 

28 Days Later

This film is a side-splitting comedy with a zombie theme, taking place in London. The plot centers on two unsuspecting friends attempting to evade a zombie apocalypse. Primarily, it’s a parody of zombie films and offers a breezy viewing experience since the English used is not overly complex. Additionally, it portrays the everyday life of the city, with characters engaging in ordinary conversations that prove beneficial for learning British conversational English.

Love Actually

For those who may not be particularly drawn to dramas or comedies, I suggest this horror film. It revolves around a virus spreading across the globe (which might sound familiar) and transforming individuals into zombies. Featuring fewer dialogues compared to most comedic or dramatic movies, this film serves as an excellent resource for enhancing your comprehension of British accents. If you’re fascinated by the city of London, the movie also provides the opportunity to envision a completely deserted London.

Bird Box

In a desperate bid for survival, Malorie (Sandra Bullock) must shield her eyes and escape, all while ensuring the safety of her children in a world engulfed in darkness. Besides battling unseen monsters, she must also contend with her own inner struggles to maintain her resolve, knowing that a single glimpse could be fatal.

What is your English level?

Find out your A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2 level of English with our quick, free online test.