Study Tips & News

Movies and Me – Improving Your Listening Skills by Being a Couch Potato by Aili Hillen

When we talk about learning a new language, we all know the 4 basic skills: Speaking, Writing, Reading and Listening.

How can we improve these?  The simple, obvious answer?

To improve your speaking, speak! To improve your writing, write! To improve your reading, read!

Finally, to improving your listening, listen!

Unfortunately, life is not the Sims and we can’t just let our character do something for a certain amount of time and hope they’ll improve.

No, it’s about practising all the skills in the right way.

Just watch. In 2 minutes, she’ll be an expert at reading!




Let’s talk about listening. How can we practice our listening skills in the right way? One way, of course, is by having conversations with people regularly in English. No matter where they come from, this will help.

What about those of us who aren’t social butterflies? What about those of us who just want to stay home? Interestingly, that’s actually where English learners have a huge advantage. There are hundreds upon hundreds of movies in English. Possibly more than in any other language. Not to mention all the t.v. shows, mini-series, and stuff on Youtube. This is a great resource for any English learner. Here are some of my favourites…..

Something for your brain:


Something funny and fun:


Something classic:





A few tips for listening in the right way:

  • No subtitles! Not even English subtitles! If you use subtitles in your language, you’re not learning English and if you use English subtitles, you’re not listening, you’re reading!
  • Use the cover! Look at the cover of the movie and ask yourself a few simple questions about it. Like: Who’s that man? What’s the story about? Try guessing the answer. This will help you understand the movie better.
  • Ask questions! During the movie, ask yourself general questions and answer with simple answers. For example:

Don’t worry about what you don’t understand. Be proud of what you do!

  • Keep a notebook nearby! Write down a list of some new vocabulary from class in a notebook, maybe 10 or 15 words. Every time you hear one of the words word, draw a circle next to it. This will help you hear vocabulary you’ve just learned.

Happy watching!