30 English Movies to Teach You How the Language Works
If you’re learning English and you like watching movies, why not try combining them?
That’s right, you can learn English by watching movies!
Here are 30 English movies that are sure to keep you entertained while you learn the language.
- English Movies for Beginner Learners
- English Movies for Intermediate Learners
- English Movies for Advanced Learners
- And One More Thing...
English Movies for Beginner Learners
1. Toy Story
Description: This animated (cartoon) movie follows a young boy named Andy who loves playing in his room with his toys—especially his cowboy action figure called Woody.
When Andy disappears, the toys come to life, and Woody is the leader that ensures all the toys are being good.
Andy’s mom gives him a new toy for his birthday, a space superhero called Buzz Lightyear. Buzz soon takes Woody’s place as Andy’s favorite toy and Woody becomes jealous.
Woody decides he’s going to get rid of Buzz, but as the two toys begin to fight, they get lost. This story follows their adventure as they try to make their way back to Andy.
Why this movie is great for English learners: Animated movies like “Toy Story” are usually written for a younger audience, which means the story and vocabulary are not complicated. Even though the movie is mainly for kids, adults enjoy it a lot, too.
2. Finding Nemo
Description: “Finding Nemo” is an animated film about a clownfish named Marlin who loses his son Nemo.
On the way, he meets another fish named Dory. Together, they set out on an exciting adventure to find Nemo across the ocean! I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but it’s a great film to watch for all ages—one of the best movies of all time!
Why this movie is great for English learners: It’s very popular worldwide, and the storyline is easy to follow. Plus, the vocabulary isn’t complicated.
3. Cast Away
Description: Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks)—who travels around the world fixing problems at FedEx centers—has to go to Malaysia on business and is forced to leave his girlfriend Kelly behind on Christmas.
After his plane hits a terrible storm and it crashes in the Pacific Ocean, he wakes up on an island with nothing with him except a volleyball.
Chuck names the ball Wilson and talks to him every day to fight his loneliness. The movie follows Chuck and Wilson as Chuck struggles to survive being stranded.
Why this movie is great for English learners: Most of the dialogue in this movie is a monologue (one person speaking), so it’s very easy to follow. The actor Tom Hanks is also known for his clear and slow voice, which is perfect for any English learner to understand.
4. (500) Days of Summer
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Description: This movie shows a young architect named Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meeting Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel).
He falls in love with her right away, and over the next few months, they spend a lot of time together, even though Summer tells him she doesn’t believe in love.
Despite how much time they spend together, Summer doesn’t feel the same about Tom.
A couple of years later, they meet again, and she explains that he was right about love and that she has met someone else.
Why this movie is great for English learners: The English is very simple to understand, and it’s a narrative from one person’s perspective, so it’s easy to follow. It’s not your typical love story and catches the audience’s interest.
5. Despicable Me 3
Genre: Family / Comedy
Description: In the previous movies, Gru started as the world’s most evil supervillain (bad guy). In this part of the series, Gru no longer knows who he is.
In the beginning of this movie, he is now part of the anti-villain squad. But, pretty soon, he is kicked out of the squad for failing to do his job.
Then one day, he is visited by his mysterious twin brother, who now wants to become a villain and asks for Gru’s help.
Why this movie is great for English learners: Even though the main story is about Gru, the real stars of this movie are the three girls he adopted. The youngest sister’s lines are short but very funny, making her a good model for English learners who are just starting.
It may be best for beginners to focus on the three sisters and their speech, as most of the other characters have accents that are not standard for English.
6. The Boss Baby
Description: Tim Templeton is a seven-year-old child who gets all the love and attention from his perfect parents. But one day, he discovers that his parents have brought another baby to their house.
Over time, Tim is ignored by his parents as the strange suit-and-tie-wearing baby takes away all their affection.
Then, both brothers have to put aside their rivalry and join in fighting a common threat—puppies.
Why this movie is great for English learners: The film is a unique mix of casual English and business language. As the baby is supposed to be a manager in a business corporation, he uses words like “closers” (people who finalize a business deal) and “power nap” (sleeping for a short time to energize yourself for work).
At the same time, Tim and the rest of the babies use basic English language.
7. The Son of Bigfoot
Description: Adam is a boy who lost his father when he was a baby and grew up to be a lonely teenager who has almost no friends in school.
Despite being bullied, he pretends to be happy so his mother won’t worry about him. But one day, he discovers a secret pile of letters written by his dad.
He finds out that his father is alive and that both his parents were keeping this a secret from him.
Adam sets out to meet his father and learns that his dad is Bigfoot (a giant ape-like creature who has human intelligence)!
Why this movie is great for English learners: At the beginning of the movie, you can learn the informal language of school students. You will also see how school authorities like principals use special words like “detention” and “suspended” to assert their power. There are scenes where many marketing words are used along with scientific terms, making this movie best for high-beginner to intermediate-level learners.
8. The LEGO Batman Movie
Genre: Action / Comedy
Description: In this film, Batman faces a challenge from Joker, his worst enemy.
Batman discovers that he cannot stop the Joker alone and has to team up with others in Gotham City. He also discovers that he has accidentally adopted an orphan boy as his son.
Batman always goes through the same kinds of problems, but this time it’s funny rather than serious. He is challenged by his loneliness, and he learns a lot about responsibility and relationships.
Why this movie is great for English learners: Most characters use casual English. But some characters, like Alfred, always speak with a formal, British accent. Learners who like comics a lot and are fans of superheroes will love this movie. It features Superman and other supervillains like Harley Quinn, Catwoman, Riddler and even Voldemort from Harry Potter.
English Movies for Intermediate Learners
9. The Social Network
Description: This story tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg, a geeky Harvard student who wants to revolutionize the way we communicate with other people.
The story shows how Zuckerberg accidentally finds fame and becomes a multi-millionaire—but there is a price.
Many of his old friends and people he’s connected with over the years want him to fail. Mark Zuckerberg shows us he’s got everything thing he could want, but not many friends.
He finds himself in court several times, and the movie questions whether it was really Mark Zuckerberg or not who first created the world’s largest social network, Facebook.
Why this movie is great for English learners: This is an award-winning movie written by Aaron Sorkin. He’s famous for his natural dialogue and funny lines, which makes this movie really enjoyable to watch and easy to follow.
You’ll also be able to pick up a lot of great English vocabulary related to computers, technology and social networks.
10. The Hangover (2009)
Description: Four male friends go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party a couple of days before their friend’s wedding.
They find themselves in a lot of trouble, and it’s unsure whether they are going to make it back in time for the wedding.
The story follows the friends as they try to clean up their messes and return for the wedding. This movie is packed with inappropriate humor and is not for kids, but it is really funny.
Why this movie is great for English learners: It’s a comedy that relies a lot on its visuals, which makes it much easier to understand the dialogue between the characters.
All the characters use everyday English, making this movie an excellent way to learn modern American slang. You’ll hear common phrases such as “stag party” (bachelor party) and “all-nighter” (staying up all night without sleep).
11. The Hunger Games
Genre: Dystopian Action
Description: This story is set in the future in a nation called Panem, broken up into 12 districts.
Every year, two people are chosen by a lottery to represent their district in the Hunger Games fight—a fight to the death where only one competitor will survive and be named a victor.
This follows the story of Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), a 16-year-old girl from District 12 who unexpectedly volunteers for the Hunger Games when her sister’s name is taken out of the lottery.
Why this movie is great for English learners: This is a very visual movie—whatever you miss in the dialogue, you’ll be able to pick up through all the visual activity.
While the action is fast, the language is relatively easy to understand. The characters’ accents are North American, so you’ll have no problem understanding what the characters are saying.
Genre: Romance / Fantasy
Description: Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is a teenager who never cared about being a part of the popular girls.
When her mom remarries, Bella chooses to live with her dad in a small town in Washington. It’s a boring rainy town and nothing interesting happens until she meets a mysterious and handsome guy named Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).
Edward is like no other guy she’s ever met–he’s handsome, intelligent and witty. Bella eventually finds out that he’s also a vampire.
The story follows Edward and Bella’s forbidden love and their struggle to be together.
Why this movie is great for English learners: This movie is aimed at teenage and young adult audiences and uses everyday English. The language is typically American, and the characters’ accents are clear and easy to understand.
13. The Break-up
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Description: Gary (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) meet at a Chicago Cubs game. They’re attracted to each other immediately, and Brooke loves Gary’s humor.
They begin dating and soon buy a condo together. But their backgrounds are very different, and after living together, they decide to break up because they have different interests—but still live together as roommates.
Gary goes back to living like a single guy, throwing parties and inviting women around to the home. This breaks Brooke’s heart even more.
Brooke decides to quit her job and travel around Europe. On her return, Gary understands his mistakes and tries to win back her heart.
Why this movie is great for English learners: This movie is full of everyday slang language, which is used in many social situations. You’ll learn language related to communicating with a partner and some common lines used in an argument.
14. Forrest Gump
Description: Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) is waiting at a bus stop, where he begins telling his past story to some strangers waiting for the bus.
His sad story begins with him as a child when he had a leg problem and had to wear braces. He suffered a lot from other kids bullying him.
One day while he’s running away from the kids, his leg brace breaks. He suddenly discovers he’s very fast at running, which wins him a college scholarship (even though he’s not very smart).
That scholarship results in him living through all kinds of crazy experiences, from going to war to running across the country.
Why this movie is great for English learners: This is a perfect movie to learn English, as the speech is slow due to Forrest Gump’s mental problems. The language is simple and uncomplicated, so it’s really easy to follow. It will also teach you some important details about U.S. history and culture.
Genre: Family Drama
Description: It is always difficult to stand out in a group. We often hide our differences so others won’t think we are strange.
But what happens when you cannot keep your differences a secret? This movie seeks to answer this question in the most touching way possible.
It is a story about Auggie, a boy born with a different face. He usually wears a helmet so that others do not notice his face. But when he enters school for the first time, he finds that sometimes differences can also bring people closer together.
Why this movie is great for English learners: This film focuses on interactions between school children and families. By watching it, you can also learn the common names of objects found in a classroom, observe how a typical American school functions and hear how people talk to each other there.
See if you can notice the difference between how adults and children communicate in the movie. Note the differences in tone, vocabulary and speed.
16. Beauty and the Beast
Genres: Family / Fantasy
Description: This is an old classic that has been remade by Disney. The story follows Belle, a beautiful young woman who loves to read, living in a village with her father.
Her father is kidnapped by a beast, so she goes to the castle where he lives and is forced to stay there to save her father.
In reality, the beast is actually a prince who has been cursed to be an animal.
Only true love can turn him back into a human being, so he wants Belle to stay near him and eventually fall in love with him to break his curse.
Why this movie is great for English learners: The movie is an excellent introduction to formal British English, also known as The Queen’s English. Some characters from the village also speak with a Cockney accent, usually used by working-class Londoners and considered casual English.
Description: Based on a real-life story, this movie tells a love story between Rose DeWitt Bukater (the daughter of a wealthy family) and Jack Dawson (a poor artist who sneaks onto the ship).
Titanic is also home to the famous song “My Heart Will Go On” by Céline Dion—a great all-time classic and a masterpiece of technical complexity! You’ll hear it in the movie trailer below.
Why this movie is great for English learners: Practically every English speaker on Earth has seen this film—and knows this song—so you’re getting a great cultural lesson if you watch “Titanic” when you learn English through movies.
FluentU lets you watch the music video with interactive subtitles, which can help you understand its complex meanings.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
18. Harry Potter
Description: If you like magic, you’ll love the “Harry Potter” series. These beloved English movies will take you through the mysteries of Hogwarts—a magic school for wizards—and the wizard world.
It’s a seven-part book series (and eight-part film series) about the battle between good and bad wizards.
The story centers around Harry Potter, his closest friends and the evil Lord Voldemort. After you watch this, magic will never be the same again.
Why this movie is great for English learners: Tons of people worldwide use Harry Potter to learn languages because the movies are so interesting that you’ll never get bored.
It’s also an excellent choice if you want to get used to hearing British English, as it’s the accent used throughout. The characters speak very clearly, which makes them easy to understand.
19. Pirates of the Caribbean
Description: Each movie in this series follows the adventures of Jack Sparrow, captain of the Black Pearl (the name of Jack’s ship).
It starts by following Jack’s attempts to get his ship back, which was stolen from him.
In the next films, Jack finds the Dead Man’s Chest, which contains the heart of Captain Davy Jones, someone he owes a favor to. Finally, Jack is forced to look for the Fountain of Youth, which is a magical fountain that promises eternal youth.
Why this movie is great for English learners: Intermediate and advanced learners will benefit the most from these movies. It features various accents and introduces you to slang, making it perfect for picking up colloquial English and improving your listening skills.
English Movies for Advanced Learners
20. The Terminator
Description: “The Terminator” series is a story about a war between artificially intelligent (AI) machines and humans that is going on in the future. When the humans start to win the war, these AI machines send killer machines back to the past.
Their goal is to kill the human resistance leader, John Connor, and his family. It’s a thrilling science fiction film that’s truly one of a kind in this genre.
Why this movie is great for English learners: It’s entertaining and a cultural icon, so most Americans have seen it. This movie is perfect for advancing your vocabulary, especially when talking about technology. Plus, there are lots of verbs in the past and future tenses.
21. Thor: Ragnarok
Description: If you love special effects, superpowers, fighting scenes and cool costumes, then you’ll love this movie.
This movie focuses on Thor, a god from Norse mythology. After a long time, he returns to his birthplace to find that his father is dead and his sister is coming to rule his city.
With help from other famous superheroes like Hulk and Doctor Strange, he has to fight his sister Hela and save his people.
Why this movie is great for English learners: Unlike many other famous movies, some of the actors in this one speak in a New Zealand accent (also called a Kiwi accent). The film has many funny moments that can help you understand what kind of humor is popular with the current English-speaking population.
22. The Big Sick
Description: Kumail Nanjiani is a comedian from Pakistan who falls in love with Emily Gardner, a college student in the US.
When Emily gets sick, Kumail develops an unexpected bond with her parents.
Why this movie is great for English learners: Seeing the contrast between the Pakistani and American cultures can be very helpful for English learners. Since the Pakistani Americans in the movie are immigrants, they go through a journey of learning about American culture.
You can note the differences between how the families talk and observe the rhythm, tone, pace and vocabulary of the native and non-native speakers.
Description: This movie is based on Stephen King’s well-known novel of the same name.
It is about a small town where children are being kidnapped by strange forces. When all the adults refuse to find the cause, a group of children decides to investigate.
What they find is horrifying and thrilling. This is perhaps one of the first stories that turned clowns into monsters.
Why this movie is great for English learners: The movie is pretty great for learning authentic, casual American English, as the dialogue between the children will help you understand what a normal conversation on the street sounds like.
24. Wonder Woman
Description: Diana is the princess of the Amazons, a tribe of women who train themselves to be warriors. She is raised on an isolated island without contact with the outside world.
When she discovers a pilot and he tells her about a war that is going on, she decides to leave. She becomes Wonder Woman and hopes to stop the great war using her special powers.
Why this movie is great for English learners: The First World War was a significant event for the English-speaking world, and this film tries to give you a feel of what things were like then. The characters use a lot of military vocabulary—like “no man’s land” (a piece of land unoccupied by any nation) or “snipers” (special soldiers who use a gun to kill people from a distance).
Description: Wolverine, a powerful character from the X-men movies, discovers a girl, Laura, who is an incredible warrior.
After her mother dies, Wolverine promises to protect Laura from a military group. When he discovers that Laura has powers identical to his, they develop a loving and difficult relationship.
Why this movie is great for English learners: The conversations between characters in “Logan” are powerful but short. Since the pace of these conversations is often fast, this movie is best for advanced learners.
Apart from that, American culture, geography and accents are featured heavily in this movie. The characters talk about comic books, and there are scenes in public areas and various locations in the USA that are important conversation topics.
26. Get Out
Genres: Horror / Psychological Thriller
Description: Chris is a black American photographer in a steady relationship with Rose, a white American woman.
When Rose invites Chris to stay in her family’s country house for a weekend, he has no idea what he will go through.
This is a psychological thriller, which means that mystery, suspense and surprise are the core of the movie.
Why this movie is great for English learners: This movie shows a lot of informal, intimate conversations between families and lovers. It also highlights the differences between some speech common in African-American communities and what is considered to be standard American English.
On a cultural level, “Get Out” deals with the issue of current racism in the US and the history of racism in the country.
Description: Three teenage girls have been kidnapped and forcefully kept in cells by a criminal who has 23 different personalities.
The plot shows how the different personalities interact and how they can be manipulated by other people.
Ultimately, a hidden personality takes over the criminal’s mind, and everyone has to work together to stop him.
Why this movie is great for English learners: Since the same actor has to play the roles of 23 different people, learners can see how people of different genders and age groups might talk differently.
28. Loving Vincent
Description: Vincent van Gogh was one of the most influential painters of the 20th century.
He was deeply troubled in his life and had to go to mental asylums (hospitals for mental illnesses) many times.
This movie tries to capture the last days of his life through the eyes of Armand, the son of a postman who was close to Vincent. Before committing suicide, Vincent had given him a letter that had to be delivered to his brother Theo.
This is a hand-painted animated film that mimics the style of van Gogh’s paintings. The film has won many awards around the world and is truly one of a kind.
Why this movie is great for English learners: Apart from its artistic brilliance, the film is perfect for showing the differences between some of the major English accents. Its vast cast of characters speaks in British, Scottish and Irish accents. Try to compare these accents with the standard American accents spoken in most other movies in this list.
This movie is also great for reviewing vocabulary for objects usually found in rural areas, such as “hay,” “barn” and “field.”
29. Star Wars
Genre: Science Fiction / Adventure
Description: “Star Wars” is another epic film series. If you want to watch it from the story’s beginning to end, follow the list in this article.
This story follows the end of a long battle between two opposing forces of the universe—the Jedi Order and the Sith Lords.
In the Star Wars series, it is believed that there is a “Force” that holds together the universe.
While the Jedi Order believes in compassion and kindness when using this “Force,” the Sith Lords believe in using the Force through hate, anger, jealousy and other negative feelings.
Why this movie is great for English learners: Star Wars is an American classic, and nearly everyone has seen it. You’ll be able to have long conversations with your English-speaking friends about these movies and understand pop culture references to them.
It’s best for advanced learners looking for a challenge since you’ll have to distinguish between actual English words and words the movie has made up, like “Jedi.”
30. Lord of the Rings
Genre: Fantasy / Adventure
Description: “Lord of the Rings” is another one of the most outstanding film series in this magical category.
Set in the lands of Middle Earth, there are three primary races—dwarves, humans and elves—with other races such as hobbits, orcs and werewolves.
The series follows the dark plot of a rebellion led by Sauron, the most horrible being across all the lands.
To oppose this evil, a small group of fighters take on a brave mission—to destroy a ring that is said to hold the powers of Sauron, and bring peace back to Middle Earth.
Why this movie is great for English learners: The movies are quite long, which means you’ll have enough content to study with for weeks (or maybe even months).
Now that you have 30 English movies that you can watch to learn the language, what are you waiting for?
Get some popcorn and start watching!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)