Learn English With Movies Using This Movie Technique


- [Voiceover] Welcome to The Effortless English Show

with the world's number one English teacher, AJ Hoge,

where AJ's more than 40 million students worldwide

finally learn English once and for all

without the boring textbooks, classrooms

and grammar drills.

Here's AJ with a quick piece to help you learn

to speak fluent English effortlessly.

- Hello and welcome to The Effortless English Show!

I am AJ Hoge, the author of Effortless English, this book.

And this is the show that teaches you

to speak English powerfully.

Many years ago, I was sitting

in Spanish class.

So I was in university, sitting in my Spanish class,

another day of Spanish, (sighs) waiting for the teacher.

And the teacher strolled in, and I'm thinking,

"Oh God, another, another terrible class of grammar rules

"and vocabulary lists."

But on this day something different.

The teacher was pushing a cart, right, with wheels

that had a TV on top.

So, instantly everybody in the class

kind of sat up more straight and smiled,

and there was a little bit of energy in the room,

and we all looked at each other,

and everybody was happy.

This positive energy spread around the classroom.

We all kind of giggled and laughed, and "Ah", "Ooh".

Because we realized that it was Movie Day.


No boring grammar rules, no boring vocabulary lists,

no tests, no quizes - we were gonna watch a movie!


Movie Day was always a happy day in school,

in any class, but especially in Spanish class.

So the teacher hooked up the TV, plugged it in,

and, of course, there was a VCR in those days,

so they used tapes.

There was a VCR, and the teacher put in the tape,

and started the movie.

Then she walked over and turned off the lights.

So movies days were wonderful because it was a day

where we didn't have to do anything, right.

There is no real studying, no work, no stress;

the teacher wouldn't call on us

and force us to speak Spanish

and make us all stressed out and worried.

So I sat back ready to watch the movie,

and the movie began.

It was a story about, I don't know, an immigrant

coming to America from Mexico.

But because it was Spanish class, of course,

the whole movie was in Spanish.

So the teacher walked over to her desk and sat down,

and started reading a book.

And I could tell she was also happy,

because no work for her, right?

Just plug in the movie, press Play,

and then sit back and relax for the whole hour of the class.

So, in the beginning of the movie I watched it

with good concentration,

and, of course, everybody speaking Spanish,

and I couldn't understand anything.

Basically - zero (laughs).

So I'm watching - eh, but I'm watching the pictures,

kind of following the story, kind of figuring out,

kind of understanding what was happening.

I managed to concentrate maybe for 10 minutes,

but then after 10 minutes I could feel my energy

dropping down.

And I started getting tired: my shoulders dropped down,

I leaned back, "Aah, oh, well, just enjoy the movie."


And then after 15 minutes my eyes got a little -

we say "droopy" meaning they get kind of low like this,

this is droopy eyes.

So my eyes got droopy.

Then I looked around the classroom at the other students.


I looked over to my right, and I saw several students

with their heads down on their desk, just like this.

Just sleeping or resting, not even watching the movie,

not even trying, just.

Several others looked like me,

most of the others looked like me:

just sitting kind of bored-looking,

with these blank faces,

staring at the movie, but not understanding anything.

And it stayed that way for the entire class.

I got sleepier and sleepier - I didn't fall asleep,

but I was kind of half awake and half asleep

with this look on my face the whole time.

More and more people in the class, my classmates,

put their heads down on their desks.

Some of them started whispering to each other,

passing notes to each other, "Hey!" (whispers).

In English, of course.

Pretty much no one in the class

paid attention to the whole movie

because we couldn't understand it at all.

Finally, at the end of class, the teacher put down her book

that she was reading, walked over,

stopped the movie about half way -

because we couldn't watch the whole thing,

the class was too short -

walked over, flipped on the lights.

And the bell rang "brrrring",

and we all stood up and got our books,

and hurried out of the class off to our next class.

An hour wasted, but at least an hour without stress.

Later in my life I became an English teacher.

And I can remember, at several jobs that I had,

walking by classrooms of other teachers

and seeing the exact same situation,

but in English.

Looking through the door or the window,

seeing an English teacher bring in the television,

looking at all the happy faces of the students,

because "Yay, an easy day of doing nothing!"

And the teacher plugging in the television,

popping in a movie - this time in English,

turning off the lights, pressing Play.

The teacher also happy walking to their desk,

usually reading a book, or sometimes just, you know,

laying back and resting and doing nothing;

and little by little all the students in the class

falling asleep (snores).

That is how most people use movies

or television shows to learn English - sadly.

Now, at home I know that you might try to learn English

with TV or movies.

Perhaps you turn on CNN

and you try to follow the news.

Maybe you watch a movie on television,

you watch the Star Network, or HBO,

or whatever you can get in English.

You turn it on, you press Play, and you watch the movie.

And of course, what happens?

Usually the same thing that happened to me

in my Spanish class,

the same thing that happened to all those students

that I watched in English classes.

In the beginning you try to follow what's happening,

but you can't understand most of it: it's too fast,

they use a lot of idioms, they use slang,

they speak with maybe a little bit different accents.

And so, you try to figure out the story from the pictures,

but after a while your energy drops,

your concentration drops,

because it's too hard to understand.

And then you finish the whole movie - maybe,

and you have basically learned no English at all.

And yet, around the world teachers continue to show movies

to their classes in this exact same way.

A waste of time.

It's used as a waste of time;

it's used as an easy day, a restful day.

It's used as wishful thinking.

It means we wish, we hope this will improve our English,

because it feels fun, it feels easy to watch a movie.

But the truth is using a movie in this way

does not help,

unless you're very, very, very advanced.

Just watching a movie in English

will not help your English.

Why? Why not?

Because you will not understand most of it,

and if you don't understand, you are not learning.

I learned zero Spanish watching movies in Spanish class.

None. Zero. Nothing.

It was a complete wasted hour of time.

If you simply put in a movie and watch it,

you're also just wasting your time.

Again, unless you're very, very advanced.

And if you're advanced, if you're very advanced,

if you understand most of the movies,

most of the TV shows you watch in English,

well, congratulations, you're doing a great job.

But for most people, just watching a movie like that,

it's a waste of time.

So should we forget about movies?

Should we forget about TV shows?


In fact, TV shows and movies

are possibly

a very, very powerful tool

for improving your English speaking.

Much, much, much better than a textbook.

You know, I hate textbooks

because in textbooks the English - it's not real, it's fake.

"Hello, how are you?

"I'm fine. And you?"

Who talks like that?

Nobody talks like that.

But in movies, movie English is much, much closer

to the real English we use in the United States

when we talk to our friends,

when we're at work, at our jobs,

when we're on the street chatting with people,

when we go to a restaurant.

Movies and television shows show you

a much more real kind of English.

Movies and TV shows have slang and idioms

that we use all the time.

They have very, very useful phrases.

Perhaps the most important of all,

movies and TV shows have real pronunciation.

It's how we really pronounce words and phrases.

We push some words together, we cut some words,

some words we stretch and make longer.

All of the real English speaking that we use in real life

you can get from movies and television shows.

So how do we use them correctly?

How do you use them so you could really learn,

you actually improve your English,

not waste an hour of time or two hours of time?

Well, you do it by using

The Effortless English Movie Technique,

which I will teach you

right after I answer a few Twitter questions.

When we come back, I will tell you exactly step by step

how to use a movie or a television show

to improve your English speaking and listening.

But first let's go to a few Twitter questions.

Twitter question time.

Well, this is a good question.

"AJ, which series or TV shows do you recommend us to watch

"for learning English?"

Great question!

Perfect for our topic.

I don't have just one to recommend,

because it depends on you, right?

If you love crime shows, for example,

then you should watch crime shows.

But what if you hate crime shows,

well, then don't watch them.

Maybe you prefer something more light,

something more romantic, something a little funnier.

So I won't tell you exactly what to watch,

but I will tell you which types of TV shows or movies

are best for you.

So, the best kinds are modern.

First of all, they need to be modern.

Modern means they're in this time period in history.

They can be a little bit old like from the 1980s,

or '90s, or 2000s, that's okay -

if you want something a little older

for a movie or a TV show.

You do not want a movie, however,

about the far past.

For example, an obvious example,

you don't want a movie about Shakespeare's time period,

or an actual Shakespeare movie.

You don't want that.

Why not?

Because that kind of English, it's not normal anymore.


That old style of English, we don't use it anymore.

Some of those old British movies about the 1900s,

the British Empire.

Some people might like them, they may be kind of romantic,

but the style of speaking is very strange

for this time period,

we don't talk like that anymore.

So you don't want that for learning English.

You can do it if you just enjoy it for entertainment,

but for English learning it needs to be something

more recent, something about now.

Recent history.

Secondly, I recommend

avoiding certain kinds of comedy.

For example, sitcoms.

They're called situation comedies,

or sitcoms, in the United States.

Some of them, some of them are okay,

but some of them can be very difficult to understand

if you're not American.

It's not the language actually, it's the culture.

Because some of those shows, some comedies make jokes

about our American culture,

what's happening in American culture now.

If you don't know about American culture,

you will not understand the joke.

It's not really an English problem,

it's just that you don't understand it.

For example, I might watch a show from Australia, a comedy,

and some of them, I might not think they are funny,

I might not understand the jokes,

just because I'm not Australian, I don't know

about Australian culture, or Australian current events,

or Australian pop culture.

So I might not find it so funny.

So something modern.

Dramas tend to be a little bit easier

and better for English learning.

Romantic comedies are usually good.

There're also good movies or TV shows.

So those types of shows or movies are best.

Let's take another Twitter question, shall we?

"Does avoiding error correction strengthen

"our bad habits in speaking?"

From Jaronsky from Poland.

I know her very well.

Also a good question.

As you know, if you follow me on Periscope or on Twitter,

you know I recently did a video about error correction.

I told you to avoid it, to not ask someone

to correct your errors.

So, Jaronsky's worried that

if she avoids error correction

maybe she will create bad habits in speaking.

That's a good thing to worry about.

Because if you don't improve,

indeed you might develop some bad habits.

How do you avoid that?

How do you continue to improve your grammar,

your pronunciation, the words you know?

You do it by focusing on what you want,

as I said in my Periscope video,

and by stydying and paying attention

to native speakers,

and also paying attention to what you do.

For example, you can study movies.

Study the phrases that the actors use in the movie;

study the vocabulary they use in the movie;

study especially their pronunciation.

Then compare your pronunciation,

compare your vocabulary, compare your grammar to theirs.

You don't need someone telling you

you're wrong all the time,

you can compare your speaking to theirs.

For example, you could record yourself using a webcam,

using a phone, using a little recorder -

anything you want.

Record yourself speaking English.

I'll talk a little more about this

when I talk about the movie technique.

But record yourself, then listen to yourself speak English,

then listen to the American actors speaking English.


When you do this, you will hear a difference,

and your brain will naturally understand

what you're doing wrong, how you need to improve

without stress.

You will hear the difference and you'll start to improve,

start to get closer and closer

to the American pronunciation, the American use of grammar,


In this way you do it in a positive way

focusing on what you want, focusing on the native speakers.

All right, let's go back, shall we, to the movie technique.

Time for me to teach you exactly how to use movies

and television shows to improve your English.

Step one.

Perhaps the most important.

Watch the whole movie and then -

so just watch the whole movie, just to get a feeling for it.

That's kind of step zero, introduction step.

Just watch the whole movie as you would do before:

watch it all, do the best you can to understand it.

You could use even subtitles in your own language

just to understand what's happening.

That's kind of your pre-homework.

But step one, the major part of the movie technique,

is choose the first scene, the first two or three minutes,

and watch only that.

Not the whole thing, only the first scene.

Turn on the subtitles or the captions in English -

not your language, English subtitles or English captions.

Watch only the first few minutes.

You can read along.

As you listen and read along,

write down any words or phrases that you don't know.

Then stop after three minutes,

or pause after the first scene.

Two or three minutes - pause.

You now have a list of new vocabulary, new phrases.

Use your little web dictionary,

your little phone dictionary, or iPad - whatever,

and find the meaning of those new phrases and new words.

What do you do next?

You go to the next scene,

do you watch the rest of the movie?

No, you do not.

What you do is you rewind back

to the beginning of scene one;

you review your vocabulary with the meanings,

so you understand the meaning;

then you watch it again for the second time.

Just the first scene, played again.

Subtitles still on, English subtitles.

Watch it again, the first scene.

Those new words will pop out,

you will notice them more now

because you wrote them down.

After the scene ends, pause again.

Review your vocabulary list quickly - just quickly,

don't try to memorize it, don't make a lot of stress.

It's not a test, you're not trying to memorize everything,

just review, quickly review the new words and phrases.

Any ones you don't remember, review the meaning.


It should take maybe one minute to do this.

Then what do you do?

You guessed it?

Rewind again back to the beginning,

play again just the first scene.

Again those new words will pop out,

you'll hear them, you'll hear the actors saying

the new phrases and words,

and you remember most of them.

Even after just three times you will remember the meaning

of most of them.

Now, on this first day rewind again,

repeat this a few more times -

two, three, four, five times maybe.

Just the first scene.

And relax, your day is finished for the movie technique.


You're done with the movie for today.

Tomorrow it's time again.

What should you do?

Watch the whole movie?


Again you will just focus on the first scene,

the same first scene.

This time turn the subtitles off.

No subtitles.

Not in English, not in your language.

Start the scene, play the whole thing again,

just two or three minutes.

Listen very carefully.

You'll hear all those new words and phrases,

you should remember most.

Pause at the end of the scene.

Review your vocabulary list again that you wrote down.

Maybe a couple of them you forgot -

relax, no big deal, that's normal.

But you review them - Ah! - and you remember them.

What do you do?

You guessed it.

You rewind, play the same scene again.

No subtitles this time, just listening very carefully.

Now, this time you probably will remember everything.

And your listening is getting better and better:

you have now heard the scene many times,

you're hearing the actors speak,

and the speech and the speed

is getting easier and easier for you.

Rewind again, play; rewind again, play;

rewind again, play.

Again, four, five, six, seven, ten times for the day.

This only takes 15 - 20 minutes, it's all, it's quite short.

(claps) You're done for the day.


Good job!

Day three.

What do you do?

Day three, now you understand everything, right?

You've listened to it with subtitles in English,

then you listened with no subtitles,

you reviewed all your vocabulary list many times -

you remember everything, no problem.

So day three, it's time to focus

on working on your pronunciation.

So day three,

you start again at the beginning of the same scene,

the same beginning scene, scene one.

Play one sentence and pause.

Then you repeat the sentence,

try to copy the actors' pronunciation,

say it the same way they say it.

Then play the next sentence, pause.

Again, copy what the actors say.

And then sentence by sentence go through the whole scene,

pausing and then you saying the same line.

Don't just say it mindlessly: ba-ba-ba.

Use the same emotion as the actors.

Use the same pronunciation as the actors.

Listen very carefully to how the actors are saying

each word, each phrase, each sentence, each line,

and you say it exactly the same as they do.

Your day is done after you do this three, four, five,

seven, eight, ten times.

Congratulations, done for the day!

The next day still scene one.

Start at the beginning again.

Now you're going to shadow it.

Remember the shadowing technique?

This time you'll do the same thing -

copy what the actors are saying -

but no pausing this time, no pausing.

You might want to turn on the English subtitles for this

the first time.

You might want to turn on so you can read,

it'll help you a little.

So you turn on the English subtitles and you play,

and the actors at the scene, they all start talking.

You, in a loud voice you say exactly

what the actors are saying at the same time.

At the same time.

No pausing this time.

So, you're hearing the actors speak,

you're saying what they're saying at exactly the same time -

or trying to.

Of course, actually you'll be a little behind the actors,

but try to be only a tiny bit behind them, just a little.

Again, you can use the English subtitles a few times

if this helps you.

You play it, you rewind; you do it again, you rewind -

shadowing each time, rewind.

Play and shadow, rewind; play and shadow, rewind,

play and shadow.

Again, six, seven, eight, nine, ten times.

The next day - on to the next scene, right?


You're learning the scenes deeply,

you're mastering the English, completely mastering it.

So what do you do?

Again you're going to shadow.

This time no subtitles, no reading at all,

just hearing and speaking at the same time.

Again, start at the beginning of the scene,

play and speak along at the same time,

copying what the actors are saying.

Use their same emotion, use their same voice,

because this is a video even use the same actions they do.

If they're smiling when they speak, you smile;

if they look like they're sad, you look like you're sad.

Use the same face, use the same gestures with your hands,

body movements - everything.

Copy everything the actors are doing.

Especially their voices.

You play the whole scene and speak at the same time

shadowing them, rewind, do it again;

rewind, do it again; rewind, do it again;

rewind, do it again - six, seven, eight, nine,

ten times or more.

Finally, the next day - this is an optional step,

the optional step.

The next day you can do this again - shadowing,

but record yourself.

Record yourself while you shadow.

So you play the movie,

and then you have a recorder next to your voice -

you're speaking loudly -

and you speak along with the actors at the same time

recording yourself as you do it.

When you get to the end stop the movie, pause it,

stop the recorder.

Rewind the movie.

Listen to the scene again, listen to the actors -

no talking, just listen to the actors.

Play it all again two or three minutes.


Then play your recording, rewind and play your recording.

Listen to yourself, compare yourself to the actors.

How close are you?

Do you sound like they do?

Do you have the same rhythm?

Do you have the same pronunciation

of these different words and sounds?

Does the emotion sound the same?

Is the speed the same?

No, of course, you will not be exactly like the actors.

Of course not.

But how close are you?

And what's different?

Notice what's different.

That tells you automatically how you need to improve.

Just by comparing your brain will understand

what you need to do.

You don't need to get stressed about it,

you don't need to worry about it,

don't be upset, relax, it's okay.

Let your brain do the work.

It will automatically help you improve

just by comparing the difference between you and the actors.

After all of this you're finally ready

to go to scene number two,

the next little piece of the movie.

And then you will repeat this entire technique,

this entire process, all of the process.

Repeat all of the steps again

with scene number two in the movie.

And then repeat all of these steps again

with scene number three and scene number four,

slowly going through all of the movie.

Will this be slow?

Of course.

Maybe you need a few months to finish just one movie,

but you're not doing this for entertainment,

you're doing this to improve your English.

So after those three months

you will master that entire movie.

You will learn all of the vocabulary,

all of the phrases in that movie.

Your listening ability will be so much better,

huge improvement.

Your speaking and pronunciation will be much faster,

much more natural, more fluent

and a much clear accent.

All of this - huge improvements.

Gigantic, huge improvements to your English listening

and your English speaking, your vocabulary,

your spoken grammar - all of it will get much, much better

by using this technique.

So go slowly.

This is how you properly,

powerfully use movies and TV shows

to improve your English speaking.

This is the way to do it.

Not the way my Spanish teacher did it,

not the way those other English teachers do it -

just play, and watch, and fall asleep (snores), no.

Use this movie technique - you will get powerful results.

In fact, just this weekend, last weekend,

our VIP member Max from Italy - some of you know him,

he talked about how much he has improved now

by using the movie technique and watching television shows.

He is watching TV shows now.

He'd finished watching Breaking Bad,

which a famous TV show, American TV show,

and he's watching other TV shows now.

And he said in the beginning it was very difficult,

but now he understands most of it.

So he's made big, big improvements

using the movie technique.

You will also.

All right, guys.

Finally, let's talk about our Code,

very important Code of Effortless English.

The Code is,

it's our guide,

it's what creates this amazing international family

of Effortless English.

It's why we have people from so many countries

around the world, wherein we're all friends together,

we're all friendly to each other.

Even though we're all so different,

it doesn't matter.

It's because we all follow the Code.

What is the Code?

The Code is very simple.

Number one.

We do the best we can.

We do the best we can.

It means we try to do our best.

Of course we will make mistakes,

of course we will have problems.

We relax about that, it's okay, we do the best we can.

Number two.

We do the right thing.

We do the right thing.

We don't cheat each other.

We do not insult each other

or say mean, bad things to each other.

Also this means - we do the right thing -

it means here in Effortless English

we do not talk about politics or religion.

You can talk about politics, you can talk about religion

on your own Facebook page, your own Twitter,

your own website, but we don't do it here.

The reason we don't do that here

is because politics and religion just cause a lot of fights

when people are from different countries

and different religions,

so we don't do it here, we do the right thing.

And number three, I think the most important one.

We show people we care.

We show each other we care.

It means we're positive,

we're saying nice things to each other.

When a member of Effortless English has success

we congratulate them, we're happy for them.

When a member of Effortless English is having problems,

they're feeling bad, we encourage them, we're nice to them,

we help them.

We show each other we care.

Very, very important.

That is the Code of Effortless English,

that is what makes our international family special.

Thank you very much for joining.

As always,

go to EffortlessEnglishClub.com

to join one of my English courses.


See you next time!