One of the easiest sources of real English comes from films and video clips. This makes watching a great way to practise your English and improve your vocabulary. Students sometimes complain that they don’t understand when they watch films and it is true that it can be difficult if you expect to understand everything all the time. The key is to watch in different ways depending on your energy levels and the amount of time you have.
Seven Watching Tips
Here are seven different ways of watching to choose from, all of which will help your English
Watch a film in English but just for fun. Don’t worry too much about the new language or ideas that you don’t understand. This is perfect for a film that you have already seen or where you know the film well. What will you learn? It is a useful review of what you know and subconsciously you’ll absorb some new words and notice things about English pronunciation.
Assisted watching is similar to extensive watching but you have some help. An obvious example of this would be subtitles in English or your own language. Once again, the idea is that you just sit back and enjoy the experience.
Attentive watching is a bit more energetic than the first two. As well as watching, you also occasionally pause the film to write down some interesting words or expressions which either you don’t use or don’t understand. The idea is not to interrupt the pleasure of watching so you might make a note of just four or five items that you can then look up in a dictionary.
Active and predictive watching
To do active watching you need to invent questions in advance to answer as you watch. For example, for each scene you might want to summarise the three most important things which happen to the main character in the film. Predictive watching asks you to pause and think what will happen next. Both of these give your watching a clear focus and if you can’t understand, you watch the scene again.
Watching and repeating
You pause the video and repeat what you have just heard, which is a great way to improve your pronunciation. This could be one word but it is even more useful if it is longer phrases. For example, if somebody asks a useful question or shows surprise you can try and copy the intonation.
Watching in silence or translation
This is best done scene by scene. You watch in silence or in your own language and then try to create the dialogue in English. Then you watch it again but in English. Compare what they say to your version and make a note of any interesting new expressions or language.
The idea behind intensive watching is to take as much as possible from a very short clip or scene. This could mean that you try to understand every single word that is said. Maybe you make a note of all the new language or try and write the dialogue you’ve watched. Enjoy your film!