Lights, Camera, Action! Unleash the Power of Movies for Language Learning

by Jordan Ellett, Co-Founder, Nonsense

Have you considered how you might incorporate movies into your language learning? Have you, like me, heard the advice to use media in your studies but have struggled to make it work? I know I have. Movies are a treasure trove for language learners, offering a natural, engaging, and fun way to immerse in another language and culture so it is worth figuring out how you are actually able to unlock this language learning practice in your own studies.

Immersion and the Magic of Movies

Movies transport us to new worlds, weaving stories with dialogue, emotions, and visuals. This immersive environment is a goldmine for language learners. You're exposed to natural speech patterns, everyday expressions, and cultural references – the very essence of a language used in real life. Textbooks often lack this context, leaving us learners feeling lost in a sea of grammar rules with no anchor to nuanced meanings. Let me make a case. Take for example the phrase, “Got ya!” The meaning and sentiment of this phrase can go so many ways:

  1. As a prank: you just sat on a thumb tack.
  2. As goodwill: a friend spotted you the cost of a candy bar.
  3. As a boast: you just took someone out in Fortnite
  4. As revenge: standing over an enemy

The real context where I got this phrase actually comes from the movie Shrek when Shrek tries (and fails) to grab one of the 3 blind mice that just invaded his home. This is just before the mouse bites his ear and says, “Oh this cheese is awful!”

Without context, it becomes very difficult to know as a learner when to use “Got ya” and when not to, and this erodes our confidence which is key in language learning!

Tips for Leveraging Movies

Despite the benefits, we also need to acknowledge that it can be overwhelming to get a good movie practice added to your language learning routine. Here are some tips to help with that:

Here is a sample from the Nonsense system from Shrek:

Nonsense screenshots


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