The Case for Watching an Action Flick in Your New Language

People enjoy watching a summer blockbuster
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When the summer heat starts blazing and you need a break from the pool, there is nothing like heading into a (heavily air-conditioned) movie theatre for some popcorn and the newest blockbuster film.

If you’re learning a new language, this is also a time when you can break from your more rigorous study routine and enjoy some of the entertainment your new language and its surrounding culture can bring.
That’s why we’re making the case for watching an action flick in your new language (and if you’re doing the 2019 Summer Bucket List Challenge, this will help you check off #4).

You’ll gain exposure to new words and phrases.

Most adults know about 42,000 words in their native tongue, adding almost one new word a day until middle age. To catch up, you’ll want to be a sponge for language.

What’s great about watching an action film is it gets you out of academia, instead saddling you next to slang, challenges, jokes and cliches that may resonate with native speakers more than what you’d find in a textbook (though you may not want to repeat EVERYTHING you hear… we find it best to keep the insults out of polite society.)

Common tropes make it easier to follow than, say, a genre-bending avant-garde film.

The hero’s journey. Good versus evil. The thrilling chase scene. Some things are just universal (if you’re still not convinced, think of how many countries have a version of Cinderella).

You can use this in your favor. It will be easier to find your bearings in the plot, so you’ll be able to focus more on picking out phrases you already know and using context clues to determine the meaning of the ones you don’t.

Doing so opens a treasure trove of options.

You may think you have seen every action-packed hero movie, but if you’ve only been viewing English options then you’ve barely scratched the surface. Not only will your library of options open up, but you may also have fun spotting how the movie differs from what you grew up with. How are a hero’s superpowers in a Japanese film different than in an American one? What about the production crew’s approach to special effects? What qualities epitomize the love interest and how embellished are the credits at the end (if they even scroll slow enough to read)?

You’ll have something to talk about with native speakers.

While we have nothing against talking about the weather or what you do for a living, you may find a somewhat more energizing conversation when you can chat about something you both care about. It could be nice to revel in that unanticipated plot twist and share theories on how the series will unfold.

Your listening skills might get a boost.

A study published in The National Center for Biotechnology Information found a statistically significant improvement in listening scores after ESL speakers watched a TV episode in English. The speakers had even more success when they watched the show with subtitles in their native language. So find something that looks intriguing, consider turning the English subtitles on and go.

A few tips to get you started.

All heroes need to train a bit, right? For the language equivalent of hitting the gym or the dojo, try brushing up with a lesson or two while the movie is cycling through the previews.

Or, if you aren’t ready to go for the full feature-length film, consider watching a few trailers instead.

And there’s no rule saying you can’t watch a movie you know and love that’s been translated into the language you’re learning (we’ve found that if the voice dub is terrible, that only makes the experience more memorable and fun.)

If you aren’t learning a new language yet, be sure to start our free trial. It’s a great way to get your feet wet before officially starting your language learning journey.


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