After repeated requests from our readers, we’ve created this list of the 5 best movies to learn British English (in our humble opinion 😉). It’s common for English learners to be exposed to “Hollywood” English (i.e. US English), so today we’ve decided to focus on British English alone to bring some linguistic diversity to your television screen!
MosaLingua’s List of the Best Movies to Learn British English
This Is England
[2006 – Shane Meadows – Drama – Watch the official trailer]
The story of a young man from an English neighborhood who ends up bonding with a group of skinheads. Little by little, they indoctrinate him into their ultra-nationalist and racist ideologies. The movie takes place in the East Midlands region in Northern England (between Newcastle and Derby). After some time, you’ll get used to the accent of Shaun and his buddies.
For those of you who are used to “BBC”‘s English accents, this movie will pose some difficulties. However, what you’ll find here is one of the best movies to learn English British. Slang, informal language, and political and social vocabulary, such as issues with racism and violence, form the core of this movie.
[1996 – Danny Boyle – Dark Comedy/Drama – Watch the trailer]
At the top of our British film list, we have a visceral look into the daily life of a group of young Edinburghers as they struggle with their addiction. A cult film adaption of a novel by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting features the language of youngsters, often abrasive slang, British and Scottish accents, and drug- and addiction-based vocabulary.
This film is one of the greats, even though it may be difficult to follow without subtitles. If you hadn’t gathered it from the trailer, the dialogue is very fast.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
[1994 – Mike Newell – Comedy – Watch the official trailer]
We’re sure a lot of our readers have already seen this irresistible comedy, but I bet that some of you will choose to rewatch it in its original form if you previously watched it dubbed. There’s nothing better than British humor in your free time!
Our interest in this movie is its parody of the magnificent British accent of Hugh Grant. Four Weddings and Funeral isn’t that difficult of a movie, and you should be able to follow it without much of a problem, even if you don’t understand 100% of the dialogue. Its themes make it perfect for studying vocabulary related to humor, marriage, and daily life.
Children of Men
[2006 – Directed by Alfonso Cuaron – Science Fiction – Watch the official trailer]
London, 2027. For reasons unknown, humans have been incapable of having children for the past 20 years. An ancient history professor, Clive Owen, must escort a miraculously pregnant woman in order to take her to a group of scientists with the hopes of saving humanity’s future.
Children of Men is a great British sci-fi film set in a dark and chaotic London of the future. With clear political and philosophical overtones, front and center in Children of Men is a mere shadow of the cosmopolitan English capital we think of today.
It stars two great British actors: Owen Clive and Michael Caine. In the film, you will hear a range of dialogues with accents of thugs on both sides of the law. But in all, the movie offers a reflection on the politics of immigration, disaster, and revolutions.
The King’s Speech
[2006 – Directed by Tom Hooper – History – Watch the official trailer]
For a king, who’s often invited to deliver speeches to the nation, a stuttering problem is an enormous handicap. This film recounts the true story of King George V, who somewhat reluctantly (due to his disability) accepted the throne of England.
But the king is determined to overcome his stutter, relying on the slightly unorthodox methods of his speech therapist. Stressing the speech capabilities of its protagonist, The King’s Speech offers plenty of dialogue that puts it at the top spot in our list of the best movies to learn British English. The fact that this movie is in the history genre also gives you the opportunity to enrich your vocabulary with terms related to English royalty, war, and family (all with the help of Colin Firth’s flawless accent).
Tips for Learners: Make the Most of British English Films
So you’ve seen the list of our favorite British English films, and hopefully picked out your next watch! Now, here are some tips on the most effective method for improving your English skills by watching movies:
For beginners, we suggest leaving the subtitles on in your native language. Even though the subtitles may disrupt your attention, this preliminary exposure helps you pick up the language much in the same way as a baby with their first language. (Subconscious learning, or passive learning, is still learning.)
Progressively, you will be able to watch the film with the English subtitles. Seeing the words in writing helps you understand what you may have missed, and associate written words with their pronunciation. This is especially beneficial for picking up the British accent if you’ve only ever listening to American content.
And finally, watch the movies with no subtitles, in their purest form. Even if you can’t understand half of what’s going on, you’ll still make great progress. If you’re having major trouble, learn a little more vocabulary and focus on the pronunciation of each new word in both accents.
From our experiences, the spaced repetition system is the quickest way to learn new vocabulary. Download the MosaLingua app, and with just ten minutes per day, you can learn over 600 new words in three months. With a recording of each new word you learn, you will quickly improve your skills in understanding and speaking English.
Though I had read about it being one of the most effective methods, even I was skeptical at first. And to my surprise, I saw my Spanish listening abilities increase exponentially and quickly. Today, I can watch movies like Sin Nombre or Volver with no subtitles—and more enjoyably at that!
Conclusions and Next Steps
There you have it—the best movies to learn British English! Although this article did not mention any popular British TV shows such as Downtown Abbey or The Office, programs like these can also be helpful as you progress through the learning process! Let us know of any other good British movies you can think of in the comments below!
Finally, if you enjoyed this article, you may also like:
- List of the Best TV Shows for Learning English
- Top 5 Movies for Learning American English—Grab the Popcorn!
- What English Accent Should I Learn? British 🇬🇧 vs. American 🇺🇸 [VIDEO]
- Learn These American vs. British Words, Avoid Embarrassing Mistakes! [VIDEO]
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