The perception of English by ear for me has always been the most difficult part of learning a language. I would even say that I perceive listening to audio recordings in English as real intellectual torture. From the word "listening" I had a cold sweat and started to twitch my eyes. A joke, of course, but not far from the truth. In general, I was afraid of listening in about the same way as my vacuum cleaner cat: I was ready to hide in the far corner and not crawl out from there until this hell was over. It was difficult for me even to listen to materials adapted to my level, which at that time was something average between Elementary and Pre-Intermediate.
I seriously studied English about four years ago, the author writes for Tryeng.ru. I signed up for courses where my level at that time was defined as Pre-Intermediate, and rushed. It was at that time that I began to seriously think about improving the perception of living English speech by ear and taking the first steps towards achieving my goal. However, even before that, there were some attempts to improve listening skills by watching various videos, but I confess, then, starting, I threw halfway through. And since many readers ask what you can see in English for different levels, I decided to make a selection for you, based on personal experience.
Before we begin, I want to give some small tips:
- no matter how difficult it may be at first, but it will most likely be very difficult, continue, and after a while you will notice the result;
- while watching TV shows and movies in English, keep several dictionaries in open tabs in order to be able to learn the meaning of the new vocabulary;
- pay attention to phrasal verbs and idioms. If the sentence when translating individual words is too “strange” - 100% there somewhere a phrasal verb or some phraseological phrase has crept in - calculate it and see what it means.
It should also be borne in mind that the division of films and TV shows by level is still a bit subjective, as in a children's cartoon with simple words a complex construction can be used, for example. The selection was made not only taking into account the complexity of vocabulary and grammar, but also taking into account the speed and clarity of speech.
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English films for the level of Beginner
Unfortunately, for those who have just started learning English, the choice is very limited. I started listening independently (what is called “took my head”), I started somewhere at the Pre-Intermediate level. However, I am very sorry that I did not start earlier. After all, the more you listen to - the faster you get used to speech. And I think, start I listen to from the very beginning of the path, then it would be much easier for me. Therefore, do not repeat my mistakes and do not delay listening lessons for later.
Especially for this article, I began to look for what you can see for beginners to learn English. So, in many lists like "Films for beginners", in fact, lists of films are not offered for those who are just engaged in learning the language.
Casper / Casper
- Level: Pre-Intermediate-Intermediate
For example, in one of these lists was the film Casper the Friendly Ghost. Indeed, the film is simple. But still, to understand it, you need a certain knowledge base, as well as listening skills in English. He is not at all for the level of Beginner, and not even for the Elementary. Rather, it is suitable for those who have reached at least the level of Pre-Intermediate and higher.
Gogo Loves English
- Level: Beginner
After some searching, I finally managed to find a great educational cartoon for those who just started learning English. Yes, it is very childish, but it is perfect for people with Beginner level. Thanks to the cheerful dragon Gogo, you can learn useful phrase-cliches for beginners, the most common English words, including the names of various items, and basic grammatical structures. And most importantly - you begin to get used to perceive English by ear.
Extra / Extra
- Level: Elementary
Beautiful series, created specifically for people who learn foreign languages. This comic tutorial about neighbors who rent a small apartment in London will help you to learn conversational vocabulary in a short time. From the series you can learn a lot of useful words and expressions for communication on everyday topics, as well as get used to the sound of lively English speech. Actors speak quite clearly, and most importantly - emotionally, so that you get used to intonation in the English language. Alas, I discovered this program for myself when I spoke English at Pre-Intermediate, and then it seemed to me too easy. But, for Elementary - what you need.
Here & There / Here and There
- Level: Elementary, Pre-Intermediate
This is an educational cognitive program for learners of English. Leading tell interesting facts about different countries. At the beginning of each episode, viewers are invited to familiarize themselves with useful vocabulary, and at the end - to complete tasks that will help test your understanding and consolidate the material. The transfer is perfect for practicing listening skills, as well as for learning vocabulary and grammar with live examples.
Mulholland Drive / Mulholland Drive
- Level: Elementary - Pre-Intermediate
Being completely in love with David Lynch's film making, I couldn't help but see Mulholland Drive in English. I watched with a solid Pre-Intermediate (4 level), but the film uses such simple vocabulary that it will be understandable at the elementary level. There are some moments when the actors do not speak clearly and very quickly, but you can always read the subtitles. Given the specifics of the film, I still advise beginners to watch it in English after watching it in Russian.
Films in English for the Pre-Intermediate level
Perhaps the best tool for this level will be classic Disney cartoons. They use fairly simple vocabulary, while you can learn interesting words and grammatical structures for yourself. Speech in them is not as slow as in educational programs, so watching cartoons in English would be a great way to get used to fluent English.
The Black Cauldron / Black Cauldron
- Level: Pre-Intermediate
It was the first full-length cartoon that I looked in English. Most of what was said by the heroes was understandable, however, unfamiliar words and constructions were also encountered. For example, I learned from this cartoon for myself that “do” can act in the sentence as an amplifying particle, and not just an auxiliary verb or action verb. For me it was a real discovery. Some moments had to rewind several times to hear what the characters say. To facilitate the task, I watched the “Black Cauldron” in four rounds: every day for about 20 minutes.
The Lion King / Lion King
- Level: Pre-Intermediate +
This cartoon is probably loved by many as a child. It’s a little harder to perceive this cartoon than the previous one, so you’ll have to rewind it repeatedly during viewing. But, if you do not accustom yourself to hear and understand English, you will never learn. We'll have to be patient and get ready to spend a lot of time and effort.
The Flatmates / Roommates
- Level: from Pre-Intermediate to Upper-Intermediate
The Flatmates is an educational animated series from the BBC. This was the first thing that I began to look at in order to learn English. It is difficult to attribute to any level, since there is a vocabulary for both those who speak English at a level below the average, and for advanced students with solid Upper-Intermediate. I was attracted by this animation for a short duration of episodes - each for only about a minute. But it didn’t make it any easier ...
It uses a rather complex colloquial vocabulary, phrasal verbs, stable phrases, idiomatic expressions. Almost every phrase at that time translated. I also repeatedly revised each episode to hear everything well, since the speech of the actors, the voices of the heroes was fluent enough, at least it seemed to me like that at the 3 level (lower Pre-Intermediate). The Flatmates is an excellent tool for vocabulary vocabulary. It is thanks to this series, I realized how much live English is different from the one that is given in the textbooks.
The Others / Other
- Level: Pre-Intermediate +, Intermediate
A great film for fans of tickling the nerves, as well as for listening training in English. This film watched, or rather revised in English, at a level below average. The film is simple vocabulary, however, the speech of the actors is not always clear, however, as in any movie. Here subtitles and rescue great and powerful rewind . We rewind back as many times as necessary to catch what was said by ear, otherwise we will not learn.
Addams Family Values / Addams Family Values
- Level: Pre-Intermediate +
Great movie for fans of black humor. The actors speak clearly enough, and the vocabulary is generally simple, which makes this film an excellent tool for practicing listening for students with below average levels.
Alf / Alf
- Level: Intermediate
Having reached the middle level, I discovered a wonderful site with films for those who learn English - Ororo.tv. Here I began to look for something to look at, so that it was both interesting and not too difficult for my level. When I saw the cover of a shaggy stranger I knew from childhood, I decided - why not !? And I did not lose, the film perfectly suited to my level. On the day I watched about the 2 series. And when I reached the second season, I was in for a pleasant surprise: when I moved away from the screen for a few minutes, without pressing the pause, I perfectly understood everything I heard, without subtitles. The realization that listening lessons have borne fruit has only strengthened the desire to continue to practice. The series is very light and humorous, and one series lasts about 20 minutes, so do not get tired while watching.
The Simpsons / The Simpsons
- Level: Intermediate
Excellent animated series for learning English at an average level. The characters speak quite clearly, and the vocabulary just corresponds to the average level. Of course, there may be words for higher levels, but we learn and keep open dictionaries сосед in the adjacent tabs. The only thing that can cause difficulty is slang. In such cases I was rescued by my beloved Urban Dictionary.
- Level: Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate
Speaking at TED is an excellent tool for practicing listening and vocabulary on various topics. Often the speakers speak very clearly, so in most cases it’s not difficult to parse their speech. The ease / complexity of understanding here is completely dependent on the speaker and his topic, so it can be suitable for both the average level and the level below or above.
Movies in English for Upper-Intermediate and Advanced levels
At levels above average, the choice of films and TV shows is already quite extensive. Here, first of all, you need to focus on your own preferences and on how difficult it is for you or, on the contrary, it is easy to perceive the actors' speech by ear. It is advisable, especially from the C1 level, to choose materials where the actors speak quickly, to get used to natural speech, and if necessary, to listen to the scenes several times. Below I gave a few examples of films (more precisely, 1 film) and series that can be viewed at these levels, but again, be guided by your own feelings.
The Ghost Writer / Ghost
- Level: Upper-Intermediate
I looked at the political thriller of Roman Polanski at a level above the average, I think that it is suitable for students of this level. The story of Tony Blair and his ghost writer once won six (out of seven) nominations at the Berlin Film Festival (something like the European Oscar). A movie masterpiece will help you learn a little vocabulary on political topics (and not only), get used to different accents, and also give aesthetic pleasure, since the film is really very beautiful.
Fargo / Fargo
- Level: Upper-Intermediate
This is one more thing worth seeing in black English. A fascinating series in the genre of tragicomedy will help to get used to fluent English speech with different accents. For some reason, in many selections Fargo is advised to look at the average level, however, I think that most students at the average level would have difficulty understanding him, because the actors speak quickly enough, and catching their speech by ear is not so easy. Rather, this series is above average.
- Level: Upper-Intermediate - Advanced
I began to look at this series approximately at the Advanced level, but I think that for those who are sure of Upper-Intermediate, it can also be suitable. On Breaking Bad, I got a little hooked, so I watched series after series. In the series, the actors speak with completely different accents, making the listening skill training more intense. I think that at the upper and advanced levels, it’s already necessary to learn to perceive different English accents by ear, which in the future will allow us to understand more native speakers. Therefore, the more characters in the series - the better. Complications can cause an understanding of slang and obscene language, but here again, Urban Dictionary will come to the rescue.
Westworld / World of the Wild West
- Level: Advanced
The series is quite difficult to listen to, there is an interesting vocabulary, so I still recommend watching it with a dictionary. In addition, the series itself is quite deep, so it is important to understand every word. An excellent cast, a fascinating plot and interesting dialogues, not to mention the fact that it was shot masterfully, do not allow you to break away from the screen. For me, in studying English, interest serves as the strongest motivation, therefore the “World of the Wild West” as a teaching material has become a real find - it was not only useful to watch, but also very interesting.
These are some examples of movies and TV shows for different levels of English. I hope that the selection was useful and will be useful to you when learning English. All materials were selected taking into account our own experience, and we tried to make sure that the cinema corresponded to the level as precisely as possible. There is no such thing that the film for cultivators fell into the category of materials for beginners, as often happens on sites with similar selections. First of all, as I wrote above, you need to focus on yourself. If you thought the movie (series) is too complicated - try to search for something simpler, and vice versa.
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At first, in any case, it will be difficult if the skill of listening is poorly developed or developed only according to training audio recordings with classical pronunciation. It is necessary to rehear the same points several times in order to understand the fast speech of native speakers, but you can’t learn without it. Do not give up, and soon notice progress. I wish you patience and success in learning the language.