Do you want more practice hearing and understanding your chosen language of study?
It can feel daunting learning a new language when you don’t have easy opportunities for daily immersion, but there are solutions. One way to help is to turn your film time into language practice!
One of my favourite French language teachers would encourage me and my fellow classmates to listen to French radio as much as possible and watch films. She also encouraged us to watch films with subtitles in the same language to get out of our comfort zone.
I highly recommend watching films and TV series in your chosen language of study. With Netflix at our fingertips there’s so much to choose from now. Subtitles can put people off but they needn’t. You’d be surprised how quickly we get used to them that eventually they become part of the background.
I like recommending films and TV series to students especially when I think it will inspire and motivate their learning further, it can also help them to understand the culture more.
Unless I'm spending a few days in paradise on a beach, January is usually my least favourite month now that the festive season is over. It’s the first month of the year so why not set ourselves goals to watch language films once or twice a week especially during these colder days.
Below is a selection of some of my favourites (in no particular order) that could help with your language learning. There is an eclectic mix of English, French, Spanish, Italian and German film suggestions. To view the trailers click on the titles below. Happy New Year everyone!
Bella Martha (2002) German, Italian - directed by Sandra Nettelbeck
Martha is a single woman who lives for cooking. The head chef at a restaurant, she has no time for anything, or anyone else. But her solitary life is shaken when a fateful accident brings her sister’s eight year old daughter to her doorstep.
L’Auberge Espagnole (2002) French - directed by Cedric Klapish
The film is told in the first person by Xavier. The dialogue is mostly in French, with some English, Spanish, Catalan, Danish, German and Italian. Xavier is a 27 year old Parisian who has decided to complete his last year of studies in Barcelona. He finds a room in an apartment shared by an Italian guy, an English girl, a Danish guy, a young woman from Belguim, a German guy and a Spanish girl all studying in Barcelona on exchange program ERASMUS. We follow the life of this small European student community. L’Auberge is the first of a trilogy that continues to follow the lives of these people: Les poupeees Russes and Casse-tete Chinois.
Amélie (2001) French - directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Amélie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and along the way, discovers love.
Before Sunrise (1995) English - directed by Richard Linklater
Before Sunrise is a romantic drama, the first installment in the Before trilogy, it follows Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) as they meet on a Eurrail train and disembark in Vienna to spend the night together.
I Vitelloni (1953) Italian - directed by Federico Fellini
Five young men dream of success as they drift lazily through life. It has that post-war existential feel to it, and effectively transports us to a small town in Italy where five young men dream of escaping someday.
The Red Shoes (1948) English - directed by Powell and Pressburger
Cinema’s quintessential backstage drama, as well as one of the most glorious Technicolor feasts ever concocted for the screen. Moira Shearer is a rising star ballerina torn between an idealistic composer and a ruthless impresario intent on perfection.
Pride and Prejudice (2005) English - directed by Joe Wright
Based on Jane Austen's 1813 novel the film features five sisters from an English family of landed gentry as they deal with issues of marriage, morality and misconceptions. Keira Knightley stars in the lead role of Elizabeth Bennet.
Amadeus (1984) English - directed by Miloš Forman
The story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, through the eyes of rival composer, Antonio Salieri.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) English - directed by Anthony Minghella
American psychological thriller and based on Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel.
Plein Soleil (1960) French - directed by René Clément
Tom Ripley is a talented mimic, moocher, forger and all-around criminal improviser; but there's more to Tom Ripley than even he can guess. (I prefer this french version but both are good)
A Good Year (2005) English - directed by Ridley Scott
Failed London banker Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) inherits his uncle's (Albert Finney) vineyard in Provence, where he spent many childhood holidays.
À bout de souffle (1960) French - directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Petty thug Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) considers himself a suave bad guy in the manner of Humphrey Bogart, but panics and impulsively kills a policeman while driving a stolen car. On the run, he turns to his aspiring journalist girlfriend, Patricia (Jean Seberg), hiding out in her Paris apartment while he tries to pull together enough money to get the pair to Italy.
Belle et la Bette (1946 ) French - directed by Jean Cocteau
The story of a gentle-hearted beast in love with a beautiful girl. She is drawn to the repellent but strangely fascinating Beast, who tests her fidelity by giving her a key, telling her that if she doesn't return it to him by a specific time, he will die of grief. A simple tale of tragic love that turns into a surreal vision of death, desire and beauty.
Stand by Me (1986) English - directed by Rob Reiner
After learning that a stranger has been accidentally killed near their rural homes, four Oregon boys decide to go and see the body. The boys also learn more about one another and their very different home lives. Just a lark at first, the boys' adventure evolves into a defining event in their lives. Starring the late River Phoenix.
Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008) English, Spanish - directed by Woody Allen
Americans Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) arrive in Spain for a summer vacation at a friend's Barcelona home. Visiting an art gallery, they meet seductive painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who invites them for a weekend of food, art and sex. Sparks really ignite when his fiery former lover (Penélope Cruz) arrives on the scene.
Roma (2018) Spanish - directed by Alfonso Cuarón
A year in the life of a middle-class family's maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.
Roman Holiday (1953) English, Italian - directed by William Wyler
A bored and sheltered princess escapes her guardians and falls in love with an American journalist in Rome.
Three Colours Red (1994) French - directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
A model discovers a retired judge is keen on invading people's privacy. A unique tale about morality and friendship. The Three Colours trilogy (French Trois couleurs) is the collective title of three psychological drama films.