Learning English shouldn’t be all boring grammar exercises and vocabulary lists. 

More fun and more entertaining is to use films to learn English – you can make good progress and enjoy yourself at the same time!

There’s the obvious bonus that when you’re watching films to learn English, if you don’t understand the language exactly, the action or delivery may give clues, and you can turn on subtitles on many services like Netflix.

Through watching films to learn English you’ll also be exposed to different regional accents, of which there are many in Britain, and experience the living language as it’s used in everyday speech. 

Your ear can become more quickly attuned to British English sounds when you use films to learn English, which will help perfect your accent. 

And you’ll get a broader look into British life, culture, values, customs and lifestyles by watching British films to learn English, and see different parts of the country.

There are so many great British films to choose from that it’s been tough making a shortlist. We’ve included from musicals to horror, from old black and whites to present day releases; a range of the best films for learning English, and hopefully something for everyone.

BRITISH FILM CLASSIFICATIONS 

Universal (U) – suitable for anyone aged 4 years and older
Parental Guidance (PG) – suitable for children over 8 years 
12/12A – Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult at a cinema 
15 – Children under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult at a cinema
18 – Not suitable for anyone under the age of 18

Below CL signifies Classification

FILM GENRES

action adventure – fast paced, stunts, special effects, good guys/bad guys
comedy – light-hearted, funny, exaggerated characters or situations
crime – criminals, gangsters, murders, often with detective protagonists
drama – real to life characters and situations, may be historical
fantasy – make belief, magical, unreal and exotic characters or situations
historical – based on fact, or mythic or legendary, often with lavish costumes and sets
horror – to scare and frighten, may be psychological, paranormal, occult, for fear
musicals – based around and include music, dance, performance arts
romance – love stories, or more broadly involving affairs of the heart and emotion
science fiction – futuristic, imaginative science & technology, may overlap action, horror
thriller – build tension and create suspense, anticipation, excitement or anxiety

The films below, some of the best British films, are listed in chronological order.

Enjoy!

BRITISH FILMS TO LEARN ENGLISH 

Films to learn English Goodbye Mr Chips

Goodbye, Mr Chips 

The ordinary greatness of a school teacher over 50 years, witnessing a changing world. Robert Donat, Greer Garson, Terry Kilburn  Drama, Romance  CL: U (1939)

Dracula

A Gothic cult classics from Hammer Studios. Almost comedy now, it was considered horror when released. Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing CL: 12 (originally 15) (1958)

learn English films A Hard Day's Night

A Hard Day’s Night 

A day in the life of the British band The Beatles. Liverpool accents. Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison  Music, Comedy  CL: U (1964)

Films to learn English Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

A magical nanny arrives to save the Banks family. An old classic and still a family favourite today.  Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke  Musical, Fantasy  CL: U (1964)

films to learn English The Italian Job

The Italian Job

Newly released from prison, Charlie Crocker takes on a new job; a gold heist in Turin, Italy. London Cockney accents. Michael Caine, Noel Coward Crime, Comedy CL: PG (1969)

Gandhi

The life and political ideology of Mahatma Gandhi and the struggles for Indian independence. Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud Biography, History, Drama CL: PG (1982)

Films to learn English Gandhi

This is Spinal Tap 

The film follows one of England’s loudest heavy metal bands as they go on tour.  Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest Comedy, Music CL: 15 (1984)

Films to learn English This is Spinal Tap

Water 

The Governor of Cascara, a British Colony, joins rebels and activists to fight the British government and big business. Various accents. Michael Caine, Leonard Rossiter Comedy CL: 15 (1985)

English Films Water

Withnail & I 

Two out of work actors verge on insanity when they decide to go on holiday to the countryside. Richard E. Grant, Paul McGann  Comedy, Drama  CL: 15  (1987)

Films to learn English Withnail & I

Four Weddings & A Funeral 

A typically awkward Englishman keeps bumping into the same American woman at social functions. Hugh Grant Romantic Comedy  CL: 15 (1994)

films to learn English four-weddings-and-a-funeral
Films to learn English Wallace & Gromit

Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave

Wallace falls in love with the wool shop owner and Gromit is framed for sheep-rustling. Animation, Comedy   CL: U  (1995)

Films to learn English Trainspotting

Trainspotting 

Renton tries to escape the Edinburgh heroine scene. Scottish accents (and subtitles) Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner Drama CL: 18 (1996)

Films to learn English The Full Monty

The Full Monty 

With no job prospects, six unemployed steel workers decide to become strippers. Yorkshire accents. Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Barber, Hugo Speer Comedy, Drama CL: 15  (1997)

English Films Lock Stock

Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels 

Four lads decide to steal money from their drug dealer neighbour. London Cockney accents. Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher  Comedy, Crime CL: 15 (1998)

Films to learn English Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot

An 11 year old coal miner’s son discovers and falls in love with ballet. Newcastle accents. Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis Drama, Comedy   CL: 15 . (2000)

Bridget Jones’s Diary

32, chubby and single, Bridget’s love life and professional life are a disaster. Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant  Romantic Comedy   CL: 15  (2001)

films to learn English Bridget Jones' Diary

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe

Four children find a secret world through the back of a wardrobe. Based on the book by C.S. Lewis. Adventure, Fantasy  CL: PG  (2005)

Films to learn English Narnia

The King’s Speech

The struggles of the future King George VI to overcome his speech impediment. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter Biography, Drama   CL: 12/12A   (2010)

Films to learn English The King's Speech

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 

MI6 agent Smiley comes out of retirement to uncover the Soviet mole in the Agency. Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch  Thriller  CL: 15 (2011)

Films to learn English Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The Theory of Everything 

The life of the physicist Stephen Hawking, focusing on his first marriage and the onset of his illness. Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones  Biography, Romance  CL: 12/12A  (2014)

learn English films The Theory of Everything
Films to learn English The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

The race by the mathematician Alan Turing to break the German Enigma encryption code during World War II. Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley  Biography, Drama  CL: 12/12A (2014)

learn English Kingsman

Kingsman: The Secret Service

A British spy organisation fighting global threats. Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson Action, Adventure, Comedy CL: 15 (2015)

Films to learn English The Lady in the Van

The Lady in the Van

An eccentric homeless woman parks her van in the driveway of the renowned author Alan Bennett for 15 years. Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings  Biography, Drama, Comedy  CL: 12/12A  (2015)

Films to learn English The Foreigner

The Foreigner 

A Chinese restaurant owner seeks justice when his teenage daughter is blown up by a car bomb in London. Irish accents. Jackie Chan, Katie Leung, Rufus Jones Action, Thriller CL: 15  (2017)

AND FINALLY…

No list of British films would be complete without these two huge successes. 

James Bond

Bond is a British Secret Service Agent who fights crazy despots, tyrants and baddies to save the world. 

Created by the novelist Ian Flemming in 1953, the first film came out in 1962, and the 26th Bond film is due out in 2020.

Films to learn English James-Bond-Daniel-Craig

Daniel Craig as James Bond

James Bond films

Various actors have played Bond over the years:

Sean Connery 1962-67, 1971, 1983
Dr No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, Never Say Never Again

George Lazenby 1969
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Roger Moore 1972-1985
Live and Let Die, Moonraker, A View to a Kill, The Man with the Golden Gun, Octupussy, For Your Eyes Only, The Spy Who Loved me

Timothy Dalton 1986-1994
The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill

Pierce Brosnan 1995-2004
Golden Eye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day

Daniel Craig 2005-present
Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre, No Time to Die (due 2020)

Action, Adventure, Thriller CL: PG, 12, 15  (Spectre was trimmed to get a 12 classification, but there were still a lot of complaints about it.)

Harry Potter films

The Harry Potter films tell the story of a young wizard who must fight the evil that killed his parents in order to prevent it from amassing power and returning. Based on books by J.K. Rowling, they were initially intended for children, but quickly gained popularity across all age groups. 

films to learn english Harry-Potter

The lead actors in the Harry Potter films – Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2 (2010 & 11)

Most of the main roles have been played by the same actors in all the films, including: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters

Fantasy, Adventure   Various accents Classifications: PG or 12

Films to learn English July 2019