One of the best and most entertaining ways to learn a new language is through watching movies and TV shows. Did you know that sound did not become popular with film until roughly 1927, so for about thirty years when people were watching films in movie theaters, language was not a primary focus? Until the 1910s, many films were under twenty minutes, and did not have intertitles (cards that explained the narrative). In fact, there were musicians in movie theaters who performed music during the film, so audiences got to hear and watch something exciting at the same time.
However, sometimes we do not even need music or sound to attract us to a visual image. For example, when we are on an airplane, and it is a longer flight, many airplanes have little TVs that passengers can watch films or TV shows on, so they do not get bored while traveling. How many of you end up spending several minutes watching what the person next to you is watching, and you are able to understand the plot or the characters’ emotions even though you do not hear the dialogue? People learn at an early age how to understand what another person is feeling, not through words, but through non-verbal communication. You should use this important skill, and apply it to watching films in English. Most of the time when actors perform, their emotions are often exaggerated, thereby making it easier for the audience to understand their feelings.
This is often true of melodramas, which are films and television shows that make their characters greatly suffer, so the audience will feel enormous sympathy for them. Melodramas create strong and powerful emotions in the audience, and because most people understand and recognize when someone is sad, angry, or happy, melodramas are intentionally simple. It does not matter what language the character is speaking, because the viewer understands their feelings. Some examples of television melodramas are Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. These shows are often shocking, exciting, emotional, and serialized. They have exciting twists in the last five minutes of the show that will make you want to watch the next episode. In serialized TV shows, there are always new conflicts once one conflict is resolved, so the show becomes addicting. You will have a strong emotional reaction while you watch a melodrama, even if the plot is predictable. You do not need language to understand an emotion, so try watching something melodramatic.
I recommend watching TV shows without subtitles and especially watching spectacular genre films in a movie theater. A genre film has stylistic and thematic conventions that make it easy for a viewer to identify what type of film it is. The most exciting genres to watch in a theater are horror, action, and physical comedy films. Audiences do not need to know a language in order to understand what type of film they are watching. For example, a viewer knows what a horror film is because it might have monsters, serial killers, magic, blood, and scary music. People learn at an early age how to recognize genre films. It is not through dialogue, but lighting, music, special effects, narrative, and performance that helps a viewer identify a genre, so do not worry about understanding every single word spoken or whether or not the actors speak too fast. Ultimately, once you know the genre and if you find it entertaining, you will begin to learn new words and expressions, so be patient. What are you waiting for? Get your tickets, buy some popcorn and candy, and enjoy the movies!