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  • - Is watching films a good way

  • to improve your English speaking?

  • (upbeat music)

  • Yo, yo, yo, I'm Julian Northbrook from doingenglish.com

  • here to help you the intermediate

  • to advanced English learner

  • master the English language

  • with less stress, less hassle and fewer

  • of those God damn headaches.

  • So, good question.

  • Can watching films and I guess TV as well

  • be a good way to improve your English speaking?

  • Now, I've got a short answer to this

  • and a slightly longer answer.

  • The short answer is really honestly,

  • just sitting back and passively watching the telly,

  • whether it be films or TV or indeed really any kind

  • of passive exposure to English

  • as an intermediate to advanced English learner

  • isn't gonna be particularly helpful

  • for your productive English skills,

  • that is your speaking.

  • Now, you might improve your comprehension a little bit

  • although the higher your level already is,

  • the less of that you'll do as well

  • simply because when you reach the intermediate stage

  • and the advanced stage,

  • you already know a lot of English,

  • you understand enough English

  • that you can watch and understand.

  • I mean, you're watching a video in English now

  • and I assume understanding.

  • Well, there are gonna be things

  • in the language

  • that you're being exposed to

  • that you don't know

  • but your brain does a pretty damn good job

  • of just filling in the gaps

  • with extra information.

  • It sees my facial expressions,

  • my wild, over-the-top gestures

  • and it fills in the gaps,

  • so even if you don't know half of the English

  • that I'm using,

  • well, it doesn't really matter

  • because your brain fills it all in

  • and again, you might know all the words

  • that you need as well,

  • you just don't really know

  • how to combine those words yourself.

  • Well, you are unlikely to simply just notice all of that

  • through passive listening.

  • Simply put, what you did as a beginner,

  • when you're a beginner,

  • everything was totally new,

  • so you notice a lot more

  • in the language stream coming at you

  • out of the film, out of the TV, whatever it is

  • and you're more likely to just pick stuff up

  • but what you did as a beginner

  • and what you need to do as an intermediate

  • to advanced English learner, completely different.

  • This of course is not to say

  • that films and TV can't be a good source of input,

  • a good source of language to study actively,

  • that is a good material to use.

  • On the contrary, films can be a great material

  • to use and to study to learn the language

  • that you need, put it in your head

  • so you can then practise it

  • and automate that.

  • Is it the most effective kind of material

  • that you can find?

  • Are films and TV as effective

  • as materials designed for the intermediate

  • to advanced English learner?

  • No, definitely not.

  • And check this video for a detailed discussion

  • on that where I compare real, authentic materials

  • i.e. films and TV

  • with materials that have been designed

  • and optimised for people just like you,

  • the language learner.

  • Certainly in terms of time and effectiveness,

  • materials designed for people just like you

  • as long as they're designed well

  • are gonna be much, much better

  • than films or TV which are not optimised at all

  • and are really designed for consumption

  • by well, native speakers.

  • Again, watch this video for a detailed discussion on that.

  • Now, for the slightly longer answer.

  • And without wishing to sound

  • like I'm completely contradicting myself here,

  • watching films and TV can be an excellent way

  • to improve your English speaking.

  • Yes, yes, yes, I know,

  • it sounds like I just told you

  • two completely different opposite things.

  • But what we are talking about here

  • is not the language or the learning

  • or the input of the language

  • that you need.

  • No, we're talking about something else

  • that you need for your English speaking.

  • The K of what I call the LKC triangle.

  • This idea that you need three things

  • to speak English really, really well.

  • You need the language, of course,

  • if you don't have the phrases and the expressions,

  • the chunks of language that you need

  • to express the things that you want to communicate,

  • you're not gonna get very far

  • but that in and of itself is not enough.

  • You also need the K of the LKC triangle

  • and this is really what we're gonna be talking about

  • in this video.

  • Knowledge, background knowledge

  • of the things you want to talk about.

  • Content, interesting stuff to talk about.

  • If you've got nothing to say,

  • well, having the words and expressions

  • that you need aren't gonna help you

  • because you've still got nothing interesting to say.

  • Many people are concerned because they sound boring

  • when they speak English and yes, the language part

  • is an important part of that,

  • there are interesting ways to construct

  • the sentences and the phrases and the expressions

  • that you're using,

  • that is important,

  • but it's not gonna save you

  • if you are boring, if you've got nothing to talk about.

  • You also need one more thing,

  • the C of the LKC triangle.

  • That is, culture.

  • And that is a topic for another day

  • but films and TV can be an excellent source

  • of interesting conversation topics

  • and yes, I know this might sound obvious

  • but bear with me

  • 'cause we're gonna go a little deeper into this.

  • Let me use my business,

  • Doing English as an example here.

  • Several years ago when I first decided

  • to quit my job and make Doing English my full-time job

  • and become a freelancer,

  • that was several years ago now,

  • Doing English or rather I should say my company,

  • Northbrook Limited is now a full-blown company,

  • a corporation with employees,

  • staff, a production team

  • and things are a little bit different now

  • but several years ago

  • it was just me.

  • Completely by myself

  • sitting here while in this same

  • little home office working away

  • at my computer.

  • Years and years and years of corporate conditioning,

  • working for other people,

  • working for bosses who frankly,

  • didn't have a clue what they were doing

  • in various places, you know what it's like being employed

  • in a company

  • had conditioned me to believe

  • that I had to be super productive all the time

  • and productivity meant work, work, work, work, work, work,

  • so I'd always be there at my computer

  • typing away, doing this,

  • doing that and generally making myself quite, quite tired.

  • What I never did though because I believed this

  • was not something that should be a part

  • of the productive working day

  • was to just sit down and watch TV.

  • Watch films.

  • I mean, that's something that you do

  • in your leisure time, right?

  • Wrong, you see, I now know

  • that watching films is actually one

  • of the most productive things that I can do

  • on the job.

  • My most productive time

  • in the office working is actually not spent writing

  • or filming videos

  • or planning the EES lessons or whatever it is

  • that I'm doing that is more traditional work

  • but is actually spent sitting

  • on my sofa which you can't see

  • 'cause it's below the camera

  • watching a film.

  • I make a habit of watching at least three films a week.

  • At one time, I made a habit of watching a film

  • every single day.

  • When I can do that, I still like to do it

  • but recently, I've gotta be honest,

  • despite it being my most productive thing

  • that I can do and I've had to prioritise other things

  • like my research

  • and running kids back and forth to basketball practise

  • and all that stuff in the evenings.

  • You know what it's like.

  • Business, work, parents,

  • blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

  • Now, the point is and the reason I'm telling you this

  • and the reason that watching films is so productive

  • for me is because I am in the business

  • of teaching content essentially.

  • Whether it's one of these YouTube videos,

  • one of my daily emails,

  • one of the Extraordinary English Speakers' lessons,

  • one of my books, one of the other courses

  • that I make, Two Steps Speaking, for example,

  • I am in the business of taking

  • the core, key concepts

  • that you need to learn and understand

  • and delivering that to you

  • in a way that is interesting

  • because let's face it,

  • we learn better when we are interested,

  • when we're enjoying something,

  • when we're entertained, when we're having fun

  • but also, easy and concise to understand

  • and what is one of the best ways to explain

  • and deliver difficult abstract concepts?

  • And let's face it,

  • a lot of the things that I teach

  • are quite difficult, abstract concepts.

  • Well, story is one of the best ways to do that.

  • Interesting stories, anecdotes, metaphors, examples.

  • Take this month's issue of the EES Gazette, for example.

  • I don't have one here to show you

  • 'cause it's at the printers and it hasn't come yet

  • but it's all about mindset,

  • the importance of mindset

  • and of losing a lot of the mental baggage

  • that we all get stuck with.

  • We pick up all this crap

  • and we dump it in our brains

  • and it holds us back.

  • Negative thoughts, opinions,

  • attitudes, false beliefs.

  • Well, at some point we've gotta throw

  • all of that away

  • and in this month's issue of the EES Gazette

  • I go through that process

  • but it's emotionally very, very difficult

  • and it's quite abstract

  • and it's quite hard stuff.

  • So, what did I do?

  • I took a scene from the film, The Martian,

  • brilliant film by the way,

  • and used that as a metaphor to explain the whole thing.

  • Result, we've got this very difficult,

  • emotionally hard, abstract concept explained

  • in a very concrete, very easy-to-understand

  • and entertaining way.

  • In my book, Master English Fast,

  • I use a scene from the film Captain America, Civil War

  • to explain how to learn and improve your grammar

  • as an intermediate to advanced English learner.

  • In one of my Kindle books,

  • Fearless Fluency, I use a scene