If you’re still struggling to get rid of English subtitles even though you –
- have been learning English for years
- can use it at work fine
- have passed all the language exams
– then keep reading because you’re not alone.
It’s surprisingly common to not understand fast-talking native speakers or not be able to get rid of English subtitles despite a high level of English and all your achievements, both academic and professional,
That’s because learning the communication skills you need for work, or the English you need for exams is actually easier than trying to understand, or even speak, the wild, messy English of native speakers. But if you can’t understand native speakers, then you’ll have trouble fitting in with them, especially if you live in or want to live in an English-speaking country.
And that’s why today I’m sharing C.Fan’s story – he’s the perfect example of someone who uses English fine at work, yet still struggles with English listening comprehension and understanding movies. He joined “Movie Club” in January 2022 and I chatted to him about his experiences after 6 months of watching movies with the other club members and working on his listening and speaking skills through film.
Over to you C. Fan.
Can you tell us a bit more about where you’re from and your background? And why you’re learning English?
C. Fan : I’m an engineer from Hong Kong. I spent several years studying and working in the United States and Singapore before returning home. I can communicate fine in the work environment, but somehow my fluency and listening comprehension still have large room for improvement. Now here in my native Hong Kong, I use English mainly in work to communicate with my colleagues in the US.
Cara: I find it fascinating that you have a high level of English and are able to use it at work, yet it’s still hard to understand native speakers and feel comfortable speaking in everyday, non-work contexts. But that is the reality for many English learners – they can use it fine in their jobs, they’ve past all the exams, yet just chatting to and understanding native speakers is still hard!
Why did you decide to join the Leo Listening Movie Club?
C. Fan: Despite several years of living in the United States, I still had a hard time fully understanding native speakers. I felt I could improve on my listening. Before joining, I was already convinced from first hand experience that dictation is very effective. The thing is, it was hard for me in the past to keep motivated practising with contrived materials. Using movies for dictation is a great idea, as watching movies is enjoyable all by itself, listening improvement comes nicely as a bonus.
How has participating in the club helped you with your English?
C. Fan: I used to watch movies with captions on, but that was quite taxing as my mind was split between the captions and the real action. I am now more able to enjoy movies with the captions off. I still don’t fully understand everything but that’s already a big improvement.
Does participating in “Movie Club” help you feel connected to others? If so, how?
C. Fan: Yes. The cohort-based learning is a key element indeed, with other participants following the same schedules. Though I don’t contribute much to discussion, knowing you’re part of a group is essential to keep the motivation.
Cara: It does create accountability, knowing that you have deadlines for your tasks and that the others are there too, doing the same thing. I have to say, you have contributed a lot more recently in our WhatsApp group as your were particularly inspired by our latest movies, Inside Llewyn Davis, and shared some lovely insights about it, so thank you for that.
Some of our discussions are about quite deep topics such as death, racism and more. How do you feel about being able to have those kinds of conversations that go beyond superficial, small-talk subjects?
C. Fan: This is good indeed. My previous club used materials which are a bit too pedagogical, unnatural, which made the experience a bit classroom-like. I appreciate going beyond superficial.
Cara: Yes, well the goal is to bring real-life into English learning, even if the movies we watch are usually fictional.
What’s the best part of “Movie Club” and why?
C Fan: My favourite part is I get introduced to movies which I am simply not aware before. It is always fun to experience different actors, directors, genres..
Cara: I agree! I have seen movies I might not have watched otherwise this way too. That’s because the club members choose the movies and the themes for each three month edition of the club.
If you had to recommend it to a friend, what would you say?
C. Fan: Join and have fun while learning!
Cara: What a perfect way to sum up the “Movie Club” experience!
Want To Get Rid Of English Subtitles With Movie Club Too?
“Movie Club” is a supportive and friendly community of movie lovers where you can learn and practice your English in a safe space. The club opens for enrolment three times a year. The next round, May to July, will open in April to new members. Find out more and join us.