Christmas is a perfect time to sit on the sofa in front of the fireplace (if you have one) and watch movies with friends and family. Christmas movies certainly have something for everyone. From Arnold Schwartzenegger, Cameron Diaz singing Greenday in an English village, to films that have similar (and even equally strange) titles, horror and even comedy. It is unlikely that you will run out of options to fill the many free hours of the holiday season. That’s why here we offer a compilation of the favourite Christmas films to learn English.
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas – 1993
Acclaimed producer and film director Tim Burton surprised the young and old in 1993 with The nightmare before Christmas. A perfect musical to enjoy both Christmas parties and Halloween night, because it recounts the experiences of Jack Skellington, the Lord of Halloween. Jack is an extravagant character who, although he takes a while to discover Christmas, has some evil plans focused on kidnapping Santa Claus. It is a perfect movie for adults and children, being an opportunity to learn English, because you can listen to many phrases that are easy to learn, as well as having well-known songs (so you can sing along and improve your pronunciation).
2. It’s a Wonderful Life – 1946
It is the quintessential Christmas classic. Directed by Master Frank Capra in 1946, James Stewart is starring in the role of George Bailey, an essentially good man, who faces his toughest Christmas at Bedford Falls and who, in fact, is about to lose his hopes, until a peculiar angel makes an unexpected visit. This movie has many excellent and deep dialogues from which you can learn many phrases.
3. Miracle on 34th Street – 1994
A popular and very well-known version is the remake of another previous 1947 production, equally beautiful. An old man (played by the eternal Richard Attenborough) is considered a little disturbed by New York prosecutors. A girl who believes in him decides to protect him and so both will try to prove to adults that Christmas is when all dreams come true. This movie has many lessons, themes and dialogues from which you can learn a lot.
4. Love Actually – 2003
It doesn’t matter if you have seen it or not, someone from your environment must have already said that it is their favourite Christmas movie, or even their absolute favourite movie of all time. An impressive cast of stars (Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Mr. Bean, etc.), modernised Christmas songs, an excessively British accent and a choral narrative that combines love that is withering with others that are being born. It is perfect to familiarise yourself with English vocabulary and vowels.
5. Die hard – 1988
This is a bit more graphic, and many do not consider it as a Christmas movie, but it is. Not all films will promote good feelings and Santa Clause at Christmas; there is also room for action movies that marked an era (in this case, the 90’s). In this movie, the Christmas meeting of a New York policeman played by Bruce Willis is truncated by a terrorist act that, obviously, he will try to thwart. At the very least, you will learn a very different and particular vocabulary. You can learn the contrast between a sugar-coated, even poetic language used by the villain, and the very straightforward language of the hero.
6. The Muppet Christmas Carol – 1992
If the adaptation of the Bill Murray Christmas Story (Scrooge) does not suit you, you can opt for this film starring Michael Caine. A Christmas movie where humans and puppets like Peggy pig come together to create an endearing story based on the novel by Charles Dickens Christmas Tale. Thanks to the muppets, this exciting story becomes more accessible for children, in addition to containing a basic language for all levels of English.
7. The Santa Clause – 1994
Starring Tim Allen, this is a great choice to learn to compare (and understand) English spoken in an American accent. You will be able to notice the contrast and the different words used in British and American English. To say for example, in the United States Santa Claus is known for living in the North Pole. In England they call him Father Christmas, and he lives in Lapland. In addition, the film is full of humour and comedy, so you will have fun while you learn.
8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas – 2000
Another absolute classic loved by most. It has Jim Carrey as The Grinch, and as a character, it will test your English language comprehension. It will help you learn festive words, as it uses quotes from children’s books, such as Christmas Carols and stories.
9. A Charlie Brown Christmas – 1965
Charlie Brown is depressed because he thinks Christmas is meaningless. He sees Lucy and Snoopy obsessed with gifts and decorations, Schroeder obsessed with the Christmas play, and everyone else concentrating on cards and letters to Santa. All this makes him question the true meaning of Christmas. Charlie is disgusted to see how the holiday has become totally commercialised. When the boys agree to give Charlie the task of selecting a Christmas tree for the play, he chooses an ugly and lonely one, but Linus, with a moving speech, manages to make everyone understand the true meaning of Christmas.
The storyline is simple and easy to follow, but it has non-childish and sophisticated language that can be challenging, and will make you learn new words and phrases.
10. Home Alone – 1990
Who doesn’t know Kevin’s hilarious story? Macaulay Culkin embodies the youngest problematic child in a family who, in the rush of arriving at the airport, forget him at home. Alone, at the mercy of two not very smart thieves, Kevin will realize that after all, there is nothing like a family Christmas. A black comedy, but also very cute. In this film, you will learn a lot of vocabulary.
This is a great film for English learners. It shows many common elements of Christmas celebrations, and the language is very accessible and easy to understand. While the topics are not void of depth, they aren’t too deep either, so the sentences are very simple and have a lot of situational expressions.
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