Entertainment
256 voters

Good Movies for ESL Students to Watch

Updated June 14, 2019 1.8k votes 256 voters 26.6k views47 items

List RulesVote up good films for people learning English or to screen for students in an ESL class.

Walk into any classroom in the United States where they are teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and you will find teachers using film to help instruct their students. Good movies for ESL students vary greatly in terms of style and content and selecting the right films largely depends on how far along your students are in their studies. Below, you'll find a list of suggested films to help you make the right choice for your classroom. 

Films with a familiar premise and minimal dialogue are a great place to start, particularly so if students have seen these movies before in their native language. Things like Bambi and WALL-E, for example, are perfect for beginners. As your students' language continues to improve, however, you can move on to more dialogue-heavy films like Casablanca and The Fault in Our Stars to help immerse your students in English. It can also help to pick films about situations that may be familiar to your students, such as movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding where two cultures collide. Vote up the best movies for learning English below and feel free to add anything you think is missing! 

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  • Forrest Gump1
    89
    28

    Forrest Gump

    Tom Hanks, Sally Field

    Released1994

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • The Fault in Our Stars2
    57
    27

    The Fault in Our Stars

    Shailene Woodley, Willem Dafoe

    Released2014

    Directed byJosh Boone

    The Fault in Our Stars is a 2014 American romantic drama film directed by Josh Boone, based on...  more
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  • Big Hero 63
    64
    39

    Big Hero 6

    Jamie Chung, Maya Rudolph

    Released2014

    Directed byChris Williams, Don Hall

    Big Hero 6 is a 2014 American 3D computer-animated superhero action comedy film produced by...  more
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  • The Terminal4
    40
    14

    The Terminal

    Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tom Hanks

    Released2004

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone5
    63
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    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

    Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe

    Released2001

    Directed byChris Columbus

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (released in the United States, India and Pakistan as...  more
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  • The Book Thief6
    40
    21

    The Book Thief

    Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson

    Released2013

    Directed byBrian Percival

    This film is a 2013 American-German drama film directed by Brian Percival and starring...  more
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  • WALL-E7
    47
    33

    WALL-E

    Sigourney Weaver, Laraine Newman

    Released2008

    Directed byAndrew Stanton

    WALL-E is a 2008 American computer-animated science-fiction comedy film produced by Pixar...  more
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  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding8
    43
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    My Big Fat Greek Wedding

    Nia Vardalos, Andrea Martin

    Released2002

    Directed byJoel Zwick

    My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a 2002 Canadian-American romantic comedy film written by and...  more
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  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory9
    37
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    Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

    Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson

    Released1971

    Directed byMel Stuart

    Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 musical fantasy film directed by Mel Stuart, and...  more
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  • To Kill a Mockingbird10
    29
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    To Kill a Mockingbird

    Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck

    Released1962

    Directed byRobert Mulligan

    To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama film directed by Robert Mulligan. The...  more
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  • Cast Away11
    33
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    Cast Away

    Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt

    Released2000

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

    Cast Away is a 2000 American adventure drama film directed and produced by Robert Zemeckis and...  more
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  • 12 Angry Men12
    25
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    12 Angry Men

    Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman

    Released1957

    Directed bySidney Lumet

    12 Angry Men is a 1957 American drama film adapted from a teleplay of the same name by...  more
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  • Beauty and the Beast13
    34
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    Beauty and the Beast

    Angela Lansbury, Frank Welker

    Released1991

    Directed byGary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

    Beauty and the Beast is a 1991 American animated musical romantic fantasy film produced by...  more
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  • Divergent14
    38
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    Divergent

    Kate Winslet, Shailene Woodley

    Released2014

    Directed byNeil Burger

    Divergent is a 2014 American science fiction action film directed by Neil Burger, based on the...  more
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  • Casablanca15
    37
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    Casablanca

    Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart

    Released1942

    Directed byMichael Curtiz

    Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on...  more
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  • The Princess Bride16
    27
    19

    The Princess Bride

    Billy Crystal, Robin Wright

    Released1987

    Directed byRob Reiner

    The Princess Bride is a 1987 American romantic comedy fantasy adventure film directed and...  more
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  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children17
    37
    32

    Released2016

    Directed byTim Burton

    Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a 2016 American 3D dark fantasy film directed...  more
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  • Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas18
    25
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    Released2000

    Directed byRon Howard

    This film is a 2000 American musical fantasy comedy Christmas film from Universal Pictures and...  more
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  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back19
    18
    11

    Released1980

    Directed byIrvin Kershner

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  • Gravity20
    22
    15

    Gravity

    Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

    Released2013

    Directed byAlfonso Cuarón

    Gravity is a 2013 science fiction thriller film directed, co-written, and produced by Alfonso...  more
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  • Bambi21
    28
    24

    Bambi

    Sterling Holloway, Sam Edwards

    Released1942

    Directed byJames Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Paul Satterfield, Bill Roberts, Norman Wright

    Bambi is a 1942 American animated drama film directed by David Hand, produced by Walt Disney...  more
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  • The Maze Runner22
    20
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    The Maze Runner

    Kaya Scodelario, Dylan O'Brien

    Released2014

    Directed byWes Ball

    The Maze Runner is a 2014 American science fiction dystopian action thriller film directed by...  more
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  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly23
    12
    8

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach

    Released1966

    Directed bySergio Leone

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti Western film directed by...  more
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  • Jumanji24
    10
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    Jumanji

    Kirsten Dunst, Robin Williams

    Released1995

    Directed byJoe Johnston

    Jumanji is a 1995 American fantasy adventure film directed by Joe Johnston. It is an...  more
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  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace25
    12
    10

    Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

    Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley

    Released1999

    Directed byGeorge Lucas

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