We combine learning English with leisure

    Many people offer different methods, describe mobile applications, recommend courses and much more, but I want to tell my personal experience in learning English over the past 4 years.

    As an introduction, I can say that more than 4 years ago, at the very dawn of my career in IT, I interviewed one well-known and very large foreign company. As expected in this case, the interview was in English.

    Actually, after this interview, I decided for myself that English for a programmer is not just a language for reading documentation, and it must be studied just like all IT disciplines.

    How I built the learning process, how it progressed and what results are achieved we read under the cut.


    After the above-mentioned interview (which I successfully failed) I made many conclusions for myself. One of the conclusions was that it was necessary to tighten the level of the English language.

    Like everyone else, I studied English at school, I’ll say more, I learned it from the 1st grade, and even at school, I had 3 foreign languages ​​at the same time as Russian in the program. After school I studied English at the institute. For me, as for many, this long process, which lasted about 15 years, did not bring significant results.

    If you read this article here, I can assume that my vocabulary was about 800-1000 words (or maybe less). Grammar knowledge was also at a rather weak level.

    Thus, I began my training with a level which is slightly higher than the initial one.

    The choice of teaching method

    The goals were set to raise the level of English to a free understanding of spoken language by ear and free communication with foreigners.

    There was an important question how to build training. Here I started from several important points
    • you need to study regularly even if the level is very high
    • you need to combine study with leisure, because there is not much free time
    • I'm not a fan of cramming words
    • and most importantly, I was always a movie lover and was always ready to find time to watch some interesting movie or series

    And the choice here was obvious - to learn through watching movies and TV shows.

    Start date

    And when I was already determined, many small nuances appeared:

    What to watch?

    At the expense of the genre, everything is clear, here is what someone likes. More important is the selection of films by complexity. All films have different vocabulary, and this also needs to be taken into account. For myself, I decided at the first stage to watch those films that I had already seen in Russian and I know what the actors say and in what scenes, and then gradually move on to what I have not seen.

    Watch with or without subtitles?

    Since I decided to watch those films that I know then Russian subtitles could not be used. In fact, I even looked in English and with English subtitles. If it’s hard of course, then you need to take Russian subtitles.

    Go completely to English-language cinema and make hell for your brain or not?

    I decided to act radically and switched to a fully English version. Here, everyone chooses for himself, at first, with a full transition to the English version and a poor level of language proficiency, you can forget about getting some pleasure from watching movies, it will be a very stressful study.

    First half year

    The first 6 months, the films were divided into 2 types for me: “Something is clear” and “Nothing is clear” . This was the most stressful period, I think everyone will have a different time, depending on the initial level, desire, time taken, etc., for me it was about six months.


    Specific vocabulary

    There are films on some general life topics and everything is bearable here, but there are films on specific topics such as surfing or something about cars or even a historical film with the use of words that have come out of everyday life. A vivid example is Dr. House with its medical terms. Even taking into account the fact that these terms are often repeated there, it is very difficult to remember and perceive by their ears.


    There are films where the characters talk very unintelligibly, for example, Gandalf is one of them, and indeed the actors can shout something in battle or speak in a whisper or even speak with a mouth full. We look further and see that there is American cinema and British cinema and it is difficult to distinguish pronunciation in the first stages.
    The most understandable voices where they are duplicated can be cartoons or non-English films duplicated in English.


    Starting to watch one series, which can be very long, addiction to the dictionary, pronunciation of actors, etc. gradually appeared. and when switching to another film, difficulties arose and it even began to seem that there was no result at all and all this was in vain :), but then everything settled down.

    This is study

    The first period you need to be prepared that this is study. Each viewing is a very busy training hour. From time to time, you have to look for something in the dictionary, stop the video and rewind it several times in obscure places, translate quickly until the characters have poured several more complicated sentences on you.

    Bright moments

    After 1-2 months, it became clear that training is paying off. At work, it has become much easier with both English-language documentation and communication in English-language forums. It was felt that the vocabulary was growing. At almost every viewing, a few words and phrases were learned and not just cramming, but it was understanding that how to use them in a specific context.

    Next year

    Half a year passed and I just changed jobs and there were English courses in a new place. The vocabulary was already good, so the courses were easy enough and I was able to pull up the basic grammar.
    Studying on the video itself continued actively and brought great results, incomprehensible words in films became less and less and it was possible to switch to movies with specific slang. This year, my friend once asked me why I do not watch reports from IT conferences, various training English-language videos, but at that moment I decided what was still too early.

    First live chat

    This year I went to a master class by Jeff De Luc according to his FDD agile development methodology . At the master class there was an option to listen to the translation through headphones or listen to everything without them. For me, this was the first experience of listening to ordinary conversational speech live and it was quite easy, of course, there were some incomprehensible moments, but in general, field trials of training results proved to be very good. Even during the breaks I talked to the speaker and asked him questions that interested me. After that, there was an incentive to learn in this way further.

    A year and a half has passed

    And so, a year and a half of video training passed unnoticed. I abandoned the courses at work because it was too easy and in a sluggish mode I started looking for other ways to study in addition.

    Live chat

    Later, I had more than once personal communication with native speakers. There were practically no problems. Thanks to the training on video, the understanding of speech by ear was very good, and the vocabulary made it possible to easily communicate on various topics. It is worth mentioning that I talked with both the Americans and the British, and there were no difficulties in understanding, largely due to the fact that films with British English were also given time.

    After 2 years of study

    After studying in this mode for about 2 years, it became clear that it was not possible to quickly raise the level of language proficiency with just one video viewing. Vocabulary is growing slowly since most everyday words are already known, and grammar and pronunciation are lame. Here, I actively began to look for other ways of learning. These were various courses and conversations with foreigners via Skype and all kinds of training videos.
    I also began to actively watch professional videos, these were IT conferences, training and many others. At this time, I could already cope with the speech of comrades like Stephan-T-Lavavej .

    Our days

    At the moment, my level of language proficiency has stopped, or rather, it is moving very slowly. But despite this, I continue to watch everything exclusively in the original. It seems to me that if this continues for another 4-5 years, then the level will somehow grow, but the main thing is that there is a regular practice that does not allow to lose the accumulated knowledge. In terms of work, knowledge of the language helps very much, it erases boundaries and helps to broaden one's horizons and gain knowledge from English sources without any difficulties.

    Other languages

    At some point, I began to think about learning other languages ​​in the same way.


    German was not chosen by chance, having a large vocabulary in English, you can easily switch to German since there are a lot of common and similar words. Suggestions are similar. In general, I began to slowly master the cinema in German.
    The first conclusions are that knowledge of English helps a lot. The main problem is German grammar and there is only one way out, to learn!


    My love of anime played here. I even looked in Japanese with English subtitles and you don't want to, but the words begin to be remembered. Even for such complex and unusual languages, you can study the Swadesh List, and if you are an anime lover, slowly learn.


    Chinese or Putonghua or Mandarin is the leader in the world in the number of speakers. Chinese cinema is also very rich and interesting, which will help to find films for study. One of the main points that interests me from a professional point of view is the IT-world of China, to which there is not much access due to the language barrier.
    When learning Chinese, I try combined tactics, combining work with a native speaker and watching a video. The language itself is very difficult to understand by ear, largely due to tones.


    I must say right away that these tips, this is my personal opinion, is not at all a fact that they can be useful to you.
    • We need to find a way to learn the language regularly, and preferably even daily.
    • Choose the method of training you need for yourself. I even knew people who learned the language of Rep-u. This does not say that you need to learn that way, you just need to take and choose a training system specifically for yourself.
    • Vocabulary is very important, without it, any training will go very slowly. You can, for example, learn the Swadesh List for the language you want to learn at the very beginning . One of the reasons I was a little easier at the beginning was precisely because I already knew the translations of the words on this list.
    • Watch movies with subtitles in the same language. At some point, I realized that the subtitles often do not match the text, especially if this is a movie translated into English and also with subtitles. Here you can learn how different phrases are translated, what synonyms are, well, all this analysis will make your brain work intensively. And if even the subtitles match then you will learn the spelling of the words.
    • It is necessary to find interlocutors and to speak as much as possible in the language being studied. It is worth remembering that there is an active vocabulary - these are the words that we use when writing and in conversation and passive stock - these are the words that we learn by ear or when reading. Both should be developed.
    • You need to choose which language you study, American English or British English. A striking example is the word can't, if you say it in American English when speaking English, you may be misunderstood :).
    • Chat with one of your friends in English only.

    Interesting points

    In the process of all this training, a lot of interesting things appeared.

    • You can, for example, find out that some well-known actors have not so already beautiful voices :)
    • Localization of names in Russian begins to cut the ear.
    • Translations can not convey many jokes, for example jokes related to the features of the language
    • English is very simple


    After 4 years of training in this mode, I reached the level of approximately Upper-Intermediate in communication and Advanced in translation and understanding of oral speech. Having passed several tests, the vocabulary can be estimated at about 11,000 - 15,000 words. The chosen method has fully justified itself, but you cannot focus on it alone. You need to learn grammar and talk more in the language you are learning, etc ...

    If you understand this video without any problems, then you should not read this article :).

    Also popular now: