Can You Learn a New Language by Watching Movies?

It’s been over 30 years since Professor Stephen Krashen made the bold claim: “We acquire language in one way, and only one way. When we get comprehensible input in a low anxiety environment.”

While some experts will argue that input alone isn’t enough, and that students need focused learning sessions, others will agree with Krashen that input is everything. However, if you were to look at the language learning landscape today – the apps, the programs, the classrooms – you’d assume we all completely disagreed with Krashen’s statement.

Most schools want students filled with anxiety and teach language completely out of context for the entire duration of their curricula. At FilmDoo, we believe there is a lot of truth in what Krashen theorised, and feel the best way to receive regular exposure to a large variety of comprehensible input in a low anxiety environment is through movies.

Films reveal the context of the language, allowing us to feel the emotions of the moment and understand the culture on a deeper level than any textbook can. They also give our task-focused, central-executive network a break, putting us in a defused thinking state where our brains can search for less logical neural pathways to store and access the meanings of the new language (language is, after all, illogical).

FilmDoo is home to one of the largest foreign language film collections available, and for the first time, this collection is now available to educational providers. But there’s more: To keep students in a low anxiety defused thinking state, FilmDoo has created a simple way to turn any movie into an interactive game.

Gamification is an overused buzzword today, especially in the EdTech community. Most language learning apps misinterpret this term and add gaming elements like points, badges and leaderboards rather than creating gaming mechanisms in their application. In the long term, badges reduce learner engagement and motivation rather than improving it, and some gaming elements damage their learning experience altogether.

For example, progress bars make us feel good because, when we complete a task, we no longer need to hold onto the short term memories required to for the task. This makes progress bars a terrible element for EdTech, as they encourage our brains to quickly forget, and yet, all other language learning apps use them. It therefore shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that over 90% of language learners across classrooms and language learning applications drop out! At FilmDoo, we don’t use damaging gamification techniques; we transform the movie into a game.

As the learners watch the movie, they can follow along with a second screen, whether it’s a mobile, tablet or laptop. At various points, the movie will pause and give every student an interaction on their personal screen. Completing the interaction wins each student points for their team to progress through the game. Some interactions are for the students to work on independently, while others promote group discussion. Discussing the movie gives the students a new and relatable context to use language, encouraging the students to learn the language on a level that goes beyond basic comprehension.

We at FilmDoo understand how busy teachers are, so we created a simple authoring tool allowing any teacher the power to convert a movie into a game and share with other teachers. Language schools, universities and meetups can now incorporate a movie and interactive game into their weekly schedule and really give students that vital comprehensible input in a low anxiety environment.

If students choose to watch movies alone, that’s okay. FilmDoo is now in beta testing of a machine learning recommender to make sure students are watching movies at their exact level. We analyse each movie on its sentiment, speech velocity, sentence structure and multiple other data points. Our system then learns which movies help that student the most and recommend films that will be the most useful for each student. The whole thing is available via our API. More information can be found here.

The edutainment platform is now in trials with a number of UK language schools and language tutors. FilmDoo in interested in talking higher educational institutions, universities, language schools, language training programmes and other organisations across Europe who would love to be part of their trial and research to test efficacy and learning outcomes.

FilmDoo was successful in the recent 2019 call by Creative Europe Media, under the Education, Audiovisual an Culture Executive Agency, to launch their edutainment language and cultural learning platform and associated technologies in Benelux, UK and France by 1st January 2020. The company is now searching for matched funding in order to kick off the project and would be interested in talking to potential investors and partners who would love to be part of this new edutainment venture.

Get in touch with me, Weerada at to learn more about FilmDoo’s exciting new edutainment platform and technologies.


Weerada Sucharitkul,

FilmDoo CEO